The First 2 Weeks – Steakhouse Chains: Part 2 of 2

Posted by on December 30th, 2009

steakhouse

Welcome again to The First 2 Weeks, where we analyze 3 competitors’ email marketing strategies when it is most crucial… the opt-in process, welcome message, and first few campaigns as these marketers attempt to establish relationships with subscribers.

In our last edition we evaluated the opt-in process and welcome messages for 3 competitors in the steakhouse restaurant chain segment: Lone Star Steakhouse, Outback Steakhouse, and Texas Roadhouse. In part 2 we will now investigate campaigns sent beyond the welcome email and preference editing options.

INITIAL CAMPAIGNS

Both Outback and Texas Roadhouse sent out additional campaigns beyond the welcome email within the first 2 weeks, but there was a vast difference in timing. Texas Roadhouse capitalized on the interest of a new subscriber by sending their welcome email relatively quick and then a second message within the next week. However, Outback (who didn’t send a welcome message) didn’t deploy their first message until day 14. Both competitors are much more aggressive than Lone Star, which didn’t send anything beyond the welcome message within the first 2 weeks – missing out on continuing to grow the solid foundation they established with their welcome offer.

Overall, I found myself fairly unimpressed by Outback’s email, as the design seemed to be missing a clear focal point. In addition to this fault, the message was comprised entirely of images. However, they did employ an interesting alt tag strategy, as the alternate text that displays with images off doesn’t entirely spell out what is contained within that image. Instead they used the 2 alt tags that display as part 1 and part 2 of a sentence that summarizes the overall focus of the message (“Summer is almost over…” and “but there is still time left to try our $9.95 Summer Adventures. Visit us tonight!”)

Texas Roadhouse took a similar approach to email design – all images. However, they utilized alt tags throughout to identify the contents of key items when images are disabled. They also utilized the information gathered during the opt-in process by pulling in your favorite location within the content and the from name along with pulling in your first name as well.

EMAIL PREFERENCE OPTIONS

Outback lacks any preference capabilities – only supplying an unsubscribe link. Lone Star goes just one step further by allowing the subscriber to update their email address on this well-branded webpage. However, they provide only an archaic unsubscribe capability, as their link is just a mail-to link that generates a draft message with no subject line… requiring you to email them to be removed.

Texas Roadhouse provides the most options for subscribers of these 3 competitors by far. They include an “Update your information” link at the base of all messages – taking you to a preferences page similar to that seen during opt-in that allows you to change not only the items you submitted in the past, but also fill in additional fields. They have take a great approach to collecting more optional information on this page, as those who are visiting have already indicated interest in updating settings. These additional fields include items such as how often you visit, marital status, if you have children, favorite time to visit, favorite menu item, and even an area where you can suggest events/offers you would be interested in. All of these items could lead to additional segmented messages with relevant content/offers.

Watch for our next edition in the coming weeks in which we will evaluate the campaigns of 3 new competitors!

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