Corner Bakery Cafe has grown from a single bakery to a fast-casual restaurant with over 160 locations across the country. A menu of fresh, local ingredients and signature, made-to-order dishes has made the cafes a favorite neighborhood gathering place.
The eCafe email program was started as a way to increase the engagement and loyalty of Corner Bakery Cafe customers. When we started working with the eCafe program in 2010, it had already acquired hundreds of thousands of members. However, the creative executions were inconsistent with other marketing touchpoints and lacked the flexibility to engage members in new and exciting ways.
Corner Bakery Cafe needed to revamp the eCafe communications to be more engaging and provide more insight into preferences of individual customers.
We completed a robust digital strategy and overhauled the email marketing campaign to be more personalized and relevant to customers’ neighborhoods, preferences, and dining habits. Campaigns are now integrated with special Facebook promotions, and members are encouraged to share content on Facebook and Twitter.
The eCafe RSVP program was introduced to let members know about new or seasonal items being added to the menu and to give them an opportunity to reserve a day and time to come by their favorite cafe to try the new product for free. The program aimed to increase awareness about new products and consideration for dining at different times of the day, drive traffic to the cafes, grow the eCafe subscriber base, and generate incremental lift in sales for several weeks after the promotion.
We launched a suite of new creative, leveraging flexible email templates that were scalable to support multiple products, video vignettes, survey questions, and ways to connect via social media. The brand came to life with oversized imagery to make eCafe members’ mouths water and special offers to reserve a first taste of a new product – all with the goal to drive store visits.
In addition to the new look and feel, we launched the RSVP campaign series. In each RSVP campaign, eCafe members receive an email, inviting them to reserve their free item. Participants click from an email to the reservation site where they are able to select a location, date, and time to redeem their free item. An email is then triggered that provides a printer-friendly confirmation that can be printed for redemption and that reminds the registrant of the location, date, and time for their redemption.
To prevent an overage in the number of reservations accepted per time slot, a timed system is used in which a user must complete their confirmation in five minutes. At the end of five minutes, the person is redirected to the beginning of the process and the reservation slot is opened back up. Also, site visitors could see in real time the number of slots left at their favorite store, by day and time, to expedite their decision-making process.
The system is also set up to allow reservations for a specific day to be “shut down” so that the final number of expected guests can be sent to each location. Reports are scheduled and exported from the system to inform the client of how many reservations are full or remaining at the end of each day. This allows for proper operational and customer service planning.
The results are impressive. In the first 16 months of our work with the eCafe program, Corner Bakery Cafe realized a 115 percent subscriber growth. In terms of member engagement, the brand has consistently seen a 22 percent open rate and 22 percent average click-per-open rate among eCafe members. The reservation campaigns, designed to drive trial of new products and reward loyal customers, have also been successful, with a 28 percent average open rate and 46 percent average click-per-open rate of the invitation email. To date, over 125,000 new eCafe subscribers have been acquired from the RSVP program, who heard about it through word of mouth and social media.