Future-Proofing your Catering & Events Business with Email List Building


As a business owner working in the food and beverage industry, you understand how important it can be to continue expanding and building upon your success. Sure you may have a loyal base of regulars that come to your restaurant at the same time, on the same day each week.


Maybe you have a whole list of repeat customers that continuously rebook your catering company for their events each year. But without the ability to attract and reel in new customers and repeat clients, you may find yourself feeling stuck.


How exactly are you expected to find new leads for would-be clients and ultimately keep them on board as you continue to expand your products and business?


To help grow your clientele and increase your repeat customers, you need to find ways to keep your leads in the know about new and exciting features and aspects of your business. The easiest way to achieve this from a marketing standpoint is to begin building a list of emails.


Ninety-three percent of people in the United States check their emails at least once a day, with many checking multiple times in a 24 hour period. By collecting and allowing people to provide you with their email addresses, you open your business to attracting the masses with a single click.


In this blog post, we’ll be delving into the art of list building and how it connects to sending your clients and new leads through the marketing funnel. You’ll learn how to build an effective list of emails step-by-step, and even learn a few pro-tips that will help accelerate your business to new heights.


What is List Building and What are the Benefits?

List building is exactly what it sounds like. You’re collecting data from would-be customers and returning clients in an attempt to forward them new information about the services of your business or updates you’ve made to your menu or retail products. While list building can be used to collect any number of data from consumers, the most commonly used data is a client’s email address. This becomes important for building and expanding your business because more points of contact make it easier for people to learn about your business and make potential points of sales in the future.


List building is important to a company’s marketing campaign because it is is one of the easiest and most effective ways to receive a client’s contact information. With that said there is also a lot of gray areas surrounding list building. You may often hear lists referred to as opt-in lists, mostly because in order for you to send them information, they must give you permission to do so.


So if you’ve ever noticed a pop-up on a company’s website asking you to include your name and/or email address, this is what is known as an opt-in box. This is what makes the collecting of emails and other personal information legal for marketing purposes. In some cases, companies have knowingly purchased emails for solicitation or have gathered a list a million addresses long, most of which have no interest in their company or products. These examples are both considered unethical means of list building.


List building can be beneficial for your business in a number of ways, but the top two reasons are:


1. Quickly connect with people interested in your business

As a consumer, one of the biggest questions you’ll ask yourself when trying to decide between multiple brands is “which brand is taking the time to consider me?” Consumers love to feel like they’re being heard and that a company is taking their wants and desires into consideration. But knowing what the consumer wants isn’t possible unless there is a clear form of communication established first. This is where email communication comes in.


By allowing would-be clients to opt-into your email list, you’ve already gotten half the way toward a sale without doing any work. By that I mean if a person adds their information to your mailing list, they’re interested in what you have to say and likely fit into your target audience. You don’t have to waste time with cold calls or other means of finding people interested in your business. They’ve come to you and are willing to listen.


2. Adds value to your relationships with your clients

It’s no surprise that people love getting something for free or the feeling of getting insider information without having to jump leaps and bounds just to hear the latest buzz. This is another reason that email list building can be super important. By adding value to your email lists, you’ll win over the consumer and make them more eager to become repeat customers down the line.


The content that you share can add value to your relationships with clients by making sure that the emails you send directly relate back to your target audience. Cater these messages to answer consumer questions or directly relate your messages to hit on key pain points that they’re experiencing in their day-to-day lives. For example, if you’re emailing clients in an attempt to attract new catering clients that are on a budget, consider explaining to them in an upcoming email blast how your business can cover events without spending a lot of money. Really show them how far their money can take them with your company without breaking the bank.


List Building and the Marketing Funnel

As you’re probably aware by now (thanks to the previous blog posts in this series), the marketing funnel is a tool used by marketing professionals to help visualize the buyer’s journey. This includes many steps along the way, but the five common stages are awareness, consideration, conversion, loyalty, and finally advocacy. Each step of the journey through the funnel is meant to familiarize the buyer with your company and lead them to eventually make a purchase.


List building can play an important part in the marketing funnel, especially at the conversion level. At the conversion level, this is really where prospective buyers really consider making a purchase. Depending on how you have your list building opt-ins set up can determine when and where they decide to buy into your email campaign.


It makes the most sense that if someone is going to make a purchase through your company, they would likely make the journey to your company website in order to do so. This is why it’s important to have a pop-up opt-in feature on your website’s landing page so that you can ensure that this initial purchase has a better chance of leading to future purchases down the line. If the prospect likes what they see, they’ll be more willing to opt-in and continue receiving updates about your restaurant or food business.


Once you’ve gathered a list of interested clients and their emails, this information can also help propel prospective buyers to that advocacy stage. This can be done with the help of email automation. Designing and building content that can be used in an automated emailing system can help provide subscribers with the information and/or products they want and need most. This helps to add a hint of personalization to both the marketing funnel and the buyer’s journey.



Email List Building Step-by-Step

Now that you better understand what list building is and how it relates and helps push people through the marketing funnel, you might still be unsure of how to begin building your email list from scratch. Well, never fear, I’m here to help you out. Just follow these five simple steps and you’ll be on your way to email domination in no time at all. You may already have some of these list building steps completed and didn’t even know it.


Step 1: Understand your audience

Not only is understanding your audience an effective starting point for marketing to consumers as a whole, but it can also be vital for beginning to build a mailing list. You need to have a firm understanding of who it is you’re targeting and what their wants, needs, and desires are and whether or not your company or business is meeting or can meet them.


To better help you understand your target audience, consider creating Ideal Customer Avatars that represent your ideal customer. Another question to answer during this step of the process is where do your ideal customers hangout? Are they spending all day on social media or searching the archives of a forum or private group. Knowing where to look for your ideal customers can help you better prepare to get their email addresses.





Step 2: Create an Irresistible Offer

Remember earlier when we mentioned that people would be more willing to give up their private emails and contact information if they felt as though they were getting something in return? Well, this is where that added value comes into play.


In order to help convince people to opt-into your mailing list, you’ll need to create some sort of lead magnet to help streamline this process. What does your target audience need? Is it a guide to catering on a budget? Or perhaps it’s a digital copy of upcoming special events or specials at your restaurant?


Whatever the case, you want to ensure that you’re providing useful information from the get-go to ensure that they’ll want to subscribe for more information down the line.


Step 3: Add a landing page or popups to your website

Now before you can add a landing page to your website, it’s important that you already have a fully-realized website for your business. If not, then this is the next necessary step before adding a landing page.


Speaking of landing pages, this is the page where the transaction is actually completed. This is where your prospective clients will exchange their email and other contact information in exchange for your lead magnet. In designing your landing page, you want something simplistic and easy to understand. You’ll also want to make the landing page hard to miss.


To help navigate website visitors to your landing page, you can create any number of components to help drive traffic to your landing page. The three most common are an opt-in bar, a popup, and a call-to-action. Each of these methods appears on other pages of your website asking your visitors to click or visit your landing page.

We’ll discuss other ways to drive traffic to your landing page in the next step.


Create highly converting landing pages using ConvertKit. Click here to learn more.


Step 4: Drive traffic to your landing page

Using your existing social media accounts is an easy, yet effective way to attract eyes to your landing page. Simply posting a link to your landing page on Twitter, Facebook, etc. is sure to help grow your exposure and target people that are already familiar with your business (otherwise they wouldn’t be following you).


Another, more costly way to drive traffic to your landing page is by purchasing ad space. There are a number of places you can purchase ads such as Facebook and Twitter, paying for sponsored posts on other related blogs and websites, or by using AdWords.


One final way to get traffic to your landing page is by sneaking in content marketing into posts and content that you’ve already created. Begin your blog posts with an invite to join you and your business on a journey and tempt them to join your mailing list. If you focus your SEO attempts within these content marketing strategies and your subscriber rates will begin to skyrocket.


Step 5: Watch the email addresses start coming in

As more and more people begin accessing your landing page, you’ll quickly see the number of email addresses start to add up. If you haven’t done so already, now is the perfect time to start creating email copy so you’re ready to welcome your new subscribers to your business and let them know about the latest happenings ASAP!


Pro-Tips for Consistency and Staying Engaged With Your List

Now that you’re familiar with how to build your mailing list, your job isn’t quite done yet. This is where the hard part comes in; Keeping your email list engaged and providing them with consistent content and email updates that will best serve their needs. Below you’ll find a few pro-tips to maintain your email relationships with your potential clients.


Pro-Tip #1: Create a nurture sequence to plan future updates

A little earlier in this post, I mentioned how automation can be your friend to achieving advocacy. One of the easiest ways to prepare yourself for unleashing consistent content and updates to the masses is with the help of a nurture sequence.


A nurture sequence is made up of pre-written emails that you plan to send in pre-set intervals to your news subscribers who have opted-in to receive your lead magnet and corresponding email updates. These nurturing sequences can prove beneficial by helping to extend the value of your free lead magnet, as well as help to pivot your subscribers to make micro-conversions along the way.


By continuing to send emails from your sequence, you’re continuing your relationship with your customers and adding a sense of realness and genuine interest in their problems and needs.


Pro-Tip #2: Ask your email list for feedback

It might seem like a no brainer, but in order to keep your email subscribers engaged, you need to ask for their feedback. What areas of your email campaigns do they think are working for them, and what aspects of your emails do they find to be not useful. By asking these questions upfront, you can quickly and effectively tweak your emails to better suit their desires and encourage them to interact and be more vocal in the future.


Pro-Tip #3: Break your email list up into segments

While it can prove beneficial to automate your email sequences to make for a seamless campaign, it can also be important to remember that not all customers and potential clients are looking to your business and joining your mailing list for the same reasons. To ignore this fact says that you’re not truly taking the time to understand your audience and what they want from your business.


You can segment your subscribers into groups based on data collected from lead intelligence. Lead intelligence is just another term for data about your subscribers that you can receive from your email service provider. These stats can include what kinds of emails they’ve opened in the past, what links they’ve clicked, and what lead magnets or content upgrades they’ve downloaded in the past. This information can help you determine which subscribes are best suited for specific email campaigns.


I hope this blog post has given you some insight into expanding your client list with the help of list building. But if for whatever reason, you’re still having problems understanding the marketing funnel and how list building fit into the grand scheme of things, check out this awesome Marketing Funnel Guide.


In it, you’ll discover even more ways to increase the number of clients flocking to your business, as well as ways to help focus on what matters most when it comes to achieving this sort of growth. With the help of this guide, you’ll be feeling more confident about growing your business in just a matter of weeks.


And for even more help sorting out your marketing plan and knowing which aspects of your strategy could use some work, try this quiz. In just 15 questions, you’ll have a better understanding of what your business is missing and even receive a detailed action plan with how to improve it.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Aleya Harris is the owner of The Social Media Pantry and Growth.

She is a Le Cordon Bleu trained chef who also happens to be an award-winning, data-driven marketing strategist, change leader, brand manager and creator, content developer, and storyteller. She has a background as a marketing professional on the leadership teams of large foodservice organizations and has also been a private chef and catering company owner.