Why You Should Avoid Complicated Systems for Takeaways and Restaurants

Before we begin, this advice is primarily for the owners of restaurants and takeaways based here in the UK. It is based upon my experiences working with a wide variety of different systems designed by marketers worldwide in the attempt at growing and maintaining a customer base.


The two systems I am going to be going into today will be emailing lists and chatbot related systems, both of which I have vast experience of using here in England. To cut a long story short, I cannot recommend either of these methods and would advise against using them. The reasons why, you can read up on here.


Emailing Lists – Consistent off -putting harassment – mostly ignored


When a marketer offers to build a mailing list as the most effective way of growing a customer base, you might want to raise an eyebrow… They may try to wow you with success stories of using Drip and ActiveCampaign and their history of success when it comes to marketing emails, however, when you take into account that less than 5% of emails are actually opened by customers, we have a problem.


Marketers have long used a method of storytelling within email marketing, and it unfortunately does not work well with restaurants or takeaways. A well written story can sell a webinar or a pdf or maybe even a physical copy of a cheap book, however all a story does in restaurant marketing is keep the bounce rate off of emails. This means that a lot of the time marketers are getting poor results even if audience retention is high. This means that the audience isn’t immediately bouncing off of the email, because they are preoccupied with text, but even with this technique, bounce rates for restaurant emails are usually pretty high.


Ask yourself a basic question: Have you ever subscribed to an emailing list before? If you have – have you read every single email they’ve ever sent out to you? If you have read all of them, then you are definitely in the minority. The majority of people are not interested in emails unless they are immensely important and need to be addressed. These are emails from families, employment emails, and potentially password reset emails.


For a long time, emails have been heralded as one of the main staples of marketing, with a vast number of digital marketers recommending them. Despite having a really low rate of success and generally bringing back a poor return on investment, they have been known to occasionally have some modicum of success. The main issue though is that most of the time, even if you are putting out a jaw dropping offer that’s almost impossible to refuse, you are unlikely to get success through emails, especially when compared to a solid Facebook campaign, which is cheaper, more effective, quicker and easier to set up.


After years of marketing for restaurants working with emailing lists set up by a number of marketers, some far better than others, my analysis is as follows.


Emails have a low success rate for almost every business, and therefore a low visibility when they’re being sent out. With the fact you have to work to capture the email address on top of this, it’s a lengthy process for little reward. There are costs that come with it, whichever service you use, and it takes a lot of time as well. 


If you are running the mailing lists yourself, you are chipping a lot of time in when you could be writing localising blogs, or putting your time to better use. If you are paying a marketer to do it, you are paying too much. This money could be spent on local reach on Facebook, getting you out to new customers. It’s a no brainer.


The horrors of email marketing don’t end there. Additional issues can come with the storage of customer’s personal data. If you acquired your emailing list before GDPR came into effect, you will simply need to scrap the list and start again, as new rules must be followed in order to capture customer’s details legally.


Emails and other information that you capture are also an issue because you have to protect the information from cyber criminals. It’s better to keep things simple and avoid using emails, except to respond to customer queries. Spend your money elsewhere for better results.


Chatbots – Alienate Your Customers With Advanced Technology!


There is a fantastic marketing engine in the US called the ROI engine. It was designed by an exceptional internet marketer called Matt Plapp, who’s experience working with restaurants has helped me a lot with my own internet marketing. Matt’s work is definitely worth looking up and following as he brings some brilliant ideas and techniques to the table which can really bring in the customer.


Matt’s ROI Engine is a well crafted and highly intelligent tool designed to assist marketing agencies work with restaurants and prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the engine is making a return on investment that is worth it as far as the restaurant is concerned. The ROI Engine is one of the smartest tools I have seen built by an internet marketer and it does an amazing job – In America.


Before I founded my company, I was working with an exceptional advertising agency over here in England. We ran the ROI Engine working with a restaurant that provided lovely food, and worked hard to help satisfy customers. The results were unfortunately not very good, and it wasn’t that we were doing anything wrong, nor was the restaurant.


The problem that we came across was that the British people are fundamentally different from the Americans. People here in the UK are generally hard to sell too, easily irritated and cursed with an incontrovertible misoneism – we don’t like to adapt or change.


The ROI Engine utilises chatbot technology through Manychat. It harvests customer information and stores this information internally. This means that you are responsible for the data it harvests and stopping that data falling into people’s hands.


The system is fairly complex, but functions like this: the customer will see an ad scrolling through their Facebook feed. They click on the link in the ad which results in the Chatbot messaging them. This is where everything goes wrong.


The customer sometimes responds with text, unsure of whether or not to press the automated replies and generally becomes upset if they don’t receive a human response, and they want it immediately. If you contact them later, they’re angry that you didn’t prioritise them or annoyed that they didn’t have value enough to be talked to by a person from the get-go. Those that can follow the process can choose to become enrolled into a loyalty system and earn fantastic rewards! I don’t think anyone actually ever got that far with the system in all the time we ran it.


The whole system creates a lot of problems with uk clients. Business owners want to constantly change things which can make things a nightmare for customers, who find it hard enough to follow as is. Then you have faults in Manychat, Zapier integrations, Google sheets and a tonne of other little quirks that make the thing into a full time job. The system is great and works wonders in the US but here it is a nightmare. Chatbots end up alienating their customers because they are too chirpy, too flowery, too robotic and just in general too inhuman. On social media, people want to talk to people, not play a choose your own adventure novel.


The thing about Social Media is that it is a great medium! It gives business owners the ability to interact with people in a great way online. It’s not always an easy thing to respond to everyone, but it generally works well. Automated responses and programmed bots can be useful, but overall have a negative effect and I have found that they drive away customers. I would generally avoid marketers that push the idea of using a chatbot based system in the UK. 


The people of the UK are hard to market to. It’s almost impossible to take a fantastic system that works beautifully with people with a completely different culture and use it effectively. We have to work within the boundaries of our own British culture.


Finally as a third little extra, you will want to avoid push notifications. They’re annoying and you can really antagonise people with them because some people can’t figure out how to stop them! This can result, and has resulted in many angry voicemails, calls and emails.


I hope this helps!


Alex O’Neil

I am a blogger based in the UK. I work as an SEO specialist and Web Designer, and my hobbies include making small films and writing music.