In 2007, far before business pages were introduced, Boloco had around 17 different Facebook groups to represent the brand and its locations.
John started using email marketing even earlier, sending the chain’s first newsletter in 1999.
Since the beginning, he says that the goal of Boloco’s social media and email has been connecting with customers on a more personal level.
Here’s a transcript of my recent discussion with John on how social media and email marketing work together for Boloco, and how the relationship recently came into play when the business simultaneously celebrated a 15th anniversary with free burritos, announced a price hike, and raised over $20,000 for an important cause.
What is the difference between email & social media strategies?
With email, we really focus on outbound communication. On traditional social media, Facebook is a little more outbound, but a little less inbound than, say, Twitter, since Twitter is all about listening and responding.
Both Facebook and Twitter are constant feedback mechanisms. They let us quantify general trends, like what people are complaining about. That helps us learn what we need to improve and what we’re doing right.
Whether we’re using email or social media, we try to make people smile. We don’t want to bore people, so we always make sure that the messages are interesting and substantial.
Any email that doesn’t add to a person’s day, that’s a waste of communication. We have 45,000 people on our email list and we don’t want to waste even a moment of their time. Every correspondence counts.
What can people expect to find in Boloco emails? What can they find on Facebook?
On our Facebook Page, you’ll find customers commenting a lot. We’ll also share any email we do on our Page. In addition, you’ll find things that we think guests will care about. We’ll post off-center and unexpected pictures quite often to build emotional connections.
We generally use Facebook and Twitter more frequently than email. With email, we’re more careful and thoughtful. We send emails when we want to make something happen.
Boloco just celebrated 15th birthday and you guys had a big push through both email and social. Tell me a bit about that.
We had a tough thing to do. First, we had to say ‘Thank you for 15 years, we’ve been listening, and here are some changes that we’re going to make.’ But we also had to tell people about a price increase.
We made that an email, so there were links to more information about why we had to make the hikes. While you know you’re losing a good chunk of people, the email targets the people who actually care and want the information about the price increase. We were as transparent on this as we’ve ever been and nowadays people seem to appreciate the truth, for better or for worse.
Then, we wanted to share the good news to make up for the price increase, so we announced free burrito days.
We did the four major outreach emails and eight mini-outreach emails. We used social media to back up the birthday and announce when and where the free burrito days were happening. It was a constant circular motion between restaurants, email, social media, and websites that really helped raise a substantial amount of money for the charity we were partnered with.
People who still had questions about the price increase got directed to our archived page. It’s super helpful to have those archived emails.
The free burrito days were crazy. Lines were one or two city blocks deep. Mostly, I think that’s because free is like a magic word. Overall, we served 37,600 people, with an average of 2,000 per store. On a typical day of business, we serve 500.
Do you have any advice for businesses trying to start off with engagement marketing?
The main thing is to find your true voice. I always make sure that our team stays focused on the things that define our personality. To some extent, our personality is an extension of ourselves and it’s pretty locked down.
For starters, we try to be 100% honest. It’s also important to be off-center, but appealingly off-center – straight and narrow is boring. We also remind ourselves not to take ourselves too seriously. In context of most people’s lives, our emails and Facebook and tweets are just not that important. Sometimes, they’ll just delete them. And that’s ok.
That makes it important to think about what you’re posting – make it entertaining and engaging, anything that adds a little positive something to someone’s day.
How do you stay engaged with your customers through social media & email? Let us know below!