Operational Emails for Franchises: The Dos and Don’ts

Whether you’re a corporate marketing or operations person, the franchise owner, or the regional manager, you are responsible for ensuring that everything runs smoothly at all times. Your normal job means there’s a lot on your plate. But one crucial aspect of running any successful franchise is keeping your customers and staff informed about open and closing times, emergency events, and changes to staff schedules. 

Enter operational emails! These non-promotional, regular communications are your chance to let your customers know what’s happening inside your franchise, without hitting them with a call to action. But let’s be honest, no one wants to read a boring email full of drab business jargon. Here are some dos and don’ts to make your operational emails not only informative but also entertaining. You are part of a much bigger whole, so let’s remember to use the tone and design elements approved by corporate marketing. 

DO: Keep your emails short and sweet. No one has the time (or the patience) to read an essay. Stick to the key information and use a friendly tone of voice.  

DON’T: Be too formal. Dry, boring emails are a surefire way to make your customers hit the delete button (or worse, unsubscribe). Bring some personality to the table and keep things light-hearted.  

DO: Use humor! It’s a great way to connect with your customers and spark their interest. Make a joke, share a funny story, or include a silly picture. 

DON’T: Go overboard with humor. Remember, you are still a business owner, not a comedian. Keep your jokes appropriate and tasteful. 

Now that we’ve covered the basics, here are some specific tips for crafting operational emails that are sure to impress: 

Open and Closing Times:

DO: Remind your customers of your opening and closing times, including any early or late hours. Make sure they know when they can visit your franchise, and don’t forget to mention special holiday hours. 

DON’T: Assume that your customers already know your operating hours. It’s always better to over communicate than to leave your customers guessing. 

Emergency Events:

DO: Keep your customers updated on any unexpected events that may impact your franchise. These could include weather-related closures, power outages, or even unexpected maintenance. Let them know how you are handling the situation and when you expect to reopen. 

DON’T: Panic your customers with alarmist language. Keep a level-headed tone and reassure them that you are doing everything in your power to minimize any disruption. 

Changes to Regional Menus:

DO: Highlight any new menu items, promotions, or discounts that your franchise is offering. Give your customers a taste of what’s new and exciting and encourage them to come in and try it out. 

DON’T: Confuse your customers with too many changes at once. Introduce new menu items gradually and explain the reasoning behind any price increases or changes in ingredients. 

In conclusion, operational emails are crucial for keeping your customers informed and engaged. But they don’t have to be boring. Injecting humor, personality, and creativity into your emails can make a difference. So, get writing, and don’t be afraid to show your customers the fun side of your franchise. 

Schedule some time to discuss how Sageflo can help you.    

Posted by percaroe

Per’s Pearls: How do people want to hear from you?

When people ask what I do, and I explain I work with companies to help them communicate with their clients, I often get a blank look. Then I say, “I sell email and SMS” and the light goes on. At that point, I get an uncomfortable, “SPAM?”, or a genuine question like, “What can my company be doing better?” To them, I respond-  

Communicate with people in the manner in which they wish to be communicated. 

I really can’t emphasize this point enough. I’ve sat in scores of meetings where I listened to executives complain that they weren’t seeing acceptable results from pushing a square peg into a round hole. They wanted all their clients to respond to the communication methodology that they felt comfortable with, and not the other way around. They just couldn’t fathom why everyone didn’t open emails from their company, or why direct mail wasn’t working like it always had. 

Keeping your audience engaged and informed is a key to success. But how do people want to hear from you? With a vast range of channels and platforms available, it’s important to understand the preferences of your audience. If you’re like me and want to communicate with my late-teen, and early-twenties kids, you know that they routinely ignore your calls, but will respond immediately to texts. Some people are all about social media, while others live on messaging apps. Getting your message in front of clients and prospects has never been easier, and yet harder than ever! 

Email is dead, long live email 

For our purposes, we’ll stay focused on email and SMS marketing. From the onset email has had an unsavory co-pilot: SPAM. What is it? How do we define it? There are plenty of technical explanations, but my go-to is, “did you want this email at this time?” No? Then it’s SPAM. That’s overly harsh, but it gets to the heart of the issue. Are you listening to what people want and providing engaging content? 

According to Hubspot, 78% of marketers have seen an increase in email engagement over the past year. The key to email marketing success is personalization. With the rise of AI and machine learning, it’s easier than ever to segment your audience and create personalized emails that offer real value.  

I asked Randy Levy, from Zembula, what makes for engaging emails. “Less is more and showing your audience that you know them is pivotal to the success of creating that hypnotic email that does not put your audience to sleep. Triggers and transactional emails (abandoned cart, browse, package tracking, etc.) are some of the most engaging and revenue-producing emails. But to confine that messaging to just your triggers is a huge, missed opportunity. When brands incorporate the data from automated sends and incorporate the next best action into all their promotional emails, the audience perks up because the brand is genuinely engaging with their actions.” 

Be clever, not stupid, with SMS 

Kaleyra’s head of account management, Jessica Munayer, shared her expert advice with us on how to best utilize SMS: 

“The robots are determining when to send the messages, and no one’s going to spend more than 30-seconds on a communication- SMS or email, so be as familiar with the recipient as possible- use their name, reference buying trends, make it as impactful as you can each time. It’s a privilege to send communication to someone, treat it as such.  

Have a personality because people are really good at sniffing out BS bulk messaging. Companies with really high engagement rates have either laser-focused messaging, (your flight moved to gate E4, or your order shipped and should be there Tuesday) or are super engaging, and it’s a hard needle to thread between funny and offensive. There’s the line from Spinal Tap, ‘It’s such a fine line between stupid…and clever.’ Try and make every message result in, ‘oh my gosh, that’s what I’m looking for, how did they know?'” 

In conclusion, how, and how often, people want to hear from you will ultimately depend on your audience and the relevance of your messaging. It’s important to understand your audience as individuals, their preferences, and to create content that resonates with them. Whether it’s email or SMS marketing, the key is to keep your audience engaged and informed. By doing so, you can build lasting relationships and achieve real results. 

Schedule some time to discuss how Sageflo can help you.    

Posted by percaroe

Per’s Pearls: Scale Globally, Market Locally

We’re all aware that marketing emails are vital to keeping your clients and prospects engaged. But how do we get the messages out the door when say, you’re a big-deal retailer in the US but are trying to break into the Canadian and Mexican markets? What pitfalls should you avoid? 

One can either- staff up your existing HQ with marketers who can send language-appropriate emails; or, as is increasingly the case, have local teams in each country, or region, who will ensure you’re sending out appropriate content for the given region. Local teams ensure the messages can be translated with the appropriate nuance for a given region. It’s not just about language translation, cultural differences need to be accounted for as well. An image that’s totally fine to use in France, may not be appropriate at all in more conservative French-speaking countries. 

Make it easy and they shall come

We’ve been speaking with a number of QSRs and retailers who have tried to empower their teams with homegrown, or permission-driven communication tools, only to see poor adoption rates, due to complexity in training and usage. Unfortunately, teaching and training regional marketers (or worse, non-marketing business teams within a region) on an intricate email service provider system can be a daunting and time-consuming task while running the risk that one of these users might accidentally break automations or global campaign settings. 

This is why purpose-built distributed marketing tools are a great alternative. As they provide an easy-to-use platform with features like email building blocks and reusable templates, they enable regional teams to quickly assemble branded emails and help give email marketing campaigns a higher adoption rate. Overall, it’s a compelling solution for businesses that want to empower regional teams to launch email and/or SMS campaigns – without forcing non-marketers to learn a complex system. 

What does a distributed marketing solution need to be successful?

  • Make it easy: if a local marketer’s day-to-day is focused on a host of tasks, with email or SMS being just one of many responsibilities on their plate, a complex interface is going to scare them off. 
  • Don’t reinvent the platform: ideally, the right solution can leverage your existing marketing automation platform and functionality, while providing guardrails to help local teams stay on brand. This ensures that the marketing team at HQ gets all the juicy marketing data feeding off the regional campaigns so they can better understand their clients. 
  • Keep it safe: your solution must protect PII so that users only communicate and see data for appropriate customers within their regions. 
  • Trust, but verify: a streamlined review and approval process ensures centralized teams can maintain brand consistency while empowering local teams to operate quickly and efficiently. 

With the right tools in place, everyone is happy

“Happy?”, you might ask who cares about happiness? Well, shouldn’t we all strive to make our organizations happier places? Happier teams make for greater productivity, and happier customers. And happier customers lead to a healthier business overall: 

  • By utilizing the right Distributed Marketing solution, corporate marketing teams will be happier because they’ve scaled their marketing efforts without having to spend as much time day-to-day supporting individual regions.  
  • IT and operations will be happier that they don’t need to support clunky homegrown systems and know that the PII is locked down to the location level.  
  • Regional teams will be happier that they have a sense of autonomy and ownership and will be more likely to continue using the solution.  
  • The executive team will be happier because of operational efficiencies and revenue growth.  

Ultimately (and most importantly) your customers will be the biggest beneficiaries, as they receive more relevant communications that resonate with them. 

Please feel free to reach out and we can discuss how Sageflo can help your regional marketing improve their capabilities and time to deployment of communications. 

Posted by percaroe

Per’s Pearls: Email Marketing in Multi-Brand Firms: How to Use It Effectively 

Multi-brand firms, or holding companies, are businesses that own a portfolio of different brands. These companies offer an avenue of growth and increased market share, but they also come with their own set of challenges. The biggest challenge that multi-brand firms face is how to effectively manage the marketing of all their brands at the same time. This is where multi-brand marketing comes in. Multi-brand marketing is a strategy used to create synergy between all the brands within the company and empower each one to be a marketing hero. 

Having multiple, separate brands allows a company to reach different customer segments and capitalize on varying market trends. Think of some restaurant-holding firms that can have a chicken, burger, and pizza label and cover the gamut of your fast-food cravings. Or a fashion group that can cover someone from high school to retirement. With such a wide range of offerings, these brands can tap into various customer segments and provide solutions tailored to their individual needs.  

Another benefit of a multi-brand firm is that it allows for distributed marketing efforts. Companies can share resources and leverage different channels such as email marketing and content marketing to reach customers by creating and managing multiple brands under the same umbrella. This helps them reach more people and build stronger relationships with their customers. Ultimately, this leads to increased sales and greater brand recognition. 

The challenge is, that despite now being part of a bigger entity, the individual firms have history, resources, and processes. Anyone who’s been part of a merger will have heard the dreaded phrase, “that’s not how we do it here”. Though the bane of every change agent, it can also be a way of saying, “our firm is unique, and we’ve figured out how to communicate with our clients”. The opportunity of saving money by consolidating vendors often goes against the grain of marketing and operations who will have to reconfigure their workflow all while maintaining a current state. 

Teach your co-workers well

When discussing email marketing for a multi-brand firm, we should consider the bifurcating tiers of resources. Let’s consider a made-up multi-brand firm Saassy, which has seven brands focused on women from high school to retirement. Their marquee brand has over 800 locations selling fast casual clothing for post-college women (Låne) while their smallest brand has 80 target shops in exclusive malls selling elegant clothes for women over 50 using high-quality materials (kvalitet). We can assume Låne has a full marketing team creating bespoke emails based on complex personalization models, whereas kvalitet may have a catch-all marketing manager sending sporadic emails off Constant Contact. What happens when Saasy decides that all the brands need to migrate to a single ESP and send consistent messaging in timing and look/feel?  One could assume Låne would be able to quickly pivot, whereas kvalitet would most likely struggle as their team isn’t staffed to support a comprehensive customer engagement platform and the required volume of emails to find success. 

In kvalitet’s case, migrating from Constant Contact to a state-of-the-art ESP is like going from driving a scooter to a Ferrari. We must ensure that we don’t set up our teams for failure. A simplified distributed marketing solution, which sits on top of the fancy customer engagement platform, will allow the kvalitet marketing manager to create emails utilizing approved templates, share a common calendar, institute an approval process, and succeed. If the system is adopted holding company-wide, the collective can learn from one another and adopt best practices quickly.  

Schedule some time to discuss how Sageflo can help you.    

Posted by percaroe

Per’s Pearls: How can I market to my clients as a franchisee/branch manager?

As we discuss distributed marketing and how to scale content creation to local teams, a good place to start is the QSR (Quick-Serve Restaurant). A QSR’s primary marketing requirement is to bring people into their locations. In an ideal world, corporate will be able to generate sufficiently successful emails, SMS, TV/Radio ads, and such to drive traffic to the location. However, corporate marketing priorities are not always the same as a local franchisor, and we need to allow the franchisors to communicate directly with their customers. So, let’s look at two use cases to understand the challenge of accomplishing this, and the advantages to both corporate and the local level owners and managers. 

Two Audiences / One Location

First, imagine you’re the owner of a QSR in a town of 50,000 people. You have two high schools and a weekly farmers market between June and October. The schedules of the two local high school football teams and farmers market will become the cornerstone of your local marketing campaigns.  

Corporate marketing does a great job of promoting the Chicken Sandwich, or the Groundhog Day Slider. Where local marketing is most effective, is by promoting the upcoming Friday night game, with a pre-event reminder; and then, after the game, sending a congratulatory email with a themed offer (Blue and Gold Milkshakes, anyone?). To do this effectively you need to have calendaring functionality so that you’re not running the schedules off an excel spreadsheet, reminders on Google Calendar, or post-it notes. A useful calendar will also tie into the corporate marketing campaigns so that you’re able to leverage the national Chicken Sandwich or the Groundhog Day Slider launch.  

Farmers Market patrons, we know from experience, are a geographically dispersed group. Sending them a notification that the local football team has won will, at best, be seen as amusing; and at worst generate an unsubscribe. Farmers Market people want to be notified just prior to coming to town that your QSR is offering special menu items, different opening and closing hours, or a simple “welcome to our town” email which serves as a reminder that you exist. Like the football schedule, you can tie into the Markets schedule, and hit people with emails prior to, and after, a particular event, “Make sure to come down to Franks Diner after getting your fresh vegetables and treat yourself to an Amazing Chicken Sandwich!” 

Also necessary, and discussed in prior blog posts, good list management is the key to success with email and SMS marketing. When collecting names, ask about interests (“which football team do you support”), significant dates (birthdays are smart), and food preferences (vegan, gluten, and allergies) so that you can customize targeting and offers down the road. For the Farmers Market example, one can simply ask, “are you here for the Farmers Market” while collecting the contact information. One can also add a zip code field to sort locals, vs out-of-towners. 

In-Store Events

Next, we’re going to pretend that we own a pet supply store in the same 50,000-person town. We could highlight the football team as a booster and celebrate the school’s bulldog mascot by offering bulldog chew toys. More interesting, however, would be to highlight your store’s participation in an adopt-a-pet event with a local foster program. Chances are, you’re not going to be able to get anyone at corporate excited about a local pet adoption event in your small 50,000-person town, but it sure is going to be important to the success of the event to have people show up at your store.

A Final Thought

From a higher level, corporate marketing is focused on building brand recognition and driving traffic into all locations. Local marketing, on the other hand, is focused on driving people into your store(s) while reinforcing the idea that your location is a part of the community. Whether it’s an in-store adoption event, cooking or yoga class, with local marketing you’re empowering local teams to speak more effectively about the events they’re passionate about, and highlighting their community involvement at the same time.  

Like politics, all marketing is local, so we need to ensure downstream folks (franchisees, regional managers, etc.) follow the rules, both from a general marketing and corporate guidelines perspective. Local marketing builds on the branding that corporate has done, but gives humanity to the local branch, “We’re the Smiths, and our family is proud to serve you at Frank’s Dinner.” But it’s important that the Smiths don’t abuse the people who’ve given permission to market to them, and that they are able to adhere to brand guidelines; to accomplish these two requires a tool purpose-built for local teams, with ease-of-use top of-mind and guardrails to help them stay on brand.  

Schedule some time to discuss how Sageflo can help you accomplish this balancing act.   

Posted by percaroe

Per’s Pearls: How to collect email and SMS addresses

In ten years, every multi-location company, whether it’s a Franchise (who will lead the charge), Branches, or MLM/Network Marketing will be empowering their people to send personalized emails and SMS. If we accept this premise, we must address these five challenges but don’t worry, we’ll offer several solutions to each. 

1. Hello, I love you, won’t you tell me your name?

Capturing Emails

How do I get my customer/prospective customers’ contact info so I can send them an email/SMS? There is a wealth of ways, but it gets down to fundamentals. A QSR, retail, or service provider, for instance, can just ask them. Either at the point of purchase, online order, or when they walk in. A restaurant client of mine used to add an email line on the receipt so that you could sign up for their loyalty program. The catch was training staff to highlight the line and enter the email into the system properly; in case you haven’t tried to read someone’s handwriting lately, that can be a huge issue to data integrity. A more elegant option is adding a QR code directed to a landing page or providing a kiosk with the sign-in form. 

Service providers are a wealth of data, depending on the food ordering system, you should be able to legitimately acquire their contact information as part of the transaction, the same goes for modern payment systems, where you encourage an email receipt. I’ve received follow-up emails from several businesses after getting an email/SMS receipt and depending on the content, it’s been acceptable. 


Consent – What’s in It for Me?

Why should I give up my name and contact info? This question hits several concepts- consent, questions, and content. Consent is a big, big deal. I’m permitting you to communicate with me regarding this particular item- my receipts, offers, and notifications of birthdays/anniversary- this is not blanket permission to hit me four times a day with non-relevant content. A good rule of thumb, is “when is it relevant or SPAM?” Take the 1964 Jacobellis v. Ohio case regarding obscenity, where Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, said, “I know it when I see it.” For email/SMS we know when something crosses into SPAM, but the best way to avoid confusion is to ask, ask, and then ask again.  

3. Email is Dead, Long Live Email


How, and how often, would you like us to communicate with you? People want to be communicated to via their preferred channel. People either love or hate email, social platforms, text, and messaging apps. Make sure your messages are sent to the appropriate channel. Also, a word on frequency. Ask upfront, and in your preference center, how often (and what content) you want to hear from us. We may do a whole other blog on frequency and content because there’s a lot that goes into it. 

4. Do You Like Broccoli Ice Cream?


Preference Centers are a must-have, this is not a debate; if you don’t have one, go make one, like right now… stop reading… I’m serious. Preference centers are part of a relevance and consent strategy. PCs offer a mechanism to ask what’s important at the beginning, and then throughout the relationship. 

When I started selling to Oxford University Press early in my career, Preference Centers were a hold-over from Mail Order firms. OUP had 54 variable emails for which you could sign up, it was nuts, but their deliverability and engagement numbers were incredibly enviable. Partially this was because we are not static entities, we change jobs, move, get together and separate from people- all of which affects why I may, or may not, want to hear from you. 

Wildcard questions are really interesting, provided you build a mechanism to use them. Think of food types in restaurants. Cracker Barrel recently saw a kerfuffle over adding plant-based breakfast sausage. But what’s the impact if I identify myself as preferring plant-based sausage, kosher, or gluten-free? The location should then send appropriate content based on these preferences. A word of caution, asking things like age, weight/height, race, or gender could be specifically appropriate, or super problematic. Maybe ask a few people who don’t look like you before going live. 

5. Just ’cause I’m leaving doesn’t mean I’m gone.


Regarding the unsubscribe process, Randy Levy recently wrote a short piece on unsubscribing. The piece itself is informative, but the comment section is gold. A universal pet peeve (and arguably illegal under GDPR) is having to sign in, or add one’s contact, info. to unsubscribe.  

As I mention before, we have different needs at different times, so we may decide to take a break, but if that’s not available (see preference center above) I’m going to unsubscribe or report you as SPAM. Make the unsubscribe process easy, offer a pause function, and offer the ability to change frequency and type of send, but make it easy to leave. 

Final Problem – How do I get this bird off the ground?

If I’m a single location QSR, a branch/region manager, or a member of a Network Marketing firm, these all sound super scary and prohibitive. The onus must be on Corporate Marketing/Ops to ensure that the scaffolding is available for you to start creating hyper-localized, relevant content for your customers. Sign-up options and data entry should be simple and focused on avoiding data entry mistakes, and a clear articulation of content and communication types.  

Eventually, everyone will be sending emails/SMS at the location level. The question is how? Via a low-rent email tool with no safeguards from corporate? Everyone using the sophisticated Digital Marketing Platform? We contend a made-to-purpose Distributed Marketing tool, utilizing all the sophistication of a top-tier Digital Marketing Platform, yet easy enough for a non-marketing professional is the ideal solution to this problem. 

Contact Per with any questions or comments: per@sageflo.com

Posted by percaroe

How to Improve NPS 

“I personally believe we developed language because of our deep inner need to complain.”

Jane Wagner, The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe

People love to complain and are loath to praise. Take ten minutes and read up on your favorite taco truck on Yelp and you’ll wonder what the heck happened, that’s not the business you know and crave fortnightly. When we consider client satisfaction on an enterprise level, we need a different set of tools for the task, which is where we find NPS. 

Here’s how NPS works.

NPS stands for Net Promoter Score®, and is an industry-adopted measurement of customer satisfaction/ experience and a good predictor of future growth. The score ranges from 1–6 as a Detractor, 7 & 8 are Passive, while 9 & 10 are Promoters.  If one subtracts the percentage of Detractors from the percentage of Promoters, one has your NPS; which can range from -100 to +100. 

Why is NPS important? The goal of NPS is to take a single survey question asking respondents to say, “rate the likelihood that they would recommend a company, product, or service to a friend or colleague”; and have what Fred Reichheld titled his 2002 Harvard Business Review article, The One Number You Need To Grow. Executives have jumped aboard the NPS train, and it now carries a great many bonuses and promotions. So, how do we increase our NPS, so we look good to our bosses and them to theirs?  

Some stats about why Customer Experience (CX) will affect that golden single NPS and how customer experience drives business growth: 

  1. 67% of clients churn if there’s no First Call Resolution (FCR)
  1. 84% of consumers are frustrated when the agent does not have information. 
  1. The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60–70%. The probability of selling to a new prospect is 5–20%.  
  1. It costs 6–7 times more to acquire a new customer than retain an existing one.  
  1. A dissatisfied customer will tell between 9–15 people about their experience. Around 13% of dissatisfied customers tell more than 20 people. Happy customers who get their issue resolved tell about 4–6 people about their experience.  
  1. A 5% increase in customer retention increases profits by 25–95%. 

How does one increase FCR and improve NPS? Be knowledgeable. 

Before Sageflo Archiver is implemented, our clients generally aren’t tracking how many requests for resending an email occur in a day, the status of a client’s subscription permission, or how much time is spent fulfilling auditing requests. After implementation, the contact center team typically uses Archiver to lookup emails, SMS, and print collateral between 3,000 to 10,000 times a week! This is because Customer Care is generally incentivized by the number of “resolved” calls an hour, and Archiver makes it incredibly easy to address these types of inquiries swiftly.  

On the flip side, if a call requires access to an individual’s email — which is usually not readily available to the contact center without a solution like Archiver — they send a request to the people with the emails: Marketing. If it takes Marketing five minutes to look up and send an email, SMS, or print piece back to Customer Care (or directly to the client) it can take days, or weeks, to resolve the issue because they have so many other priorities to attend to. If you’re sitting in an airport trying desperately to find an email with your flight information, that is an unacceptable amount of time. Aside from the unhappy client’s impact on your NPS and future revenue, this little exercise, at scale for a given enterprise business, costs $800K–$1.9M in people hours (or 9–21 X ROI) each year. 

If we’re honest, most of these difficult-to-support issues fall by the wayside as customer care is struggling to keep up with the volume of inquiries. This results in all the above: unhappy customers, who are very likely to switch vendors in hopes of a more satisfactory customer experience in the future. So, one simple major step to improving your Net Promoter Score is to empower front-line Customer Care/ Retail employees to access one-to-one communication so they solve issues during the initial call in just a few minutes, and not days.  

With the right tools to easily address these issues, your teams will be significantly more productive — and happier! — and your customers will reward you with greater loyalty and repeat business. It’s a win-win for everyone. 

Learn more about Sageflo Archiver.

Contact Per with any questions or comments: per@sageflo.com

Posted by percaroe

Culver’s Empowers Local Messaging with MessageGears + Sageflo

Case study originally written and posted by MessageGears.

How do you enable high-ROI local messaging campaigns while maintaining control of your brand?

The Culver’s marketing team wanted to empower their local marketers to use their own customer data and help drive personalized email marketing, but it was impossible to do so with other tools. To bridge the gap and deliver superior marketing experiences, MessageGears teamed up with Sageflo — leaders in empowering marketing at the local level while maintaining brand control from corporate — and created the perfect solution to utilize all of their data while putting their local operators in a place to own a part of the message.

Key Outcomes

Quick Migration

Migration to the platform only took 8 weeks

Higher Overall Audience Engagement

Because the messaging was more relevant, audience engagement increased

Micro-Segmented Messaging

Dramatic increase in the number of individual campaigns sent through the brand

Adoption at Scale

100% of operators that have logged in to Radiate have sent a campaign within the first 3 months

The Opportunity: Empowering local operators to create hyper-segmented messaging while maintaining brand control

Any marketer who’s worked with a large corporate umbrella over many locally managed subsidiaries (restaurant chains, professional sports leagues, and direct sales organizations are a few examples) can likely relate to the problem of wanting to combine the hyper-relevance of locally based messaging with the consistency and data management of a sophisticated corporate marketing operation.

For many large, national brands, broad corporate-led campaigns with selected elements of personalization work well because the customer experience doesn’t differ significantly from location to location. But for brands with close customer touchpoints at the local level — and who often have franchisees wanting to engage in a direct way with the community they know best — it’s important to be able to provide a level of local autonomy while maintaining brand standards and selective data access in order to generate the campaign relevance you want.

This was the position Culver’s was in when they found MessageGears, whose direct data connection looked like the perfect fit for how they wanted to expand their local marketing programs.

“Once conversations with Culver’s began, we knew it would be a great fit since they could use their live data with our open API architecture,” Taylor Jones, SVP Customer Success at MessageGears said. “That was the key to being able to give their franchisees the tools they needed to send campaigns to their customers, using the unique local knowledge that only they had.”

That included all sorts of information that was highly relevant to people in their area but practically invisible to the marketers building campaigns from corporate. If there’s a big basketball game at the local high school down the road, inviting customers to a pep rally before the game — or victory celebration afterward — is a highly effective way to increase engagement. Combined with a steady, consistent cadence of announcements and offers from the larger brand, and Culver’s knew they had the recipe for a successful email strategy.

What they wanted was essentially the best of both worlds:

  • Allow local restaurant owner-operators to have the freedom to send relevant emails on the local level so the messages were more personal for customers

But also:

  • Own the messaging and brand framework from a corporate standpoint to have approval over every message going out

If they could get to that point, it would allow them to empower local store owners to build their own email campaigns using their unique knowledge of the area and their customers, enabling them to perform highly relevant targeting of small groups at each restaurant. During this process, it was also important for their corporate team to be able to keep local messaging and design on brand while still allowing the local marketing leaders some level of autonomy.

“Sending any sort of locally based campaigns had always been a huge challenge for us, but it was something we’d discussed as a goal many times,” said Liz Haferkorn, Senior Marketing Manager for Culver’s. “Our franchisees always told us they wanted that flexibility, but we never could find the right solution to give us the comfort level we needed to execute it.”

Importantly, though, Culver’s still wanted their corporate marketers to control the overall message being sent nationally, so the overall message customers received wasn’t disjointed from a brand and language standpoint. For corporate marketers who have many senders distributed in many places, scaling marketing can be extremely time consuming without the right tools.

Finding no solutions that allow marketers to resonate with local consumers, the Culver’s team turned to MessageGears and Sageflo to deliver one.

The Solution: MessageGears + Sageflo combine to deliver a best-of-breed solution

Sageflo Radiate™ seamlessly and directly integrates with MessageGears Accelerator™ creating Sageflo Radiate™ powered by MessageGears™, giving users the ability to create and send a message within minutes — even if the user has little to no experience in the marketing world. And once implementation began it seemed like Sageflo and MessageGears were made for each other. But don’t take our word for it; here’s what Aaron Smith, CEO of Sageflo, had to say about the partnership:

“While Sageflo Radiate™ empowered Culver’s local store owner/operators to create and send hyper-personalized messages, it was really the power of MessageGears Accelerator™ direct data access and open API design that made our implementation so fast and give such power to these local marketers.”

“As we were working together, we knew how important it was to not only have a good story to tell around corporate marketing and our distributed-marketing tool, but to make it easy for anyone to use,” says Nick Ziech-Lopez, Director of Product Marketing at MessageGears. “In many cases, these are not people with lots of marketing training who have their fingers on the keys. So making it user-friendly from the UI to the data access was a huge win for the team.”

The integration allows corporate marketing teams to create multiple templates, while the local level chooses an approved template and can send messages in minutes. This feature makes the message feel personalized while conforming with overall company brand guidelines. MessageGears’ on-premises installation and lack of defined data schema plugged directly into the Culver’s data, making setup easy and quick.

One of the most used features of the tool is the flexible audience creator, allowing local users to easily select from various options to define their intended set of recipients, making segmenting easy. Better yet, though, this feature only took weeks to migrate and apply in the brand’s environment because Sageflo can create a single audience during the migration that can be flexibly changed in MessageGears’ back-end APIs to apply to any store. This allows corporate marketers to create globally defined segments like “Frequent diner” while local marketers can use that to target recipients close to them.

“Flexibility is one of the biggest keys to making Radiate such a useful tool for both corporate and local marketers,” Bernice Fung, Head of Growth at Sageflo said. “It is what provides the corporate team with the control they need while still giving individual stores that opportunity to tailor audiences to their particular market needs.”

The Benefit: Better alignment between brand and local creators, raising engagement and delivering ROI

The quick eight-week migration saved the Culver’s significant time and resources, in addition to allowing them to begin the training and onboarding process at the local level far sooner than they had anticipated as they were looking to set up this program.

Once the rollout had completed, A/B testing at the local level allowed the Culver’s to quickly learn what types of campaigns worked for the various restaurants and which ones didn’t, gradually honing in on the best combination of content and messaging to increase relevance to the customers receiving the messages and, as a result, new customers, engagement, and ROI for the brand.

“Seeing this strategy in action was actually better than we even expected it to be,” Aaron Smith said. “The results came quickly and really validated the partnership we had with MessageGears in the first place. Everyone got on board and made it a big success.”

Better alignment between the corporate and local teams also enabled more collaboration, and gave everyone from the top down comfort and confidence in their strategic approach. Marketers at the corporate level had more visibility into what was effective on a micro level, and they were able to help use those learnings to gently steer campaigns in the right direction while franchisees enjoyed the flexibility to be able to send messages that made their customers feel like the valued and understood regulars they were.

Case study originally written and posted by MessageGears.

Posted by MessageGears

Per’s Pearls: Personalization vs. Individualization 

“Don’t be creepy. Over-communicate where your data comes from and make it available to be edited, so consumers feel empowered, not trapped.”

Complaints from the 1%… Boo-hoo I’m a Giant

One of the more irritating things about being taller and wider than the norm is clothing. For dress clothes, I’ve been lucky to find a tailor from Bangkok who comes through the Bay Area a couple of times a year, takes my measurements, shows me the materials and I get a FedEx package a month later with a suit or dress shirts; all at a rate comparable to Nordstrom’s off the rack. For everyday wear, there are a few brands I rely on that have a good rate on big and tall for polos and jeans. As a thrifty consumer, I tend to wait until their Cyber Monday sale and buy a year’s worth of replacements for my wardrobe.  

Here’s my personalization information- 

  1. Wears 2 or 3XL Tall tops/ 46-inch waist 
  1. 54-year-old Male 
  1. Lives in Northern California 
  1. Likes polo shirts and V-neck sweaters for three months of the year 
  1. Buys exclusively during sale periods 
  1. Buys exclusively dark colors- black or dark blue 
  1. Does not buy dress shirts, or sport coats 

Now, imagine my surprise when I get an email advertising women’s sun dresses. This is a failure in personalization- let alone individualization, which is marketers’ white whale, but still very challenging to do on a basic level for the bigs.

It’s all Different Sized Buckets

Let’s take a step back and understand the difference between Personalization vs Individualization. There are a host of competing terms and definitions, each author trying to be clever- and probably sell something by making things confusing. Personalization is best described as a relative bucket (two or three items on the personalized list above) and individualization is me, a unique sunflower (all the variables listed above, plus some I haven’t imagined).  From a marketing perspective, both are super relevant, just for different things, but the base trend is headed toward Individualization. Marketers should always try and understand what and why they’re sending content to customers.  

Let’s take our theoretical clothing client and me. A personalized email campaign may be, “we need to sell 14,000 cargo shorts, as summer is wasting away and we don’t want to discount them too much in October”. As I live in Northern California (plus or minus fifteen degrees off an average daytime high of 65 F year-round), am a 54-year-old male, and I like Polo shirts, it’s a pretty safe assumption that I’ll buy the cargo shorts with some discount.  

Here’s where we cross into Individualization, because of my waist size, the system should be integrated into the inventory system, to ensure that they have a reasonable number of XL- XXL (depending on fit) shorts in dark blue/ black available. Further, looking at my past buying pattern the system notices that I bought a similar pair of shorts five years ago, which is the lifetime of the standard cargo short (totally made that statistic up, but it sounds good). Individualization requires more data integration but will have a much higher success rate as it’s targeted to an audience of one. 

Tales From the Creep

Despite Oxford Analytic and Zuck’s Folly, a McKinsey study from the end of 2021 shows 71% of customers expect personalization, while 76% indicated frustration at not being spoken to as an individual. Simultaneously, 55-60% of Americans are in favor of the American Data Privacy and Protection Act (ADPPA). A federal law expanding on GDPR and CCPA. What does this mean for marketers? Don’t be creepy. Over-communicate where your data comes from and make it available to be edited, so consumers feel empowered, not trapped.

A Word from our Sponsor

Ironically, perhaps, but at Sageflo, we originally designed our Archiver tool to capture every personalized email for call center, marketing, and compliance uses. However, we are proud to announce the upcoming release of our Persona view, which will allow the customization of aggregate customer segment buckets (gold membership members, Vegans, or Northern California Sasquatches). This will allow an overview by marketing to easily understand what a group of people has received from the brand in an easy-to-view customer journey format. 

The CRO/CMO/COO Fever Dream

We all want a more personalized user experience. I want my daily purchase to feel more like the experience I get when my tailor meets me to measure, suggest, and ask about my wife and kids. I get irritated when Instagram shows me an ad for a cool shirt, only to find they don’t do 2 or 3 XL Tall. On the flip side, I’ve set my iPhone to the lowest data collection, because I don’t trust the industry will self-govern where to draw the line on buying and selling my data.  

This is what keeps retailers up at night- how much is too much and where can I find out just a smidge more to intersect with customers’ lives and be more relevant. The answer is faster and bigger. Real-time data updates pulling to campaigns into ever more complex data segmentation. At some point, it’ll be AI, ‘cause everything’s gonna be AI; but for today, it’s massive integrated data systems. But more importantly, will be how rules get implemented to ensure a customer focus on data privacy and whether that comes from the industry or from the government. What are your thoughts? 

Contact Per with any questions or comments: per@sageflo.com

Posted by percaroe

Per’s Pearls: When does the QSR version of American Graffiti come out? 

It was an amazing sight. Lots of kids with red wagons with bunting, random pets walking, and waiving; cowboys riding lovingly groomed horses; minor dignitaries, and car dealership owners, riding in antique cars soaking up the crowd’s cheers- it was lovely.” 

Pure Americana

My cousin and her family left the Bay Area, just before covid made this a fashionable trend, for the wilds of Michigan. We spoke recently and were discussing the differences, primarily the cost of living, natural beauty, and weather. She said, “you get 8 weeks of summer, not like the Bay Area where spring and fall shoulder summer to stretch it out for most of the year; but the upside is it’s a real summer, hot and humid; and full of Americana.”  This got me thinking of the America of Norman Rockwell, Coke memorabilia, and the place of retail in this collective nostalgia. 

Searching for Americana

When I was a college intern for CBS This Morning, my boss sent me to Fort Dodge, Iowa to interview Fred Grandy, who was the Congressman for Iowa, but better known as Gopher from the Love Boat TV show.  I met Congressman Grandy the night before at the Holiday Inn, where we were both staying, by chance, and spent the evening drinking beers and discussing Single-Payer Healthcare. I was pro and he con, but it was a fun, respectful conversation.  

The next day we met for the interview, where he was the Grand Marshall for the town parade, which I spent the hour before I left for my flight observing. It was an amazing sight. Lots of kids with red wagons with bunting, random pets walking, and waiving; cowboys riding lovingly groomed horses; minor dignitaries, and car dealership owners, riding in antique cars soaking up the crowd’s cheers- it was lovely. 

I jumped on a plane and got back to NYC in time to view Macy’s fireworks show, which was splashy, loud, and also, very American.  

As American as a Baked Apple Pie Lava Pockets

Over thirty years later, what stuck with me is the idea that small towns represent the American psyche. Rockwell’s artwork was full of the idealism of America’s small towns. Fort Dodge’s population of 24,168, which is half of my town, but a fraction of my greater metro area which has 7.75 million inhabitants (to be fair Iowa is half that at 3.15M). I’m asking myself what place do QSRs (Quick Serve Restaurants) represent in these small towns, and therefore in their culture vs mine? 

Outside of Agriculture, QSR’s are one of the most common first employers in rural communities. Culver’s, a Midwestern burger and Fresh Frozen Custard franchise, with 800 restaurants in 25 states have provided 3,000 scholarships worth $5M to their employees. Culver’s also extols its training and advancement opportunities for employees.  

In towns like Fort Dodge, the local Culver’s is also a focal point for teens and young people. Googling things to do in Fort Dodge includes the normal array of sporting activities, an Art Museum, and Fort Dodge Grain Silo Mural. Given these options, I’m guessing Culver’s is hopping on any given Friday night. And I imagine most know one another on either side of the counter. 

In my immediate community, we look forward to the Twin Cities (Corte Madera and Larkspur) Parade, which has the same mix as the Fort Dodge parade of decades gone by, and the Marin County Fair. The parade and fair generate a lot of business as folks come in to enjoy the spectacle. But from a local business stand, it’s hard to stand out. Local messaging is key to success in this saturated market. 

A&W, which has more than 900 locations, with more than 550 in the U.S., and at over 100 years old is America’s oldest franchise restaurant chain. This was my childhood local hamburger joint and is around the corner from the County Fair. Unlike Fort Dodge Culver’s, it competes with a host of youth activities, and first-time jobs; and does a poor job at self-promotion.  

Putting on my promotion hat, I’d be sending out email blasts before the events to promote A&W’s wonderful root beer floats after a hot day of overpriced fairground food. I’ve never seen them, or any QSRs, participate in the 4th of July parade or have a booth at the fair. This could be intentional by the organizers, but why wouldn’t you remind residents that you are a part of your community and not just a location of an international restaurant chain? 

Nouveau Americanism

QSRs make up 50% of the American restaurant industry. There are 204,555 QSRs in the US as of 2022, up 1.3% from 2021. 83% of American families eat at fast-food restaurants at least once a week and the average family spends 10% of their annual income on fast food. The local Culver’s, Pizza Hut, or A&W is an engine for growth and provides a consistent level of food whether you’re in Springfield California, Illinois, or Florida.  

The next big marketing wave for these local franchises is to access sophisticated marketing tools that their HQ use, but in a simplified form, to help solidify their position in their communities. Celebrate the High School team’s victory, the Farmer’s market in the mall, the Fair and Parades that make up our annual lifecycles- but most importantly celebrate and promote your place as an organizer or participant! Perhaps the next Americana artist will wax nostalgic for the local QSR location, their hyper-local marketing, and how that evokes nostalgia for the newest iteration of American identity- aka Americana? 

Contact Per with any questions or comments: per@sageflo.com

Posted by percaroe