When McDonald’s lifted the once-ironclad 10:30 a.m. cut-off for tardy breakfast-goers late last year, customers hit the chain in droves, lured by the simple novelty of being able to chow down on an Egg McMuffin any time they want.
The idea is so simple! The chain is using an avenue they already own, but in a new way – and it’s working! In Q4 of 2015, the fast-food joint saw same store sales jump by 5.7 percent and pushed growth into territory the global company hadn’t seen in more than four years.
So what if we thought about employee email like McDonald’s thinks about breakfast?
You already send a ton of business emails every day. It’s a channel you own – you dictate the message and the recipient. But are you using the channel to its fullest potential? Here are five things your custom email signature can learn from the all-day breakfast menu.
1. Beat the crowd
McDonald’s snags most of their revenue during the lunch and dinner hours – hamburgers are just more expensive than hotcakes. Breakfast has, traditionally, been something of an afterthought for the entire fast food industry. But it’s taken on an enormous importance as of late. First-meal sales have jumped by almost 5 percent year-over-year for the fast food behemoth from 2007-2012, where the traditional marque meals, lunch and dinner, have remained flat according to The Motley Fool.
To sustain growth in the overly-crowded fast-casual restaurant sphere (where the money-spenders are looking to go), McDonald’s execs realized it was going to be near impossible to find new ways boost sales during the typical peak hours with the same marketing and advertising initiatives they’ve relied on in the past. Instead, the Golden Arches poured a huge effort into expanding the potential of a hit they already had grips on.
Now look at your custom email signature. Often an afterthought, it has this enormous potential to break through the overly-noisy marketing industry by opening a new, owned distribution channel. No longer can you just buy more advertising and expect to see more results.
So change up your game and play in a space you already control. In 2015, more than 205 billion emails were sent every day, according to The Radicati Group. And that number is expected to continue growing, reaching 246 billion emails by the end of 2019.
You’re in your email. Your customers are in their email – 122 business emails are sent and received every day. Rethink how you’re using the space and inject marketing messages when you create a custom email signature.
2. Be convenient
Mickey-Ds is insanely convenient when you’re on the go. The company grabs around 70 percent of their sales through the drive-thru. They make it crazy easy to get your hands on bacon, egg and cheese sandwiched between an English muffin, still steaming, at any time day or night.
And sure, you can make a similar Egg McMuffin at home with a little extra time and effort. But do you want to give some deliciousness to your whole family? Plan to be in the kitchen for a while. It’s going to take more time, more effort, and you know as well as I do your four-year-old is going to start whining about the cornmeal on your store bought muffins, refusing to eat it.
Now shift to the office. Deliver convenience to your contacts by adding a call-to-action in your custom email signature. Offering up content through your CTA lets you break through the noise to reach your custom audience.
Plus your CTA could be anything! Direct people to a new case study, send them to a registration page for your next big event. Deliver your content to your audience and make it easy and convenient.
3. Speak your customer’s language
McDonald’s has, in recent years, put a concentrated focus in bringing healthier options to the table. More than a year ago, they moved to use real butter over the preservative-laden margarine in their Egg McMuffins. They’re sourcing chicken raised without antibiotics and are in the process of transitioning to use only cage-free eggs. The chain is cutting the fat by using grass-fed beef and ditching artificial preservatives in the sausage, omelet-style and scrambled eggs. And, in several markets they’ve worked to expand their gourmet coffee options.
Why are they doing this now, in conjunction with their all-day breakfast plan? In a word: Millennials. The millennial generation has been wooed by fast-casual restaurants, like Panera Bread and Starbucks, who put a focus on where their food comes from and what it does to your body. And the craft coffee offering brews a top concern of customization for the largest generation since the Baby Boomers.
But up until now, Millennials have failed to become loyal patrons of McDonald’s. So to compete, the company is in the process of making a significant shift toward healthier and better food that will change the perception of the chain in the fast-casual market segment.
The chain is working to fit in where their customers already are. They're talking their talk, walking their walk and feeding them how they want to be fed. And they’re doing it without being a distraction, instead offering it up all day, every day.
Feed your customers how they want to be fed. Hit their inbox, without driving fluff-mail. Use your custom email signature to drive engagement. Skip using distracted Franken-speak, and instead use clear CTAs in the signature space.
In your sign-off, don’t use repetitive language (like your email address, coming from an email from your email address). Stick to the basics of what you need to include – name, phone number and a link to your website. Graphics are great, too, but don’t overdo it. Attract new visitors, new leads and drive conversions by using a space that’s been under your nose since the beginning of time (or at least since 1995, when AOL hit the scene).
4. Be flexible
McDonald’s totally changed the breakfast game last year when they started serving breakfast items all day. But diners gave the initiative a lukewarm reception when they realized the extreme regulations to the menu. No location would serve both biscuit-based and English muffin-based breakfast sandwiches after 10:30 a.m. But now, after nearly a year of limitations, the national nightmare is over! The Golden Arches announced last month an expansion of their all-day breakfast menu as an answer to their customers’ requests.
They were flexible. They found an avenue that worked in breakfast. And they pushed it to work harder with all-day breakfast, now they’re working it smarter with an expanded menu.
Be flexible in your custom email signature. Find a way that works, and tweak it to work better, to work harder for you. Testing is the secret sauce for any digital marketing program. Compare the performance of several different campaigns over time to help you figure out which graphics, images and CTAs increase your conversion rates.
5. All-day strategy is only a piece of a bigger pie
The breakfast frenzy gave a badly-needed sales jolt to a lumbering fast-food giant that had long been struggling to boost a sagging sales trend. But all-day hotcakes and McMuffins aren’t the only approach the chain is using to jump sales. Less-talked-about initiatives, like the company’s McPick 2 program which offers diners two items from a select, limited menu, have effectively replaced the Dollar Menu. And the drive-thru, where the company makes up a huge majority of their sales, is working to be faster and more accurate, even going so far as to adjust the font size on the order screen to prevent cooks from misreading the order.
“We don’t want to be a single initiative turn-around plan,” said CEO Steve Easterbrook in an interview with Buzzfeed. “So we continued investment in food quality. The development of this value platform. And as we continue to reinvest in the fabric of our restaurants, we’re confident the in-store experience will continue to improve.”
Your own marketing plan is fluid. It’s ever-changing and multi-faceted. You’re using paid, earned and owned channels to get your brand in front of the customer, right? So use them more efficiently. Use your custom email signature to promote your latest blog, push a case study, a new product release, look for registrations for an event. Opening a new marketing channel doesn’t mean you’re neglecting your current marketing efforts, it allows you to expand them.