Company: Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp.
Contact: Jill Drecker, Manager of Guest Loyalty
Location: San Diego, Calif.
Industry: Retail (B2C)
Annual revenue: Confidential
Number of employees: 6000

Quick Read:

Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp., which manages a chain of 102 family-style buffet restaurants in 15 states, had a sizable email loyalty club. Its "Club Veg" totaled more than half a million members, all of whom had voluntarily signed up to be notified about upcoming food promotions. But Garden Fresh wanted these members to do more than receive emails—it wanted them to visit its Web site and learn more about the restaurant's offerings. In short, it wanted to be more interactive with its email members.

Working with online marketing agency Red Door Interactive, Garden Fresh tried two interactive email campaigns last year tied to a monthly food promotion at its restaurant chains. The first encouraged Club Veg members to visit the chain's homepage and learn more about the cherry dishes being featured that month, while the second campaign featured a clock counting down the days, hours, minutes and seconds until a popular chicken pot pie menu item would be available. In both instances, Club Veg members had a chance to win free meals by clicking on the link in the email and visiting the homepage.

The two promotions led to a huge increase in site traffic to the company's homepage: The cherry email campaign garnered a 906% increase in site visits on the day of the email blast, while the chicken pot pie menu initiative led to a 1,430% increase in visits.

The Challenge:

Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp. had an asset that any B2C company would envy: a database of more than half a million consumers who had voluntarily asked to stay informed about changes to the menu, ongoing promotions, and other relevant information. The company knew that this was an untapped asset; it wanted to reach out to this group and get them more involved without alienating valuable customers.

By setting up an interactive and fun email campaign offering customers the chance to win free meals and giving them recipes of their favorite dishes, Garden Fresh aimed to elicit more customer loyalty. The company hoped that more Club Veg members would visit its Web site to learn more about upcoming promotions, encouraging them to send emails to their friends about the restaurant and also visit the outlets more frequently.

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