Best Marketing Case Studies & Campaigns

A Fresh Way to Use Email as an Interactive Tool in Marketing | Case Study

Email marketing is the practice of reaching prospects and customers via mass emailing. Common email-based marketing messages include email newsletters, promotional campaigns and event announcements.

Email marketing is a fantastic way to build relationships and trust with your audience. But if the goal of your emails is to make money, it can also help with that. Email is hands down the most effective channel for converting customers than any other (that includes social media and search engine marketing).

Email is the most widely used means of communication – among friends, families, business associates and brands. You should observe email marketing as an opportunity to present your brand in the best light and to build its credibility.

Headquartered in San Diego, Calif., Garden Fresh operates 102 casual-dining, buffet-style Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes restaurants in 15 states. The company had an enviable 500,000-plus membership for its Club Veg email list—but wasn’t using it to its fullest advantage in campaigns, instead leveraging it primarily as a one-way marketing channel.

“We wanted to be more interactive with our online club,” said Jill Trecker, manager of Guest Loyalty.


Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp., which operates a restaurant chain, had more than half a million customers on its email list. But the company wanted customers to do more than print out coupons. It sought to build customer loyalty by using the email channel as an interactive tool.



In partnership with online-marketing agency Red Door Interactive, Garden Fresh implemented its first interactive campaign, which highlighted one of the restaurant's traditional month-long, ingredient-themed promotions. The inaugural email touted that month's special item—cherries—and invited Club Veg members to visit the cherry tree at the Souplantation website.

"If a visitor put their mouse over a cherry on the tree," said Trecker, "either a fact about cherries or information about one of our cherry-related menu items would come up." Visitors were also offered the chance to win two free meals.

A follow-up to the cherry email campaign linked to a clock at the Souplantation homepage counting down the days, hours, minutes, and seconds until another special item—chicken pot pie—became available.

Garden Fresh encouraged further interactivity with an eight-week "Passport Promotion" that announced the staggered, two-week availability of menu items from various countries in Asia, Greece, Italy, and Mexico. Members could visit the Souplantation website to personalize email postcards inviting friends to join them for a meal.


On the day Souplantation launched its cherry-themed campaign, traffic to the company's website jumped 906% from the daily average. The chicken pot pie promotion did even better, with a 1,430% spike.

Trecker also reported receiving this email from one Club Veg member who had received the restaurant's recipe for Classic Greek Salad: "I'm just as happy to get this recipe as if you had sent a coupon."

Lessons Learned

  • Keep your email campaigns interesting by mixing them up. Garden Fresh does this with recipes, chances to win free meals, and countdowns to the arrival of featured items.
  • Reward your most loyal customers by emailing special offers and extras—customers will become even more loyal.


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