Bar Louie came into 2020 knowing it needed a change. The gastrobar staple, known for its great drinks and community feel, was facing a bankruptcy, and was using the reorganization as a chance to realign its overall company goals with smarter, data-driven marketing strategies focused on targeted messaging for lapsed customers.
Just as that shift occurred, the global pandemic hit, forcing Bar Louie to shutdown locations across the U.S.—some permanently. With a tight budget and increased financial scrutiny, they needed to be able to prove that their marketing efforts had strong returns. Historically reliant on traditional media, they knew digital was the way to go. And they needed a partner that could help them reach specific customers in specific locations in a world where regulations were changing on a daily basis.
“We understood that we needed to follow our guests and react in real time to their changing needs—we had to speak to our guests where they were, and this was the only way to be able to do that,” says Stephanie Davidson, Chief Administrative and Marketing Officer for Bar Louie. “Epsilon was one of the major partnerships we made very quickly. We were tasked with proving the value of our marketing spend, and that’s one of the reasons Epsilon appealed to us.”
Increasing retention with location-specific messaging
Bar Louie wanted to focus on two things: guest retention and driving messaging based on specific location. Using Epsilon’s Retention and Location Driver solutions, they launched strategies focused on loyalty and agility in a disrupted landscape.
Our Retention solution was able to identify and reach lapsed guests who had not visited the gastrobar in the past 7 to 24 months. They wanted to welcome Bar Louie guests to come back—and to keep coming back. Working with Bar Louie’s creative partner agency, DNA Hospitality, we focused on developing different creative iterations that spoke to the Bar Louie customer, meeting them where they were, and encouraging them to come back. And doing it in a privacy-centric way.
Stephanie explains, “Customer data safety and security matters to us. Epsilon does a great job of understanding the balance between leveraging data in a personalized way, without encroaching into a ‘Big Brother’ area.”
With Epsilon Location Driver, Bar Louie localized dollars and impact, allowing them to allocate specific budgets to specific locations and measure on a regionalized basis. For a brand focused on community, this tailored approach not only spoke to individual guests, it helped create continuity with local restrictions due to COVID-19. Epsilon and Bar Louie worked hand-in-hand to ensure messaging was relevant and most importantly, accurate.
“We updated our targets and forecasts weekly,” Stephanie said. “I can’t talk about patios and brunch in locations that are completely shuttered. It was a constant need to stay connected with accurate information so that we could get the value and the return that we needed to get. It built a competency and foundation for future growth that we’re proud of.”
Since launching our program with Bar Louie, we’ve driven nearly 53,000 conversions, resulting in $2.6 million of messaged revenue and a $6:1 ROAS overall (2x their benchmark) for Retention and Location Driver.
Breaking that down further, in just 2.5 months, Bar Louie was able to reactivate almost 7,000 guests that hadn’t purchased in 7-24 months—even during shutdowns, generating $349,000 in messaged revenue, also with a strong return. As COVID restrictions began to loosen the following spring, we adjusted our strategy to target both recent and lapsed guests resulting in 10,000 conversions and $474,000 in messaged revenue.
Not only did we reactivate lapsed guests, but we also helped Bar Louie fill the funnel with new guests. Through localized marketing strategies, we brought in 16,000 new customers to the brand, 36,000+ conversions and $1.7 million of revenue. According to Stephanie, “The Epsilon team works hard to understand who Bar Louie is and what our goals are for our long-term strategic plan and short-term initiatives. Because they listen so well and aligned on what our goals were, we were able to develop campaigns that target the guests that matter the most for us and drive predictable sales.”
Epsilon helped Bar Louie navigate through a make-it-or-break-it moment for many businesses. Dealing with a bankruptcy is one thing but doing that during a global pandemic that put an abrupt stop to restaurants and bars nationwide is a true feat. Having a partner to work with them through the process—and help them understand how to drive dollars to where it mattered most—proved successful.
Stephanie concludes, “Our decision to partner with a powerhouse like Epsilon was based on not only wanting a partner who will serve us well today, but needing to choose a partner with synergy who is ready to scale for who we know we will become as we begin aggressive growth once again.”
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