The eternal question for foodservice manufacturers stands: how do I meaningfully reach the operator? Well-worn answers like print ads and DSR visits—though still relevant—are no longer the obvious answers. Marlin Network recently polled 155 operators for the 2019 Influencing the Operator Purchase report and found 50% of operators now seek new product solutions online, making digital presence more important than ever. Websites and digital media are important ways of getting noticed, but e-newsletters are an effective way of cultivating and maintaining your status as a value to the operator.

The report found a staggering 92% of foodservice operators already receive e-newsletters on a weekly basis. They see it as a simple way of gathering information that involves little investment, and little effort. But while e-newsletters are abundant, willingness to subscribe is finite. To make the most of the medium, you’ll need to first focus on motivating signup, then deliver the content they want.

How do you do that exactly? Start by taking a look at the top five reasons operators sign up for e-newsletters (and the percentage of operators who said so):

1. Compelling, relevant content

Among 155 operators, we found 87% sign up for e-newsletters for this reason. In an age of ever-expanding content and ever-shrinking time, you have to make every click worth their while. Delivering content that is valuable (and concise) is essential to staying relevant. Here are the types of content our respondents value most in e-newsletters: 


What Operators Are Looking for in E-Newsletters

Culinary trends




Product training


Menu & culinary support


2. Free samples

Of our operator respondents, 81% say free samples are a compelling reason to sign up for newsletters. It’s a good way to get your foot in the digital door and demonstrate your products’ value at the same time. When offering free samples either on your website or through a digital ad, you can include an opt-in box to sign-up for an e-newsletter. Alternately, you could simply require signup with submission—just be aware that operators who are forced to sign up take more convincing in the inbox. In other words—if they have to sign up, you have to make the content irresistible.

 Download the 2019 Influencing the Operator Purchase white paper.

3. Peer or colleague recommendations

Great content gets shared, and 75% of our respondents say recommendations drive them to sign up. You can help the process along by making referrals easy. Use ‘share with a friend’ or ‘forward to a colleague’ buttons to get other foodservice operators encouraging peer signups. You can also incentivize further with promotions or premium content that unlocks when a e-newsletter is shared with a certain amount of people.

4. Product rebates

When operators can unlock a deal like a rebate by subscribing to an e-newsletter, they are often willing (72% of the time). But use this incentive with care! See #2 for the challenge of half-willing signups.

5. DSR recommendations

DSR relationships are critical to your success with a large group of operators. Work with DSRs to show the value of your e-newsletter content. Additionally, encourage and incent them to suggest your e-newsletter to operators with rebates, samples or access to exclusive content.

By focusing effort on capturing and retaining e-newsletter subscribers, you can increase your reach, increase the frequency of operator communication and ultimately help operators see you as a valued source of expertise in the industry.

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