Restaurant Email Marketing Guide for Increased Customer Engagement

Restaurant Email Marketing Guide for Increased Customer Engagement

Many restaurants, cafe or take away eatery owners refrain from running restaurant email marketing campaigns. Some think emails are an old-fashioned way to promote their services and hence it’s ineffective. Others prefer using Facebook and Twitter as they believe these social media platforms have a far broader reach (Try these tips to increase your Social Media Marketing outreach). Well, we have news for you!

  • Email has nearly three times as many users account as Facebook and Twitter combined.
  • While there where roughly 4.1 billion active accounts in 2014, the number is expected to increase to almost 5.6 billion towards the end of the decade.
  • 91% of consumers check their emails every day. 

9 Steps to Running an Effective Restaurant Email Marketing Campaign

Email marketing for restaurants has become the need of the hour and is one of the top channels of customer communication. Whatever discount offers and loyalty campaigns that you are running at your restaurant, you need to promote them well. And restaurant email marketing is an effective medium for reaching out to and engaging with your customers.

Follow these steps for great email marketing ideas for restaurants to run a profitable email marketing campaign.

1. Collate a List of Subscribers

One of the first steps for your restaurant email marketing campaign is to find subscribers for your emails. These subscribers can be the people who

  • Land on your website- Make sure your sign-up form is visible on your website’s homepage, menu page (if there are several pages, add the form on every page) and reservation page.
  • Visit your restaurant- Bring them a feedback/suggestion form along with the check. These forms can urge your patrons for an email sign up.
  • Opt for takeout/delivery orders-. Slide your menu along with your website URL into your takeout and delivery orders, and tell people to go there to subscribe.

You can also encourage people to sign up for your restaurant email marketing is to incentivize them by offering them a free giveaway, that they can immediately download/avail of by providing their email address. For example, Starbucks offers a 10% discount on subscribing to their newsletter on their website.

Some restaurants also buy email lists of people in their area and run mass email marketing campaigns. While this does help to reach out to new customers, it can also have a negative impact on your email marketing efforts. First, if your customers haven’t directly subscribed to receiving emails from you, then chances are the emails that you are sending would land in the Spam folders. This negates the entire point of sending emails. Not only the emails would not give the desired results, but the spam emails would also impact the deliverability of the rest of your emails.

Second, sending unsolicited emails tends to leave an adverse impact on your customers. Also, these promotional emails may not convert to paying customers. Thus, it is always recommended to seek permission from your customers first before sending any emails.

2. Create the Format of Emails

Once you have the list of subscribers, it’s time to write an email to them.

  • Use a compelling subject line. The subject line of emails is the primary factor that decides whether your customers are going to open your email or not. Be creative with words to come up with a catchy subject line. Just make sure it is short and includes phrases that catch attention. For example, ‘Enjoy FREE lunch on your birthday!’
  • Also, personalize your messages; no one is going to read an email that starts with ‘Dear Customer’ Use their name, city or any other relevant information that would make it look as if the email was made just for them.
  • Include a Call to Action. This could be a link to your menu and online reservation or display your phone number, hours of operation and directions to reach your restaurant or preferably a static google map. If you offer food delivery, you must remember to add an online ordering button in your emails.

3. Highlight the Benefits

Unless your email talks about what is there in store for the customers, it won’t bring you the conversion. Also, be specific about the benefits. Here are some restaurant email marketing ideas that you should include your email marketing plan.

  • Give incentives- Offer a free appetizer, dessert or buy one get one free drink. However, it’s advisable to limit the offer to the immediate future, or else it loses its value.
  • Promote holidays and occasions- Advertise upcoming holiday promotions like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and New Year’s Eve celebrations with a special menu. Have you hired a new chef or a celebrity bartender? Do put it in your restaurant marketing email. Birthday and anniversary marketing work very well in emails. Offer your customers a free meal on their birthday or anniversary celebration. It will prompt them to bring in a group of (paying) customers to the party. If you have a Karaoke night on a Wednesday or a Ladies’ Night Special on a  Thursday, list it on a calendar, and provide a link to the schedule in each email.
  • Send tips from your chef-  Give some space in your email to your chef where he can share an exclusive recipe, share anecdotes from his culinary experience, explain the subtle nuances of a popular dish or provide cooking tips and ideas on what to look for when buying seafood/meat.
  • Show the USP- You can discuss your healthy menu or the fact that your restaurant kitchen always uses the freshest of organic ingredients. However, if there’s something outrageously exciting, it would be an interesting story to read and would undoubtedly tempt the customers to pay a visit to your restaurant.

4. Nurture Customer Loyalty

Many customers like to dine in a restaurant that takes care of their needs, treats them well and remembers their usual orders. A loyalty program does all of that and more. If your restaurant has a customer loyalty program, it’s vital that your email supports and nurtures the program. Along with the loyalty program updates, include your monthly specials and events, it will prompt your regular patrons to stop in even more frequently. Also, if you want to give a voucher to your customer who has hit a certain number of visits to your restaurant, you can email them a meal voucher for your restaurant. Use this email marketing idea for restaurants and see your customers coming back.

5. Follow Email Etiquette

People might have loved your restaurant on their first visit. However, you could drop out of their mind over time. Hence, send regular emails to remind them you exist. However, concentrate on quality, rather than quantity. Don’t bombard your subscribers with daily emails. A good rule of thumb of restaurant email marketing is to send an email once a week, or when you have something unique and special to offer (usually in 10 days or a fortnight).

Sending emails on Thursdays work as most people are planning their weekends. Also, send emails early morning, noon and around 4 pm, when most people start their day or take a break from their work. Do not spam your customers while sending out restaurant promotion emails. This can frustrate customers.

6. Think of an Email Domain

The email domain matters too. Sending emails out of Outlooks Express or your personal Gmail appears to be tacky. It’s advisable to use dedicated email software. There are various email service providers like Fishbowl, MailChimp, Vertical, Constant, etc. that can provide you with an email marketing platform and email services. Also, remember to get your email domain whitelisted to ensure proper deliverability of the emails.

7. Make Emails Mobile-friendly

A majority of email is opened on a mobile device. According to a Kahuna study, 86% of emails in Q1 2016 were opened on a mobile device. Hence, make sure your email is mobile-friendly.

8. Include Social Media Buttons

If your restaurant has a presence on other social media mediums like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, do not forget to include these links in your restaurant promotion email, so that your subscribers can follow you there as well, and share their pictures tagging your restaurant. It will get you some free publicity.

9. Be Prompt in Replying to Emails

Encourage feedback from customers by urging them to reply to your emails, this can also be done through employing a smart restaurant POS. Your email must include a line such as ‘We welcome your suggestions’. In case you are sending auto-generated emails, highlight email id/contact number for customers to give feedback. Check your emails regularly for responses. Try to reply to all customers within 48 hours, as a general rule.

restaurant email marketing ideas

Don’t let email marketing for your restaurant be an afterthought! It’s the need of the hour if you want to increase the footfalls in your restaurant and boost sales.

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Nikunj is the Communications Lead at Restroworks, a global leader in cloud-based technology platforms. In his role, he oversees global marketing and branding initiatives for Restroworks across APAC, the Middle East, and the US.


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