The Ultimate Guide to Restaurant Email Marketing

Many restaurant, cafe or take away eatery owners refrain from running 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 think these social media platforms have a far wider reach. Well, we have news for you!

  • Email has nearly three times as many user accounts as Facebook and Twitter combined.
  • The total number of worldwide email accounts is expected to increase to over 4.9 billion accounts by the end of 2017.
  • 91% consumers check their emails everyday.

Collate a list of subscribers

One of the foremost steps for your restaurant’s 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 home page, 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 email 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.

Create the format of emails

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

  • Use a compelling subject line. 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 link to your menu and online reservation or display your phone number, hours of operation and directions to reach to your restaurant or preferably a static google map.

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 suggestions:

  • 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 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 calendar in each mail.
  • 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 fine 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 or organic ingredients. However, if there’s something outrageously exciting, it would be an interesting story to read and would certainly tempt the customers to pay a visit to your restaurant. For example, remember the $100 Philly steakhouse served at Barclay Prime?

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 in your restaurant, you can email them a meal voucher for your restaurant.

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 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.

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 a dedicated email software. There are various email service providers like Fishbowl, MailChimp, Vertical, Constant, etc. that can provide you an email marketing platform and email services.

Make e-mails 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.

Include social media buttons

If your restaurant has a presence on other social media mediums like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, include their links in your 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.

Be prompt in replying to emails

Encourage feedback from customers by urging them to reply to your mails. Your email must include a line such as ‘We welcome your suggestions’. In case you are sending auto generated mails, 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.

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


Originally published at blog.posist.com on August 4, 2016.