Ultra-effective Email Marketing Ideas for Restaurants

email marketing ideas for restaurants

When thinking about strategies to promote your business, don’t forget about email marketing ideas for restaurants. Some detractors have been saying that email marketing is dead for the last decade. Yet, the raw numbers tell a different story.

A study by Optinmonster proves that a staggering 99% of internet users access their inboxes daily, sometimes up to 20 times a day, giving you a decent chance to tell your story, promote your menu or provide them with a coupon. In most cases, customers prefer to be contacted via email to receive promotional info since this is less invasive than social media.

Benefits of email marketing for restaurants

Email marketing is an easy, reliable, and cheap way to connect with current and potential patrons:

  • 58% of people check their email as soon as they wake up, before leaving their bed. This gives you the chance to be on their mind before they even take their first sip of coffee.
  • Convert with 3700-4300% ROI. What if, for every dollar you spend on email marketing, your client would pay about $40 in your restaurant? Sounds too good to be true? That is just the industry standard.
  • 36 times more potent than social media. The changes in social media platforms that forced brands to pay resulted in an engagement rate of about 0.6%. The opening rate of emails is about 22%.
  • You only talk to self-qualified leads. They opted in for the newsletter; they want to hear from you. Gourmet Marketing even showed that most customers are waiting for coupons and discounts from their favorite restaurants.
  • Increased brand awareness and loyalty. If you offer high-quality information and relevant promotions, clients are more likely to open other emails from you or share the information in their social circles.

How to set-up email marketing for your restaurant

First of all, you need to select an email marketing tool to help you create and distribute your message to your list. We suggest Mailchimp as one of the best email marketing services for restaurants, but there are a lot of alternatives.

Make sure that the tool you select has beautiful templates you can customize by drag and drop. Also, look for an analytics dashboard. The data part is essential if you aim to understand which ideas work best and which categories it is best to stop targeting.

Build your restaurant’s email list

One of the biggest challenges entrepreneurs face when using email marketing ideas for restaurants is gathering a consistent and relevant mailing list.

Successful establishments have around 10,000 subscribers.

Here are a few ways to grow your restaurant mailing list:

  • Have a loyalty program that is email-based;
  • Collect emails on social media in exchange for discounts;
  • Set a ”fishbowl” for business cards on your bar and ask people to drop theirs in;
  • Have a giveaway contest or ask a blogger to host one for you;
  • Put up an opt-in banner on your website, including one triggered by exit intentions;
  • Create email-only offers and specials;
  • Condition log-in to your Wi-Fi by email entry;
  • Ask personnel to collect emails at the end through a feedback app;
  • Put table tents with QR codes, encouraging patrons to subscribe;
  • Write it on your restaurant’s take out card;
  • Create lead magnets and downloadable freebies like how to set up your table or a recipe;
  • Leverage social media channels by adding subscribe buttons.
example of newsletter with discount code

Write catchy restaurant email subject lines

The subject line is the primary reason to open an email. It can make the difference between a client visiting your restaurant and just marking the communication as spam.

Here is a list of ten of the most intriguing categories of subject lines, as well as some examples for each:

  1. Fear of missing out - we are psychologically bound to take action when we think we might be wasting an opportunity. Use “urgent”, “important”, “now”. Today only: the triple burger for half the price!
  2. Curiosity - Snooping around has helped us evolve, and we are still interested in what is new and even forbidden. Use questions and teasing. What is the hottest recipe in 2020?
  3. Humor - making a bit of fun of yourself can get you a few clicks. Deals that will make you lick your phone
  4. Vanity - promise your subscribers a superior experience. Make them look good among their peers. Replicating the Golden Globes Vegan Menu- You’re invited!
  5. Greed - although it is a sin, most readers can’t help it. Offer a considerable but believable discount and make it sound unique. 20% off for salads to help you get back in shape
  6. Laziness - help your subscribers have more downtime by giving them quick and easy fixes. Master Beef Wellington in 10 easy steps. Advice from Chef Robertson.
  7. Identify pain points - think of what your clients hate to do and fix it for them. Stop wasting time in the kitchen. Order now!
  8. Retarget - sometimes, subscribers are not convinced and leave mid-action. Time to get them back. Are you still coming to date night? Complete your reservation now!
  9. Tailor - made communication- use their name when it’s their birthday or other personal information. Happy birthday, Johanna! The champagne is on the house!
  10. Just say it - when you have a reasonable proposition, you don’t need tips and tricks. The best Italian pizza in town. Come and taste it!

7 email marketing ideas for restaurants that work

In the very competitive landscape of restaurants, you need a strategy, innovative techniques, and steadiness to win the attention and appreciation of your clients. Here are a few restaurant email marketing examples to inspire your promotional efforts. Automate your marketing emails in a logical sequence from introducing yourself to building a relationship. When your offers are no longer attractive to your subscriber list, just clean it and get new people in.

Say hello immediately

Introduce your brand as soon as your clients trust you with their email addresses. Studies show that three-quarters of subscribers expect a welcome email upon signing up. It’s good manners to thank them, and maybe offer a coupon, a discount, or a helpful bit of information.

Include an outline of your communication scheme, for example, how often you send emails. Always show them the easy way to opt-out. This shows respect and openness.

Stay out of the Spam folder

In the welcome email, reassure your new subscriber that you won’t be spammy and kindly ask them to mark your address as safe. New generation inboxes have powerful filters that could send your carefully crafted newsletter to the “promotional” folder where nobody looks. Be funny and ask this kindly.

Know your subscribers

Email marketing is direct communication. You are writing to a real person and should care about them. Subscribers know that they are receiving a canned message, but some personalization is applicable.

In the welcoming email, you could ask them to provide more information about themselves. Ask about their birthday so that you can send them a present. Don’t forget to ask about culinary preferences and special interests like vegan dishes or learning more about Chinese cuisine.

email marketing ideas for restaurants- personalized newsletter for birthday

Use humor and tempting images

When crafting your newsletter, remember that humans process images 60000 times faster than text, and 90% of the information is processed visually. Instead of describing how delicious your pizza is, you could just put the most mouth-watering image you can find with it and a short call to action.

Another growing trend is to use animated gifs to show a meal in the making. Some restaurants use animations as part of their email marketing strategy to give subscribers a sneak preview of what the dining experience would look like.

sample of animated gif to use as part of the email marketing promotional strategy

Sign your emails

When writing a newsletter to provide a discount, throw in some small personal touches to show that there is a real person behind the intention. One way you can do this is by adding a scanned hand-written signature to the email. This is a reminder that emails are the natural evolution of letters and that you value your subscribers enough to take the time for such details.

Use these content examples

Some restaurant owners don’t use email marketing because they have no idea what to write about. The goal is to make your client hungry and ready to visit your restaurant as soon as possible. Always include a call to action.

  • Ask your readers to redeem a coupon or offer a free drink;
  • Announce the seasonal menu change and ask them to make a reservation;
  • Offer discounts for slow days (and nights). Ask them to share the offer with friends;
  • Take advantage of the holidays. Create gift cards and unique menu items;
  • Dish of the month recipe. Offer a small discount to try it;
  • Chef’s story/ Employee story;
  • Local flavors. Explain your take on social responsibility and organic food.

Tempt them with win-back programs

Check your analytics often and target those users who haven’t opened your emails in a while. Create an intriguing subject line and maybe even a “bribe” with a tempting offer to make them curious and get them back into the communication. Delete all inactive contacts after six months, because having too many emails in spam folders will hurt your sender reputation and can get you blacklisted.

Best practices in email marketing for restaurants

Whenever you send out an email to your subscribers' list, think about it as a personal letter. There is a certain etiquette you need to follow to remain elegant and relevant.

Proofread the copy thoroughly and select easy to read fonts on neutral backgrounds to make it an enjoyable experience. Keep your text short, fun, and informative. Additionally, break up text blocks with relevant images.

Always deliver on the promise you made in your headline. Otherwise, your reader will feel like they ordered a burger and got a salad.

Don’t forget to put in all your relevant contact information, social media handles, and an easy way to forward the message to their friends. This way, your email marketing ideas for restaurants will find their way into the inbox of the right readers.

Silvia Palașcă

Silvia Palașcă is a passionate writer covering mostly the wine, food and travel industries, and a talented web developer with extensive knowledge of website optimization and SEO.

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