So many restaurant owners live under the impression that email marketing is not for the F&B industry. While word-of-mouth publicity and social media marketing do make a restaurant brand stand out from the crowd, restaurant email marketing is what helps retain customers. By the end of this blog, we will make it abundantly clear why email marketing for restaurants is a great way to grow your business.

The goal of email marketing for restaurants is not just to share emails, it is to create engagement that wins customers and keeps them coming back. After all, you need to be different from all other restaurants trying to grab a customer’s attention. This is why it is extremely important to have well-crafted emails that feel worth their time and attention.

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In this blog, we’ll discuss 

  • why email marketing for restaurants is a necessity
  • what does restaurant email marketing bring to the table
  • how to create an email list for your restaurant
  • how to use restaurant email marketing to your advantage
  • the 5 Ts of email marketing
  • popular restaurant email examples 
  • 15 catchy email subject lines that work

6 Reasons to Use Email Marketing for Your Restaurant

Is restaurant email marketing really effective? And why does it matter? If you’re new to the concept of restaurant promotion through emails, here are six compelling reasons to consider using email marketing for your restaurant: 

  1. Great ROI:

It’s no secret that emails are used globally. So their reach is extensive. On average, email marketing gives an ROI of $36 for every $1 spent. The percentage varies according to the industry. As per the DMA Marketer Email Tracker 2019 report, the ROI for email marketing has seen a rise of $10 for every $1 spent as compared to their 2017 report.

  1. High engagement:

If we look at the restaurant email marketing statistics available online, it becomes clear that the click-through rates for dining and food services are much better than in many other industries. This includes the travel & tourism industry, the retail industry as well as wellness industry. A good click-through rate shows that the audience is interested in engaging with this type of content over email.

  1. Increases sales:

Since email marketing helps you connect directly with your customer, it allows you to always stay on top of their mind. So when they have to step out for a meal or an occasion to celebrate, they always think of your restaurant. By sharing enticing images of a newly launched menu or discount coupons for their next visit, you can get them to visit more often. This helps in increasing customer footfall and restaurant sales.

  1. Promotes online ordering:

Need customers to order through your website rather than from an aggregator platform? By sending them the latest offers via emails, you can redirect them to your website. Moreover, if they add food items to their cart and forget to place the order, you can send follow-up emails to get them to complete the transaction. 

  1. Targeted upselling:

Restaurants store customer data in their POS systems. Why not use this information to upsell online? Through email marketing, you can send your customers more relevant offers and order suggestions. This increases the chances of them placing more orders and walking in more often to redeem emailed offers.

  1. Builds loyalty:

When you share valuable content through restaurant newsletters or send an appreciation email after a customer visit, it helps develop a relationship with the customer. Not only does this keep them informed about what’s new at your restaurant but also makes them feel valued. This is a great way of building customer loyalty.

Six Ways to Build an Email List for Your Restaurant

“Without big data, you are blind and deaf and in the middle of a freeway.” — Geoffrey Moore

First and foremost, restaurant email marketing requires an impressively long list consisting of email addresses of visitors and potential customers. Without this data, your entire email marketing strategy is useless. So how do you build an email list for your restaurant? Here are some tried and tested methods to successfully grow your email list: 

1) Create a contact form on your website:

The best way to acquire customer email addresses is by creating an online form on your website. This ‘Contact form’ can be used on your restaurant table reservation page. Include a mandatory field for an email address in the form and voila! You have a lead generator. Take Marseille, for example. They have an option on their homepage that says ‘Join our mailing list’, making it very easy for people to sign up.

email marketing for restaurants
Source: Marseille NYC

It is crucial to have a contact form on your website so you can share the link with your customers through various channels. When a customer fills out this contact form, send them a Thank you note in the email. To take things up a notch higher, send them a sign-up discount coupon in the mail for their next visit or online order.

2) Ask them to join your list when they visit:

The most obvious way is to ask customers to be a part of your email list when they come to dine in. This can be done by the waiter/server after they have taken down the order placed by the customer. Another good time is towards the end of the meal when a customer has asked for their bill.

If you choose to do it at the start, the waiter can quickly describe the perks of being a part of the restaurant’s mailing list to the customer. This gives the customer the chance to go to your website while waiting for the food. If you choose to tell them at the end, make sure the website link is printed on the bill so the waiter can point it out to the customer.

3) Share the form on your social media:

Your email marketing efforts will require a little help from your social media handles. You can reach a larger audience by sharing the link to your website Contact form on platforms like Instagram and Facebook. 

When you host events at your restaurant, promote them on social media and encourage customers to make a booking by sharing their contact details. This way, they’ll willingly share their email address in order to get a confirmation for their event booking.

4) Advertise on street banners:

A very easy way to get customers and non-customers as well to sign up for your mailing list is to display the signup link on street banners. Of course, this will take some investment and will have to be paired with a very catchy advertisement. But it will end up giving your restaurant a lot of exposure. 

If you’re looking for a less expensive solution along the same lines, you can use an outdoor restaurant sign with the link printed under the restaurant name. A cheaper version of this could be a signage or chalkboard placed right outside your restaurant so it catches the attention of people passing by.

5) Use QR code menus to your advantage:

QR code menus or touchless menus have become the new norm because of the COVID19 pandemic. The good thing is, that you can use them to grow your email list. Firstly you can display your website link on the QR code displays placed in your restaurant to encourage customers to join the mailing list.

Secondly, you can create a QR code that prompts the customer to fill out a contact form requesting their name and email address before showing them the restaurant menu. This not only ensures accurate billing with the customer’s name but also gives you easy access to their email address. 

6) Include it on the bills:

Lastly, you can include your website link when you print the bill for a customer. It can just be a single line at the end of the bill saying “Thank you for visiting us. Don’t forget to join our mailing list for exclusive discounts and offers” This way, you don’t force the customer to join your mailing list but still put the information out there for them.

The 5 Ts of email marketing

Before we explore the strategies to acquire and retain customers, let’s look at the 5 Ts of creating effective content for email marketing. Not only do these ensure that your emails get a better click rate, but also ensure better responses to your restaurant email marketing campaign. Follow these 5 Ts to make your email marketing successful:

  1. Tease:

When we say tease, we don’t mean writing a cheeky subject line and then writing something completely random in the email body. Your subject line should exploit the reader’s curiosity and lure them into opening the email, but your email content has to deliver the promise you make in the subject line. If it does not live up to the subject line, chances are, your upcoming emails will never be opened.

  1. Target:

Make sure your emails are targeted to the right audience. The more personalized the emails, the higher the click rate. Not all your customers are the same, so why send the same emails to all of them? So segregate your email list based on a customer’s order history and draft content and send offers based on their likings. This targeted customization is one of the best ways to optimize your email marketing campaign.

  1. Teach:

This is the most important Ts in this series. Unless your email content delivers some value to the reader, you will not see any substantial returns. So use your emails to either solve a problem that most customers struggle with or educate them with relatable information.

For instance, if you run a pizzeria you can share tips and tricks to help customers create pizza sauces at home. You don’t have to share the entire recipe, but you can share some ideas that will prove to be helpful when they attempt making a pizza sauce at home. Educational, check. Relatable, check. Customer engagement. Check.

  1. Test:

There is no single way to create exceptional emails. This is why this category suggests testing multiple methods. Try 2 different taglines with different sets of customers. Confused between two very appealing layouts? Use both and see which gives better results.

  1. Track:

Lastly, there is no point in doing all of the above if you don’t monitor and measure the results. When you test different ideas, make sure to track their impact to see which one performed better. Did one subject line get more clicks than the other? Do customers use the discount coupon sent for online ordering more than the dine-in one? Tracking the results proves to be extremely helpful in creating upcoming email marketing campaigns.

How to use your email list to win and retain customers

So how do you make email marketing work for your restaurant business? Here are some of the best ways strategies to enhance your restaurant marketing and retain your customers:

1) Highlight upcoming events:

Hosting events is a great way to increase footfall and expose your restaurant to newer audiences. But to make those events successful, it’s important to get the word out. What better way to inform people than sending them an email with all the highlights of the event? For example:

Image source: The Knife

If you’re creating a special menu for the event, don’t forget to include it in the email content. Looking for unique and fun restaurant event ideas? Read our blog 15 Restaurant Event Ideas To Fill Your Restaurant Seats

2) Share new menu items:

Launching a new menu? Let your customers know about the new additions by sending them lip-smacking images along with descriptions of some of the new items. Never send them all the information; it’s like revealing all your cards in a game. At the end of the email, add a CTA to make a reservation. 

3) Inform about new locations:

Expanding your operations allows you to reach more customers, which is why it is important to always let your customers know about this in advance. By sending them all the details of your new location, you can encourage them to pay a visit to the new location. You can also offer a referral discount to every new customer they bring to the new restaurant.

4) Create hype around special menu offers:

A lot of people never discover a restaurant’s specials. Creating offers for your menu specials is a great way to get more people to try them. Same goes for high-contribution margin items. For such emails, make sure the subject line boasts of the offer so it successfully grabs the reader’s attention.

5) Send wishes on special days:

Building a connection with customers is necessary to ensure they keep coming back. A great way to do this is by sending an email on special occasions like their birthdays and anniversaries. You can add a cherry to this cake by giving them a discount coupon that’s valid only on that day so they feel tempted to celebrate the occasion at your restaurant in order to redeem the coupon. 

6) Share your blogs and recipes:

To keep customers engaged, you can create a weekly newsletter that features your website blogs. The key here is that these blogs should be educational and relevant. You can also share well-described sub-recipes in your newsletter to help create a section of the main recipe. For example, you can share how to make a salad dressing without getting into the details of the entire recipe and contents of the salad.

7) Share restaurant news:

To make your emails more personal and give them a human touch, share your achievements with your readers. When your restaurant wins an award, letting your customers know about it helps build credibility. It lets them know your work is getting you accolades which in turn increases their loyalty to the organization.

8) Update them about new services:

Not all customers would know the entire range of your services. If you offer catering services, free home delivery, or any other similar services, let them know about it through your emails. For instance, a lot of restaurants started delivering alcohol when the pandemic forced them to shut their operations. In such situations, you can heavily benefit from an email as it will help you win and retain customers despite the difficulties presented by the pandemic.

Restaurant email subject line ideas

The subject line of your restaurant newsletter is your opening move. As mentioned above in the 5 Ts of email marketing, it should tease the reader and play with their curiosity enough for them to think ‘I want to know more’. If you’re struggling to find the right words, here are some catchy subject lines that will make your restaurant email marketing powerful:

  • Here’s your ticket to a wonderful weekend!
  • Vegan recipes? Aye Aye Captain!
  • Happy Hours extended for extended happiness
  • Have you tried our Classic Raspberry Cheesecake yet?
  • Guess our new pizza topping and win a free pizza!
  • Late-night craving? Here’s an irresistible offer
  • Beer and nachos on Super Bowl Sunday? Roger that!
  • Here’s your chance to be a part of our new menu tasting
  • Two pizzas for 12.99 only – offer ends tonight!
  • Happy Birthday Sarah, here’s your surprise gift!
  • Thank you for celebrating your special day with us
  • Strawberry, raspberry, or blueberry – which one would you go for?
  • Craving noodles? Here’s a 25% discount coupon for our authentic Chinese food
  • Best place to celebrate your upcoming anniversary
  • Steve, come celebrate the holidays with us

Final thoughts:

Email marketing is undoubtedly one of the best marketing strategies for restaurants because of its low costs and wide reach. With these tips, you can easily create an impactful strategy that will help you get noticed and win new customers. Did we miss any good ideas? Let us know in the comments below!