Email Marketing for Restaurants

Why is email marketing important for restaurants?

Well, because social media algorithms are in control of how many people see your organic posts. Your email list will give you a direct line of communication with your current and prospective customers.

Remember, you don’t own your social media follower list. If Instagram disappeared tomorrow, you would lose access to your entire audience. You wouldn’t be able to market to them in the same way.

On the other hand, your contact list is simply an archive of names, email addresses, and other personal information. It’s data that you own.

Here are a few best practices to follow for growing and utilizing your email list to attract guests to your restaurant:

Collect multiple data points on new subscribers.

First name, last name, email address (of course), phone number, and mailing address are all helpful pieces of information to ask for.

By collecting more data, you’ll widen your opportunities for marketing in the future. For example, you can’t launch a direct mail campaign unless you have your guests’ mailing addresses on file.

However, there is a catch—asking for more information requires you to offer a bigger incentive to sweeten the deal.

Don’t overthink it. A free appetizer or 15% off coupon will be enough for some people to tell you their full name, mailing address, and life story… just kidding about the last part.

Include the recipient’s first name in the subject line of each email.

Want to know why this works so well?

Imagine yelling the words, “Free appetizer!” down a crowded hallway. Some people might turn around to look at you, but others will simply go about their business.

But what if you yell, “Eduardo, claim your free appetizer!”

Eduardo is definitely going to turn around to see who you are and why you’re offering him a complimentary order of mozzarella sticks.

An email inbox is exactly the same as a crowded hallway. You have to get the attention of your subscribers if you want them to open your emails.

Offer a lead magnet to grow your email list.

A lead magnet is something you offer for free in exchange for contact information.

Here are a few ideas for lead magnets that could work well for your restaurant:

  • $10 off the customer’s next bill
  • 15% off the customer’s next bill
  • A free appetizer
  • A free dessert
  • A free drink
  • Membership to your loyalty program
  • Membership to your birthday club

Customers are often willing to hand over their contact details in exchange for something of value. 

To them, giving away information is free, but the reality is that collecting data on your customers will give you an abundance of opportunities to market to them in the future.

Segment your audience and offer personalized discounts to the contacts on your email list.

Audience segmentation means splitting your contact list into categories based on certain criteria.

Let’s say you have a restaurant that offers both a sushi bar and hibachi. 

You could segment your customer list by interests so you would know who likes sushi and who is more interested in your hibachi.

Then, you could capitalize on your promotions by creating unique special offers for each segment. 

By offering personalized discounts, you can create a more intimate relationship with your list and delight your customers without giving every single coupon to your entire database of contacts.

Create promotions to attract deal seekers.

Especially if your primary objective is to attract new guests to your restaurant, we recommend creating promotions for people who choose where to eat based on the specials each restaurant offers.

Here are a few examples of promotions you can offer:

  • Lunch specials with smaller portions and lower prices
  • Ladies’ night with one or more free drinks for women
  • Happy hour with special pricing on drinks and appetizers
  • Category-specific discounts (Taco Tuesday, Wing Wednesday, etc.)

You can get as creative as you want with your specials. The goal is to make your offers memorable and attractive for prospective customers.

For best results, combine your email campaigns with these related strategies:

Social media strategy for restaurants

Facebook advertising for restaurants

Lead generation for restaurants

Would you like help from our team of restaurant marketing experts? Request a FREE proposal!