August 23

Email Marketing Tips for Restaurants


Be on your customer’s mind at just the right time with email marketing. Here are some tips on starting a newsletter for your business.

With so many restaurants opening up, staying relevant can be difficult. Think of how often you’ve suddenly remembered an old favorite and said to yourself, “I love that place, but always forget about it.”

Trust me, if you, as an industry professional, have this issue—so do your customers.

That’s where email marketing can be super beneficial to your customer retention strategy. You can stay at the forefront of their minds.

As we all know, the hungriest minds are easily persuaded–and while someone’s checking their email at work, thinking about what to make for dinner that night, you might catch them at just the right moment.

Is email marketing worth the effort, though?

Email marketing has been proven to work with the highest return on investment compared to other marketing tactics. For every $1 you spend on email marketing, you can expect, on average, a return of $38–that’s a persuasive enough revenue bump for anyone to at least try email marketing for their business.

While you can get highly segmented with your campaigns, the easiest way to get started with email marketing is to build a monthly newsletter.

Tips for building your newsletter campaign

Let your brand shine

You work hard to create an atmosphere, so you want that to translate into your email design.

Keep your brand’s core elements in mind when building your email—everything from the format, copy, photography, color schemes, and font.

Many email marketing platforms you’re likely familiar with, like Toast, Squarespace, and Mailchimp, offer email templates–so the design aspect isn’t as intimidating as it might sound.

Stay true to yourself and your brand, and remember to have fun. Email marketing extends the customer experience and is an excellent opportunity to connect with your audience.

Create a value proposition

To keep your unsubscribe rates in check, you want to make sure that your newsletter offers something of value to your customer.

The value doesn’t have to be a discount or promotion–it can simply be exclusive information, like upcoming specials, new menus, a special guest or pop-up announcements, pre-ordering a set menu, etc.

But of course, if you are running a promotion, the newsletter is a great way to let your customers know ahead of time!

Include a call to action

You don’t want to share great information and leave your customers hanging, hoping they come to your restaurant that night. The email should encourage them to take action, formally called a Call-to-Action (CTA).

An excellent option for any restaurant newsletter is to include a button labeled Make a Reservation and leads to your reservation software. Or, if you announced some special take-out menu or catering option, the CTA could be a button labeled Order Now, leading to your online ordering platform.

CTAs help track your customer’s behavior and narrow down what type of content they are more interested in.

The higher the clickthrough rate, the more compelling your newsletter is—which can help you identify what type of value propositions work for your business.

Test & optimize your emails

So, when I say test & optimize–I mean it in two ways. First, you want to test your emails before you send them. Send yourself a proof and check one last time for grammatical errors and design errors.

Test all links and buttons to ensure they send the reader to the right place—finally, proof on mobile.

Your customers are likely reading your newsletter on their phones, so you want to optimize your email for mobile and make sure the layout and graphics translate correctly.

The second way you should test and optimize your emails is by creating and sending two or three versions of the same email. Give the test some time, and then look back and analyze the results. See which email gets the best open rate and clickthrough rate.

Testing will help you optimize your email design and content to appeal to your audience more effectively and persuade them to act.

You could do email marketing on your own, but many people use cost-effective and user-friendly email marketing platforms that offer more advanced tracking and design features. Some of the more commonly used restaurant platforms are those listed earlier: Toast, Squarespace, and Mailchimp.

Do your research, schedule a demo, and start building your email marketing strategy. Once your process is dialed down, you’ll be bringing in old regulars and creating new ones too!

About the author


Ashley McNally likes to cook, loves to bake, and is always dreaming of her next meal. With over 13 years of experience working in various roles within a restaurant — McNally has made a home in hospitality.


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