Email Marketing For Restaurants

Don’t underestimate the power of email marketing for restaurants. It’s an underutilized tool that can play a key role in your restaurant marketing efforts.  Let’s take a closer look at email marketing best practices and the role email should play in your restaurant marketing plan. 

What Is Email Marketing For Restaurants?

When we say email marketing, we’re referring to emails sent to your past, present, and potential future customers through an email marketing platform.  If your restaurant collects customer contact information in any way, whether that’s in-store on comment cards, through an online ordering platform, or a contact form on your website, you have the potential to be making use of email marketing. You can compile these email addresses into a subscriber list. That subscriber list is the key to starting your email marketing program.

Why You Should Use Email Marketing

What’s the big deal with email marketing for small businesses anyways? It’s a tool that not many restaurants are making full use of as part of their restaurant marketing, but that people respond well to. The majority of consumers are happy to receive emails that include offers, specials, or discounts. 

Email marketing can help you reach your most valuable customers.  People on your email list are likely the people who have already dined with you, or are interested in doing so. Emails are a great way to keep your restaurant front-of-mind for these consumers. 

Email marketing is also relatively low-cost, compared to other marketing methods.  You can set up automations (more on that below) so emails continue to generate revenue and drive sales without any additional labor costs.  You don’t have to put an ad budget behind emails the way you do with digital advertising on Facebook or Google. And email marketing software platforms tend to be available for a relatively affordable monthly price. 

The best part: According to a study published by WebFX, email marketing can have over 40X ROI. That means for every $1 spent on email marketing, your restaurant could be generating over $40 in revenue! That’s a return you’re not going to see with many, if any, other marketing efforts.

Email Marketing Best Practices

When it comes to actually executing an email marketing plan, there are some tips and best practices you’ll want to keep in mind.  And if you don’t have time to manage an email marketing program, consider hiring a restaurant marketing agency who can take care of it for you. 

Here’s what you need to know to start building strong email marketing campaigns: 

  • Catchy subject line and headline: These are the first pieces of text that can capture your subscribers’ attention.  You want to hook them in with a short and catchy subject line, then provide some more info but still keep things short and sweet with the first header in the body of your email.  


  • Focus on visuals: Add as many photos, graphics, and visual aids to your emails as possible.  Try to keep text short – if subscribers open your email and just see paragraph after paragraph of uninterrupted text, there’s a good chance they’re not going to read it. 


  • Use buttons for emphasis: Along with photos, make use of other visual tools in your email to draw readers’ attention where you want it.  Buttons break up text and stand out visually – they’re where you’ll want your primary call to action to be located. 


  • Segment, segment, segment: Audience segmentation is so important with email marketing.  Create different lists and segments in your email marketing platform so you can send emails that are specifically crafted for that portion of your audience. 


  • Lean heavily on automations: Automated email flows are ones you can set ahead of time, that will automatically send to customers when they fit a certain characteristic (ie. their birthday is coming up) or reach a certain phase of the customer lifecycle (ie. 30 days since their last purchase).  These are a great way to offer coupons to customers who haven’t dined with you in a while, welcome new subscribers to your email list, celebrate milestones like birthdays or anniversaries, and so much more.


  • Offer value in every email: If you want people to stay subscribed to your email list, they need to feel like they’re getting something out of your communications – that you’re offering them some value. This value can be in obvious forms, like offering discount codes or special deals that are only available to email subscribers.  Value can come in other forms too: Providing a popular recipe, sharing the debut of a new item, or sharing fascinating fun facts about the restaurant or the surrounding neighborhood. Basically, your subscribers just need to feel like it’s worth their time to open and read your emails. Educate them, entertain them, or save them money and they’re likely to stick around.

We hope this has shown you some of the great reasons to make use of email marketing, and offered some useful tips to get started. 

Building or improving your restaurant’s email marketing can be a challenge.  But there are resources to make it easier, like our Restaurant Marketing Recipe Book. This free guide includes tons of email marketing tips and tricks, along with advice to help you build the best overall restaurant marketing plan.

Need more hands-on help? BYK Digital is a digital marketing Swiss army knife, with expertise in email marketing along with many other areas of digital marketing for restaurants. We’ll get your marketing sizzling in no time!  Reach out today for a free audit and to learn more about our Unlimited Marketing services.

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