How to Create a Restaurant Email Marketing Strategy

By Raubi Perilli

      Jan 12, 2022     Solutions    

If you run a restaurant, you are faced with the constant task of driving customers to your business. From bringing in new customers to bringing back repeat business, you need to find ways to stay top-of-mind with nearby customers.  

You can do that with restaurant email marketing. 

Restaurant email marketing is one of the most effective and low-cost ways to stay in touch with customers and encourage them to come back. It can also be used to form a connection with new audiences so you can get them to turn into new and then repeat customers.  

Let’s look at how your restaurant, whether you're a single location mom-and-pop shop or a multi-location regional brand, can leverage email marketing.

How Can a Restaurant Use Email Marketing?

On the surface, restaurant email marketing seems pretty straightforward. You use emails to connect with your loyal customers. While that much is true, there are many ways to get more out of your email marketing.  

Email marketing is a full marketing system that allows you to form a connection with your customers, learn about them, and deliver messaging they will find the most useful and relevant.

Here are a few ways restaurants can use email marketing.

#1) Stay in Touch and Top-of-Mind

Of course, restaurant email marketing is an incredibly useful way to stay in touch with customers and share updates, new menu items, limited-time offers, and branded events with your customers. While you might think that you are blasting your Facebook messages out to all of your followers, your posts are likely only seen by about 10% of your fans on a good day. Email is a direct way to send messages directly to your audience’s inbox.  

Related: 12 Tactics to Create a Restaurant Sales Funnel That’s Always Full

#2) Create Profiles for Your Customers

An effective restaurant email marketing list includes more than a customer’s email address. It creates a full profile for customers that include details on their recent orders, which stores they visit, and how often they visit, among other details. Email marketing, when combined with a customer data platform, can open up a variety of opportunities to get to know your customer so you can offer more targeted messaging.

Related: What’s a Customer Data Platform? And Why You Need to Use One

#3) Segment Your Customers into Categories

When you have customer profiles attached to your email marketing list, you can begin to split your list into categories. You can segment your list based on the data you have on your customers. For example, if you run two locations, you can send targeted emails related to one of your locations only to customers who frequently visit that store. If you have a deal on lunch specials, you can segment your list to send a lunch offer to customers who frequently visit between 11am and 2pm.  

Related: 7 Audience Segmentation Examples and How to Use Them

#4) Personalize Messaging

Customer profiles also help you get details to create more custom messaging. You can pull from information you have about customers to make emails feel more personal. The most basic way to do this is to include first name fields that add the name of the recipient to the message -- or even better, the subject line. An eConsultancy survey found 74% of marketers say targeted personalization increases customer engagement.

#5) Use Remarketing to Get Customers to Return

One of the best uses of email marketing is to increase the frequency with which people visit or order from your restaurant. Use email for remarketing and encourage people to come back. Don’t use generic messaging to get them to return. Pull from the data you have and offer messaging tied to a customer's recent behaviors. For example, offer coupons to customers based on their most frequent purchases or if they haven’t visited in a few weeks.

#6) Drive More Online Orders

More and more customers have embraced take-out and delivery options from their favorite restaurants. From quick-service to fine dining, people are ordering out more as behavior shifted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Leverage this trend through your email marketing and use your emails as an opportunity to promote online ordering. Drive customers directly to an online ordering system. Also, use your online ordering system to collect information from customers so you can create a database for remarketing efforts.

Related: Drive More Online Restaurant Orders with These 8 Tips

#7) Automate Marketing Efforts

Restaurant email marketing is powerful because in many ways, it can run on its own. You can set up automation so your messages automatically get sent out to your audience. Through drip series and trigger campaigns, your system can automatically deploy emails based on customer behavior and activity. Automate re-engagements campaigns to bring back customers who haven’t ordered in awhile or send coupons to someone based on their recent purchase. 

Related: The 7 Types of Marketing Automation a Local Business Can Use

#8) Advertise on Facebook and Instagram

When you have a strong email list, you can even leverage it to reach customers on Facebook and Instagram. Upload your email list to the social platforms to find your audience on social media. The social sites match email addresses with social accounts so you can reach your audience through paid ads.

#9) Attract New Customers

While email is often thought of as something used to engage people who have already joined your list or engaged with your brand, it’s also a good tool to help you reach new customers. You can use email marketing to support a marketing contest for your restaurant that invites people to sign up for a chance to win a grand prize. You can also use your list to find new audiences on Facebook and Instagram. Upload your existing list and then create a Lookalike audience to find and target people who are most likely to be interested in your restaurant.

Email marketing presents many opportunities to reach your customers outside of a simply sending an email.

Types of Restaurant Email Marketing Campaigns

Now that you have a high-level idea of what you can do with restaurant email marketing, let’s look at some concrete ways you can leverage this marketing tactic. Here are a few examples of email marketing campaigns you can run at your restaurant.  

  • Newsletter: Send a regular newsletter on a set schedule to share updates and stay top-of-mind.
  • Promotional Email: Deliver an email with a deal, special offer, or coupon. To maximize the effectiveness of the email, deliver it to a segmented list most likely to be interested in the promotion.
  • Welcome Email Series: When a new customer joins your list, send a welcome series that introduces your brand, important information, and a coupon to thank them for joining.
  • Trigger Email Series: Design an email series that reaches customers when they take a specific step. For example, if someone joins your customer loyalty program, send a series explaining how the program works and encouraging customers to use it.
  • Re-engagement Email: As a remarketing effort, use automation to send emails to people based on their past purchases.
  • Informational Email: Send an email letting customers know about any major change to your restaurant, such as a new menu, hours, locations, etc.

Consider how you can run one or more of these email marketing campaigns to engage your list, build brand loyalty, and get customers to return.

Restaurant Email Marketing Tips

Email marketing is so much more than email. It can support marketing efforts in all stages of the customer journey. To get the most out of email marketing for restaurants, here are a few tips to keep in mind as you create your campaigns. 

Know your audience. The more you can craft your message to your specific audience, the better. Get to know your audience by creating buyer personas and always identify the target audience before you send an email campaign.

Know your goals. Tie each email to a goal. Knowing your objective will help you craft your messaging and audience. It will also help you measure and review results.

Define the call-to-action. Each time you send an email, identify the next step that you want audiences to take. Get clear on the call-to-action so you can best drive audiences to act.

Spend time on the subject line. A subject line can be the difference between your email getting read or ignored. Don’t rush through the process. Utilize best practices, and write a few different subject lines before choosing the one to send.

Monitor and test. Keep a close eye on the results of your campaigns. Track open and click-through rates to find patterns and trends that can help you improve future campaigns.  

Related: The Best Email Marketing Ideas to Increase Your Sales

Restaurant Email Marketing Statistics

When you start email marketing for your restaurant, you might be wondering how well your campaigns are performing. To get an idea about what to expect from your campaigns, consider these Mailchimp email marketing benchmarks.  

Mailchimp compiled the average performance of email campaigns across restaurants using their platform. These restaurant email marketing statistics represent average metrics.

  • Average Open Rate: 19.77%
  • Average Click Rate: 1.34%
  • Hard Bounce: 0.37%
  • Soft Bounce: 0.50%
  • Unsubscribe Rate: 0.28%

MailChimp also shared average email marketing statistics across all industries. Email marketing performance is similar to these averages.  

  • Average Open Rate: 21.33%
  • Average Click Rate: 2.62%
  • Hard Bounce: 0.40%
  • Soft Bounce: 0.58%
  • Unsubscribe Rate: 0.26%

Knowing benchmarks can give you an idea of where you need to set goals with your email marketing and determine if you are getting the most out of your campaigns.

Start Using Better Email Marketing for Your Restaurant

Restaurant email marketing provides a direct way to reach diners, win customers back, and increase sales through repeat visits. If you don’t have an email strategy currently set up, it's time to get started. 

If you're not sure how to set up successful email marketing campaigns for your restaurant, contact MyArea Network today.  

We specialize in helping restaurants using smart digital strategies, data, and technology to reach nearby customers. Contact us to get a free consultation about how we can help promote your business today.