Email is one of the most widely used marketing channels. The reason for that is simple – it drives results. No matter the industry or niche, email is the undisputed king of marketing. Yes, even in the restaurant business. Restaurant email marketing is a very good way of ensuring that you serve your customers with timely promotions. And cooking up your tantalizing email campaigns also means more revenue for your business.
The place of email marketing in marketing your restaurant
Does email really have a place in marketing location-based businesses like restaurants? You bet it does. One thing that all successful restaurants have in common is that they are good at hooking customers, not only with their food but with their marketing as well. This is where email comes to play.
1. Email is a great way to keep your brand top of mind
With many restaurants jostling for attention, it’s difficult to stand out in the crowd. It’s why as a restaurateur, you need to be creative in the way you keep your brand on top of your patrons’ mind. Email is a great way to do this, as you can keep in touch with your customers wherever they are.
2. Increase customer retention
One of the biggest factors that lead to high customer retention rates is not the product itself but the experience you give your customers. Restaurant email marketing allows you to extend that experience beyond your location by building relationships with your customers. Like all healthy relationships, loyalty is the driving force behind customer retention. Use email marketing to build solid relationships with your patrons.
3. Levels the playing field
Not every restaurant is fortunate enough to have tons of money to carry out massive marketing campaigns. Fortunately, you don’t have to have a huge advertising budget to go against the big boys in your area. It’s because restaurant email marketing is a cost-effective way to market your business. It allows you to level the playing field.
Getting started with restaurant email marketing
So how do you get started with restaurant email marketing? Here are a few tips to help you on your way:
1. Build your list
The success of every email marketing campaign lies in having a quality email list. A few ways you can get people to sign up for your mailing list include but are not limited to: Running contests. Contests are a great way to attract attention and build an email list. By giving your patrons an opportunity to win a free dinner in exchange for their email address, you can quickly build up an email list of engaged subscribers. Include offers on your receipts. Placing an offer at the back of your receipt is another great way to get diners to sign up for your list. Simply include a link (or a QR code) to a landing page and offer those who sign up an incentive.
2. Decide on the types of campaigns you will run
As simple a communication channel as email is, email marketing can be quite complex. Knowing which campaigns best serve your audience is one of those complexities. As a restaurateur, you will have to decide on the types of emails you will send out to your customers. Some of the best campaigns include:
- Newsletters. These can contain news about your restaurant or even your brand story.
- Chef’s tips. Keep your customers engaged by sharing some recipes nor cooking tips. While this may seem counterintuitive, it will encourage your customers to come and taste your version to gauge their cooking prowess.
- Promotions. Whether it’s a holiday promotion or simply some discounts you are offering, email is a great way to let your customers know about your special offers.
- Your menu. Mailing your current menu to your email list is another great way to touch base with your customers and tempt them to pay your restaurant a visit.
It’s advisable to send different types of campaigns so as to spice up your marketing.
3. Segment your list
For your restaurant email marketing to be effective it’s imperative that you segment your email list. Segmentation allows you to send personalized and targeted campaigns. Such campaigns have been proven to help increase email open rates by as much as 26%. Criteria you can use to segment your list includes cuisine preferences and location among others.
4. Design tantalizing emails
One element of email marketing that helps to drive conversions is email design. Particularly when it comes to restaurant email marketing, design plays a big role. From the copy to the images you use, your email design must appeal to your customer’s taste buds. In order to understand this aspect of design, let’s take a look at some of the best restaurant emails of 2019. Perhaps you will draw some inspiration from them for your next email campaign.
The top restaurant emails of 2019
One good thing about success is that there’s no secret recipe. Let’s take a look at the marketing ingredients that other restaurants are using to cook up tasty email marketing campaigns.
Pei Wei Asian Kitchen
Pei Wei Asian Kitchen is a very successful American restaurant chain serving Pan Asian fare. The restaurant chain operates in more than 200 locations in the United States and boasts of 6 international locations. Perhaps the greatest reason patrons can’t get enough of Pei Wei's dishes is that they are made to order in an open concept kitchen using traditional Asian cooking methods like wok firing. When it comes to email marketing, this restaurant also knows how to wow its customers with their campaigns. Just take a look at this example: Source: Emma Everything about this email is a hard-to-resist invitation to a long term relationship with Pei Wei. Here are the factors that make it a great email: Design While the design is simple, it’s hard to ignore this email. For one, the hero image captures the essence of the type of restaurant Pei Wei is. Add to that the color scheme and you definitely have a winning recipe for an email that says “Asian food” before you even read the copy. For those who love spicy Asian cuisine, this email does a great job of eliciting a visit to the restaurant. Warm welcoming copy Pei Wei also nailed the email copy here. Following the Asian culture of using fewer words to say more, they made sure every word counts by focusing on the customer. The language of the email is customer focused, making the reader feel like a VIP. Another reason to visit the restaurant as the reader already feels like an honored guest. The design and copy of this email are so well done this email is bound to achieve its purpose of getting customers to update their account. This is a great way to gather customer data for segmentation purposes. More than that, Pei Wei’s email makes it hard to resist treating yourself to dinner at the restaurant.
The Northside Social/Delicia
A great way to drive customer engagement and make your customers feel more like family is by keeping them in the loop of what happens behind the scenes in your restaurant. Here’s a classic example from Delicia/The Northside Social. Source: Delivra Storytelling is a powerful marketing technique that yields tremendous results when used well. Besides sharing staff stories, you can also keep your patrons engaged by dishing out stories behind certain meals on your menu. This type of restaurant newsletter marketing is bound to keep your customers coming back for more meals – and stories.
Olive Garden is a casual dining restaurant that is known for 2 things – family dinners and its famous Italian-American cuisine. With 892 locations around the US, this restaurant is certainly doing something right to grow its customer base. Besides the great cooking, one thing they’ve mastered is their restaurant email marketing campaigns. Source: Emma This promotional email from one of their successful campaigns is just one example of how the restaurant chain has mastered the art of cooking up irresistible campaigns. Let’s break it down and see what we can take away from this email. Maintaining a strong brand identity is a crucial aspect of retaining customers. Olive Garden does this exceptionally well as their email design is unmistakable. From the color scheme to the font type, you can tell at a glance that the email is from Olive Garden. Another design element that they nailed is the hero image. Not only is it tantalizing, but it also arouses curiosity and interest to see what’s at the bottom of the email. It definitely increases conversion rates as the offer is hard to miss (and pass).
Launched in Bethesda, Maryland, California Tortilla (CalTort) is a successful chain of franchised casual Mexican-style restaurants. When it comes to email marketing, CalTort knows how to put the heat on with their personalized campaigns. Source: Delivra Everyone loves celebrating their birthday, and CalTort certainly helps you do that – with a wrapped birthday present. Here are a few email personalization techniques you can borrow from CalTort:
- Address your reader by name
- Use friendly language
- Remember important events
Besides personalization, CalTort does an excellent job of using urgent language to get a speedy reaction. By making the offer limited, they drive a faster response – after all, no one wants to lose out on a birthday present.
Good marketing is meant to make decision making easy for customers, and good marketing is what Pizza Express does well. Source: Really Good Emails Creating a campaign that helps your customers plan out their meals or the days on which their favorite menu item is on special is a brilliant idea. Not only does it help to showcase your menu, but it also helps your customers make a date with you. After all, life has become so busy people are relying more and more on organizational tools like daily/weekly/monthly planners. Use that to your advantage and create a meal planner that you send out to your customers.
Restaurant email marketing is a bit trickier than other types of email marketing due to the fact that you’re running a location-based business model. Done right, however, this is the one marketing method that you can depend on to grow your business. To help you get the most out of your restaurant email marketing, we created an article that highlights some of the best restaurant email marketing examples and ideas you can use for your business. Be sure to check them out.