In the age of countless online platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Reddit, maintaining a strong connection with your restaurant guests may appear daunting. Managing all these channels might feel overwhelming and confusing.
To maintain loyal patronage, mastering every new social platform isn’t necessary. The real challenge is identifying where your guests are spending their time online, focusing on the major players, and staying relevant.
However, what we truly crave is a strategy that brings simplicity and tangible results.
Amidst the surge of social media marketing, conventional email marketing may seem out of date. This perception, however, couldn’t be more wrong. In reality, email marketing for restaurants has gained a newfound potency.
As stated by the global management consulting firm, McKinsey & Company, email continues to be a significantly more efficient avenue to attract guests compared to social media. Likewise, it remains one of the cheapest forms of marketing.
When Gary Thuerk dispatched the first-ever marketing email in 1978, he saw this novel tool as a swifter, more efficient method to share product information with customers, particularly under tight deadlines.
His vision promptly turned into reality as email marketing started to blossom. As the entire world gradually embraced this new form of communication, it necessitated a transformation in our approach to business.
Regulations and frameworks such as the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 and the Sender Policy Framework emerged, forcing businesses that had been passively blasting emails to “nurture” guests to elevate their strategies.
The habit of indiscriminately sending solicitation after solicitation started to tarnish businesses’ relationships with their guests. A more refined and thoughtful strategy was needed to maintain and grow these contacts rather than relentlessly flooding inboxes with emails.
Why It Still Works
In the realm of digital outreach, it’s crucial to recognize that prospective guests of your restaurant may be spread across various social media platforms, making it a fragmented environment for effective communication.
However, according to 2019 statistics, roughly 90.9% of the U.S. population engaged with email, promising a wider and more consistent audience compared to select social media networks.
Moreover, email as a marketing medium offers unparalleled creative latitude. Unlike social media channels that might impose character limits or strict formatting rules, emails act as a blank canvas. There are no explicit word restrictions and no pre-established formatting protocols.
The moment your audience clicks to open your email, they’re giving you their undivided attention, sans competing distractions. This implies that the versatility of your emails is solely limited by your creative aspirations, paving the way for a multitude of opportunities for distinctive and captivating restaurant marketing.
Restaurant Email Marketing Tips
Here are a few things you need to know to execute email marketing to its fullest potential.
- Be Reliable and Consistent – The two biggest reasons people unsubscribe from an e-newsletter are that they’re getting too many emails, or they don’t remember signing up in the first place. Set up an automated welcome email so that as soon as someone subscribes to get emails from you, they receive a message. Use this welcome message just like you use a WiFi landing page. Orient them to your business, tell them the community of guests they’re joining, offer them a deal, and talk up an upcoming big event. Then, once you’ve welcomed them, stick to a consistent schedule, once a week, once a month…it almost doesn’t matter as long as you are consistent. Most people open their emails first thing in the morning, or just before they go home, so time your emails so they’ll be at the top of their inbox.
- Content Is King – If you email your guests ten separate tidbits a week, the reasons for your guests to open the emails are similarly tiny. Craft your message in advance and think about what you want to do for them. Is this email about making their lives more convenient? Is this email about giving them a break from the rat race? Find your objective and design your email to that end. Also, make sure that your email establishes and maintains a relationship. Today, photos and videos are where it’s at. Videos can triple your click-throughs. Likewise, personalized emails have a higher chance of success. Just remember that a bad video or improper personalization equals bad content.
- Simple Designs Work – White space can increase comprehension by as much as 20%. It also gives the air of thoughtfulness, elegance, or intention. About 80% of readers are only going to scan your email, so keep your writing short, simple, and clear, with compelling subheadings that summarize your main point. Also, more than half of your guests are opening your email on their smartphones, another reason to keep things simple, short, and elegant.
- Know Your Audience: Understanding your audience is a fundamental aspect of effective restaurant email marketing. When you know who your guests are, their dining preferences, favorite dishes, frequency of dining out, and even special occasions like birthdays, you can tailor your email communications to resonate with them on a more personal level. This personalized approach to email marketing not only enhances customer engagement but also fosters a sense of loyalty toward your restaurant. In an industry where repeat guests significantly contribute to the success of the business, making the effort to comprehend and meet your audience’s unique needs can truly set your restaurant apart and ensure a steady stream of patrons eager for a dining experience that feels specially curated for them.
- Send Personalized Emails: Personalizing your emails in restaurant marketing is not just a nicety—it’s a necessity. In a world where consumers are inundated with generic promotional emails, personalization serves as a powerful tool to cut through the noise and truly connect with your patrons. When you tailor your emails based on your guests’ preferences, dietary restrictions, past orders, or even their special occasions, you demonstrate that you value them as individuals, not just as sales figures. This personalized approach can significantly improve engagement rates, as recipients are more likely to open and interact with emails that feel specifically catered to their interests and needs.
- Use Eye-Catching Subject Lines: The significance of crafting compelling subject lines in restaurant email marketing cannot be overstated. The subject line acts as the front door to your message—it’s the first thing recipients see in their inbox and often the determining factor in whether they open the email or scroll past it. An enticing subject line can spark curiosity, encourage clicks, and drive guest engagement. It can tease a new menu item, highlight a special offer, or simply reflect your restaurant’s unique personality. Conversely, a poorly composed subject line can lead to lower open rates, or worse, your carefully crafted emails being relegated to the spam folder.
- Leverage Special Events and Holidays: Capitalizing on special events and holidays in restaurant email marketing offers a golden opportunity to connect with guests in a timely and relevant manner. Whether it’s Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, local festivals, or even your restaurant’s anniversary, these occasions provide the perfect backdrop for unique promotions, special menus, or exclusive events. By tying your marketing efforts to these celebrations, you can tap into your guests’ existing excitement and anticipation, making your communication more resonant and engaging.
- Regularly Share Menu Updates: In restaurant email marketing, sharing updates about your menu serves as a crucial strategy for driving customer engagement and business growth. Whether it’s introducing new dishes, announcing seasonal specials, or even alerting guests to discontinued favorites, these updates can create a sense of anticipation and exclusivity, tempting patrons to visit your establishment to try something new. High-quality photos of your offerings can significantly amplify this effect, creating a visual appeal that whets the appetite and stimulates the senses. Regular menu updates not only keep your communication fresh and interesting, but they also signal your commitment to innovation and quality, further solidifying your restaurant’s reputation in the minds of your subscribers.
- Ask for Feedback: Soliciting feedback is a critical component of restaurant email marketing. It serves as a two-way communication channel, allowing you to understand your patrons’ experiences, preferences, and expectations more deeply. By asking for feedback, you’re not just collecting valuable data that can help improve your services and offerings, but you’re also expressing to your guests that their opinion matters to you. This can significantly enhance guest satisfaction and loyalty. Moreover, guests who provide feedback often feel more invested in your restaurant, which can lead to increased patronage and positive word-of-mouth.
- Use High-Quality Images: Integrating high-quality photographs into your restaurant’s email marketing strategy is of paramount importance. As the old adage goes, “we eat with our eyes first,” and this rings especially true in the digital world. Photos of your dishes, when done professionally and creatively, can elicit a near-tangible craving, convincing subscribers to book a table or order a delivery. Beautiful imagery can also elevate the perceived value of your offerings, helping to justify premium pricing or special promotions. Moreover, visually captivating emails are more likely to be shared on social media, extending the reach of your marketing efforts.
- Don’t Overdo It: While keeping in touch with your guests is important, sending too many emails can lead to fatigue and unsubscriptions. Find a balance that keeps your restaurant fresh in your patrons’ minds without overwhelming them.
- Track and Analyze Your Results: Tracking and analyzing the results of your restaurant’s email marketing campaigns is absolutely vital for their continued success. By monitoring key metrics such as open rates, click-through rates, conversions, and bounce rates, you can gain valuable insights into what’s resonating with your audience and what isn’t. This data-driven approach allows you to continuously refine your strategy, tailoring your content, offers, and even send times to better align with your audience’s preferences and behaviors. Understanding the return on investment from your email campaigns can help justify your marketing spend and inform future budget allocations.
As you devise your marketing strategy, the plethora of online platforms available might seem overwhelming. However, it’s essential to remember that effective marketing doesn’t require a “scattergun” approach across all platforms.
Email marketing, a reliable tool that has been in existence for five decades, continues to hold sway in the marketing world. Its enduring relevance can be attributed to its universality, adaptability, and potential for deliberate, thoughtful communication.
The universality of email marketing is reflected in its impressive reach. With the majority of consumers having access to an email account, it opens up a broad and diverse audience base. This makes it a highly efficient method of communication, reaching both young and old, tech-savvy and technophobe, within and beyond your local community.
Its adaptability lies in its flexible nature. Whether you want to share a quick update, send out a monthly newsletter, or distribute elaborate promotional materials, email marketing can accommodate it all. The format, design, and content can all be tailored to fit your brand and meet your objectives.
Finally, email marketing allows for thoughtful communication. Unlike some social media platforms that may impose character limits or stringent formatting guidelines, emails provide ample space for detailed messages. This means that you can fully express your thoughts, explain your services, and engage your guests with well-crafted messages. You can personalize your emails to appeal to individual guests, thereby making them feel valued and understood.
Furthermore, the use of analytics in email marketing means you can measure the effectiveness of your campaigns, adjust your strategies, and continuously improve.
So, while it can be tempting to chase the latest social media trend or new platform, remember the time-tested effectiveness of email marketing. It continues to be a trusted choice for marketers globally due to its broad reach, flexibility, and the unique opportunity it provides for meaningful communication with guests.
Schedule a Free Demo Today
Bloom Intelligence is an AI-powered restaurant marketing platform that includes a powerful customer data platform, automated data collection, automated WiFi marketing, and reputation management tools.
Guest data is collected from many different sources and aggregated into one single platform, making it simple and easy to analyze and segment your restaurant’s guest personas for your restaurant email marketing.
Data is collected from sources like WiFi logins, online ordering systems like Oracle’s GloriaFood or Toast, online reservation systems like OpenTable, POS systems, and website forms.
Bloom makes guest data collection effortless, allowing you to quickly execute the strategies listed above, saving you time, increasing customer lifetime values, attracting new guests, improving your reputation, and boosting your bottom line.