If you own a bar or restaurant, you need to identify several methods of getting new customers to stream in and, at the same time, retain the current ones. For many business owners, email marketing is the ideal solution to fostering relationships outside the restaurant.
Most people would think that only big companies should use email marketing while the small ones should go for other restaurant marketing strategies.
On the contrary, email marketing can boost any business. However, you need to follow the correct email marketing best practices within your industry.
How do you implement this great idea in my business, you ask? You are in the right place. This article will guide you on employing this essential strategy in your restaurant marketing plan to get increased sales and a higher ROI.
Before we get started, let's first understand why you need email marketing for your restaurant business.
Pros of Using Email Marketing for Your Restaurant
Strengthens Relationships with Customers
When you use email marketing the right way, it can be an amazing way to strengthen the relationships you build with those that visit your restaurant.
Restaurant owners can maintain a strong relationship with your regular and previous customers by sending emails that they are interested in. This could include periodic newsletters or coupons and discounts to inspire prospective customers to visit and have a meal at your premises.
Sending a thank-you email to your first-time customers after their visit will also help establish a bond with them. As simple as it may sound, it can make a whole lot of difference in your brand values if email isn't something your competitors are using.
Ensure that you also send an up-to-date email informing your customers about any new and special menus.
Helps Promote Your Business
Besides creating a healthy relationship with those that sign up to receive your emails, you can also send promotional emails to inform them of your offers.
Below are tips on how you can send a promotional newsletter for your restaurant:
- Tell your restaurant's past experiences
- Introduce your support team and their responsibilities
- Share menu updates from your ordering system
- Share various special recipes
- Provide quick meal preparation guidelines
- Offer discounts and coupons
- Recognize your subscribers' milestones
Makes it Easier to Send Invites
Nearly all restaurants host parties and special events throughout the year, such as a grand-reopening. If you have the ability to email customers, it can be an excellent way to engage with them and have potential customers visit you during the event. Conclusively, if done right, email marketing can be a key contributor to the success of your events, without which you could lose out on the potential of additional returning customers.
Source: Original Goldbelly email
How to Build an Email List for Your Restaurant
The email list is the list of people that have subscribed to receive emails from your restaurant.
Consider segmentation. Having a segmented email list aims to get high-quality email addresses from subscribers who can benefit from your emails.
Sending impersonalized emails is a thing of the past. Instead, send tailored emails that are meant for a smaller audience but will resonate significantly more. This is a bit more work in the long-run but you'll notice the strong return on investment when done properly.
This is how you can generate an efficient email list:
Create a Capture Form
Constantly maintain a positive customer relationship with your subscribers by putting capture forms at the best stage of their subscription journey, like in the online menu, online comment card forms, etc.
These forms should entail incentives such as special offers and discounts to inspire your customers to sign up for your email. Once they sign up, send your subscribers a thank-you email for making reservations. Then, you can later send them the promotional offers or discounts and invite them to your special events.
Note, you can design a pop-up form just like the one below in just 10 minutes using Sender.net.
Gather Helpful Customers Information
Having a segmented marketing email list is essential to send different types of emails to specific categories of subscribers. You can do this by looking into your customers' interests in your restaurant and making a list for each category, possibly by the promotional or discount offer they receive after their first restaurant visit. Alternatively, request individuals to respond to some voluntary survey so that you can have their email experience tailored.
For example, it may be interesting for a family-friendly restaurant to ask families if they want certain things available for their kids, like drawing accessories or others. Couples would also be glad to hear of a certain percentage off on two-seat reservation.
Create Join-My-Email-List Option
To capture appropriate facts without overwhelming customer queries, you can include website links for each sub-group to join your list.
Such exercises create your subscribers' awareness of the kind of emails they'll be getting from your restaurant. On the other hand, you could ask your clients to write down their email addresses on restaurant comment cards or feedback forms for later inclusion.
Another route is to include an email form in a section of your website addressing upcoming events or access to information about new menu items before others. You then enter those who sign up onto your new-menu-items email list segment.
Make Proper Campaign Preparations
You must strategize how you can reach out to your loyal customers through emails. Different events and seasons require specific details.
For example, your clients may be wondering where and how they'll celebrate a seasonal occasion or a public holiday. With a strategic email inviting customers to your establishment, they may consider visiting your restaurant for a meal.
You, therefore, need to send your emails early enough for them to consider your restaurant and not any other when planning. Your emails should have attractive offers such as group discounts to inspire clients to book in large numbers. Include also a menu preview at the beginning of every season or event.
Additionally, address the availability of a broader range of foods and beverages at your restaurant on these special days, in case guests are expecting special drinks or dishes.
Use Your Guest WiFi to Collect More Emails
Another effective way to collect customer emails takes advantage of your guest WiFi access points.
When a guest accesses your WiFi, their browser can be directed to a captive portal page, also known as a WiFi landing page. A captive portal is a page that requires the user to enter specific information prior to gaining access to the internet. This can include things like their name, gender, birthday, and most importantly, their email address.
When they enter their information and log in, you can then redirect them to any other page such as your menu, loyalty program, or mobile app download page. This can further increase guest engagement and trust, and lead to more email opens and clicks in the future.
Using a captive portal is a great way to passively grow your email list quickly. Further, you’ll be unlocking other guest insights to help segment your list and create more targeted messaging for that stronger return on investment.
Utilize Restaurant Email Marketing as an Engagement Tool
For most people, meals are more enjoyable and full of fun in the company of family members or friends.
Hence, offering group discounts might inspire subscribers to forward your email to colleagues, friends, or family members.
The other option is including a referral link in your newsletters which enables your subscribers to share the details with whomever they wish. You can also offer gifts for every referral made.
Lastly, you may introduce an online competition requesting an individual's most creative cocktail recipe, for example. You may then offer to give a trial to the most interesting one in your restaurant.
Guidelines for a Perfect Marketing Email List for Your Restaurant
Whenever you send restaurant marketing emails to customers on your list, make it clear how they'll benefit from the emails.
For example, don't offer real small discounts as they won't give your loyal email subscribers a reason to open your email and visit your restaurant.
Below are tips for producing an effective restaurant marketing email list:
Write a Catchy Subject Line
The subject line gives the subscriber a reason to open your email or just spam it. Therefore, you should make it as intriguing as possible for your customer to consider visiting your premises.
Also, include the most crucial details between 35-50 characters of your subject lines.
- Kids meal for FREE this Sunday.
- This Pizza is nothing like any other pizza you've ever had. It's sensational.
- Guess what is new on our menu today?
Avoid Overwhelming Your Clients' Inboxes
Sending your subscribers daily newsletters is unrealistic and boring to them. It may even overwhelm them. Having entrusted you with their email address means that they are willing to receive your emails. However, they only expect note-worthy emails into their inboxes.
If you bombard your customers with unnecessary emails, they'll have no other option but to unsubscribe immediately.
Know Your Customers at Personal Level
Your subscribers will feel valued if you show that you care about their wellbeing. Even though you are sending a single message to all, they are more effective when they are a bit personalized.
For example, you can request your subscribers to provide personal information like birthdays. You may send them personalized gifts or offer special dishes at a subsidized cost on that day.
Be Humorous and Use Appealing Images
People can process images faster than text, including gifs and images in your emails can be a great way to create more engaging emails.
For example, describing how delicious your pizza is can be easier with a mouth-watering photo and a small call to action. You could use animation to give your customers a hint on what to expect if they knocked at your restaurant for dinner.
Also, you could use photos of a similar event that happened in the past for an upcoming event.
Include Your Signature in Emails
Signing your emails using scanned handwritten signatures makes them more official and also gives them a personal touch. To facilitate this process we recommend using email signature generators. These tools will help you keep all the elements properly aligned in the email.
Welcome Note to Customers
Most of your first-time subscribers expect a welcome email from you. Utilize the opportunity to interact with your new subscribers/customers as you introduce your brand and welcome them on board.
This marketing strategy gives you a chance to provide a positive first impression of your restaurant's delicacies before the customer visits your business. Or an excellent second impression, if they are signing up after their first visit.
For example, your new subscribers may be on the lookout for an email. Sending a welcome email can help you win them over to your side against your competitors.
Source: Original Tippsy email
Provide Contact Details
Although customers can get your restaurant's contact information, they would appreciate it if you included it in your newsletters.
List your phone numbers clearly in the header or slightly below the logo of your bulletin. Also, add links to your site and social platforms.
In addition, include working hours and location where appropriate.
Tempt Your Inactive Contacts
Identify the less active customers from your marketing email list. Send them emails with an engaging subject line, including some tempting offers to win their return.
Doing Restaurant Email Marketing the Right Way
If you're wondering how to carry out restaurant marketing through emails, here are some ideas to motivate you to reach out to your guests.
Customer Loyalty Programs
Besides sending your first-time clients a welcome email, you can offer them a coupon. Also, you can include such information in your customers' subscription form as a motivating factor for sign-ups.
You may also offer regular discounts to customers to inspire their engagement and increase new clients.
For example, you can give customers a 5% discount and increase it progressively with time as they increase their spend.
This makes your subscribers look forward to celebrating most, if not all, their family holidays and they may even refer your restaurant to friends and colleagues.
Menu Change Alerts
Most of your customers will always order their favorite dishes when they visit your restaurant. By not looking at the menu, they may not be aware of new things worthy of tasting. Hence, it's crucial to notify them of the new dishes you have included in the menu in their inboxes.
For example, you may include a big image of a new delicacy and its ingredients in your newsletters or a video of the chef preparing it.
In another scenario, you may have a completely new menu or have special dishes on specific days. Emails entailing such information notify subscribers of the changes and influence their choice of the days to visit your restaurant.
Uphold Health-Friendly Food Ideology
As a result of the escalating health problems globally, most people are keen on the nutritional value of each meal. Therefore, you should ensure that you offer a well-balanced menu for your customers.
For example, besides providing fish and meat as your main course, also offer vegetarian favorites such as fresh juices and raw salads. In addition, you can include gluten-free dishes in favor of those allergic to gluten.
Share Your Recipes with Your Guests
You could share your recipes in the following ways:
Sharing Video Recipes
Consider using a video to share great recipes with your customers. Ask the chef to take a video of preparing a particular dish and revealing the secret behind his success.
Special Events and Holiday Recipes
During a family gathering, people prefer cooking at their homes to visiting a restaurant. Cooking together presents them with an avenue to bond.
It's, therefore, a good idea when you share with them recipes that they prepare during such events. Your subscribers may share information on the source of the great ideas with their loved ones, thus increasing your circle of customers.
New Dishes Recipes
Here you could share recipes of your new dish on the menu. Alternatively, you may request your clients to state their preferences and then personalize their emails by including recipes of their choice.
Did someone say "delivery"?
After a long day's work, one may need to have some time to relax. However, this may be impractical as they have to prepare a meal for their family dinner.
In such a case, free delivery from your restaurant will do them a great favor. This helps you to win your loyal customer against your competitors offering some slight discount.
Take The First Action With Email Marketing
Restaurant email marketing is an effective and cost-friendly marketing strategy for almost all restaurants. It improves engagement with your customers and helps you remain competitive within the industry.
Therefore, you need a segmented marketing email list to send your customers tailored emails and remain relevant in their inboxes.
With a happy and satisfied target group, your restaurant's ROI will certainly scale up. And, this is the primary goal of marketing your business.
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Skirmantas Venckus is the CMO at Sender.net – He possesses a very strong background in marketing, specifically email marketing for businesses.