Step-By-Step Guide For Creating A Successful Restaurant Email Marketing Strategy

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email marketing strategies for restaurants

Running a restaurant business means making your customers happy and standing out from competitors. Email marketing is one of the best ways to do so and helps you increase revenue when you follow the right practices. 

The restaurant industry is competitive one since there are so many other options available. There are restaurants worldwide that run a restaurant chain, meaning that they have multiple businesses throughout the world, which means they already have a good reputation. 

Statistics claim that the average open rate of email campaigns is around 20%, but only 2% for restaurants. However, 60% of online sales are also made with email marketing and when given a large list of email diners, this percentage can significantly increase and build meaningful relationships. 

Of course, that is just the beginning. In order to make your email strategy even more effective, you need to consider implementing an email signature. Statistics show that email signatures increase lead generation by 32%. So email signature and your signature dish can be a perfect concoction for launching your restaurant to stardom.

So are you ready to take email marketing for restaurants to a whole new level? Let’s explore some ways to do so.

Winning Restaurant Email Marketing Strategy in 8 Steps

Identify your target audience 

Your restaurant’s target audience is composed of the people who are going to buy your menu items. You can learn more about your target audience by analyzing the following: 

  • Demographics: Age, sex, location, income range, education; 
  • Psychographics: The attitude, values, and aspirations that a group of people share; 
  • Behavior: Refers to the buying behaviors, hobbies, and online behaviors; 

  • Now, when it comes to creating a profile of your restaurant’s target audience, after you’ve gathered information from the available sources, you have to answer the following questions: 

    Every customer loves personalization, and statistics show that 34% of customers are more likely to purchase from email marketing and 70% of customers claim companies that understand their needs will influencer their loyalty. However, this can never be done if you don’t know enough about your audience. 

    Build your email list 

    Here's an interesting example of promoting your newsletter subscription. Italian restaurant Sogno di Vino in Washington added just three extra lines to their paper receipt to inform customers what awaits if they join their mailing list. Using wine tastings as a lead magnet, they used a channel not usually used for marketing.

    Once customers visit your website, you can offer them a discount or something premium for filling in your email opt-in form. Through the form, you will be able to gather your customer’s email addresses and other information (like their name or phone number, if needed)) so you can send them personalized offers. 

    Some restaurant companies will use the tactic of wifi marketing to gather data about their target audience by leveraging on-premise guest wifi to run targeted ads, automate customer communication, and send out targeted emails. However, this isn’t always the best practice for learning more about your target audience. 

    Alternatively, you can use a QR code that leads customers to your landing page, where they can subscribe and get a chance to receive regular emails from you. 

    Segment your audience 

    Segmenting your audience is highly important if you want your restaurant email list to have higher engagement. Here is what you should do:

    • Know your goals: Are you trying to increase your sales, online orders, collect feedback, or build customer relationships on a deeper level?  
    • Collect feedback and data: Data can be collected from your online reservations, loyalty program, website analytics that show purchase histories, spending habits, order frequencies, and the customer's favorite dishes. 
    • Create segments based on your criteria: Setting criteria for audience segmentation includes collecting data regarding demographics, purchasing behaviors, interests, and the customer's current location. 
    • Test your segments out: You can effectively test and optimize your segments by measuring important email marketing metrics such as conversions, click-through rates, revenue, open rates, and the type of feedback you receive. 

    Additionally, consider implementing GCM. What is Google Consent Mode and how it can help your email campaign?

    GCM is a feature provided by Google that dynamically adjusts how Google tags behave based on the consent status of users. It helps email campaigns by ensuring compliance with privacy regulations, such as GDPR and CCPA, by allowing websites to adjust Google tags based on the user's consent preferences regarding data collection and processing. 

    By optimizing data collection practices in line with user consent, GCM helps maintain trust with customers and enhances the overall effectiveness of email campaigns while remaining compliant with privacy laws.

    Create compelling content 

    Customers are always seeking advice and are excited to learn more about your restaurant. Creating compelling content for your restaurant email marketing campaign is to encourage and entice customers to engage with your place better. New dish on the menu? There is an attractive holiday promo or some important updates? You are the one writing your own restaurant’s lore and sharing it with your target audience. Make them hungry for more.  

    Here are a few steps in helping you do so: 

    • Highlight ingredients: You can use seasonal and local ingredients that aren’t only good for the environment but can showcase the freshness and uniqueness of your restaurant. For example, if your restaurant is about seafood, in your newsletter you could highlight the fish you caught near the coast, or the in-season shellfish;
    • Feature customer reviews: One of the most important processes of restaurant reputation management is building positive online reviews. Positive testimonials on your website, or social media marketing channels will show how customers have enjoyed their experience at your restaurant and attract new ones, who want to try it out;
    • Utilize storytelling: You can share stories that loyal customers have to tell, family recipes that you’ve passed down throughout generations, or maybe even a new dish that you recently created;
    • Collaborate with content creation agencies: Content creation agencies can significantly help you reach new audiences and gain exposure for your restaurant. It can also help you save time and reach a wider audience over time. 

    Now that we’ve mentioned how you can create good content, it’s time to write a compelling restaurant marketing email.  You can do so by following these practices: 

    • Write a good email subject line: In order for customers to click on your email your subject line needs to stand out from competitors. You can use customer data to personalize your subject lines. For instance, “Your favourite dish — now available for less”;
    • Focus on your intro: Many readers will skim through their email so it’s important to have a good introduction. Mention how you address the needs of your cusotmers in the introduction, so you can keep your readers interested;
    • Include only key information: Don’t reveal every single detail in your email. Make it catchy, compelling and  interesting enough to click on your call-to-action and read more on your website. The ideal email length should be anywhere between 50 to 125 words;
    • Include images: Everyone loves a good design. Even our brain finds it easier to process. To support your email content, include images of your new dishes, or the dish you are currently trying to promote.;
    • Don’t forget the call-to-action (CTA): The CTA is the most important part that will show if you did a good job on your email or not. Your CTA should be written based on what you are trying to promote, is it to play a video, make an online reservation, order online, redeem a coupon? Keep it short and straightforward. 

    After you’ve written your email content, ask yourself is your email easy to read? Is it persuasive enough? Are the links working? Is it mobile-optimized? 


    Source: Salads delivery restaurant

    Design your emails

    Email design plays an important role in your communication strategy and is often the first point of contact with your target audience. It gives them a first impression, which will influence how they perceive your brand. A well-designed email doesn’t only influence customer engagement, but also influences your brand’s identity. 

    If you are looking for an email marketing platform with a human-friendly interface, try Sender. Creating newsletters is a breeze with it’s drag-and-drop email design builder and vast gallery of responsive templates. 

    Here are some email marketing examples, that can be automatized (like welcome or survey emails) or sent as email blasts (like holiday promos or limited-time offers). 

    Thank and welcome new subscribers 

    Yoko restaurant welcome email

    Source: Yoko restaurant welcome email 

    Welcome emails are for making a bold first impression by saying “thanks” to your new subscribers, and telling them what they can expect in future emails. 

    Ask customers for additional information 

    Food52 email template

    Source: Food52

    Subscribers want to receive emails that fit their individual needs. If you don’t have enough data for doing so, you can simply ask for it. This email example above is great since it’s asking customers for feedback. 

    The customer is always right and asking knowing how you can address their needs is also important. 

    New product launch 

    new product launch email

    Source: La Gretita restaurant 

    Let’s be honest, it’s pretty hard to resist an Italian restaurant like La Gretita. This email design is a perfect example of premium, showing you their top dishes and that you get up to 10% off on your order. How cool is that! 

    Holiday Offers 

    Holiday offers email template

    Source: Friendly’s 

    There are many different holidays throughout the year, and offering special offers on these days can be a great way to attract new customers and existing ones to order more. 

    This email design from Friendly’s is straight to the point since it mentions that on a hot day, you’ll be eating ice cream and includes a CTA right in the middle of the email. Before the CTA, they mention that you’ll get 50% off for every order, so this is where they have already persuaded the readers to buy. 

    1. Personalize your messages 

    Personalization is shown to increase company revenue by more than 40%. Email personalization includes sending targeted emails with personalized promotions and offers. 

    This process includes collecting important information such as customer preferences, previous order history, and ordering habits. Through that information, you can create an email campaign that offers promotions, discounts, and menu suggestions based on the customer's preferences.

    Personalized emails are great for generating more revenue, increasing open rates, click-through rates, and even building long-term relationships with your customers. 

    1. Automate your campaigns 

    Marketing automation is software that handles all repetitive tasks without requiring any manual intervention. Common marketing workflows include email marketing, behavioral analysis, lead prioritization, and personalization. 

    Email automation allows restaurants to send personalized emails to existing customers based on order history, customer preferences, and actions. All of these resonate around a successful email marketing campaign. However, it’s important to choose the right email service provider to help you complete this. 

    Automated email campaigns have lots of benefits for your business, like improving the customer experience, increasing customer loyalty, eliminating the need for manual tasks, increasing email revenue, and offering better-personalized services. 

    For example, the image below shows an automated re-engagement email campaign that asks you to rate your last meal. 

    If you have a restaurant app, it’s even better since you can include a button in the app downloads section in your email where customers can rate your last meal through the app. 

    customers feedback collection email template


    Analyze and optimize your results 

    Analyzing and optimizing your email results is important if you want to see if you’re on the right track or not. If you want to evaluate your email campaign results correctly, do the following: 

    • Set a milestone: What does success mean to your restaurant? This can be anything from increasing your open rates to click-through rates, or conversions. Once your goals are defined, you can easily track them. 
    • Monitor engagement levels: Engagement is a key performance indicator when checking up on how your email campaign is performing. You can track engagement by monitoring important metrics like clicks, shares, and open rates. 
    • Conduct A/B testing: A/B testing is comparing two different versions of your email and measuring which version is performing better. 

    After you analyze your results, make improvements to the fields that you need to. This may include your email body content, subject line, email design, call-to-action, your level of personalization, etc. 

    Key performance indicators for your restaurant (KPI) 

    To strengthen your email marketing strategies and make sure that you are effectively analyzing and optimizing your results, it’s important to track your restaurant KPIs

    Restaurant KPIs are your most valuable asset and while there are many KPIs to track, there are three main areas best to concentrate on:

    1. Revenue and profitability metrics
    2. Operational and performance metrics
    3. Customer and guest metrics

    Embracing data-driven approaches empowers change and adaptation, following the market dynamics and meeting customer expectations. 

    5 Restaurant Email Marketing Ideas and Examples 

    An effective email marketing campaign helps build relationships with your customers, and turns them into loyal customers over time. This can be when putting your email marketing ideas into practice and here are a few ideas and examples you can use to do so:

    Weekly specials 

    Weekly specials are an effective way to win customers. For example, this may include having a special dish on Monday, and another one on the other day of the week. Weekly specials are great for attracting your customers to come back, and plan what they want to eat on a weekly basis. 

    For example, let’s take a look at the image below. This newsletter showcases different deals of the upcoming week. 

    Example of weekly restaurant special offers email template

    Source: Bobeau kitchen 

    This is a perfect example of how to keep your audience interested, since every day, there’s a new dish to offer. The email is good because it shows specials for several days of the week, and urges you to stay updated with the restaurant's upcoming hot weekly deals.

    Recipe of the month 

    Recipe month email template

    Source: Health Promotion and Wellness newsletter 

    This recipe of the month is from the Health Promotion and Wellness August newsletter. Why it works?

    •  It already mentions the recipe of the month at the top, and the month right below.
    • The dish is mentioned right below the month. 
    •  It gives you in-depth detail of how you can prepare this dish at home, the amount of time it takes, and shows you the ingredients. 

    You are doing your customers a favor, and while they might sometimes be busy and not able to make it to your restaurant, they might as well prepare the meal at home!

    Events and promotions 

    event promotion email  template

    Source: Vintage Inns 

    This is a great example of what a personalized promotional email should look like. To celebrate their customers’ birthdays, country pub Vintage Inn sends an automated email offering a complimentary bottle of Prosecco during dinner.  The email shows a “Book Now” CTA urging the customer to reserve a spot for their birthday. 

    Why it works? 

    • Includes personalization, making the customer feel special for their birthday;
    • Customer can easily use their gift by scanning the QR code;
    • CTA urges the customer to make a reservation.

     Holiday menus and specials 

    festive season email template for restaurants

    Source: Swiss Chalet 

    This is a good example from SwissChalet showing a festive season email. 

    Why it works? 

    • It shows special offers you get for the festive season;
    • Defines the dish in detail so you get a better understanding;
    • There’s a CTA right underneath the offer.

    Exclusive discounts 


    exclusive discounts email template

    Source: TableTable  

    This is a great example we got for Valentines day from TableTable. 

    Why is it so effective? 

    • Snappy headline matches their suggested offers;
    • Discount offers are easy to spot;
    • Single call-to-action is hard-to-miss.. 

    Restaurant Email Marketing FAQs 

    Here are some questions that restaurant managers might be interested to know about: 

    Does email marketing work for restaurants? 

    Restaurant email marketing helps brands create more awareness by building up their clientele, and creating a large number of loyal customers that will regularly come back every time. The pros of email marketing are: 

    • More affordable compared to traditional marketing; 
    • Setting up the campaign is pretty quick and straightforward process.
    • It is simple to get insights about performance of campaigns, it is easy to see which campaign works and which doesn’t (A/B testing);
    • Reaching a wider audience in a shorter span of time is faster when compared to traditional marketing strategies.  

    What is the best marketing strategy for restaurants? 

    As trends in the hospitality industry keep changing, restaurants need to come up with a well-crafted strategy that convinces customers to choose them over their competitors. Once upon a time, we were finding flyers in our emails and when snacks cravings kicked in, we would just took it and ordered our food. That is why email marketing also does the same magic. Customers are getting sense that email that they’ve just received speak to them. 

    Plus, they are all a visual eye candy and customers will definitely visualize your offer better and they will start their customer journey by just one simple click. 

    Sure, SEO is cool, but there is no guarantee that the customers will click on your result. Same applies to Google my Business. But it can definitely be helpful. 

    Here are the best marketing strategies you can follow for your restaurant: 

    • Creating a website for your restaurant; 
    • Set up a Google Business profile;
    • Consider local SEO;
    • Run paid ads through your emails and social media accounts;
    • Build up your social media presence;
    • Create a blog about your dishes and restaurant;
    • Send email newsletters; 
    • Ask for customer reviews and showcase them on your website. 

    What is the Return-on-investment (ROI) for email marketing for restaurants? 

    The average return on investment (ROI) in email marketing is $36 for every $1 spent. Simply put, this means that for every dollar you invest, you are going to get $36 in return. 

    Targeted emails and list-segmented emails drive 36% of email marketing ROI. Due to its high return on investment, email marketing remains an effective option for restaurants. 


    Email marketing is one of the most effective digital marketing strategies you can use to scale up your business. Apply the above tips and continuously monitor the results to identify areas that need to be tweaked. 

    More importantly, network with industry leaders and target customers by creating a free digital business card today. We are have the best digital business card for hospitality industry. Check it out!


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