While social media seems to dominate digital marketing, there is one often underrated tool that is still very effective for any business, email marketing. In this article we will explore email marketing for restaurants, from its benefits and how to get started, to creating engaging content, segmentation and personalization.
What are the benefits of Email Marketing for Restaurants?
Email marketing is one of the most cost-effective tools available. Despite the growing popularity of social media and other digital platforms, email remains one of the most powerful options for any restaurant looking to build strong relationships with its customers. Let’s tell you about some of the benefits it can offer you:
Strengthening the customer-business relationship
Keeping customers coming back for repeat visits is usually a goal of most restaurants. Email marketing allows our business to stay in the minds of customers on a regular basis, reminding them of the unique culinary experiences we have to offer. By sharing updates, news and exclusive content, restaurants can generate a sense of belonging in the customer, which translates into stronger loyalty.
Promoting offers and discounts
When it comes to sharing special offers, promotions and discounts, email is one of the most effective options. By having a restaurant-specific subscriber list, promotions are targeted directly to an audience that has already shown interest in what we have to offer. This increases the likelihood that the customer will act on the incentive, either by booking a table or taking advantage of a special offer. In addition, by offering exclusive discounts for subscribers, we encourage more people to join our mailing list.
By receiving regular emails, customers are constantly reminded of the restaurant’s existence, its specialties and what makes it unique. This constant visibility means that when the customer thinks about going out to eat or celebrating a special occasion, the restaurant will be on their list of choices.
Personalization and segmentation for a specific audience
Not all customers are the same. Some may be vegetarians, others may be interested in wine specials or themed events. Email marketing allows restaurants to segment their mailing list and send personalized messages to different groups. For example, a restaurant could send vegetarian recipes to those who have indicated vegetarian preferences, or wine promotions to those who have previously purchased wines. This personalization not only increases the relevance of the content to the recipient, but also shows that the restaurant values and understands the individual needs and preferences of its customers.
Low cost and high return on investment (ROI)
Compared to other forms of advertising, email marketing is noticeably less expensive. There are no printing or mailing costs, and email marketing platforms are often affordable, especially when you consider the broad reach they offer. In addition, since email marketing targets an audience that has already shown interest in the restaurant (as they have voluntarily subscribed), the message is more likely to be well received and acted upon. This translates into a significantly higher ROI compared to other media.
Flexibility and adaptability
Email marketing campaigns can be as simple as a monthly newsletter or as detailed as daily emails during a special event. If a particular campaign is not getting the desired results, it is easy to adapt and adjust the strategy. This ability to quickly adapt to changing market needs or customer preferences is of enormous value to any restaurant looking to stay relevant within its market.
Email Marketing Strategy for Restaurants
1- Build your mailing list
Before you start collecting email addresses, it’s critical to understand why it’s important. A mailing list is basically a direct connection to your current and potential customers. Unlike social media, where your message can get lost among the vast amount of posts, an email lands directly in the recipient’s inbox, which means it has a high probability of being seen and read.
That said, let’s talk about the different ways to get customers to subscribe to your mailing list
Collecting email addresses through bookings and visits
One of the easiest and most straightforward ways to build your list is through the booking process. When customers book a table, either online or over the phone, we can request their email address to send confirmations, reminders and special offers. In addition, you can have a guestbook or a form at the restaurant’s front desk where visitors can opt-in to provide their emails.
Offer incentives for subscriptions
People are often reluctant to give out their personal information without getting something in return. You can overcome this barrier by offering attractive incentives for those who subscribe to your list. This could include discounts on the next visit, access to exclusive events, special recipes from the chef or even a free appetizer. By offering something of value, you not only encourage people to subscribe, but you also establish a positive relationship from the start.
Use subscription forms on your website and social media
If you have a website, it can be a great tool to get your customers’ email. An eye-catching and well-designed subscription form on the homepage or on a dedicated page can capture those interested in learning more about your restaurant. In addition, most social media platforms allow integrations that make it easy to incorporate subscription forms. Take advantage of these channels to expand your reach.
Create quality content
While incentives are a great way to attract subscriptions, quality content is what will keep your subscribers engaged and prevent them from unsubscribing. From newsletters to menu updates and events, it’s very important to offer content that is relevant and valuable to your audience.
2- Create engaging, quality content
Once you’ve built your mailing list, the next step is to make sure that the content you send is engaging enough to grab your subscribers’ attention, motivate them to open your emails and, ultimately, act on it. Here are some guidelines and content ideas to send to your mailing list that may be of great interest:
Use High Quality Photographs
Eating is a sensory experience, and nothing whets the appetite like a well-taken picture of a delicious dish. Invest in professional photographs of your dishes, beverages and the restaurant environment. Make sure the images are clear, crisp and accurately represent what you offer.
Tell the Stories Behind the Menu
Every dish has a story. It could be the inspiration behind the recipe, the local ingredients you use or the culinary tradition it represents. Sharing these stories adds an extra dimension to the dining experience and creates a deeper connection with your customers.
Special Offers and Exclusive Discounts
Everyone likes to feel like they’re getting something special. Providing exclusive offers for your mailing list subscribers not only gives them an incentive to open the mailing, but also reinforces the value of being subscribed to your list.
Events and Announcements
got a new dish on the menu? A themed event or a night of live music? Your mailing list is the perfect place to make these announcements, ensuring your most loyal customer base is informed.
Testimonials and Reviews
Sharing positive comments from other customers can serve as a powerful endorsement. By showcasing testimonials and reviews, you’re not only highlighting the quality of your restaurant, but you’re also building trust.
Consider incorporating interactive elements into your emails, such as polls about potential new dishes or fun quizzes about culinary preferences. This type of content is not only entertaining, but can also provide valuable information about your customers.
Allowing your chef to share updates, cooking tips or even recipes can add a personal touch to your emails. This humanizes your brand and allows customers to feel like they have a closer and more direct relationship with the people behind the food.
A short video showing the preparation of a dish, a tour of the restaurant or interviews with staff can be a great option for your email. Moving visual content is often more engaging than static text and can convey a lot in a short amount of time.
Tips and Recipes
Offer your subscribers something of added value. It could be a special recipe for them to try at home or tips on how to pair wines with certain foods. By offering this type of content, you show that you care about enriching their dining experience beyond a restaurant visit.
Attractive and Navigable Design
No matter how good your content is, if your email design is cluttered or difficult to navigate, subscribers may close it quickly. Make sure the design is clean, clear and optimized for mobile devices. Use eye-catching headlines, adequate white space and a clear call to action.
Modern email marketing platforms allow for a great deal of personalization. From greeting the subscriber by name to offering recommendations based on past visits, personalization can make the customer feel valued and unique.
Regular, But Not Excessive, Updates
While keeping your subscribers informed is critical, flooding their inboxes can be counterproductive. Find a balance when deciding how often you send emails to ensure they are still welcome and not perceived as spam.
Clarity in the Call to Action (CTA)
Every email you send should have a clear purpose. Whether you want customers to book a table, try a new dish or attend an event, make sure your CTA is clear, visible and engaging.
3- Segmentation and Personalization
Email marketing is a very effective tool, but its true potential lies in the ability to deliver the right message to the right audience at the right time. Segmentation and personalization are two key strategies to achieve this. By understanding and applying these tactics, restaurants can maximize the impact of each campaign and build deeper, more meaningful relationships with their customers.
Segmentation is the process of dividing your mailing list into smaller, targeted groups based on certain criteria. These criteria can range from demographics to buying behavior to customer preferences. Here are some of the benefits of segmentation:
- Relevance: Sending relevant content increases the likelihood that your emails will be opened and read.
- Higher conversion: Personalized offers and messages are more likely to motivate a customer to take an action.
- Lower unsubscribe rate: By receiving content that interests them, subscribers are less likely to unsubscribe.
On the other hand, personalization goes beyond simply including the customer’s name in the email. It consists of tailoring the content of the mailing based on specific subscriber information and behavior. This also provides us with a number of benefits such as:
- Deeper connection: By feeling that the message is specifically for them, customers develop a stronger relationship with the brand.
- Improved customer experience: Personalization shows that you value and understand your customers, improving their overall perception of your restaurant.
Common Segmentation Methods for Restaurants
Although there are different methods for segmenting our email list, here are some of the ones that restaurants in particular tend to use:
- Frequency of visit: segment your customers based on how many times they have visited your restaurant. You could have categories such as regular, occasional and first-time customers.
- Preferred food type: If your restaurant offers several types of cuisine or dishes, you can segment your list based on customers’ culinary preferences.
- Subscription date: New subscribers might receive different content compared to those who have been on your list for years.
- Special events: Segment customers who have booked for special events, such as birthdays or anniversaries.
Implementing Personalization in Your Campaigns
Personalization is one of the most powerful techniques you can use in any marketing strategy. While you can personalize your email as much as you want, here are some of the types of personalization that are most frequently used in restaurants:
- Personalized greetings: Using the customer’s name in the greeting can do wonders in terms of open rate and engagement.
- Recommendations based on past purchases: If a customer often orders vegetarian dishes, you can send them emails about new vegetarian dishes you introduce to the menu.
- Event reminders: If a customer celebrated a special event at your restaurant, such as an anniversary, you can send them a reminder or a special offer for next year.
- Personalized feedback: Ask for comments about a specific dish the customer ordered on their last visit.