6 fresh ways to use email marketing for restaurants

Running a restaurant is not an easy task by any stretch of the imagination. You have to manage employee schedules, order food and drink, manage waste, provide exceptional customer service, as well as a great meal, and market your restaurant too. Talk about a full plate!

How can you turn a casual visitor into a regular diner at your establishment? How do you attract regular diners to bring in their friends and family? These are questions that restaurant owners and managers have grappled with forever.

Email marketing is an effective way to reach people. In fact, many people check their smartphone notifications before they even get out of bed. Your restaurant could be a part of their dinner plans before they have even had breakfast.

Email marketing for restaurants doesn’t have to be difficult or confusing. Just look at some of these ideas to get your own creative juices flowing!

The top 6 email marketing ideas for restaurants

Try out these easy ideas, and then compare the number of customers you get in over the next couple months to find your ROI (return on investment).

1. Give away a free meal.

They always say that there’s no such thing as a free meal. Of course, if you run a restaurant, you have the ability to bend the rules a little bit when it comes to that saying.

Growing an email list is one of the first steps to creating successful email marketing campaigns. Attract customers in your restaurant to sign up for your email marketing list by giving away a free meal to one lucky subscriber every week. People will be happy to sign up for the chance to win a meal.

After you have them on your email list, you can send out free offers for appetizers or desserts. Those small offers will get customers in the door and spending money on entrees and drinks.

2. Announce new menu items. 

Are you launching a new menu? Do you want your customers to know about the exciting and delicious new items you will be offering? There is no better way to share the news than an email newsletter directly to their inbox!

One thing to remember with any email marketing campaign is that there always needs to be a “why” factor. Why should someone visit your business? This “why” could be as simple as trying the new menu items for themselves.

Best of all, you can combine this marketing idea with the one mentioned above. Introduce the new menu and then offer some sort of free sample for email subscribers. That’s an email that anyone will be happy to open.

3. Share a recipe from the kitchen. 

You may wonder why you would ever want to share a recipe from your restaurant. Won’t people just make the dish themselves and never come back?

The truth is that most people don’t visit a restaurant because they are incapable of cooking for themselves. People visit restaurants for convenience, atmosphere, and quality service. There’s no recipe to cook up those features at home.

Sharing a recipe is a great way to add value to your email marketing campaigns. Plus, when people actually cook the recipe, your restaurant will be top of mind. Of course they will enjoy the dish but they will always be thinking, “This is so much better when someone else cooks it for me.” 

Simply sharing a recipe makes email marketing for restaurants simple and effective.

4. Bring out the fans. 

Many towns and cities have regular food and beverage events where local restaurants are on hand in one location to share their cuisine with hundreds of hungry customers. In some cases, there may even be a competition aspect of these events where a trophy or ribbon is on the line.

Earning attention at an event like this can be a huge boost for any restaurant. Why not invite your loyal fans to come out and show their support? This gives you a chance to reconnect with customers at a fun, local event outside the four walls of your restaurant. In addition, loyal customers may be willing to write your restaurant’s name on a ballet if there is any sort of vote for awards.

You can build hype, earn bragging rights, and connect with customers all thanks to one email.

5. Keep those calendars updated. 

Most restaurants have more going on that just food and drinks being served. Restaurants will often draw in people with special events to complement the food service. For example, a sports bar may be pumping up the next big game while a wine bar advertises their live jazz night.

How are you telling your customers about these events? In some cases, you may have to put up money to secure these events and getting out a healthy crowd is important. Email marketing is one of the most cost-effective ways to ensure you see a return on your investment. Keep your customers updated as new events are booked, and then remind them as the event draws closer.

6. Promote special days.

Are there dates on the calendar where your restaurant offers a special menu? Perhaps there is a nice Mother’s Day brunch you would like to advertise or a New Year’s event you would like to sell tickets for.

Sending out an email update can keep your customers updated on what is coming up at your restaurant. They want to be aware of special events and email is a low-cost form of marketing to get people excited about special menus, holidays, and more.

Email marketing for restaurants made easy

You make great food, you’ve got the right staff in place, and the ambiance is perfect; all you need to do is get people through the door. Email marketing campaigns that target specific events, demographics, and dates are a surefire way to drive traffic and revenue. With these tips, your next newsletter will look almost as good as the food you serve!

About the Author

Miles  Price

Miles Price is a Product Marketing Manager at Campaign Monitor.

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