Today, we’re going to cover the basics of email marketing for restaurants. We’re already hungry and we haven’t even started cookin’ yet. Cookin’. Get it?

Let’s just skip the rest of the bad food jokes and get right to it. Bon Appétit.

Why Restaurants Should Invest in Email Marketing

As a restaurant owner, email marketing is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal. It’s also one of the fastest, easiest, and cheapest ways to reach people who want to hear from you. All you have to do is give people the option to sign up.

Think of it like the first ingredient of your email marketing recipe. A simple place to start? Your own website. Dedicate some digital real estate to a sign-up form for your mailing list.

The sooner you start collecting emails the better. Start with friends and family if you have to and encourage them to forward the emails they get from your restaurant to other people in their contacts. You never know what might happen.



What’s the Secret Ingredient to Great Email Marketing?

Once you’ve got a list you can’t just let the people who have signed up for your emails sit there and go bad like milk left on the counter overnight. That’s never pleasant for anybody.

The secret ingredient to any awesome email marketing plan is the cadence at which you email your lists. You’ve got to find the right cadence for emailing your subscribers. Keep ‘em warm and keep ‘em happy.

If you’re not sure where to start, a good rule of thumb is to aim to email your list one to two times per month. Make sure you stay on brand by using your restaurant’s logos, graphics, and other images often and always proofread your messages before sending them out.

It’s also a good idea to remember to stay conversational and not get too promotional with your emails. Hospitality is about people right? Use your emails to connect with people and show them a little extra warmth; give them something else to relate to.

What’s On The Menu?

Okay, you’ve got your list and you know how often you want to email everyone who signed up but what should you send them? They obviously have great taste and you don’t want to disappoint them.

No worries! There’s no reason to overthink this. People signed up to get emails from your restaurant because they’re obviously big fans of your food so give the people what they want!

We’re talking:

  • Menu Items: Tell them about seasonal specials, specific dishes, and newly added items to your menu.
  • Press: You got a good review in the local newspaper? Atlanta Magazine? Don’t be afraid to share it with your subscribers!
  • Private Dining/Catering: If you offer these services, they go particularly well around holidays, graduation season, and summer vacation.
  • E-Commerce: Gift card giveaway anybody? Don’t be shy about promoting restaurant swag either. Nobody ever has enough t-shirts. Nobody.
  • Special Events: Think fundraisers and happy hours.
  • Seasonal Promos: There ain’t no shame in playing the seasonal promo game. Use Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, National Doughnut Day, whatever to whet the appetites of your subscribers.

We’ll even be as bold to suggest sharing cooking tips and recipes (especially if your restaurant already has a blog where you publish stuff like this).

There are plenty of hungry college kids and even grown adults (like us) out there who would happily subscribe to a restaurant’s email newsletter if it meant it might save them from another night of frozen dinners.


Don’t Forget Images

Once you’ve got the messaging down make sure you include some big beautiful photos in your emails. People eat with their eyes. Including quality images in your emails is important for every business who sends emails, not just restaurants.

Folks like photos. Wow them with close up shots of signature dishes, break down recipes, show off the best booth in the house. Get creative with it! But most importantly…

Follow the golden rule of email marketing and only send the people who have opted in to all the awesome emails your restaurant has to offer. It doesn’t matter how pretty your images are or how awesome that happy hour event is going to be, if they never wanted to see your email in the first place, it won’t do your restaurant a bit of good.

And there you have it! Cooking up an awesome email campaign to help get the word out about your restaurant isn’t hard at all. Try it out for yourself and let us know how email marketing is going for your restaurant in the comments below.

–Z Coast Team