When Marketing a Restaurant, Build Your Email List the Right Way
- Genevieve Babineau
- 3 Min Read
Many people spend their days thumbing their smartphones. Whether or not you’re one of them, consider this: They are primed to consume whatever information pops up on their screens. Will it be a message from your business or someone else’s that pings their inbox?
Restaurant operators know that email marketing is yet another way to build connections with guests and attract hungry eaters to your tables. Unfortunately, it’s building email lists chock full of engaged patrons that prove to be most difficult. And email campaigns are only as successful as the list of subscribers it sends to.
The ROI of Restaurant Email Marketing
There’s a clear return on investment on email marketing. When looking at conversion statistics, it’s clear that restaurant email marketing is not dead. All consumer demographics use email daily, which makes email marketing one of the most cost-effective ways to reach customers. In fact, Entrepreneur lists email marketing as the preferred method of brand communication, as it often outperforms social media for engagement rates and organic reach. Email marketing generates some of the highest return on investment at $44 for every $1 spent, according to Huffington Post. The fact that consumers prefer these emails suggests email helps boost sales, too.
Gravy, right? But there’s a catch: A 2017 DMA Insight tracking report warns that 53 percent of consumers report getting too many irrelevant emails from brands and businesses, which could cause them to abandon their email address altogether. This means it’s all about the quality of quantity. Clear messaging is imperative. Responsible restaurant email marketing is in, and spam mail is out.
The best way to build email lists and retain customers is to provide value to those who opt-in to your newsletters. Here are a few ways to do just that.
How to build email lists customers actually want to read
1. Opt-in forms galore
To get as many people signed up and engaging with your business as possible, cross-promote your email list everywhere, including restaurant receipts, catering and event forms, and other POP signage. You can also consider creating a visually appealing opt-in form that’s visible on all relevant website pages to encourage readers to sign up for your newsletter. Sweeten the deal by offering a bounce-back offer customers can redeem the first time they visit your restaurant, like a free appetizer or 10 percent of their meal.
2. Create an exclusive loyalty program
Thank guests for their continued business by implementing a loyalty or rewards program that promotes deals to an exclusive group. Patrons will be more inclined to fork over their information once they’re convinced it will gain them access to exclusive promotions other diners aren’t privy to. Consider sending invites to a product demonstration or private menu tasting via email. Or send helpful food and wine pairings to their inbox on weekdays, mid-morning or just in time for happy hour. This is a great way to build out your email list.
3. Be selective with information
Gone are the days of spammy email blasts. Only valuable email campaigns spewing enticing information shine through the otherwise forgettable desktop notifications. Some examples of high-performing email marketing newsletters for restaurants include:
- Grand opening announcements for new restaurant locations.
- New menu items: Specific dishes, seasonal additions, and more.
- Catering offerings: Packages and bundles customized for busy seasons like holidays, graduations, sporting events, etc.
- Seasonal promos: Advertise deals and special dishes on Mother’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, National Margarita Day, and more.
- Noteworthy press: Share recent positive reviews, article write-ups, etc.
4. Don’t forget family and friends
Another way to build email lists is by referrals. Provide existing customers with a link to share with others. Diners will be more inclined to share their own email address—and get their friends and family onboard—if there is an incentive available for every new email sign-up that originates from the shared link.
5. Get personal
Consumers are 50 percent more likely to open emails with personalized subject lines compared to non-targeted or generic emails. Something as simple as listing the recipient’s name in the subject line can differentiate your emails from all others. Also, response rates soar when restaurants adopt personalized email marketing offerings based on individual purchasing and shopping behaviors. Think location, age, household income, meal preferences, and more.
6. Partner with the community
Incentivize customers to join your email list by engaging with local brands. This is a great way to build your email list. Customers love when they can feel a part of the community. Compile a gift basket of goodies donated by local businesses for a common goal, like Teacher Appreciation Week. Amass bottles of wine from the corner spirit store, flower arrangements from the florist, and chocolates from the local bakery. Then, have people enter their email to win the prize.
7. Leverage online ordering
Restaurants operators who neglect online ordering and delivery channels are not only missing out on substantial profits but a chance to build email lists exponentially. Allow your online ordering systems to collect customer emails during checkout. Use it as a way to send an order receipt confirmation or as an opportunity to garner feedback regarding the user experience right away.
8. Use technology to manage growth
You’ll want to leverage analytics platforms that help restaurants reach more people, manage subscribers, and grow customer relationships through email marketing. Consider which platforms will suit you best depending on the complexity of your campaign. Fishbowl, Bridg, and Constant Contact are all reputable email service providers.
Want to grow your catering business?