Using Email Marketing to Drive Repeat Business in Restaurants

Using Email Marketing to Drive Repeat Business in Restaurants

Email marketing is an often overlooked strategy. Learn how to apply it effectively here!

Posted by Victor Delgadillo on September 13, 2023

Email marketing is an interesting strategy that’s often overlooked in the restaurant industry. That’s because it takes effort and time to create a solid email marketing strategy. There’s also a point to be made about how beneficial it can be for your business. In this article, I’ll go over all the details about creating an email marketing strategy for a restaurant. That includes the following topics:

  • What is an email marketing strategy and how it can help restaurants
  • How to know if your restaurant would benefit from such a strategy
  • The steps you must follow to implement email marketing effectively
  • How to manage a marketing strategy and add it to your marketing efforts

When you finish reading this article, you’ll have all the knowledge you need to take full advantage of email marketing in your food business. This strategy can be a game-changer for food businesses because it’s direct, straightforward, and with the right steps, easy to implement. Let’s dig right in!

What Is Email Marketing?

email marketing as an effective method to drive repeat business

Email marketing is a form of marketing that uses email – duh. But that’s not it, is it? Emails are simply another channel you can use to market your food business directly. Just about everyone in the world has an email, which allows you to reach more people using a rather simple strategy. What some marketers and restaurant managers dismiss when email marketing is brought up is the versatility of this type of strategy. When you have your customer’s personal email, you’re able to send all kinds of messages to try and convince them to come back to your restaurant. Basically, you can extend offers directly to your customers, which makes it more likely that they’ll go to the restaurant. Here’s a quick summary of the advantages of email marketing:

  • It’s direct, targeted, and personalized
  • Everyone has at least one email address – it’s almost mandatory to have one nowadays! This also means you can target customers of all ages
  • You can send all kinds of messages enticing customers to come back
  • You can use it to plug your restaurant’s website and social media to improve traffic
  • You can send interesting offers and discounts to customers who already enjoy eating in your restaurant
  • You can use it as a social listening tool or to gain feedback from your customers
  • This is a generally cost-effective strategy
  • It’s easy to track
  • It’s not as complex as other marketing strategies

For restaurants, email marketing is a powerful tool that can drive repeat business, increase website traffic, increase the success of other marketing strategies and promotion tactics, and much more. It is a single tool that allows you to boost the success of other strategies you’re already using in your restaurant, such as having an online ordering system for takeout and delivery, which can directly improve your sales and profits.

How to Use Email Marketing to Drive Repeat Business

reading email

In this article, I’ll focus more on helping you boost repeat business in your restaurant. Restaurants are businesses that thrive with regular customers – the more stable your customer base, the better your business will be able to turn a profit. Email marketing can help you reach those customers who already gave you their email addresses, which is proof of the confidence they have in your services and the quality of your food. Sending a message to someone who trusted their email to you is a subtle, but direct and effective way to remind them of your business, and that they can come again to enjoy more of the same. Let’s go over the steps you need to follow to implement an email marketing strategy.

Note: Keep in mind that this is a highly versatile strategy, and you can use it in conjunction with other marketing strategies and promotions to increase their success.

1. Collect Email Addresses From Your Customers

victor's restaurant google form for email marketing example

The first step is obvious – you need emails to start the marketing process, so you must start collecting them. There are several methods you can use to do it, but the ones I recommend the most are the following:

  • On-site signup forms: This is a great way to collect emails from customers who are already familiar with your restaurant. You can place signup forms on your website, at your front desk, or on your menus. You can do so by taking advantage of technologies such as QR codes and a simple Google Form that allows them to enter their information and interests.
  • Use social media: Using social media is another great way to narrow down the collection of emails. Not everyone who follows you on social media is in your city or is a potential customer. That’s why this strategy is great for collecting email addresses directly from potential customers who are interested in gaining the benefits of being on your restaurant’s email list.
  • Use your POS: Some POS systems have the feature of taking your customer’s email address and other information for marketing purposes.

A basic form with the name, last name, and email address fields gets the job done.

How to Improve Your Chances When Collecting Emails?

Collecting email addresses can take time, but it’s also something you can expedite by using the right incentives. When customers want something, such as a discount, a free meal, or even use your Wi-Fi connection, they’re more likely to share their emails. Use the right incentive and they’ll share their emails willingly. Of course, you must always make sure it’s easy for them to unsubscribe from your email marketing list, or you’ll lose yourself some customers.

2. Segment Your Email List So You Can Send Targeted Messages

google form example for segmenting customers

Segmenting an email list is simply to categorize the emails. You can see a simple example of how I managed this in my email marketing form on Google Forms. Customers taking the survey can pick from the different choices of food I offer in the restaurant, which will give me an idea of their preferences. Also, they can choose the different types of messages they can receive – this will let me know if they’re interested in specific promotions, types of discounts, information about events, and more. Of course, pick the right questions for your specific restaurant to keep the form relevant. Also, make sure it’s a short and simple form, you don’t want your customers to fill out a three-page questionnaire just to get their email addresses.

3. Organize and Categorize Your Email List – Google Sheets for the Win

google sheets untitled document

Google Sheets offers a simple, highly compatible way of organizing your email list. It’s the tool I recommend the most because it integrates easily with most mass email sender services, such as GMass or Mailchimp. It’s also the go-to tool for me since you can extract the information from Google Forms directly to a spreadsheet, which makes the workflow much easier.

4. Choose a Mass or Bulk Email Sender

gmass bulk email sender app

Bulk email senders are apps that help you send emails en masse – because no, you don’t have to do it manually! Apps such as Mailchimp allow you to send thousands of emails per month. Of course, since restaurants are local businesses and you have direct control over who joins your email list, it’s easy to maintain this strategy at a low cost. Most mass email senders allow you to adapt plans to your specific needs based on the number of emails you want to send or the number of email addresses you have.

You can also check out a tool like TargetBay for more advanced email and SMS marketing features.

5. Start Taking Advantage of Your Email List

sending emails

Once you have a segmented list and your bulk email sender ready to go, you can start taking advantage of email marketing. Here are some extra tips so you can maximize your results:

  • Wait until you have at least one hundred customer emails
  • Take advantage of free trials or freemium bulk email software for as long as you can
  • Use the new marketing channel to send relevant offers, promotions, and information about events
  • Use other marketing channels and opportunities such as events or holidays to get customers to join your email list
  • Keep your emails short and to the point
  • Use clear and concise language
  • Use eye-catching images and graphics
  • Write a strong subject line that will get your customers to open your email
  • Personalize your emails as much as possible
  • Test different email templates and subject lines to see what works best for your audience

With a little attention to detail, you can become an expert in creating excellent emails that convert and attract customers to your business easily.

6. Include Email Marketing in Other Strategies

restaurant promotion to improve customer loyalty

Email marketing works perfectly with other strategies – especially loyalty programs, which are very effective in boosting repeat business. Check out our article about how to create effective loyalty programs for your restaurant. Here are other strategies that are compatible with email marketing:

  • New menu items: Share information about new menu items that you are introducing. This is a great way to get them excited about your food and encourage them to come in and try something new, especially when paired with high-quality pictures.
  • Special events: Email your subscribers about special events that you are hosting, such as wine tastings, cooking classes, or live music performances. This is a great way to create a sense of excitement and anticipation and encourage your subscribers to attend.
  • Discounts and coupons: Send customers discount codes for delivery services and takeaway, or even coupons they can exchange in your restaurant.
  • Birthday and anniversary offers: Send special offers to customers on their birthdays or anniversaries. This is a great way to show your appreciation for your customers and encourage them to celebrate with you. Add this as a question to your own Google Form to apply this strategy.
  • Referral programs: Email your subscribers about your referral program and the rewards that they can earn for referring their friends. This is a great way to reach new customers and grow your business.
  • Seasonal promotions: Email your subscribers about seasonal promotions, such as holiday specials or Mother's Day brunch. This is a great way to keep your restaurant top-of-mind during busy seasons.

You can complement just about any marketing strategy or campaign with the right email. Having an email list gives you numerous opportunities to market your business in a direct manner – all you have to do is be a little creative to come up with hundreds of strategies using emails as a base.

Supercharge Your Email Marketing Strategy With Two Steps

Email marketing is just a new channel – what you do with it is up to you. So far, I’ve talked about the basic steps you must follow to establish an email marketing campaign and start building a list. However, if you want to take things to the next level, there are numerous things you can do. Once again, it’s all about thinking outside the box and trying out strategies as you go. Here are some recommendations you can follow to increase the effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns.

1. Delegate it to a Professional

professional writer to help in your restaurant's email marketing strategy

There are thousands of professional email marketers available online looking to work for a business like yours. You can find experts to handle your restaurant’s email marketing campaigns easily on sites such as Freelancer or Upwork. This is a great idea if you have a huge list of emails with numerous segments, each with different interests and preferences. That’s where the attention to detail of someone dedicated only to writing high-quality emails comes in handy. And of course, if you’re managing a restaurant, you probably have a lot on your plate. The steps I mentioned above are enough for you to get started. But, once the strategy takes off, delegating it might be a smart decision.

2. Invest in High-Quality Photography

professional photografy to use in your restaurant's email marketing strategy

Using high-quality images in your email marketing campaigns is a must. Using the right image to announce a new dish can have a big impact on its success. The best part about using high-quality images is that they are repurposable – you can post them on social media, and your website, and of course, include them in email marketing to take full advantage of them.

Email Marketing Can Boost Your Restaurant’s Growth

full restaurant

It’s never too late to start creating an email marketing strategy to help your restaurant achieve its maximum potential. Not only can you boost repeat business, but you can also increase the effectiveness of other marketing strategies, improve your sales, and with some creativity, even gain new customers. Check out the following articles to gain inspiration on how to diversify your restaurant’s marketing strategy and boost it with email marketing:

Also, keep in mind that you can also use email marketing to diversify your revenue streams, especially if you’re creating merchandise around your restaurant or offering extra services like cooking classes. Do you have your email list ready to go?

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