Restaurant Email Marketing Ideas in 3 Easy Steps

Dec 2, 2020

woman at restaurant using restaurant email marketing to reach her customers

When looking for ways to grow your sales, look no further than restaurant email marketing. For the average business using this tried and true communication method, every $1 spent results in $42 earned, according to Litmus

Your customers expect to receive emails from you, whether it be for order confirmations, regular updates, or discounts. This makes email a great way to stay top of mind. Plus, your average customer spends more than two hours checking their personal emails every weekday, according to Adobe. If you’re looking for a quick way to grow your sales, we’ve compiled a guide to getting started with restaurant email marketing in three easy steps.

Step 1: Build your email list.

Perhaps the most important step to restaurant email marketing is building your list of customers. Do you already have a list of customer emails you can send to? If not, try getting customers to sign up via your website, social media, or in person. Try adding a popup to your website homepage asking for customers to submit their emails for news about your restaurant and promotional offers. Drive more signups by offering an immediate discount for signing up for your email list. Promote your email list on all of your social media accounts and anywhere else you may already be communicating with your diners.

If you’re looking to engage customers who are picking up orders or dining in, leave a sign up sheet where interested customers can write their own emails. Try incentivizing your staff to sign up customers during their shifts. 

Perhaps the easiest way to build an email marketing list is to use an online ordering system that gives you access to your customer data. Typically, when a customer places an online order, they provide their email address. Third-party delivery apps, such as Postmates or Grubhub,keep customer data—including email addresses—for themselves. By contrast, the average ChowNow restaurant partner has over 1,900 emails in their database that they can market to. 

A Closer Look: Why Your Restaurant Needs to Take Advantage of Customer Data

Step 2: Choose the right restaurant email marketing software.

Copying and pasting hundreds of email addresses into a new email makes restaurant email marketing too time consuming and prone to errors. Choose an email marketing platform that will let you easily upload and maintain your customer lists. A good email marketing platform will also store templates for various communications you intend to send out. This may include a new menu item, changes to your store hours, or any specials you’re offering. Popular email marketing platforms include Mailchimp or Constant Contact. If you’re looking to make original designs, try Canva, a free, easy to use design website.

a phone screen displaying a promotion with a discount code

ChowNow offers restaurant partners a premium email marketing program. We send branded, automated emails monthly on their behalf to their customers, complete with custom promotions that drive online orders. Using this program, the typical ChowNow restaurant partner sees a return on investment of 26 to 1.

More: Restaurant Marketing Ideas to Turn Customers into Regulars

Step 3: Plan your content.

Getting ahead in planning the content for your restaurant email marketing will ensure that you never fall off track. Decide how often you want to communicate with your customers. If you’re strapped for time, try starting with one a month. Track your ideas in a document, and think about the messages you want your customers to know. Restaurant email marketing ideas you may want to use include a monthly email from the chef, a discount for loyal customers, or a profile of your staff members. 

Create useful templates for emails you’re likely to use often, including happy hour, customer birthdays, and promotions. By offering online-only promotions, you incentivize more or your customers to sign up for your emails. You also encourage more online orders, which tend to produce larger ticket sizes than on-premise sales.  Many ChowNow restaurant partners have found that their online tickets are as much as 55 percent larger than their on-premise counterparts, according to internal data.

These three steps are everything you need to get started with restaurant email marketing. Over time, you’ll start to notice trends regarding what works best for your email marketing program. As you adapt and refine your strategies,you’ll realize that restaurant email marketing is a great way to get noticed and ultimately drive more sales to your restaurants. Interested in learning more? Download our guide, “Email Marketing Made Easy for Restaurants” for 14 content ideas. 

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