How to Grow Your Restaurant Business with Email Marketing

Are you searching for new ways to bring customers to your restaurant? If so, you’re not alone. Millions of restaurants across the world face the same dilemma, and that’s because it’s naturally challenging to convince most consumers to trust you with their hard-earned money.

What’s more is that purchasing promotions don’t make the task any easier. Not only are promotions somewhat ignored by the Millennial generation, but they are also expensive if you’re trying to scale your marketing efforts in a major way. Also, overusing coupons in an attempt to gain consumer attention can severely reduce your profit margins.

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In other words, you may have customers coming to your restaurant, but you may not be making as much money as you normally would. So, what’s the solution to filling more seats in your restaurant?

The answer is simple and it’s been around for decades. As you’ve probably guessed, email is your best shot.

85% of adults and 78% of teenagers use email every day. With over 280 billion emails being sent each day, email is one of the most prolific forms of global communication. Fortunately, you can utilize a process known as email marketing to grow your restaurant.

In this article, you will learn several fundamental email marketing tips that will help you gain more business.

Choose the Right Email Service Provider

There are hundreds of available email services providers, and the most popular one is Gmail. In fact, Google announced that its email service provider had more than one billion monthly users. So, does that make Gmail the best provider for your email marketing campaign?

Of course not.

firedrum email logo

While Gmail is popular, it’s used mostly by professionals and students, not businesses hoping to create an effective email campaign. Therefore, if you want to properly get the job done, you’ll have to select a provider that specializes in email marketing like FireDrum.

It’s best to look for a provider that offers a wide variety of templates options so you can customize a bunch of your own personalized emails that don’t look plain. Most importantly, you must ask yourself these questions when you’re vetting an email service provider.

  • Do they provide restaurant-specific templates?
  • Can the templates be customized to match my brand?
  • Are their templates mobile-responsive to ensure they work on any device?

Ideally, you’ll need to get an understanding of how versatile your email service provider is before you make an investment. Also, you should always inquire if your provider offers in-depth analytics to track the progress and ROI for your email marketing campaigns.

For example, FireDrum regularly sends our clients reports and interactive graphs that track, measure, compare, and report the success of your campaigns. You can also receive insights on which of your subscribers opened your emails and your click-through rate of your entire subscriber list.

An Email service provider that allows you to do more for less is the perfect choice for your restaurant, and it’s the first step to developing your email marketing campaign.

If you’re curious about what FireDrum can offer you, click here to browse all of our email marketing features.

Build Your Email List Strategically

As the owner of your business, you likely understand the importance of scaling your customer base. The only thing you can effectively do so is to stay in constant communication with would-be patrons, people who live and work in close proximity to your restaurant, your target audience, and the people who visit your website.

Unlike promotions and coupons, email marketing is the best way to do this. Therefore, the next step in growing your restaurant with email marketing is to build your email list, but you’ll have to do it strategically to secure any real results.

The first step in creating an email list is simply encouraging people to sign up. You can take advantage of our platform to increase your email signups by using our built-in contact capture forms to gain access to your target audience’s email addresses.

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We offer form integrations with popular third-party internet software such as WordPress, WooCommerce, and Privy to make importing and exporting your contacts convenient and unlimited.

Furthermore, to achieve the best results in building your email list, here are some helpful tips to get you started.

  • Make sure your sign-up forms are visible on all of your site’s pages. Also, offer rewards (giveaways, promotions, and coupons) to encourage people to sign up.
  • Send a personalized welcome email and a gift as soon as a person signs up to your email list.
  • If you allow customers to order or book a reservation online, try asking for their email. Remember to follow email marketing best practices by having them opt-in.

You can also get creative and use these offline marketing techniques to directly impact your email list.

  • Place a URL on receipts, bills, and cards sent with delivery and takeout orders that will direct users to sign up for your email list.
  • Allow your patrons to send you a text message to subscribe to your email list.
  • Simply ask people to opt-in in exchange for a prize drawing or anything similar.

The key to growing your email list is through genuine incentivization. A person’s email address is private information. If someone trusts you with their private information, you have to reward them and guarantee them that you will only send them information that will benefit them.

Create Sweet and Savory Messages

Now that you understand fully how to build your email list, it’s time to begin crafting quality messages that will get your readers to press action. There are two main types of emails that are used in every email marketing campaign: relational and promotional emails.

Relational emails are an attempt to relate to your readers by making your restaurant appear more “human”. These can be welcome emails, offers, or an invitation to participate in a survey or quiz.

team working on sending emails

On the other hand, promotional emails are sent primarily to promote your restaurant. These emails will typically promote upcoming events, new menu items, and holiday specials.

Unlike other businesses, restaurants must create visual and deeply persuasive messages that inspire a reader to crave your food. Cite the following tips to develop emails that will resonate with your target audience.

  • Craft a Compelling Subject Line - The subject line is arguably the most important aspect of an email. 35% of recipients open an email based on the subject line alone, so it’s crucial to craft an enticing subject line that influences clicks.
  • Tell Your Story - The truth is, there are hundreds (and even thousands) of restaurants in your city. By telling your story, such as how your restaurant came about or what makes you different from the rest, will give you the opportunity to sell your restaurant’s uniqueness to your target audience.
  • Give Food Tips - Try sending out recipes and food tips from your head chef. You can make a short video of your chef preparing a popular dish or you can give out cooking tips to teach your readers how to cook themselves. The key here is to provide tangible value to your emails to keep your readers engaged so they don’t get annoyed or uninterested with your sendings.
  • Introduce Your Staff - If you haven’t done this already, take a few minutes to individually introduce your staff. Highlight their background, experience, and openly tell what makes them different to show off the personal side of your brand.
  • Inform Your Audience - Did your menu recently change? It’s important to inform your audience about changes to your menu that include additions, revisions, specials, seasonal, and limited-time options. Also, be sure that you communicate any new happy hour times, incentive programs, and themed nights.
  • Promote Special Occasions - Use your emails to communicate important special events, holidays, and occasions. Also, send a personalized email on your subscribers’ birthdays by offering a free dessert or meal.
  • Showcase More Incentives - Deals, discounts, and coupons are always a great idea for emails. Offer a free ice cream of drink to people who haven’t visited your restaurant in awhile, or create a survey or poll and offer a buy one meal get one free deal to those that participate.

Use a Real Person’s Name in the Subject Field

Did you know that emails that included a real person’s name in the subject field received a higher click-through rate than emails that didn’t?

That’s because people love personalized emails that are being sent from real people instead of bots, or from a company email. Most email service providers, like FireDrum, make it easy to edit the sender field.

Be mindful that personalized emails are friendlier than dry, corporate emails. So, attach your name (or an employee’s name) to your emails to influencer more of your subscribers to start opening your emails.

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Add Personalization

Personalization is a key aspect of a successful email marketing campaign. For your restaurant, this is no different. If you send a mass email that addresses everyone as “dear reader”, then you could risk alienating your subscribers.

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That’s why you should strive to create personal and conversational emails that address a user personally. Although deeper personalization tips will be discussed in the next section, the biggest takeaway here is to include the first name of your recipient at the beginning of each email.

FireDrum allows you to automatically include a recipients name to the start of every email to make your correspondences unique and relatable to each of your subscribers.

Segment Your Email List

Needless to say, every customer is different. You may have customers who visit your restaurant on a regular basis. You may have customers who are inactive, and potential customers who have shown interest in your menu through your website.

Do all of these people deserve to receive the same message?


Your customers and prospects deserve to receive a personalized message that relates specifically to them because a customer wouldn’t likely open an email that’s meant for a potential one, such as an invitation to visit your restaurant for the first time.

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This is where segmentation comes in. Segmenting your email lists allows you to place your contacts in defined groups so you can better personalize your messages. For example, you can segment your email list in groups like, “customers”, “potential customers” and “inactive customers”.

Doing this will enable you to send thank-you emails to your “customers”, enticing coupon deals to your “potential customers”, and follow-up emails to your “inactive customers”.

The idea here is to keep your emails very personal, even if you have to create hyper-defined segmentations.

A/B Test Your Subject Lines

There aren’t any online studies or data from other successful email marketing campaigns that are more meaningful than your own results.

Therefore, if you want to begin increasing your click-through rate while optimizing your ROI, you should take the time to A/B test your subject lines. What is an A/B test, you may ask?

It’s simply a comparison between two experiments. In this case, the experiments are your subject lines. Since subject lines are the number one driver of click-through rates, you’ll have to see which ones work and which ones don’t.

You can do this by conducting a month-long test to determine the most effective click-through. Start by crafting an email message that’s the same for both subject lines. Keep all of the conditions the same, so the only thing you should change is the subject line for both emails.

Next, send the emails and wait a month (or any time you prefer) to check the results of both subject lines. If you notice a major uptick in your click-through rates on one particular email, it’s safe to say that the subject line was the determining factor.

However, if both results are too similar, scrap the experiment and try two other subject lines until you see a separation.

A/B testing is a continual process, so remember to stay patient to achieve the best success.

Try Using Emojis

Unless you primarily serve alcoholic beverages or provide adult entertainment, your restaurant’s target audience should include minors as well. Therefore, it can be a costly mistake to send corporate-style emails to teenagers and young adults.

Though, what exactly constitutes as a corporate email? There isn’t really a definite answer to that question, but you can try using emojis to relate more to younger generations.

Try adding just a few emojis to communicate your feelings through email, but be mindful to not overdo it.

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Keep Emails Concise and Readable

Whether you’re writing body copy or subject lines, keep everything as long as it needs to be - nothing more and nothing less. Here are some helpful copywriting strategies to follow to improve your restaurant’s email list.

  • People normally skim through emails, so keep paragraphs under three sentences and sentences under 25 words.
  • While there’s no definite “best subject line length”, aim for 17-24 characters when writing subject lines to avoid having them cut off on mobile devices.
  • Get to the point. Every word and sentence in your email should serve a purpose. If it doesn’t, remove it.

Include One CTA (But In Multiple Places)

Once you have a reader’s attention, you have to capitalize. Your call-to-action (CTA) gives you that opportunity to direct a reader’s attention where you want it to be, whether it’s a piece of content or a web page.

Including a single CTA is a basic email marketing tactic, but have you ever thought about using the same CTA in multiple places? The reason why you should consider adding a multiple of the same CTA in your email is to boost your click-through rate.

Since people quickly scan emails, they may miss your CTA, even if it’s a massive button or text. By including a CTA link in the body of your email body and a button at the end, you’re giving your readers multiple times to press action, and that’s always a great thing.

Always Put the Reader First

If you create an email that only talks about your restaurant, you’ll only be wasting your time. That’s because no one wants to read an email where a brand talks exclusively about itself.

Restaurants that provide value to people, though? Those are the ones that get heard. When writing email copy, make sure you always put the reader first.

  • Strong Example: “Enjoy a 30% discount if you bring your kids on Saturday morning for our Family Brunch special.”
  • Weak Example: “Take advantage of our new ordering app by clicking the link below.”
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The first example clearly presents a benefit to the reader, while the second one talks more about the company’s app. Although the second example isn’t bad, it still provides more of a feature than an actual benefit. Remember that customers don’t really pay attention to features.

They want to know what’s in it for them when they click on your email, and when you have their time and attention you can’t spend it on making yourself look good. Offer benefits that put the reader first instead of marketing your features.

Final Words

Email marketing allows restaurants to augment their customer base and communicate with them on a regular basis. By applying a strategic plan, you can achieve success through your email list and increase your sales opportunities.

Do you want to begin your email marketing campaign today? If so, click here to contact one of our specialists to get started. Also, let us know what you think about these restaurant email marketing tips.