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7 Email Marketing Ideas for Restaurants

Email marketing is one of the easiest ways to communicate with your restaurant guests and win over new customers. In a 2022 survey by SaleCycle, 59% of respondents say that marketing emails have influenced their purchases. If you are not utilizing email marketing to promote your restaurant now, you could be missing out on the opportunity to stay top of mind with your restaurant visitors and generate increased sales.

How to Build a Restaurant Email List

If you haven’t yet started collecting emails from your guests, now is the time to start. Here are a few ideas to grow your email marketing list.

  • Have a fishbowl at the host stand where guests can drop in their business cards for a chance to win a free lunch.
  • Add a pop-up sign-up form on your website.
  • Create a contest for email subscribers.
  • Build an email-based loyalty program.
  • Promote your email program on your restaurant’s menu, tabletop signs, and flyers.
  • Encourage sign-ups in your social media posts.

Now that you have a plan to build out your restaurant’s email marketing lists let’s take a look at some email ideas to add to your email marketing calendar.

Email Marketing
Restaurant email marketing

1. Welcome New Customers

A welcome email is a great way to get started with email marketing. This should be an email template you set up in your email marketing program as an auto-responder that gets sent out automatically after someone signs up to hear from you. An auto-responder welcome email is significant because once you set it up, the emails will go out without you having to send them. 

An effective welcome email should offer the guests something to get them excited about your restaurant. We suggest including an offer for a complimentary meal or appetizer that they can claim by simply showing the email to their server.

2. Celebrate Birthdays

Another great way to use auto-responder emails is to ask for your guests’ birthdays during the sign-up process. These emails will automatically get sent out at a specific time before their birthday so they can plan a visit to your restaurant to celebrate. To help them celebrate, even more, offer a free dessert!

Guests will love having their birthdays recognized, and this also allows you to include personalization in the email. And more than likely, guests will arrive with friends and family in tow to celebrate with them, resulting in even more sales. 

3. Promote Catering/Events

You will want to stay top of mind with your guests when they are planning to host a meal for a special occasion. It may be a wedding rehearsal dinner, a business lunch meeting, or a tailgate party for the big game. These could be events held in your restaurant or another location. Your restaurant should send occasional emails to call attention to your catering capabilities and private event space so that they know whom to go to when their event planning starts. 

4. Highlight Holidays & Special Events

Major holidays are always big for restaurants, and you probably already promote special offerings for days like New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day. You could also highlight special holidays relevant to your restaurant. Think of days like National Cheeseburger Day or National Taco Day, where you can tie in a special offer from your restaurant for a discount on the item. 

Does your restaurant have Happy Hour or a special wine-tasting event coming up? Let your customers know about these special events with a well-designed email, and watch your headcount increase. 

5. Feature Limited Time Offers/New Menu Items

You already have limited-time offers and special items in your restaurant, so featuring them in your email is a no-brainer. You should use great photography of the menu items and describe the dish and ingredients to generate excitement and get your customers’ mouths watering and planning their next visit.

6. Promote Loyalty Program

If your restaurant offers a loyalty program (which it should), email is a great way to promote it. You can boost app downloads by including a link in the email and adding instructions on how to use the app. This is also a great time to offer a discount or free item for signing up. Rewarding your most loyal customers is a great way to generate repeat business for your restaurant.

7. Encourage Reviews

You probably already know that positive online reviews of your restaurant are a huge part of having a successful business. You can select a glowing review or your restaurant to highlight in an email and encourage your guests to leave theirs. 

Another strategy could be to send a survey allowing your loyalty customers to rate you after a recent visit. If they respond positively, you can follow up with another email that contains links to your restaurant’s profile on review sites to leave their own. 

Wrapping Up

99% of email users check their email daily, some as much as 20 times daily. So it’s a good idea to show up in their inbox with compelling content and offers. Email marketing is a fabulous way to connect with your customers and increase sales if done correctly. 

Develop a restaurant email marketing plan to fill seats and keep diners coming back for more by using this list for inspiration. If you need help with your email marketing strategy, contact our restaurant marketing experts for a custom plan to meet and even crush your goals.


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Wiley Koehler

Wiley Koehler

Data Analyst & Ads Specialist

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