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Introduction to Email Marketing for Restaurants

Last Update: Dec 5, 2023 @ 6:43 am

“Email has an ability many channels don’t: creating valuable, personal touches – at scale.” 

– David Newman, popular email marketing expert


You know how vital it is to keep consumers interested and loyal if you own, manage, or promote a food service business. Restaurants need to interact with customers more than ever in today’s competitive market. Email marketing has become a key way to do this. This article will delve deeply into the world of email marketing, exploring successful campaigns from well-known restaurant businesses and outlining tactics you can use to increase the marketing efforts and bottom line of your own restaurant.

Email Marketing Defined
Restaurant Email Marketing Graphics From the Web

Email Marketing Defined

To advertise goods and services, foster relationships with customers, and keep them loyal to a company is to engage in email marketing. It involves sending targeted and personalized messages to a group of subscribers who have expressed interest in receiving promotional content from a business. Email marketing’s endgame is an increase in sales through increased customer engagement, click-throughs, and conversions.

Key Elements of Email Marketing

  • Email list: You can add a customer’s email address to your company’s email list if they consent to receiving promotional materials.
  • Segmentation: Email list segmentation allows you to send more personalized and relevant messages to your subscribers by dividing your list into smaller groups based on certain criteria (such as demographics, purchasing history, or preferences).
  • Personalization: Customizing email content to cater to individual subscribers’ preferences, interests, and behavior, making the message more appealing and increasing the likelihood of conversions.
  • Subject line: The first piece of text a recipient sees when they receive an email, which should be concise, engaging, and accurately reflect the content of the email.
  • Email content: The body of the email, which should be well-written, visually appealing, and provide value to the subscriber, such as promotions, news, or helpful tips.
  • Call-to-action (CTA): Emails with a clear and appealing CTA are more likely to persuade recipients to buy, join up, or visit your website.
  • Analytics and tracking: Monitoring key performance indicators (KPIs) such as open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates to measure the effectiveness of email marketing campaigns and make data-driven adjustments.
  • Mobile optimization: Ensuring that emails are easily readable and visually appealing on smartphones and tablets, as a majority of users check their emails on mobile devices.

Types of Email Campaigns for Restaurants

Several strategies exist for interacting with consumers via email: 

  • Promotions and Special Offers: In order to persuade people to dine at your restaurant, you should send them exclusive discounts, limited-time deals, and special promotions.
  • Events and Announcements: Include details about forthcoming events, menu changes, or special announcements to keep your subscribers interested in your eatery.
  • Newsletters: Send regular newsletters to share updates about your restaurant, showcase new dishes, and share behind-the-scenes stories about your staff and operations.
  • Customer Feedback and Surveys: Request feedback from your customers to understand their preferences, gather suggestions for improvement, and demonstrate that you value their opinions.

Role of Email Marketing in Restaurants

Email marketing helps restaurants succeed with the following advantages:

  • Build and maintain customer relationships: Restaurants can keep consumers informed of developments and build long-term relationships through email marketing.
  • Drive customer loyalty: By offering exclusive promotions, rewards, and incentives through email marketing, restaurants can encourage repeat visits and cultivate customer loyalty.
  • Increase brand awareness: Raise recognition of the restaurant’s name through consistent electronic mail updates that remind patrons of the establishment and inspire word-of-mouth advertising.
  • Promote special events and offers: Restaurants can use email marketing to announce special events, such as themed dinners or live entertainment, and share limited-time offers to drive foot traffic and increase sales.
  • Gather customer feedback: Email marketing allows restaurants to solicit feedback from their customers, helping them identify areas for improvement and enhance the overall dining experience.
  • Boost revenue: With personalized promotions and targeted campaigns, email marketing can directly drive sales by encouraging customers to make reservations, order online, or take advantage of special deals.
  • Enhance customer segmentation: By analyzing customer behavior and preferences through email engagement, restaurants can segment their audience more effectively, enabling them to send more relevant and targeted content to each group.
  • Improve menu offerings: By monitoring customer feedback and preferences through email campaigns, restaurants can identify trends and adjust their menu offerings accordingly to cater to their audience’s tastes and preferences.
  • Strengthen online presence: A well-executed email marketing campaign can drive traffic to a restaurant’s website and social media platforms, increasing their online visibility and attracting new customers.
  • Encourage referrals and word-of-mouth marketing: By delivering exceptional value and content through email marketing, restaurants can create satisfied customers who are more likely to recommend their establishment to friends, family, and colleagues.

History of Email Marketing

The origins of email marketing can be traced back to 1978, when Gary Thuerk, a marketing manager at Digital Equipment Corp, sent the first-ever mass email to approximately 400 recipients. The email promoted his company’s new computers and resulted in an estimated $13 million in sales. This groundbreaking event laid the foundation for what would become modern email marketing.

Email marketing gained momentum in the 1990s as more organizations realized its marketing potential. The first graphical web browser, Mosaic, came out in 1993. This allowed many individuals to utilize the World Wide Web and email to grow swiftly as a communication method.

The restaurant industry was not immune to the widespread use of email marketing that had occurred by the turn of the millennium. Several things drove the restaurant industry to embrace email marketing:

  • Cost-effectiveness: Email marketing was cheaper than more conventional forms of advertising like print, radio, and television, making it a good choice for restaurants on a tight budget.
  • Targeted communication: Email marketing allowed restaurants to send personalized messages directly to their customers, targeting specific segments based on factors such as demographics, location, or dining preferences.
  • Increased customer engagement: As more people moved into the digital age and began using email as their major form of communication, restaurants saw an opportunity to employ email marketing to interact with their patrons and keep them loyal.
  • Rise of mobile devices: As more people use smartphones and tablets, email marketing has become more popular in the food business.
  • Availability of email marketing tools: Launching a restaurant email marketing campaign used to need technical skills. But now that email marketing tools like MailChimp, Constant Contact, and SendinBlue are easy for anyone to use, this is no longer the case.
Case Study_ Domino’s Pizza
Domino’s Pizza Store From the Web

Case Study: Domino’s Pizza

Domino’s Pizza uses email marketing to communicate with customers about special offers, limited-time promotions, and new menu items. Their campaigns are often personalized and targeted based on customer preferences, order history, and location, which helps drive customer engagement and sales. Additionally, Domino’s integrates their email marketing with their loyalty program, offering exclusive deals and rewards to their most loyal customers.

Domino’s Pizza has made a significant impact on their marketing campaign and overall bottom line by implementing email marketing strategies. Their success can be attributed to the following five key components of their campaign:

  • Personalized Promotions: Domino’s Pizza creates personalized promotions for their subscribers based on their preferences and dining history, increasing the likelihood of conversions.
  • Seasonal and Limited-Time Offers: By promoting seasonal and limited-time offers, Domino’s Pizza encourages subscribers to visit their restaurants more frequently and enjoy exclusive deals.
  • Loyalty Programs and Incentives: By offering rewards and incentives through their email campaigns, Domino’s Pizza cultivates long-term relationships with their customers, resulting in increased repeat business.
  • Event and Special Occasion Announcements: The brand sends out invitations and reminders for special events and occasions, such as wine tastings or themed dinners, keeping subscribers informed and engaged with the restaurant’s activities.
  • Post-Dining Surveys: Domino’s Pizza learns about consumer preferences and happiness by asking for feedback after each visit, which also helps them improve their services and keep customers happy.

Benefits of Email Marketing for Restaurants

The advantages of incorporating email marketing into your restaurant’s marketing campaign are numerous. Take a look at these eye-opening figures:

  • High ROI: Return on investment (ROI) is quite high; $42 is generated for every $1 invested on email marketing (source).
  • Increased Customer Engagement: 59% of consumers say that marketing emails influence their purchase decisions (source).
  • Enhanced Customer Loyalty: 49% of consumers would like to receive promotional emails from their favorite brands on a weekly basis (source).
  • Better Open Rates: Compared to other industries, the restaurant industry enjoys higher average open rates for their email campaigns (source).
Getting Started with Email Marketing
Domino’s Pizza Email Marketing Tactic From the Web

Getting Started with Email Marketing

Here’s how to get started with email marketing:

  • Building Your Email List: Get your consumers’ email addresses first. Incentives such as discounts, contests, and simply asking patrons to sign up for a newsletter while they dine at your establishment can all help. Just be transparent about your plans for their data and be sure to follow any applicable privacy laws.
  • Choosing the Right Email Marketing Platform: Choose an email marketing platform that fulfills your automation, segmentation, and data demands. Some popular options include Mailchimp, Constant Contact, as well as SendinBlue.
  • Crafting Effective Email Campaigns: Focus on making visually appealing, well-structured content for your email campaigns. This content should also show your unique selling points and speak to your target audience. Ensure your emails are easily readable and mobile-friendly.

Best Practices for Restaurant Email Marketing

To optimize your email marketing efforts, follow these best practices:

1. Personalization

Address your subscribers by name and tailor content to their preferences. Personalized emails can lead to higher open rates as well as increased customer engagement.

2. Segmentation

Divide your email list into smaller groups based on factors like demographics, past purchases, and also engagement. This allows you to send targeted content that resonates with each segment, improving your campaign’s effectiveness.

3. Automation

Use automated email sequences to save time and maintain consistency in your campaigns. For example, you can send a welcome series to new subscribers or set up automated reminders for upcoming events.

4. Mobile Optimization

Ensure your emails are easily readable and visually appealing on mobile devices, as a significant portion of your subscribers will open emails on their smartphones.

5. Subject Line and Preview Text

Craft compelling subject lines and preview text to entice subscribers to open your emails. Keep them short, relevant, and attention-grabbing.

Measuring Email Marketing Success
Email Campaign Success Assessment From the Web

Measuring Email Marketing Success

To determine the effectiveness of your email marketing efforts, track the following key metrics:

  • Open rate: The percentage of subscribers who open your emails.
  • Click-through rate (CTR): The percentage of subscribers who click on links within your emails.
  • Conversion rate: The percentage of subscribers who take a desired action, such as making a reservation or purchasing a gift card.
  • Bounce rate: The percentage of emails that fail to reach the recipient due to issues like invalid email addresses or full inboxes.
  • Unsubscribe rate: The rate at which your subscribers request not to receive any more emails from you.

Summary Checklist of Action Plans

To successfully implement email marketing for your restaurant, follow this summary checklist of action plans:

  • Build a quality email list: Collect customer information through various channels, such as your website, social media, or in-store sign-ups.
  • Personalize your emails: Tailor your promotions and content based on your subscribers’ preferences and dining history to increase the likelihood of conversions.
  • Use segmentation: Divide your subscribers into smaller groups based on factors like dining frequency, location, as well as preferences to better target your emails.
  • Experiment with different types of content: Test different formats and styles to find out what resonates best with your audience.
  • Monitor your campaign performance: Track key metrics such as open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates to measure the effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns and make necessary adjustments.
  • Optimize for mobile devices: Ensure that your emails are easily readable and also visually appealing on smartphones and tablets, as a majority of users check their emails on mobile devices.
  • Automate your campaigns: Use email marketing automation tools to schedule and send emails at optimal times, freeing up your time for other essential tasks.
  • Test and refine your subject lines: Experiment with different subject lines to determine which ones generate higher open rates.
  • Incorporate a strong call-to-action (CTA): Encourage your subscribers to take action, such as making a reservation or claiming a promotional offer, by including clear and persuasive CTAs in your emails.
  • Stay consistent: Maintain a regular email marketing schedule to keep your subscribers engaged and your brand at the forefront of their minds.


In conclusion, email marketing provides a potent and affordable method for restaurant owners, managers, and marketers to interact with customers, build brand loyalty, and improve revenue. You may also take your restaurant to new heights by using the methods and plans for action mentioned in this article to maximize the power of email marketing. 

So, don’t ignore email marketing’s potential to strengthen relationships with customers and increase sales. Thus, start implementing these proven strategies today and watch your restaurant thrive.

READ ALSO: The Power of Email Marketing for Your Restaurant: Tips and Tricks

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