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Restaurant Email Personalization: Tailoring Messages to Subscribers

Last Update: Dec 5, 2023 @ 7:30 am

“Personalization – it is not about first/last name. It’s about relevant content.” 

– Dan Jak, a renowned marketing expert


In the field of cuisine, where the goal is to leave diners with a lasting impression, customization is no more a nice-to-have. Just as you meticulously tailor your menu to the local taste buds, email personalization is about delivering tailored content to your subscribers, ensuring each message is as unique as the recipient. It’s about connecting with your target audience, appreciating them, and getting them invested in your business. This connection not only boosts customer engagement but also paves the way for enhanced brand loyalty and increased revenue.

Understanding Restaurant Email Personalization

In an era where customers crave personalized experiences, restaurant email personalization is not just an added bonus, but a necessity. But what exactly is restaurant email personalization?

Restaurant email personalization is about tailoring your email marketing messages to meet the unique preferences and behaviors of each individual subscriber. Instead of a “one size fits all” approach, write for each reader.

The degree of personalization can range from simple to advanced. On a basic level, it could be as simple as addressing the subscriber by their name in your emails. But, true personalization goes beyond just using the subscriber’s name.

Through restaurant email personalization, you can create more relevant and engaging email campaigns, leading to higher open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates. More importantly, you can build stronger relationships with your subscribers, enhancing their loyalty and increasing their lifetime value to your restaurant.

Case Study_ McDonald's
McDonald’s Restaurant From the Web

Case Study: McDonald’s

McDonald’s, a global leader in the fast-food industry, is yet another restaurant brand that has effectively adopted email personalization in their marketing strategies. Data-driven marketing allows the organization to tailor their services to each individual client.

Here are some strategies McDonald’s uses to implement email personalization:

  • Personalized Offers: McDonald’s sends out personalized offers based on a customer’s previous orders and preferences. For instance, if a customer frequently orders a Big Mac, they might receive a special offer on their favorite meal.
  • Birthday Emails: McDonald’s sends out a personalized email to their subscribers on their birthdays, often including a special offer or a free treat as a birthday gift.
  • Location-Based Offers: McDonald’s sends out emails with offers specific to a customer’s location or their nearest McDonald’s store. This not only increases the relevance of the emails but also encourages customers to visit their local store.
  • Feedback Requests: Customers who have recently eaten at a McDonald’s may get a customized email asking for input on their experience. This helps the brand improve its services and shows customers that their opinion is valued.
  • Customized Menu Recommendations: McDonald’s uses data on customer preferences to send out personalized menu recommendations. For example, if a customer often orders breakfast items, they might receive an email promoting a new breakfast item.

McDonald’s has seen a rise in consumer involvement, loyalty, and revenue because of their targeted email promotions. By making each subscriber feel valued and special, the brand has strengthened its relationship with its customers.

Benefits of Email Personalization For Restaurants

The benefits of email personalization are manifold. According to a study by Experian, personalized promotional emails have 29% higher unique open rates and 41% higher unique click rates than non-personalized emails. Here are a few more reasons to consider email personalization:

  • Enhanced Customer Engagement: Personalized emails stand out in the inbox and foster a deeper connection with your subscribers.
  • Improved Customer Retention: Personalized communication makes customers feel valued, increasing brand loyalty.
  • Increased Revenue: According to a study by Campaign Monitor, marketers have noted a 760% increase in revenue from segmented campaigns.
  • Reduced Unsubscribe Rates: Relevant, tailored content reduces the chances of your emails being marked as spam, reducing unsubscribe rates.
15 Best Restaurant Email Personalization Strategies To Consider
McDonald’s Email Marketing Strategy Promo Rewards From the Web

15 Best Restaurant Email Personalization Strategies To Consider

1. Segmentation

Divide your subscribers into different segments based on factors such as demographics, location, purchase behavior, and dietary preferences. For example, if a group of subscribers are vegetarian, they might appreciate exclusive updates about your new vegetarian dishes.

2. Dynamic Content

Personalize your emails by using dynamic content. This could be as simple as including the subscriber’s name in the email or as complex as offering personalized meal recommendations based on their past orders.

3. Behavioral Triggers

Automate emails based on customer actions. For instance, you could send a ‘We Miss You’ email to customers who haven’t ordered in a while, with an enticing discount to encourage them to come back.

4. Personalized Offers and Discounts

Offering discounts based on a customer’s specific preferences can significantly increase engagement. For instance, if you know a customer frequently orders desserts, a discount on their favorite dessert can be a pleasant surprise.

5. Birthdays and Anniversaries

Celebrate your subscribers’ special days by sending them personalized greetings and offers. This not only makes your customers feel special but also increases brand loyalty.

6. Feedback and Surveys

Send personalized feedback request emails after a customer visits your restaurant or orders online. This shows customers you value their opinions and are willing to improve based on their suggestions.

7. Seasonal and Event-based Emails

Send out emails based on local events or seasons. For instance, you could send personalized recommendations for a special Valentine’s Day dinner or a summer-themed cocktail menu.

8. Loyalty Programs

Tailor your loyalty program emails to each subscriber. Highlight their points balance, inform them of how close they are to the next reward, and suggest ways to earn more points.

9. Abandoned Cart Reminders

If your restaurant offers online ordering, send out reminders for abandoned carts. Personalize these emails with the items left in the cart to remind customers what they’re missing out on.

10. Re-engagement Campaigns

Identify subscribers who haven’t interacted with your emails in a while and send them a personalized re-engagement email. This could include a special offer or a simple message asking if they still want to receive your emails.

11. User-generated Content

Feature reviews or photos from your customers in your emails. This not only provides social proof but also makes your customers feel valued.

12. Testimonials and Reviews

Share testimonials and positive reviews from other customers. Personalize these emails by sharing reviews of dishes that the particular subscriber has ordered in the past.

13. Personalized Video Content

Send personalized videos, such as a behind-the-scenes look at preparing a subscriber’s favorite dish or a message from the chef. This can create a deeper connection with your brand.

14. Location-based Offers

If you have multiple locations, send offers based on the subscriber’s nearest location. This makes your emails more relevant and actionable.

15. Follow-up Emails

Send follow-up emails after a dine-in experience, asking for reviews, or offering discounts on their next visit. Personalize these emails by mentioning details from their visit, such as the dishes they ordered.

Creating an Effective Email Personalization Plan for Your Restaurant
Personalized Customer Offers Tactic From the Web

Creating an Effective Email Personalization Plan for Your Restaurant

When it comes to email personalization, a one-size-fits-all approach simply won’t cut it. To truly engage your subscribers and drive results, you need a well-planned, strategic approach. The following is an in-depth advice on how to implement an email customization strategy for your eatery:

1. Understand Your Audience

Start by gaining a deep understanding of your audience. Gather as much data as possible on your clients, including their typical visit frequency, preferred dining times, and meal selections. You can gather this information through surveys, feedback forms, or by analyzing their past orders and interactions. If you know your customers, you can better serve them via email.

A subset of your subscribers may be vegetarians, therefore you can tailor your communications to them by informing them of your latest vegetarian offerings.

2. Segment Your Subscribers

Once you know your customers, you can divide them into categories by their attributes. This could be anything from dietary preferences to geographical location. Segmentation allows you to send targeted emails to each group, increasing the relevance of your messages.

For example, you could create a segment for customers who frequently order desserts and send them emails about your new dessert offerings.

3. Craft Personalized Content

Now that you know who to target, you can tailor your messaging to each subset. Remember to use a friendly, conversational tone, and address the subscriber by their name to make the email feel more personal. The content of the email should be tailored to the preferences and behavior of the segment.

For example, if you’re sending an email to a segment of customers who always dine in during the lunch hours, you might want to inform them about your new lunch specials.

4. Automate Based on Behavior

Implement automated emails based on customer behavior. This could include a welcome email series for new subscribers, re-engagement emails for inactive subscribers, or a ‘We Miss You’ email for customers who haven’t visited in a while.

For example, you can provide an automated discount to customers who haven’t ordered in 30 days.

5. Celebrate Special Occasions

Make your subscribers feel special by celebrating their milestones. This could be a milestone event such as a special day or the anniversary of their first visit to your eatery. Send them a personalized email with a special offer or message on these occasions.

For example, you could send a subscriber a free dessert coupon on their birthday.

6. Test and Optimize

Finally, optimize your plan and track your success. Use A/B testing to find out what types of emails your subscribers respond to best. Look at metrics like open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates to gauge the effectiveness of your emails.

For instance, you might test two different subject lines to see which one results in a higher open rate. This information will help you improve over time. 

Remember that personalized emails are meant to make your subscribers feel appreciated. A well-executed email marketing plan may have a significant impact on customer engagement, loyalty, and the bottom line for a restaurant.

Top Restaurant Email Personalization Trends and Statistics to Watch Out for in 2023

The restaurant industry is continuously evolving, and so are the trends in email personalization. As restaurants strive to create more personalized experiences for their subscribers, certain trends are emerging in the forefront. Here are some top restaurant email personalization trends and statistics to watch out for in 2023:

  • AI-Powered Personalization: Artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing email personalization. AI algorithms can analyze vast amounts of data and make accurate predictions about subscriber behavior and preferences. For example, an AI might analyze a subscriber’s past orders and predict that they would be interested in a new dish you’ve just introduced.
  • Hyper-Personalization: Taking personalization to the next level by leveraging real-time data to craft uniquely tailored user encounters. For example, a restaurant might send a personalized email offering a free coffee to a subscriber who usually visits in the morning but hasn’t visited in a while.
  • Personalized Loyalty Programs: Restaurants are increasingly personalizing their loyalty programs to make them more engaging and rewarding. For instance, a restaurant might send a personalized email to a loyalty program member offering double points on their favorite dish.
  • Interactive Emails: Interactive emails that allow subscribers to take action directly within the email, such as making a reservation or placing an order, are gaining popularity. This enhances the subscriber experience and can boost engagement and conversions.
  • Behavioral Trigger Emails: Restaurants are increasingly using behavioral data to trigger personalized emails. A restaurant, for instance, might send a subscriber who hasn’t dined there in a while a personalized email containing a discount.

In terms of statistics, data from various sources highlight the importance and effectiveness of email personalization:

  • According to a report by SmarterHQ, 72% of consumers in 2019 only engaged with marketing messages that were customized to their specific interests.
  • A study by Experian found that personalized emails deliver six times higher transaction rates.
  • According to Campaign Monitor, marketers have found a 760% increase in email revenue from segmented campaigns.

These trends and statistics underscore the power of email personalization in driving engagement, conversions, and revenue. As we move into 2023, it’s clear that restaurants that embrace these trends and leverage the power of personalization will be well-positioned to stand out in the inbox and build stronger relationships with their subscribers.

Common Mistakes in Restaurant Email Personalization and How to Avoid Them
Email Customer Personalization Graphics From the Web

Common Mistakes in Restaurant Email Personalization and How to Avoid Them

While email personalization can greatly benefit restaurants in terms of customer engagement and loyalty, it can also backfire if not implemented correctly. Restaurants often make the following blunders when attempting to personalize their emails: 

  • Over-Personalization: While it’s true that personalisation is essential to retaining subscribers’ interest, it’s also important to avoid coming out as overly possessive or intrusive. For instance, repeatedly mentioning a customer’s specific past orders in every email can give the impression that you’re closely tracking their every move. Instead, use personalization to enhance the customer experience, not to invade their privacy.
  • Relying Solely on First Names: Simply inserting a subscriber’s first name in an email isn’t enough to make it feel truly personalized. It’s a good start, but personalization should go beyond that to include relevant content based on the subscriber’s preferences and behavior. For example, instead of just saying “Hi John,” try something like “Hi John, we noticed you love our vegan options. Here’s a new dish we think you’ll enjoy!”
  • Sending Irrelevant Content: One of the biggest mistakes restaurants make is sending the same content to all subscribers without considering their individual preferences. This may cause subscribers to get irrelevant emails, which may lead to a decrease in engagement and an increase in unsubscribe rates. Always strive to send content that is relevant and interesting to each subscriber.
  • Not Testing Your Emails: Not testing your personalized emails can lead to errors, such as incorrect personalization fields or broken links, which can negatively impact your brand’s image. Always test your emails before sending them to ensure everything works correctly.
  • Ignoring Subscriber Feedback: Subscriber feedback is invaluable in improving your email personalization strategy. If subscribers are unsubscribing or not engaging with your emails, take the time to find out why and make necessary adjustments. This could involve conducting surveys or directly reaching out to subscribers to ask for their feedback.

Avoiding these mistakes can help you implement a more effective and successful email personalization strategy for your restaurant. Remember that customization is meant to improve the customer’s experience, so cater to their demands.

Summary Checklist of Action Plans

  • Know Your Customers: Gather information about your clients, such as their buying habits and interests.
  • Segment Your Audience: Divide your audience into segments based on different parameters.
  • Use Dynamic Content: Create content that is relevant to each segment.
  • Set Behavioral Triggers: Automate emails based on customer actions.
  • Measure and Improve: Continually monitor your campaign’s performance and make necessary tweaks.


As we navigate the digital age, email personalization is not just a buzzword—it’s a potent tool that can redefine your restaurant’s marketing strategy. With the appropriate strategy, it enables you to connect with your subscribers on a deeper, more meaningful level than just a business transaction.

Whether you’re a local café or a global restaurant chain, email personalization can empower you to deliver a unique brand experience, right into your customers’ inbox. Remember, your subscribers are not faceless entities in the digital world—they are real people with distinct tastes, preferences, and expectations. In addition, a ‘one-size-fits-all’ strategy won’t cut it in an intimate sector like fine dining; it will just water down your brand’s appeal.

In the words of Philip Kotler, the father of modern marketing, “If you’re not doing some form of segmented, personalized marketing, you’re not really doing marketing.” This statement rings truer than ever in today’s competitive food and beverage landscape.

It’s time for restaurant owners, managers as well as marketers to get into personalized email. Make your subscribers feel special, build a loyal customer base, and watch your restaurant grow.

Remember that the success of your restaurant rests on more than just its food and decor—it also depends on your ability to connect with customers. And with email personalization, you can do just that. Happy personalizing!

READ ALSO: The Essential Ingredients: Building a Strong Restaurant Brand and a Loyal Customer Base

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