In the competitive restaurant industry, customer loyalty is crucial. According to research, retaining existing customers costs only one-fifth as much as acquiring new ones. Loyal customers also visit more frequently, spend more per visit, and are more likely to recommend your restaurant to others.
With well-planned email campaigns that provide value, restaurants can turn one-time diners into regulars. This article covers why loyalty matters, how to create an email strategy, writing compelling content, driving engagement, and measuring results.
The Importance of Loyalty for Restaurants
Customer loyalty has a major impact on a restaurant’s bottom line. Research shows it costs 5 times more to attract new customers than to retain existing ones. Regular customers also visit more often, have higher average checks, and drive word-of-mouth promotion.
Key advantages of loyal customers for restaurants:
- Lower marketing costs to retain vs. acquire
- Increased visits and higher spend per visit
- More likely to try new menu updates
- Provide referrals and online reviews
- Forgiveness for occasional mistakes
Email marketing sustains loyalty
Email is the top tactic for customer retention. Email subscribers have higher lifetime value than social followers or website visitors. Ongoing email nurturing helps turn one-time diners into regulars.
Benefits of email marketing for boosting loyalty:
- Direct access to customers in their inbox
- Drives repeat visits with tailored offers
- Cost-effective vs. other channels
- Flexibility to create promotions and updates
- Metrics to refine campaigns
- Reach Customers Where They Are with Email
Email marketing is extremely popular, with 4 billion daily users globally. For restaurants, email has advantages over review sites, social media, and other channels.
The power of email for restaurant marketing:
- 90% of customers check email daily
- Higher open and click rates than other content
- Drives 2x more conversions than social media
- Allows personalized and targeted content
- Flexible for time-sensitive promotions
Email also costs less than paid ads and drives higher engagement. With an email subscriber list, restaurants can reach both repeat customers and potential new diners
Ways restaurants can use email marketing campaigns:
- Inform regulars of new menu launches, specials
- Offer timely promotions like holiday meal deals
- Share updates like restaurant renovations
- Collect feedback with surveys
- Send loyalty rewards and gift card reminders
- Promote catering or delivery
Well-timed and relevant emails keep your brand awareness with subscribers. Email reminds customers to come back when planning where to dine out or order takeout.
Developing email marketing strategies
To maximize the impact of your campaigns, follow these steps for creating an effective email marketing strategy:
Build Your email subscriber list
Focus first on growing your list with targeted contacts. Ways to collect emails:
1.Website signup offers like 10% off
2.Checkout and receipt collection
3.Business cards drop for email drawing
4.Purchase email lists within your region
5.Segment Your List
6.Divide contacts into groups with CRM software based on
c.Menu preferences like vegan
d.Special occasions like birthdays
7.Create value-driven content
10.Schedule emails to sent automatically. Use workflows to trigger emails based on behaviors.
Include subscriber names, customized offers, purchase history details.
Optimize for Mobile
Simplify design for smaller screens. Boost clickability.
Assess open rate, click rate, revenue, and other email metrics. Refine approach accordingly.
Building Your Email Subscriber List
The first step is to build a robust email list. Here are proven ways restaurants can collect subscriber emails:
- Website signup box: Offer a discount or coupon for signing up. Capture emails at the point of sale.
- Business cards drop: Place a bowl on each table for diners to drop their business card to enter a raffle.
- Receipt collection: Add an email signup line to receipts.
- Social media and print ads: Promote your email list and limited-time signup offer.
- External lists: Purchase targeted restaurant email lists by job title
- Loyalty program signups: Offer enrollment bonuses and rewards for joining your program email list.
- Contests and sweepstakes: Give entrants extra contest entries for providing their email.
- Wherever you collect emails, always get double opt-in consent first. Don’t add contacts without their permission. Clearly communicate how often you’ll send emails.
Designing Your Welcome Series
The welcome series is one of the most critical parts of your onboarding sequence. This is the first impression subscribers have of your brand’s email marketing. An effective welcome series educates new contacts about your offering, delivers value, and motivates them to open future emails.
Best practices for designing your restaurant welcome series:
- Send welcome email immediately so they recognize you.
- Share signup offer or coupon code as promised.
- Give a brief overview of your loyalty program.
- Highlight popular menus items or current specials.
- Include links to social media and online ordering.
- Set expectations for email frequency and types of content.
- Use a warm, conversational brand voice.
The first welcome email sees higher open rates. Then sprinkle in promotional offers, educational content about your restaurant, and fun food images over the next few emails. This develops the relationship and provides varied value.
Segmenting Your Email List
With email segmentation, restaurants can personalize content and send more relevant messaging to specific subscriber groups. Effective ways to segment your email list include:
- Purchase history: group contacts by 1st purchase, repeat purchasers, and high-frequency purchasers. Offer tailored incentives based on their previous spending.
- Location: Segment by the restaurant location closest to subscribers. Spotlight that store’s menu promotions.
- Birthdays and anniversaries: Celebrate subscriber milestones and incentivize visits on special days.
- Dietary preferences: Create segments for vegan, gluten-free, vegetarian, and other diets. Cater offers and recommendations.
- Order channel: Customize emails for dine-in, takeout, delivery, and catering customers.
- Loyalty tier: Offer exclusive rewards and early access to subscribers once they reach higher tiers.
- Engagement level: Separate highly engaged subscribers from inactive ones. Send re-engagement campaigns to inactive segments.
Personalized email content tailored to subscriber interests and characteristics drives more clicks, conversions, and sales.
Crafting Attention-Grabbing Email Content
Compelling email content will get more restaurant subscribers to open, read, click, share, and act on your messages. Follow these best practices for creating engaging email content:
- Subject Lines :The subject line is the first impression your email makes. You have just a few words to compel opens. Effective tactics include:
- Urgency: Limited time, one day only, ends soon
- Exclusivity: VIP access, subscriber-only deal
- FOMO: Peak times booking up, selling out fast, last chance
- Specifics: 20% off sushi rolls, free delivery, $5 lunch special
- Curiosity: Guess the secret ingredient, find out what’s new
Preheaders give a snippet of what’s inside the email. They provide a second chance to pique interest when visible on inbox previews.
- Use ample white space for easy scanning
- Include large images of food, restaurant, people
- Break text into short paragraphs
- Bold key information
- Add logos/branding for recognition
Content marketing ideas
- Limited-time offers or discounts
- New menu previews and seasonal specials
- Restaurant news and updates
- Catering, delivery, and online ordering
- Build customer surveys and feedback polls
Loyalty program announcements
- Holidays and community events
- Optimizing Your Email Campaigns
- With the right email marketing tactics, restaurants can maximize reach, engagement, and conversions from their campaigns.
Personalized emails have response rates 6x higher than generic pitches. Ways to personalize:
- Insert customer first name
- Mention recent orders
- Include special occasion mentions like birthday deal
- Tailor content and offers using segmentation
Pick the optimal send times and days for your audience:
- Day: Earlier in the week tends to have higher open rates
- Time: Test morning vs. afternoon
Take advantage of automated email functionality. Examples:
- Welcome series for onboarding
- Browse abandonment for cart recovery
- Re-engagement series for inactive subscribers
- Loyalty rewards for point thresholds
Subject Line A/B Testing
Come up with multiple subject line options, then split test to see which gets more opens. You can also A/B test content and designs.
Over half of emails are opened on mobile. Ensure your emails render well on smaller screens by:
- Simplifying content
- Enlarging buttons for easy tapping
- Stacking columns into single blocks
- Reducing large images
Every email should contain clickable calls-to-action to drive conversions, such as:
- Visit restaurant
- Make reservation
- Order takeout
- View menu
- Redeem offer
- Place buttons above the fold and use contrasting colors.
Tracking and Measuring Email Performance
To improve the impact of your campaigns, closely monitor email performance metrics. Key indicators to track:
Open rate: Percentage of total recipients who opened the email
Click rate: Percentage who clicked links in the email
Bounce rate: Emails rejected due to inactive or incorrect addresses
Unsubscribe rate: Percentage who opted out from future emails
Conversion rate: Percentage who completed a desired action
Revenue per email: Total sales revenue generated from each campaign
Study these metrics to identify well-performing segments, lists, content topics, and designs you should use again. Watch for any spikes in unsubscribes or decreases in open rates, which may indicate delivery issues or irrelevant content that needs refinement.
Driving Loyalty Through Email Content
Email is the #1 channel to engage customers and nurture loyalty. Here are impactful ways restaurants can leverage email to retain customers:
Spotlight Quality and Value
Use email to showcase positive aspects about your restaurant, such as:
Delicious food with visually appealing images
Warm, friendly atmosphere
Excellent customer experience
Community support and events
This builds positive brand perception.
Offer Exclusive Loyalty Rewards
Email subscribers should get special treatment. Send loyalty members exclusive deals, bonuses, member-only events, early menu previews, and other VIP perks.
Make it Personal
Add first names, customer details, special occasion callouts, and personalized content tailored to their interests. This makes subscribers feel valued.
Highlight Subscriber Benefits
Communicate the perks subscribers get that general newsletter readers don’t. Remind them it pays to be a loyal member.
Ask subscribers for feedback about their experiences and suggestions through surveys. Then share how you’re incorporating recommendations.
Craft Effective Welcome Offers
The signup offer you provide helps ensure new subscribers get immediate value. This sets the tone for future engagement.
Legal Requirements and Compliance
When building an email list and sending campaigns, it’s crucial to comply with anti-spam laws. Key requirements for restaurants to know:
Double opt-in consent: Subscribers must specifically agree to receive emails, such as checking a box during signup. Pre-checked boxes don’t count as consent.
Opt-out compliance: Include unsubscribe links in each email and immediately honor opt-out requests.
CAN-SPAM compliance: Fully comply with CAN-SPAM act provisions, like identifying the sender, including postal address, and labeling ads.
Data protection: Take measures to secure and protect subscriber personal information like names and email addresses. Follow customer data protection regulations like GDPR for contacts in applicable regions.
Email marketing is a highly effective way for restaurants to engage customers, drive repeat business, and build lasting loyalty. With value-driven, personalized content tailored to subscriber interests, restaurants can turn one-time diners into regulars.
Track email metrics like open rates to optimize your campaigns. Continually test new tactics for improvement. Legal compliance with anti-spam laws is essential. Only email those who consented and honour opt-out requests.
As a cost-effective channel with unmatched ROI, email should be a core part of your restaurant’s marketing strategy. Focus on knowing your subscribers, crafting compelling content, automating nurturing sequences, and continuously optimizing performance.
Email marketing, when done consistently well, creates loyal brand advocates who visit and spend more.
Additional Restaurant Email Marketing Resources
- Beginner’s Guide to Restaurant Email Marketing
- Restaurant Email Design Inspiration
- Lifecycle Email Marketing for Restaurants
- Email Marketing Services for Restaurants
- Digital Marketing