👀 Curious about the state of the restaurant industry? Get exclusive insights from our latest report 📖 →

How to Leverage Email Marketing for Growing Restaurants

Email marketing is an invaluable strategy for boosting your restaurant.

Whether you’re launching a new venture, realizing the untapped potential of promotional emails, or creating an email newsletter, email marketing will help your restaurant flourish.

Let’s explore how to leverage email marketing so you can implement this highly effective marketing strategy.

Why email marketing works for food service operations

There are many restaurant marketing tips available, but let’s explore why email marketing works for restaurants.

It consistently drives customer retention

To gain repeat customers, your interaction shouldn’t end once they’ve paid the bill. Continue the conversation via a follow-up thank you email, perhaps containing an offer. 

It opens the way to direct customer communication

Just like Dialpad makes it easy for customers to contact you directly by phone, personalized emails make it easy for you to contact your customers directly. Monitoring which emails get the most clicks and reactions helps you get the most out of email marketing, and personalizing your emails makes your customers feel valued.

It takes fewer resources than social media 

Fluctuating reach on social media can be detrimental to marketing. Email is the best way to reach customers wherever they may be—without paying for advertising space. 

Specialized email types for food service operators

Get creative with your emails. You could send customers:

Welcome emails 

Make a great first impression. Whatever you decide to highlight in your first email, make it a feast for the eyes with a clear call to action. Be sure to emphasize what it is that makes your restaurant unique to grab people’s attention. 

Restaurant offers and promotions 

Anyone can get a 2-for-1 deal in the post; the promotions landing in your customers’ inboxes should be exclusive. Avoid generic wording. Personalization increases email open rates.

Service protocols

Has your restaurant updated any of its protocols? Maybe you’ve changed the types of payment you’ll accept or implemented additional steps each staff member must take before cooking and serving food. Whatever the changes may be, let your customers know.

New food item announcements

Brand new seasonal menu? Latest chef’s special? Look no further for an opportunity to spark a conversation. Include a picture and a small discount, then watch success roll in. You could also combine your email marketing with printed flyers distributed locally to generate more interest. 

Holiday/celebratory emails

From Thanksgiving recipes to happy birthday emails offering a free glass of champagne, staying relevant all year round pays off. 

Best practices for food service email marketing

To optimize your email marketing, you should:

1. Include appetizing photos of menu items

Let a picture speak a thousand words. Too much text can be overwhelming. Image-heavy emails have better open and click-through rates.

2. Share timely updates of changes to your menu

There’s nothing worse than looking forward to a meal only to find out it’s no longer available. Update your customers about your latest menu changes, including what’s disappearing, what’s new, and what inspired any changes.

3. Promote your offers on subject lines 

Short sentences with a sense of urgency inspire action and boost your profits. Wording your offers carefully helps avoid spam folders. But it’s even better to use email validation tools to ensure your emails reach your customers safely.

4. Inform customers of live events in your restaurant

Have you organized a free live music night or a quiz featuring a happy hour cocktail deal? Don’t rely on social media advertising; send email invites instead.

5. Set the email schedule according to impact

Marketing aims to create an interaction. The timing and frequency of each interaction are key. Email scheduling ensures your messages are received at the right moment. 

Tech can help you get this right. You don’t have to do it manually. Just as inventory management software, scheduling software is a cut above manually sending all your emails.  

6. Send different kinds of emails

To succeed in turning your customers into regulars, try different types of messages to cater to a variety of interests. Interview your chef about sustainability, or distribute a gallery of edible masterpieces. Use visual voicemail to easily communicate email ideas with your team (search online for “What is a visual voicemail?” if you’re unsure what it is).

7. Align your email design with the holidays

Maybe your email can put on a Halloween costume and enter people’s inboxes in a spooky fashion. Or it could be surrounded by snowflakes at Christmas. With so much competition, missing out on holiday themes could be a mistake.

8. Send customer experience email surveys 

Customer feedback is invaluable. So ask customers for their opinion on your menu, including how they’d like you to manage food allergens on your premises.

How to build a restaurant email list

To build a restaurant email list, you should:

1. Create opportunities to collect email addresses 

To do this, you could:

Offer free Wi-Fi in exchange for a customer’s data

Most customers will gladly provide an email address in return for a Wi-Fi connection.

Ask after they’ve enjoyed their meal 

Asking about your customers’ experience is an effective way of building your email list and possibly friendships too.

Collect contact information from comment cards 

When giving feedback on the food and service, customers may agree to be contacted by email.

Make use of mobile payment platforms

When your customers pay using a mobile payment platform, offer them the opportunity to have their receipt emailed to them. Mobile payment platforms can also be used to send promotions and rewards, making customers more likely to provide their email address.

2. Strategically place marketing copy beyond traditional ads 

Extend the interaction beyond likes on socials and discounts on websites. Win website visitors over with your creativity. Why not publish a blog entry on your website and offer more content upon subscribing to the mailing list?

3. Use your website 

For your email readers, the website is the final destination. For others, it can be where the journey begins. Either way, make your website a welcoming place with clear CTAs. 

The following two website elements are vital:

Opt-in forms 

Opt-in forms let visitors choose to receive emails from you, reducing the chances of your message ending up in a spam folder. This increases engagement.

Landing pages 

After subscribing to the mailing list on your landing page, your website could display a thank you message. Conversely, an email should include a call to action leading to your website’s landing page. You can combine email marketing with other techniques using your digital platforms such as content creation and content marketing 


Done right, email marketing can be a low-cost strategy with a high reward, offering a stellar return on investment. Follow our tips to get your emails viewed by large audiences in no time.

Similar articles

Take control of ops,
keep costs down & quality up