The Ultimate Restaurant Marketing Plan (Free Template)

How to Build a Killer Restaurant Email Marketing Strategy in 5 Steps

Marketing 11 minute read 11th March 2021

Did you know that 21% of emails get opened within the first hour of being sent?

That’s a pretty tasty stat if you’re looking to promote your restaurant reopening after COVID, or perhaps a new menu.

Whatever you want to promote, email is one of the few forms of digital marketing which continues to provide a consistently awesome return on investment, too, with around $42 returned for every $1 spent on email campaigns.

For restaurants, this means more guests booking direct, fewer quieter nights, and increased long-term advocacy among your most loyal customers.

We’ve already provided some inspiring marketing campaign ideas for restaurants, but in today’s blog, we’re going to provide you with an email marketing strategy template that works for restaurants. You can recycle it each year and tailor it to fit your goals, audience and business plans.

What does a restaurant email marketing strategy need?

There are five things every restaurant email marketing plan needs:

  1. The right tools.
  2. A clear grasp of the audience.
  3. A GDPR-compliant list building strategy.
  4. Segmentation & Personalization
  5. Clear goals and success metrics.

If your email marketing strategy is missing just one of the elements above, it won’t be effective - it’s as simple as that.

The 6-step email marketing strategy template for restaurants

Grab a drink, find your favourite notepad and pen and start thinking about how you can implement each of these steps into your marketing plan.

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Step 1: Use only the best tools

Not all email marketing tools are created equally. Yes you can send individual emails from your Google account but that’s not going to cut it if you wnat to appear as a professional outfit.

You should be looking for a email sending platform which enables you to build great-looking emails with next to no design skill, schedule them in advance and undertake segmentation of your contact database (more on that later).

The trick lies in finding one that fits your business and one that you are actually going to use. It’s no use spending a fee each month and not getting a return. Our Beambox Growth plan includes unlimited email sending and is built for restaurant marketing.

Of course, all the following principles will work regardless of platform. (Although the emails may not look quite as swish 😉)

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Step 2: Find your target audience(s)

When you receive a marketing email which isn’t of any use to you at all, it has probably been sent by a company that has zero grasp on its target audience. That’s probably most email to be honest. A very hit and hope approach.

This is why you need to get a grasp on your target audience early on. And you can identify exactly who sits within it by thinking about these factors:

  • What kind of people are your current customers?
  • What customers do other local restaurants appear to attract?
  • What type of guests would benefit most from your menu, ambiance and type of service?

Once you’ve built a general picture of that ideal customer, you can start to hone in on their demographics. Make notes about their:

  • age;
  • location;
  • gender;
  • income;
  • education;
  • occupation;
  • whether they like Hawaiian pizza.

Ok, so maybe not the last one on that list, we were just checking you were paying attention. Some of this research will be educated guesswork, but the more you can draw a comprehensive picture of your customer, the more you can tailor your email marketing efforts to speak their language.

Think about what these people value, what their personal traits are and the kind of dining out habits they have. With those qualities in mind, what kind of email is most likely to pique their interest?

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Step 3: Start building your list

You need to ethically build an email marketing list which contains value for both the recipients and your business.

This is a lot easier than you might think, but it takes time. You can’t trick people into joining your list, and you should never buy email lists, but there are some brilliant ways to tempt people into handing you their email address voluntarily.

The first actually lies within your WiFi service. If you offer the ability for guests to give you their email address in exchange for free WiFi and notification of exclusive offers in the future, you’ll be amazed by how many do just that.

You can do the same on your website. Make sure your online booking system requires email address entry and always ensure you ask for it if you ever run any form of competition or promotion. Just remember to abide by and make it ultra-clear what you’ll be doing with personal data.

Here’s three ideas to get you started with email list building:

  • Make a one-time offer to new guests of a free desert, drinks voucher or something else which is relatively low-cost to you, but of value to your customers.

  • Place a newsletter opt-in form prominently on every page of your website (try using a pop-up - it’s less irritating than you might think, and your website platform might have the capability to add this easily).

  • Create urgency for customers to join your list. Maybe you’re releasing your new menu and it’ll be an exclusive annoucement in your email. Maybe you have cook-at-home boxes available on the website, but only email subscribers will know when they’re on sale! Use your social accounts to promote this and entice sign up.

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Step 4: Segment and Personalize

As your list builds, it’s time to turn your attention back to the audience research you carried out in step 2.

Sending out email marketing campaigns en masse to your entire database isn’t effective. This is because the message will only be of interest to a subsection of your audience; it’s impossible to create an email which talks to every demographic.

To solve this challenge, you need to segment your database. This is the process of dividing it up into strategic chunks of subscribers. You might do this based on their age, gender or past booking habits, but however you do it, make sure it’s a task you undertake as soon as your database starts to grow.

Once you’ve segmented, you can add more detail to the personalization of an email, using information you have such as first names to really make the recipient take notice.

In return, you should enjoy higher open and click rates as the content will be relevant to your audience and directly addressed to them.

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Step 5: Test, measure, repeat

What’s your goal for email marketing? It might be to increase midweek covers. Perhaps it’s to simply grow an audience to whom you can send special offers. Maybe you’ve only just opened, and you want to increase brand recognition in your area.

This is where testing, measuring and analysing your email marketing performance comes in. Every email campaign you send will have a bunch of stats attached to it a few days later. The great thing about email marketing is that it shows you exactly how engaged your audience is; you’ll know how many people opened your email, exactly who clicked and how many unsubscribed.

This data is gold dust. Dig into it - look for instances where you’ve really nailed it, and those where you’ve failed. Learn from those metrics and test and repeat.

This is an on-going process, but one which will simply make you a better email marketer as time draws on. It’s the final piece of your email marketing strategy and one which you simply cannot ignore, so make sure you reserve time in your diary each week to spend at least an hour reviewing email performance and planning what to do next.

Grow your business and customer loyalty with guest WiFi!

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