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Restaurant Email Marketing Strategies that Work in 2022

Despite all of the hoopla surrounding social media marketing this year, email marketing can produce tremendous returns at a minimal direct cost. And it’s all based on quantifiable facts.

The Key Elements of Your Comprehensive Email Marketing Strategies

The past year showed us during the pandemic, how effective email could be. All marketing efforts should be evaluated by the Return On Investment (ROI). This should include your investment of time and money and what you get for it. But there are other intangibles, such as how easy it is to implement and manage and the ‘speed to marketplace.’

Why should email marketing be a key component of your restaurant marketing strategy in 2022?

  1. You own the customer data. You must comply with the CAN-SPAM Act and email best practices. Facebook, Google+, and Twitter can shut you down if they believe you have violated their terms of service. (A decision like that can be nearly impossible to appeal.)
  2. You can target a ‘warm audience’ at any time. It’s quicker and cheaper than direct mail, which has long been a key marketing tactic for pizzeria owners and marketers.
  3. Segmentation, personalization, and automation make email marketing the most effective marketing channel.

Why is your restaurant’s email marketing plan so important?

The benefit, as with other marketing methods, is to drive traffic back to your principal online presence, which is usually a website. This is due to the fact that they appear in local searches, whereas Facebook pages do not. Sending an email with a reason why they should return to your website is one of the finest strategies.

  • Half of today’s restaurants do not have a website. From those who have a website, the majority have not kept it current and relevant.
  • Many restaurants are relying on Facebook as their only digital presence.
  • Very few restaurants have a dedicated online engagement strategy with their customers outside of Facebook.
  • With engagement on Facebook becoming more challenging due to declining organic reach, these restaurants could be losing connections with their customers.

“The money is in the list.”

Being able to communicate with people familiar with your brand, who have self-identified as interested in your offers is a valuable asset.

The market research firm Forrester published a report titled, “Social Relationship Strategies That Work.” In the report, it says that brands are wasting time and money on Facebook and Twitter.

“Stop making Facebook the center of your relationship marketing efforts,” says Nate Elliott, VP and Principal Analyst at Forrester. He says the use of microsites and email marketing is an integral part of a well-rounded digital marketing plan.

Investing solely in social media marketing without an email strategy is a wasted opportunity and an incomplete marketing plan.

Facebook reach is declining to less than 2%, which means when you post about your food or events, very few people see it. Facebook has publicly come out and announced that you have to pay to play. (More on that in a future article)

Your goal is to reach as many consumers as possible who are in a position to buy for pickup, delivery, or in-house. Email allows you to reach them on mobile whenever you like.

Restaurant Email Marketing Strategies

Email is one of the most effective ways to communicate with your consumers. With the increasing usage of smartphones and quicker access to email inboxes, email marketing is not only relevant but also a critical component of today’s restaurants’ digital marketing strategy. Direct mail is effective, but email offers more alternatives and is less expensive.

Here are the email marketing strategies to assist you to improve your restaurant marketing:

1. Personalized promotions through segmentation

The most basic form of email marketing used by pizza purveyors is to simply offer deals, just as you might with a postcard.

An email list is one of the most effective channels to deliver offers and promotions. Make sure people have current menus while incentivizing them to be on your list by giving them special offers beyond the pizza promotions available publicly.

Any promotions will be well received by your customers and it may even bring them in that day to take advantage of your specials.

In an age where everything is costing more and more money and even Facebook isn’t free anymore, it’s refreshing to know that you can still use an email marketing campaign as part of your restaurant marketing methods.

Consider this; a television commercial can cost thousands, a radio spot can cost hundreds, but an email is free to send and it doesn’t take much effort beyond a carefully developed plan to do so.

The key to effective email marketing is “segmentation” and “personalization”.

Email Segmentation:

It is important to understand that not all restaurant customers are the same. Each group of customers will have different needs and interests. Segmentation is the key to identifying these groups so that we are able to serve our customers better.

Segmenting the email list will help to get better open and click rates and ultimately better response to the restaurant offers and promotions.

Segments may include:

  1. Customers who have ordered online.
  2. People who have responded to different offers, whether generated internally or by a Groupon.
  3. Those who signed up for free pizza on their birthday and anniversaries.

Email Personalization:

Gone are the days of “email blasts”. They are no longer effective and mostly land in a spam folder. Personalization is simply designing your email to address the customer in a personal manner.

That is possible when you have additional information about them such as name, age, interests, and behavioral information. Personalizing emails by addressing with a name is a simple good start at personalization.

The next step is delivering “relevant” email content based on the interest or behavior. For example, offering a “diner for 2” might not be relevant for customers who usually order online.

Other personalization techniques can be implemented based on the segmentation we discussed earlier.

Restaurant email marketing takeaway: Deliver frequent, regular, and relevant offers through email. Use email list segmentation and personalization to optimize your deals and promotion campaigns.

2. Retargeting Website Visitors

When visitors land on your restaurant’s website for the first time, do you have an effective way to reach those visitors again or do you just let them choose to click elsewhere?

At this point you have invested in organically or paid advertising to drive traffic to the restaurant website, it makes sense to capitalize further.

Taking control of your website visitor’s browsing habits can be as easy as catching and holding onto their attention. Keep them engaged on your site and guide them to click on opt-in either as an embedded form on the website or popup after a preset delay.

The best way is to incentivize them with a ‘lead magnet’ by providing something of value. Value can be the promise of deals and special promotions in exchange for their email address. Another incentive is to offer them a FREE giveaway that they can immediately download by providing their email address. This giveaway could be a recipe, coupon, food tips, or a simple checklist.

Email provides an easy way to build your customer list and retarget website visitors effectively through well-designed email marketing campaigns.

Restaurant email marketing takeaway: Capture website visitors’ email through a “Join Email Club” opt-in form with a coupon incentive.

3. Nurture Loyal Customers

If your restaurant offers a customer loyalty program or is considering doing so in the near future, the email list is critical to the program’s success.

Many consumers will choose to eat at a restaurant that caters to their specific needs, serves them well, and remembers who they are when they visit. A loyalty program accomplishes all of this and more, as well as providing you with the opportunity to add another email address to your growing list.

Make sure you highlight your monthly offers and upcoming events when sending out loyalty program updates. It’s a simple method to entice your regulars to come in more frequently.

Restaurant email marketing takeaway: To build an effective marketing campaign, combine the customer loyalty program and email marketing.

4. Feedback from Online Ordering Customers

If your restaurant offers online ordering, you most likely have the customer email addresses from orders received by the restaurant. If not, determine a GDPR-compliant way to capture the email address at the end of the online order checkout process.

This form of segmentation provides a great opportunity to rapidly build your email list and engage with customers in multiple ways.

The first step is to contact the online ordering consumer quickly after the order has been delivered to ask for feedback about their experience. This can be done within your online ordering system’s email auto-responder system.

Receiving active consumer feedback is extremely beneficial to the restaurant in terms of responding to any problems and ensuring customer pleasure. This results in recurring business as well as favorable feedback and evaluations.

List Building and Reputation Management

Here you are leveraging email for proactive Customer Relationship Management, improving operations, and restaurant reputation management. This is one of the most effective restaurant email marketing strategies that every restauranteur should adopt right away when offering online ordering.

Another effective tactic is offering customers who order online special offers that are relevant to them. With a well-configured email auto-responder system, you can set up to automatically follow up through email.

You can target the various online ordering customers segments such as frequently ordering customers (e.g., more than 4 times a month), customers ordering over a certain amount (e.g., $300 over the last 30 days), and even customers who have not ordered within a certain period of time (e.g., 60 days).

Finally, you can send various promotions to your online ordering customers that are relevant to events and seasons, such as sports events, holidays, and seasonal promotions.

Restaurant email marketing takeaway: Capture online ordering customers’ email through email opt-in. Get feedback and retarget them through specific email offers and promotions.

5. Convert Deal Seekers to Repeat Guests

Many restaurants run Groupon deals to attract customers to the restaurant, but most of those restaurants do not have a strategy to further engage with these customers, thereby losing out on a significant opportunity for repeat customers.

By providing a way to effectively capture the email addresses of those dining customers, you are better able to communicate with that segment of customers and get them back in your dining room.

Many Groupon users admit to being “one and done” customers and only showing up for the deal.

What today’s restaurant owners need to do is offer them a deal that will bring them in and then provide them with the type of service to bring them back. This can also work by obtaining their email addresses either through the use of comment cards or table-side email sign-ups.

Now you can offer them deals to come back and remind them of monthly promos that you are running.

Restaurant email marketing takeaway: Convert Groupon users to repeat customers through email marketing.

Email Marketing vs. Listbuilding

Listbuilding isn’t always done with email. Your followers on social media could be considered a list. Visitors to your website can be pixeled and re-targeted using Facebook or Google or other means and can be considered as being on your list. They are also part of a different and important segment. We’ll have more on re-targeting in another article, but let’s look at using your email lists to target buyers using Facebook ads.

6. Attract New Customers with Facebook Custom Audiences (Using email list)

If Facebook is your favorite platform for social engagement and you know that ‘organic reach’ is declining and that you have to pay to reach your fans, what do you do?

You need to make the most of your advertising budget by targeting your customers via Facebook’s custom audience options by leveraging your current email list to build this targeted group.

Getting started with Facebook custom audiences is easy. Here are the simple steps:

  • Create a list of email addresses from your restaurant email list in csv format. You can also use phone numbers. Or both!
  • Go to Facebook Ads Manager and click on the Audiences tab (the Facebook interface keeps changing, so find the Audience tab, if this changes).
  • Click the Create Audience button, select the Custom Audience option and then choose Customer List.
  • Upload the CSV file with email addresses and/or phone numbers to the Custom Audience box. (One field per line)
  • Your Custom Audience will be ready in about 30 minutes.

You can now advertise to people who are on your email list for increased frequency of your message. Promote new items or new menus, promotions, and events.

An example of how to leverage custom audiences is an event hosted by the restaurant. Using targeted Facebook advertising to a custom audience build-out of the restaurant customer email list, you can promote and sell tickets to the event.

Another example is when the restaurant is launching new menu items. Again, using targeted Facebook advertising that has been built out of your current restaurant’s email list, you can effectively announce to a hyper-targeted customer base.

Restaurant email marketing takeaway: Create Facebook custom audiences based on current email subscribers. Expand your customer base cost-effectively by hyper-targeting.

7. Add Push Messaging

We refer to “push messaging” marketing to include both SMS marketing, web notification, and mobile app notification.

It is important to understand that “push messaging” marketing messages are delivered ‘pushed’ to the user without any user control of when they want to receive them. It could be potentially interrupting the user. Compared that to “pull” such as in email where the user receives the messages when they choose to.

For those restaurants employing SMS marketing, it is important to understand the right level of engagement for those SMS marketing messages. The frequency and content of SMS marketing need to be carefully determined; when not done right, SMS marketing can quickly annoy your customers.

If your restaurant offers a mobile app that has the capability to push offers, we have to be careful to determine the right frequency of messages so as not to irritate our customers.

Leveraging email marketing with push notification marketing helps find the right balance and increases the efficiency of your marketing campaigns.

Let’s take the example of running a marketing campaign related to an event. You could send multiple marketing messages weeks and even months ahead of the event registration deadline through email but 24 hours before the deadline you can use SMS or mobile app messaging to remind customers to register before the deadline.

This is one of the restaurant email marketing strategies for striking a balance in your marketing messaging.

Restaurant email marketing takeaway: Augment push notification marketing with email marketing to maximize customer engagement.

Restaurant Email Marketing Summary

Getting started with implementing restaurant email marketing strategies can be as simple as choosing an email service provider. Next, is implementing an email opt-in on the restaurant website and Facebook pages. Then, it is important to grow and nurture the email subscribers list on an ongoing basis.

In summary, email marketing provides a very effective marketing channel and augments other marketing efforts to maximize the marketing results.

For restaurants considering having an effective digital marketing plan, email marketing is really the 2nd piece (website being the first) to implement in the restaurant marketing strategy.

With any marketing channel you use, you need to have email as your foundation to maximize your return on your marketing budget.

Source: Ed Currington, The Digital Restaurant via Operators-Edge.com