How to Start a Restaurant Email Marketing Program from Scratch

Restaurant email marketing programs are a proven method of building customer loyalty. A well-timed email can bring in new diners and remind recent diners to return.

Setting up email marketing doesn’t have to be complicated, though. We’ve broken down three simple steps you can take to get your email campaign off the ground.


  1.  Choose Your Software

First, you need to choose an email service provider. Conveniently, most email marketing services offer a free trial period, so spend some time testing platforms before spending a dime.

Your restaurant is unique, and your emails should be as well. Look for a platform that allows for easy customization and lets you “drag and drop” elements to create the perfect template.

Email solutions should also provide reports showing how many people subscribe, unsubscribe and forward your emails onto friends, so you can evaluate the success of your campaigns.

A few popular services are MailChimpYesMail and ExpressPigeon.


  1. Collect Customer Emails

Once you have an email solution set up, it’s time to collect customer email addresses for your restaurant email marketing campaign. Add new subscribers by placing opt-in links on your website and social media feeds encouraging people to subscribe for deals and regular updates.

Take advantage of email forwarding, the digital version of word-of-mouth, by creating incentives to pass along your emails, such as a free appetizer if a customer refers a friend.

Offline, ask customers to provide their email address on comment and response cards or place a fishbowl on your counter to collect signup slips and business cards.


  1. Craft Your Content

As the heart of your email campaign, your email content needs to be engaging and informative. Use a consistent layout to keep your planning time to a minimum and make your emails easier for customers to read.

Personalize your emails as much as possible. If you have multiple restaurant locations, segment your subscribers into lists and tailor emails by location. Use software that can insert first names into each separate email, and send customers special emails, such as on their birthday. The more personalized you can be with your emails, the less likely they are to end up in the trash.

Last but not least, consider using the following restaurant promotion ideas as recurring themes in your emails:

  • Deals and Daily Specials
  • Upcoming Events
  • Menu Changes
  • “Instagram of the Week” – Highlight your food in action by including a customer-submitted photo from Instagram.
  • “Tweet of the Week” – Recognize your active Twitter followers by calling out a positive or humorous tweet mentioning your restaurant.
  • Customer reviews