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See those diners with their heads buried in smartphones? Chances are, at least some of them are checking email – and one of your messages should be in their inbox.

Email marketing is an effective way to spread the word about your establishment, share the latest news and bring diners through the door. But any email marketing campaign can only be as strong as its email list.

Here are a few simple ways to engage diners so they’ll want to be part of your email marketing list, and the first to know about what’s happening in your establishment.

Give customers an incentive to sign up for emails

As a welcome (and thank you) for opting in to your email list, consider offering diners a coupon for a free drink, half-off a lunchtime purchase or a similarly enticing offer. You can also provide customers with a link to invite others. Then, for every new email sign-up that originates from the shared link, customers can receive another reward. Not only will diners be more likely to share their own email addresses, but the added incentives give them a reason to get friends and family onboard.

Have customers input their email address to gain access to Wi-Fi

Offering Wi-Fi in your restaurant is a big draw, and it’s also an opportunity to build your restaurant email marketing list. When diners connect to your Wi-Fi network, prompt them to enter their email to gain internet access. Once you have their information, send an email to thank them for visiting your restaurant and welcome them to your email list.

Collect emails through social media channels

Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are simple tools for connecting with customers and keeping them informed about restaurant events, new menu items and related news. Try promoting a gathering or special event on social media and cap attendance. For example, host an invitation-only tasting for new menu items you plan on introducing to diners. The only requirement for entry should be that customers provide you with their email addresses.

 Solicit feedback

Add a section of your newsletter that includes contact information for reader feedback. Use this feedback to figure out diners’ thoughts on frequency of emails, mix of content included and recommendations for improving your email newsletter. By taking time every now and then to apply this feedback, you will increase the chances of diners staying on your email list for the long haul, rather than clicking the “unsubscribe” button. However, make sure to include opt-out legal language in email marketing efforts in the event any recipients want to unsubscribe.

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