As Valentine’s Day approaches, restaurants are gearing up to make the most of the romantic holiday and maximize their sales and revenue. When it comes to effective marketing strategies, email marketing has proven to be a powerful tool for restaurants of all types and sizes.
The high return on investment and wide reach of email marketing have made it the go-to tool for restaurants looking to boost reservations and guest engagement. Email marketing creates a sense of urgency and entices customers to act, thereby driving sales and revenue. With 4.26 billion email users globally, email has become an integral part of daily life, and email marketing can be a year-round strategy, not just during special occasions or holidays.
What are the Benefits of Email Marketing for Restaurants?
When it comes to marketing to restaurant guests, email campaigns can elevate brand engagement, and drive traffic to your website while encouraging return visits. By leveraging email marketing campaigns, restaurants can also appreciate the following benefits:
- Increase reservations: Use email campaigns to promote special offers, discounts, or exclusive deals to incentivize customers to make reservations and fill more tables. Limited-time promotions create a sense of urgency, encouraging recipients to act quickly.
- Engage directly with customers: Email is a quick and simple way for restaurants to communicate directly with guests. Not to mention cost-effective. Keeping customers informed about any changes, such as new opening hours or seasonal menu updates can be effectively communicated through email. This ensures that customers are well-informed and engaged.
- Generate more reviews: Gathering reviews can be accelerated using email campaigns. On average, diners need to be asked three to four times to leave an online review. Sending a request by email for feedback allows restaurants to collect valuable insights from customers. This information can be used to improve services and address any issues, enhancing overall customer satisfaction and encouraging repeat visits.
Tools Restaurants Need to Execute an Email Marketing Campaign
A marketing email campaign is easy to execute with the right tools. For restaurants, it’s important to have the ability to:
- Implement branded email communications: Drive brand awareness with customizable email templates that reflect the restaurant’s style and personality. A white-label email marketing solution offers the flexibility to add logos, menu images, and brand colors with ease.
- Segment and filter lists: Segmenting an email list based on customer preferences, demographics, or behavior allows restaurants to send more relevant content and personalized offers. This increases the chances of recipients responding positively to the email. Look for the ability to refine mailing lists using multiple filters to create more targeted email communications.
- Customize email messages: Generic emails are proven to be less effective, so sending personalized messages and offers is key. Customization can include addressing guests by their names and tailoring content based on their preferences and past dining history. Email campaigns allow restaurants to send highly personalized messages to stay top of mind year-round.
- Schedule and automate distribution: Sending a relevant and well-timed email is the key to increasing conversions. With email automation features, your restaurant has the power to create, schedule, and deliver communications at just the right time. From monthly specials to seasonal events, pre-planning, and scheduling emails is a time-saver for busy restaurateurs.
Tips for Launching an Email Marketing Strategy
With the right features and capabilities in place, the next step involves developing an email strategy. By following the tips below, restaurants can create a turn-key email marketing strategy that fosters customer loyalty, increases brand engagement, and ultimately contributes to the overall success of revenue growth.
Here are five steps to tackle before launching that first email campaign:
- Establish a consistent schedule: Determine a consistent email distribution schedule to keep your audience engaged without overwhelming them. Whether it’s a weekly e-newsletter or a monthly announcement with events and specials, consistency helps build anticipation and keeps your restaurant top-of-mind for customers.
- Build and segment lists: Collect and compile customer email addresses through various channels, including POS, website, third-party marketplace apps, online reservations, and social media. Segment customers into different email lists based on preferences, demographics, or past ordering behavior so communications are targeted and meaningful.
- Understand and comply with privacy regulations: Ensure that your email marketing practices comply with privacy regulations, such as GDPR or CAN-SPAM. Obtain consent before sending emails, provide opt-out options, and respect customer preferences regarding communication frequency.
- Plan and create compelling content: Craft engaging and relevant content for each email list. This can include promotional offers, new menu items, special events, or behind-the-scenes glimpses of your restaurant. Use enticing visuals, such as high-quality images of your dishes, to capture the attention of your audience.
- Optimize for mobile: Given the prevalence of mobile device usage, ensure that your emails are optimized for smartphones and tablets. Responsive design and concise, mobile-friendly content improve the user experience, making it easy for customers to engage with your emails on the go.
Leverage Technology Built for Restaurants
While this list of features and capabilities may sound like a tall order, advancements in restaurant technology provide fully integrated solutions that streamline digital guest communication strategies. The Libro Guest Experience Platform, for example, provides a robust, yet easy-to-use Guest Marketing module to execute an email campaign strategy. The Libro platform equips restaurant operators with Guest Marketing along with Reputation Management, Reservations, and Table Management in a single platform that completely integrates with Lightspeed.
How Restaurants Use Email Marketing to Fill More Tables
When you build a concise strategy and are equipped with the digital technology solutions and partnerships needed to execute each step, restaurants of any size are well-positioned to manage guest relations more effectively and drive foot traffic.
Tandem, a fine-dining restaurant and wine bar, experienced an uptick in reservations using the Libro platform, filling 35% of their dining room capacity. The manager leveraged Libro’s emailing marketing module to create and schedule a weekly newsletter with reservation links. The drag-and-drop white-label templates provided by Libro made it easy to customize colors, add logos, and import photos. The newsletter shared wine-tasting events, happy hour specials, and date night offers.
“The email marketing feature is a great addition to reservations and a helpful way to stay in touch with our customers. Every week, I send a newsletter to announce restaurant updates, and it’s paying off. I love it!” -Erika at Tandem
Birdhouse Wingerie & Bar also credits Libro’s email marketing tools for filling more tables on a notoriously slow weeknight. As a restaurant that appeals to a wide audience, segmenting guests into different categories using filters expedited their list creation process. In the end, emailing a hockey game night offer two weeks in advance to a targeted customer list proved beneficial in tripling the Birdhouse’s sales on a Tuesday evening.
Taking your restaurant’s email marketing strategy to the next level can drive more foot traffic, increase brand awareness, and offset notoriously slow weekdays. By pairing email marketing best practices with the right tools and technology integrations, your restaurant will be well-positioned to boost reservations, generate more customer reviews, and increase profits.
To learn more about Libro’s Guest Engagement platform, click here.