Email marketing for restaurants

The global pandemic has hit the hospitality industry hard. Ever-changing regulations, where businesses have not been able to go about business as usual (as well as additional costs arising from having to comply with safety and health regulations) has made it a tough time for a lot of restaurants in the industry.

With more people looking to start venturing out and support local businesses, email marketing can offer you a great opportunity to connect with your audience. We’ll show you how you can use email marketing as a channel to create worthwhile experiences that your visitors will enjoy and want to share with others.

Why use email marketing to promote your restaurant?

You may be thinking that you don’t have time to do another “marketing thing” in between running your business, managing your staff and creating wonderful food for your patrons, but we’re here to show you how easy it is.

  • Email marketing isn’t difficult and doesn’t have to take up lots of time. Once you’re set up you’ll be able to use your email channel to generate more interest and in turn more money for your business.

  • Email marketing helps you build connections. By using this very personal communication method, you are able to build relationships that will keep people coming back for more.

  • Using this marketing channel allows you to promote your business. You can inform people about your weekly specials or any new additions you may have added to your menu.

  • Do you host any special events? Use email marketing to let your customers know about these events and ensure you invite them to join.

You may be thinking that you’re already doing all of the above things via your social media, but did you know organic posts don’t always get seen by your followers? Email however lands directly in your subscribers’ inbox and therefore means that it is more likely to be seen. You also need to take into account that most people check their email accounts daily whereas they don’t necessarily check their social media that often.

How to build your email list

So we’ve sold you on email marketing as an activity to help you connect with your audience and build some more recurring revenue. Now how can you build your list?

First things first, don’t be shy about asking people to join your email list. You can do this in the following ways:

  • Add a message to your menu asking people to join your list while they are at the restaurant.
  • Add a message to your patrons bill slip and ask your servers to point the message out to them. Often people have to keep their bills for accounting purposes, which means this is a great place to encourage people to join your list.
  • Create a reason for people to want to subscribe to your newsletter. If you have a rewards programme you can offer a reward for joining your list, or create exclusivity through a VIP programme or club. You could even add a small discount to your customers bill for joining your list or a discount for when they visit your business again.
  • Another great way to build your list is to start a referral program. Using your current subscriber base is a great way to build your list by asking them to refer more people to your business. You could offer a free dessert or coupon for successful referrals, which helps you grow your subscriber list and in turn helps you widen your audience. You can also ask people on your list to forward your newsletter to friends or family members that might be interested in visiting your restaurant.
  • Promote the entertainment at your restaurant through your list. Entertainers often have their own fanbase who would then be willing to sign up to your newsletter to find out when their favourite entertainers will be playing at your restaurant.
  • If you are able to, you could have a tablet in your restaurant that you can offer to customers to get them to sign up right away - meaning when they are already in your restaurant. This is a great way to encourage recurring revenue and loyalty.

How to attract new customers with email marketing:

There are SO many things you can do when you start your email marketing journey, and attracting new customers is one of them. Below you’ll see some inspiration on how you can use email marketing to attract new customers:

  • Create gift vouchers with a campaign to spoil others. This is a great way to boost your bottom line, fill your restaurant and encourage people to spoil their friends and family.
  • If you’ve set up your subscription list to ask for subscribers’ birth dates, you can create campaigns that encourage them to spend their birthday with you! Send these subscribers information about your venue, large group offers or just a free dessert when they celebrate their birthday at your establishment.
  • Is your chef specially trained or do your staff have interesting hobbies? How about your unique processes when making your delicious meals for your visitors? Share these stories with your audience and they’ll be sure to share them with their friends and family too.

Need some campaign inspiration or want to get started with templates?

We know starting anything new can be daunting, or perhaps you’re just feeling a bit low on inspiration on what to share. Check out some campaign ideas and templates we’ve put together just for you.

Newsletter ideas:

A thank you goes a long way!

Why not send your audience a thank you email to thank them for being on your newsletter list and for supporting your business. This is a great way to connect and also make your audience feel special.

Have a new item on your menu or are you changing your menu to account for the change of season?

Tell your audience about it! A new menu item can create excitement and also encourage subscribers to come and visit you to try it for themselves.

Planning a themed event?

Tell people about it with a beautifully themed email. You could also encourage your audience to book their seat to the event and get in on the action.

Want to plan out your email marketing campaigns for the year?

Here’s a list of special national days you can use to shine a spotlight on what you have to offer. Mark these events in your calendar and plan some special campaigns you can share with your email list. You could also create your own special annual event to share.


  • National Thank you Month
  • Hot Tea month
  • New Years Day
  • Be Kind to food servers Month


  • Heart Month
  • Cherry Month
  • Hot Breakfast Month


National Nutrition Month

  • National Peanut Month


  • Easter
  • National Coffee and Cake Day
  • National Beer Day
  • National Siblings Day


  • Mother’s Day
  • National Hamburger Month
  • National Waiters and Waitresses Day


  • Country Cooking Month
  • National Candy Month
  • National Iced Tea Month
  • National Steakhouse Month


  • National Ice Cream Month


  • International Beer Day
  • Family Meals Month


  • National Chicken Month
  • Random Acts of Kindness Day
  • National Chocolate Milkshake Day


  • National Cookie Month
  • National Pizza Month
  • Halloween


  • Vegan Month
  • National Eating Healthy Day
  • National French Toast Day


  • Hanukkah
  • Christmas
  • Chocolate covered anything Day
  • Bartender Appreciation Day

Top additional Tips:

  • Don’t forget about your from name, reply to address and subject lines. You’ll want to make sure that you choose a recognisable from name and a real reply-to email address where people are able to email you back. The point is to connect with people and not make them feel like they are engaging with a machine. Additionally you’ll need to ensure you spend time crafting sizzling subject lines to get your subscribers to open emails you send to them.
  • No matter what your goals are for email marketing, it’s important to remember that you should also be adding value when you send out emails. Don’t just make it about you and your goals, as your subscribers won’t appreciate that.


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