Optimizing Restaurant Email Marketing

Email marketing is an efficient marketing channel with one of the highest ROIs in the business. Learn how to use email marketing to increase your revenue.
Trace Mannewitz

Why Does Email Marketing Matter? 

The world is getting louder every year. You have more social media channels, influencers, and people vying for every second of your attention. So, in a world of TikToks, Reels, and Tweets (Posts? X's?), why should restaurant marketers devote time and resources to email marketing?

Simply put, you will always get more out of email marketing than what you put in. Across the food industry, most restaurants average a $36 ROI for every $1 spent— but only when it's done right. 

Why Email Marketing Works

One of the most significant difficulties within the restaurant business is building your customers' lifetime value (LTV). The first time someone walks through your doors, they enter your establishment as a stranger looking to try something new. While they're in your restaurant, you can build rapport, give excellent service, and serve incredible food. 

In the best cases, that's enough to secure a second visit. Those people are already secure, and we don't have to do much to keep them coming back for more. The rest of the general public needs a few more touch points; that's where email marketing steps in. 

Above all else, email marketing is a channel you know has your audience— over 4 billion people use their email daily. Once you have their information (and a smart, strategic email marketing plan), you can leverage them and encourage their next visit.  

Types of Email Content 

When you email your audience, you want to appeal to their wants and needs; otherwise, you'll just be heading to the top of the junk email pile. Here are the top-performing types of emails you can send: 

  • New Dishes
  • Promos and seasonal specials
  • Welcome Emails

New Dishes and Seasonal Specials

New dishes are an excellent way to attract less recent customers. The promise of new tastes or seasonal specials from a place they like is generally newsworthy enough to warrant their attention. 


Everyone loves a good deal, particularly when that good deal entails delicious food. 

Welcome Emails

Welcome emails, particularly when paired with loyalty program sign-ups, are a quick way to establish excellent customer rapport. 

How To Optimize Email Marketing In Restaurants

Sending emails is only half the battle— to succeed at email marketing, you have to stand out in their inbox as well. 

Personalize To The Individual

One of the easiest ways to invoke a relationship or familiarity is through using someone's name. As humans, that's one of our sociological indicators that this person means something to us. Therefore, we should put that into practice within our emails— whenever possible, use custom email coding to make each email address the user by name. 

Additionally, as we continue to dive deeper and deeper into a digital world, it is becoming more critical and impactful to feel like you're communicating with a real-life human. As such, we want to mimic how we'd typically talk to one another as much as possible. Things like using emojis (especially in the subject line), dropping the corporate speaking patterns, and generally just writing in a way that serves their interest are all great steps towards positive personalization. 

Be Quick

It's rare for someone to sit down and read a lengthy, text-filled email. As short as the average attention span is nowadays, we want our emails to have punchy copy and engaging visuals. 

As a restaurant, snappy photos of your food will be your bread and butter. If you only have a couple of seconds to capture their attention, what better way than by showing off what you do best (and let them figure out how to clean the food-induced drool off their keyboard)? Food photography can take your emails to the next level. 

Meet Them Where They Are

Unfortunately, customers aren't going to read your emails out of the goodness of their hearts. Where the above engagement tips are great, it is predicated on the customer opening your email. 

What is the easiest way to boost open rates? Provide some benefit for them. Slogging through emails is arduous, but it can be improved if the sender (that's you guys) has their best intentions at heart. Use the three content types we listed to meet your audience's needs and increase their chance of opening and acting on the email (hint: promos are awesome). 

Audience Segmentation

Rarely will one email meet the needs of every member of your audience. Often, you'll want to segment your audience into buckets based on their primary need. For example, picture these three customers: 

  • Customer A is a busy single father of two and sometimes just wants dinner to appear on the doorstep. 
  • Customer B is a university student who loves a quick bite to eat between classes. 
  • Customer C is an employee at a local advertising agency who wants something to eat while they're working late on a project. 

You could easily group customers A & C into a single bucket based on their desire or need for easy online ordering and delivery. Customer B might also enjoy a promo or deal for online ordering, but it won't be as impactful for them. 

To do this well, you need to understand your audience and have dependable data concerning them. Good audience tools can even integrate with your POS and match purchase history with each customer— allowing you to send targeted email marketing messages to the right guests. 

Be Data-Driven

Everyone's audience is different, and it will take testing to determine what works best for yours. A goal for your email marketers should be to determine clear and strategic mailing patterns that work best for your audience. You'll be examining things like: 

  • What days/times have the best open rate?
  • What type of email does your audience best engage with?
  • How often should I email? (Spam is never the answer)
  • Are certain foods/dishes increasing engagement? 

To determine what best practice will look like for you and your company. But to get there, you must test, test, and test again. A/B testing is common practice in the email marketing world and will be one of the best ways for you to begin to answer the questions above. 

Excel At Email Marketing

You don't have to be a marketing guru to excel at email marketing— you just need a clear plan and strategy. Pair your vision with our tools to turn your customers into regulars in no time.