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How To Use Email Lists To Get More Restaurant Customers

July 11, 2017

Email is one of the most powerful tools in a restaurant’s marketing arsenal. It's the fastest, easiest, and most inexpensive way to reach people who actively want to hear from you. And all you have to do is give people a place to sign up for an email list, which you can do directly on your website.

Restaurants aren’t always entirely sure what to put in their email newsletters and that’s ok! BentoBox advocates collecting emails as early as possible so that when you do have something to say, you have a built-in audience waiting for you. 

What Should You Say?
Once you have your email list set up and ready, it’s important to think about what you want to say to your guests. One thing that can help is—just like you do in the dining room—consider your guest and how you can best serve them. BentoBox pulled some data to give you some inspiration. These are the highest performing email newsletters:
Menu items: New additions, seasonal specials, and more.
Announcing new restaurant openings.
E-Commerce: Promote gift cards, merchandise, and more
Special offers: Ticketed dinners, special events, happy hours and more.
Press: Echo recent positive reviews, write-ups, and more
Seasonal promos: Take advantage of holidays like July 4th, Father’s Day, and more by offering deals and specials.
Private dining/catering offerings: Particularly useful during busy seasons like the winter holidays, graduation, etc.
No matter what you choose to put in your email, just be sure to include a link to your website and social media channels so that people can easily find you!

Knowing what to say though is just part of it—it’s also really important to consider the aesthetic. The look of your emails should match the look, tone, and feel of your restaurant as a whole. Many email service providers have templates that make it easy to create emails with your logo and branding, so it’s simple to format text and images in your style. 

When and Where Should You Say It?
The when and where is really dependant on your restaurant and your audience, but BentoBox has found that sending emails once a month is a good start. You don’t want to overwhelm your guest’s inbox, but you also don’t want them to forget about you. 
A lot of email services offer timers so you can schedule emails ahead of time, which makes the task easy for whomever is responsible for sending emails for your restaurant. 

Remember, it’s important to create emails that are mobile responsive on mobile devices!

How Should You Expand Your List? 
It’s a great start just getting your email list up and running. To get as many people signed up and reading as possible, cross-promote your email signup everywhere, including:
Homepage (drive even more signups by making it a part of your “anchor” info)
Business cards
Social media accounts
On catering or private event forms
Sign-up sheets at events
Email signatures
Restaurant receipts
Also, if you offer online ordering or use an online reservation system, you might be able to collect and use data, including email address, from those customers (just check the rules with your provider first).