Killer Email Marketing Campaign Ideas For Restaurant & Cafe Owners

Killer Email Marketing Campaign Ideas For Restaurant & Cafe Owners

  • Let's talk about e-mail marketing -  email marketing platforms offer extremely good value for restaurant and cafe owners wanting to target their audience base.
  • Good content is crucial and while planning your activities, make sure your content is great.
  • Here are 13 e-mail marketing campaign ideas to attract more people to your restaurant or cafe.

Email marketing has seen a resurgence in the past few years as consumers are clicking less on social media adverts, website banners and Google’s paid ads. Consumers burn out with ‘traditional’ digital advertising like banners ads as social media usage has increased.

The same issue has now started to affect sites like Facebook and Instagram, with more consumers becoming aware of invasive marketing techniques.

This has seen an increase in email marketing metrics as consumers view the format as more personal and less intrusive. People have to opt-in to receive any correspondence and they feel like they’re more in control of what they see and who they see it from.

From a business perspective, not only can it be a more effective marketing channel, but it’s also far more cost-effective.

Given most restaurants and cafes wouldn’t be aiming for tens of thousands of email subscribers, most email marketing platforms offer extremely good value.

For example, Mailchimp allows free use of its platform with up to 2000 subscribers. Even the paid plans on Mailchimp are cost-effective, starting at only $10 a month.  

What are the benefits of email marketing for restaurants and cafes?

Below are just a few of the benefits of using email marketing for restaurants and cafes:

  • Sending emails can be much cheaper than others forms of advertising.
  • Email messages can wait in your customer inbox until they’re ready to read.
  • Email marketing gives you a direct connection with your customers. You can see who is opening them, reading them and taking an action. Most other platforms don’t give the same granularity.
  • Email marketing offers two-way communication. Prompting customers to reply and ask questions allows you to open up lines of communication and get a deeper understanding of what they need.
  • Email marketing can be automated and campaigns can be triggered by different customer actions like subscribing to your list, clicking on content within an email or if they’re regular readers of your emails.

Why is good content the key in email marketing?

So how do you leverage email marketing? For starters, remember that content still remains king and while discounts and offers should play a part in an email marketing campaign, they shouldn’t form the bulk of it. Focus on always providing value and you’ll turn regular customers into raving evangelists.

On a recent Gary Veynerchuck Q&A podcast, Jon Taffer gave some really solid advice for restaurant owners: “If somebody goes to a restaurant for the first time and has a flawless experience, the statistical likelihood of them doing a second visit is about 40%.

The second time a customer comes and has a flawless experience, the statistical likelihood of a third visit is still about 42%. The third time they come, the statistical likelihood of a fourth visit is over 70%. You have to market to three visits, not one.” So in essence, if you give people a reason to come to your restaurant or cafe three times, chances are, you’ll have them long term.

This insight gives more credence to focus on email marketing. First of all, if they’re on your email list, they’ve probably visited your business already. Secondly, this proves customer retention should form a huge part of your marketing strategy and email marketing is a great retention tool.

13 email marketing campaign ideas for cafes and restaurants

Follow these top tips to create more successful email marketing campaigns that attract more people to your eatery.

1. Recipes and cooking techniques

This may seem counterintuitive for a restaurant or cafe but think of it like this: no matter how good your food or coffee is, the bulk of people’s meal time will still be spent in their home or work kitchen. By providing people with useful recipes and cooking techniques you’ll do one of three things:

  • Highlight your expertise and knowledge
  • Provide value by helping to improve their own skills
  • Reinforce why people go out to restaurants and cafes in the first place - cooking can be time-consuming and downright messy sometimes!

2. Upcoming events, holidays and festivals

There’s a smorgasbord (see what I did there!) of foodie events in any city which gives you the opportunity to provide a resource for your customers. Do a roundup of what’s on and what you’re looking forward to the most.

3. New menu changes, chefs specials and additions

Get customers excited to come back and try something new. Don’t forget Jon Taffer’s advice on converting a repeat customer and give them a reason to come back over and over again.

4. Customer, staff and business stories

Personalise your business. Showcase your staff and tell your story. Building a connection with customers helps put you at the forefront of their mind when considering where to eat. Share customer stories and testimonials to tell people why your business is the best place to go.

5. Foodie photos

This isn’t just for the Instagram community! Get their mouth watering with high-quality photos of your delicious food. Consider scheduling your email before meal times and you’ve got a killer combo.

6. Offers and discounts

Don’t discount the discount. Reward your regular customers and give them an offer they can’t refuse. With return customers a priority and customer retention far cheaper than customer acquisition (5 times cheaper), offers and discounts should be a part of your overall marketing strategy.

To go one step further, include an offer that involves a customer bringing along an extra friend or family member. That way you get your business in front of more people and increase the chances of hitting that magical 3 visit number.

7. Influencer focus

This doesn’t have to be Jamie Oliver showing up to sample your caramel dumplings. Micro influencers (1000 - 10,000 followers) can be a great way to boost your exposure to the right audience. Neilson’s advertising study found that the most credible form of advertising came from other people.

While most influencer relationships involve the mini online celeb posting to their own channels, you could include that content in your email marketing to cross-promote their good work. Chances are if the influencer sees the email, they may even share it again giving you extra bang for your buck.

8. Your point of difference

Every successful restaurant or cafe has a point of difference and your email marketing campaign is the perfect place to showcase exactly what that is. You might source locally produced ingredients, have the best customer service or encourage pets to eat for free. Whatever it is, show off why you’re different to resonate with customers.

9. Sneaky loyalty program

You may already have a loyalty program but email marketing is a good way of putting that into overdrive. If you don’t have one, this is an easy way to get started. Email open rates on mobile devices are nearly double that on desktop. Have customers show you the latest email for them to get a discount on their meal.

This gets customers back in the door but also means they’ll leave your email in their inbox and give you more brand awareness and exposure.

10. Encourage engagement

A little-used tip in email marketing is to encourage the reader to actually hit reply and open a two-way dialogue. If content is king, engagement would be the pawns on the front line. High engagement can equal higher conversions, so prompt customers to give some feedback or for a creative spin include a question they can answer and win a prize. As a bonus, you can include some of the more creative answers in your next email.

11. Show off your good reviews

Reviews come in all forms and are a great way of showing off your business without being too self-serving. They could be a Facebook testimonial, a Google review or from the myriad of review sites like Yelp or Zomato. If you get a good review, include it in your email campaign to show off other customers great experiences.

12. Promote your blog

This only works if you’re actively blogging but if you’ve spent the time creating great content on your website, include it in your emails. You’ll also increase your brand exposure and get people spending more time on your website.

13. Bonus email marketing tip

Building an email list and keeping in regular contact with your customers is a great way to build brand awareness. Email lists can be used on other channels to get even more value.

Channels like Facebook and Instagram allow businesses to upload their email lists to and use that to create something called lookalike audiences. On the backend, Facebook connects the email address with their Facebook account and can analyse their interests and behaviours and find other people with the same attributes.

You can then target that new audience with social media advertising to get them to eat at your restaurant or join your email list.

Taking the time to create a creative email marketing strategy is well worth the effort. By using these 13 email marketing campaign tips, you should have no trouble coming up with new ideas to fill your email marketing strategy with Michelin star content.

Bon appétit!

Travis Longmore

Social Strategist at Travis Longmore Media

Digital marketing expert currently working on on Jean: The creative assistant for business. Jean helps uncover ideas and engage your audience. Powered by powerful artificial intelligence, Jean learns what’s important to your business. Drawing from more than 200K online sources, Jean then makes recommendations for brand, news, industry & event ideas that will help keep your audience engaged. Jean helps you craft & schedule the perfect post! Go from post idea to crafting text & imagery in minutes