6 Killer Email Marketing Strategies for Restaurants & Cafes

Email may not be the first thing to come to mind when you think about which marketing strategies are an absolute must for your restaurant. With so many popular new marketing channels coming onto the scene in the past decade, you can be forgiven for forgetting that email marketing has been a tried, trusted and continually successful tactic for more than 40 years now.

In its long reign, email has managed to remain at the top as the most cost effective marketing medium, boasting a ROI of around $32 for every $1 spent. These results are primarily thanks to the fact that customers on an email list are customers that have given you their details, rather than a cold target - as they would be if you were to run an ad.

Email is highly customisable, automatible and measurable, with capabilities including tracking open rates, click-throughs, bounces, forwards, social shares and much more. With so much to love about email marketing, let's dig into six killer strategies for restaurants using email marketing.

1. Data Capture Strategy - Online

First thing's first, you need a list. And it MUST be an opt-in list. NEVER buy a list! Your emails and your reputation will be much better if you email only to a list that you've earned.

One great way to get that list is to optimise your website to capture visitors information; so that you can re-market to them via email. This can be done by setting up a pop-up on your website, which encourages site visitors to add their email address in exchange for a special deal or promotion. The deal could be anything; a recipe, coupon, food tips or whatever else adds value for your customer.

2. Data Capture Strategy - In-Store

There are two ways to gather customer data in-store:

  1. The old way: Ask customers to sign up to your email list when they visit. Then upload the details manually onto the system.
  2. The modern way: With an online menu, restaurants can get customers to fill in their details in exchange for a more personalised and smooth ordering process. This gives the restaurant their email address and allows them to track their order history, visits and interaction with the venue; which can all be used to market to them in a more personalised way.

3. Personalised Promotions

With an email list, comes information about your customers; demographic information and what they've clicked on and engaged with. With this information, you can personalise email campaigns to offer deals that are most likely to appeal to that particular customer. For example, you may have a group of customers that you know love pasta and a group that you know love pizza. You can send personalised campaigns to the two different groups to boost your conversion chances, rather than addressing the same deal to all.

You can automate most email marketing activities using various triggers to execute a workflow or sequence of emails. For example, if you capture your customers birthday during signup, you can automatically send an email a week or two before their birthday, inviting them into the restaurant for a special birthday offer. Any date or number can be used as a trigger e.g. anniversary dates or the number of years a customer has been a customer (using the signup date).

Digital Marketing Options

4. Run Loyalty Campaigns

Loyalty campaigns are great for making customers feel valued and part of a unique, select group. Email campaigns that treat customers like VIPs will tend to get more response than those with a deal that appears generic. When you are tracking customers ordering behaviour, you can easily send them appreciation and rewards for their visits. Say they reach their 5th purchase or visit. Once this registers, you can set up an automatic emailer offering them a deal for them and a friend. This makes your existing customer feel valued and also encourages them to bring you more customers.

5. Diversify the Announcements

Personalised emailers and loyalty campaigns are a great strategy to make customers feel special. But, of course, there still needs to be a bit of mass marketing, at times, to make sure everyone know what's happening in your venue, beyond the events and deals that match their order history.

Take advantage of every opportunity to notify customers of promotions, upcoming events or other activities by including a "What's On in (whichever month it is)" section at the bottom of your emails. Breaking your emailers into a personalised section and a What's On section, allows you to speak directly to customers based on their interests, while also making sure that they don't miss news on any other promotions.

6. Feedback Emailers

If your restaurant offers online ordering or you have particular customers that have been to visit more than, say, three times, it is worth sending an email asking for feedback on the delivery process or their visits to the restaurant. Like all emailers, of course, be sure to add value in return; a coffee, VIP membership or small discount in exchange for their insights.


Email workflows are perhaps the most straightforward marketing campaigns to set up and manage, while also being the one to give the most significant results. Linking email marketing with your social media, loyalty and other marketing technology helps to bolster your results even further by allowing for more personalisation, which leads to improved ROI.

With so much competition coming to Dubai in the leadup for Expo 2020, no restaurant can afford to miss a simple strategy that delivers such big results. If you need help, please get in touch with us. We're particularly fond of working in the restaurant and hospitality sector.