restaurantsOnce upon a time, restaurateurs could rely upon a good quality menu and decent word of mouth to ensure that customers kept visiting (and returning to) their business. Nowadays, with ever increasing competition on the High Street, it takes much more to attract customers and keep them coming back.

Email marketing is not just the preserve of businesses with an online presence. By using email to build a strong relationship with potential and existing customers, you can help ensure the continued success of your restaurant. But, how can you do this? First, you need to get people to subscribe to your mailing list, then you need to send them interesting, compelling and relevant emails.

Gaining Subscribers

How can you get people to sign up to your mailing list if they are not making purchases from your website? You can include a box on your home page to capture email addresses, just like Cafe Rouge:

Cafe Rouge

However, you are unlikely to get a huge number of subscribers in this way. It would be better to include an offer for people who sign up. For example, All Bar One offers £5 off for anyone who subscribes to their mailing list:

All Bar One

You just need to make sure that you make offers like this time-limited so people are compelled to visit your restaurant sooner rather than later.

Including a form on your website isn’t the only way to capture people’s email address. Make it your aim to try and get an email address whenever you interact with a customer. Many restaurants give comment cards to their customers with the bill. These can be used to gain useful feedback as well as people’s email addresses. You can also capture email addresses when people book tables or order take away food, particularly if you have an online reservation/ ordering system. Just make sure you ask for their permission to be included on your mailing list.

What to Include in Your Emails

As I mentioned before, it’s always useful to offer special offers and discounts to people on your mailing list, like this one from Pizza Express:

 Pizza Voucher

However, you should make sure that money-off vouchers aren’t the only thing that you’re sending your subscribers: no one will ever pay full price at your restaurant! Include things in your emails that will compel customers to visit your restaurant.

Las Iguanas sent an email to their subscribers to let them know about their new menu:

Las Iguanas Menu

Rather than simply list the new menu items (lots of text in marketing emails can put some customers off), Las Iguanas have opted to just show a delicious-looking picture of one of the new menu items. Hopefully, this will be enough to encourage customer to either click through to the website to read about the new menu, or visit the restaurant to discover the new menu for themselves. However, an approach like this may not work for your restaurant or your customers. It’s always a good idea to test a few possible approaches before committing to a marketing campaign.

There’s no end to what your marketing emails can contain: information about special events, new store openings, staff profiles, competitions – anything you think your customers may be interested in. Just make sure that, when you’re writing them, the customer always comes first.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at