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The Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing for Restaurants

The Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing for Restaurants



October 24, 2023

October 24, 2023

Email marketing continues to be one of the top ways brands, including restaurants, can engage with guests. In fact, 60% of consumers report subscribing to email newsletters to get promotional messages.

But why should restaurants include email marketing in their restaurant marketing strategy? How can eateries make the most of email marketing?

In this guide, we’ll cover the benefits of email marketing for restaurants, offer tips and best practices, show you how to collect emails, and more. 

Benefits of email marketing for restaurants 

Benefits of email marketing for restaurants 

Before we dive into email basics and best practices, let’s see why restaurants should consider email marketing to begin with.

1. Increase footfall 

One of the main benefits of using email marketing is to increase footfall in your restaurant.

For example, emailing guests about a new branch you’re opening can entice them to visit that branch on its first day or week.

Are weekdays generally calm? Email guests about a special offer on Mondays or on Monday through Wednesday.

2. Increase reservations 

Besides increasing footfall, you can use your restaurant’s newsletter and create email marketing campaigns to increase reservations.

If you’re using a restaurant reservation management system like SerVme, you can let guests make reservations directly from your newsletter. 

3. Announce special events 

Whether you’re a hotel restaurant or simply a restaurant that regularly hosts special events, email marketing helps you send announcements directly to your guests.

Email guests about your upcoming events and send them directly to your website or reservation widget to make a reservation.

4. Announce new branches/locations 

You can also announce the opening of new branches or locations using your restaurant’s newsletter.

Create a campaign for guests in a specific location and invite them to visit your restaurant on opening day.

This is a great way to increase footfall when you’re just opening.

You can also do this with branches you’re refurbishing. 

5. Reveal partnerships

Use your email newsletter to alert guests to partnerships.

Restaurant partnerships vary. They can include joining a retail card, like the Xclusives Card or AlShaya Card, signing corporate deals, or something else.

Partnerships can also include offering delivery and pick-up options or launching your restaurant loyalty program.

6. Unveil new menus and dishes 

Use email to unveil new seasonal and limited-time menus along with new dishes, beverages, and desserts.

Be sure to include real mouth-watering images to go with these types of announcements to entice guests.

We stress the ‘real’ part because if guests order any of these new dishes or beverages and find they look different from the pictures, they won’t trust your next announcement. 

7. Make special offers 

You can use your restaurant newsletter to announce special discounts and free items.

These can be in the form of discount coupons, 2-for-1 offers, free-dessert-Tuesdays or something else.

Bonus tip: Your special offers can also be a way to get user-generated content. For example, you can ask guests to take a picture of their plate on a specific day of the week, or during one of your special events for a chance to win something special.

8. Opportunity for personalization 

One of the perks of adding email marketing to your restaurant marketing strategy is to offer personalization for your guests.

Customers and guests expect personalized experiences when dealing with brands. Research by McKinsey found that 71% of customers “expect” personalized interactions, while 76% “get frustrated” when there’s no personalization involved.

Personalization isn’t just adding your customer’s name when you address them. Personalization comes from segmentation.

When you segment your email list, you personalize the experience and the emails for your guests.

For example, if you’re using one of best CRMs for restaurants like SerVme, you can segment your list by age, restaurant locations, venues, number of visits,…etc.

Sending personalized emails is about sending relevant messages and content to your guests.

Email marketing for restaurants: Basic tips 

Email marketing for restaurants: Basic tips 

To get customers to engage with your newsletter, you need to fill out this list of points for every email or newsletter you send.

Email subject line 

The first thing a customer sees when they open their email is the subject line.

That’s why subject lines need to be catchy but not overpromising.

Your restaurant email subject line should act as an enticing summary of the contents in your newsletter. A summary that gets people to open and learn more.

Sure, you can make it absolutely basic like ‘[Restaurant Name]’s October newsletter.’ But this makes it bland.

Depending on the tone and feel of your restaurant, whether you’re a high-end eatery, a bar, or a fast-food restaurant, you can play around with the subject line.

And you don’t have to shy away from emojis. Especially with seasonal or celebratory occasions.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Celebrate Halloween (add pumpkin emoji) with [Your Restaurant Name]

  • Grab your witch’s hat and broomstick for a Halloween Special

  • Mother’s Day special events inside! (add hearts emojis) 

  • Are you joining us for brunch? Plus a special offer! (add food emojis)

Email preview text 

This is another, often-forgotten, opportunity for marketers to give a sneak peek. Whether you choose to go with the simple ‘[Restaurant Name]’s October newsletter’ or use a creative one, you can add more flavor in the preview text.

The preview text is the section of the email that gives readers more information about why they should open an email.

Unfortunately, many marketers, not just in the restaurant industry, ignore, skip, or forget about the preview text and miss out on the opportunity to increase their email open rate.

Email header/logo design

This is a simple design at the top of your email. It should display your brand’s colours and can include your logo.

Here’s another example directly from SerVme. This is The SerVme Monthly newsletter.

The purpose of this section is to simply give readers a feel of your brand, or in this case, your restaurant.

You can also play around with it slightly on occasions like Christmas or Halloween.

Email sender 

Who is the person sending this email or newsletter?

Surprisingly, it doesn’t have to be a person. It could be the name you give your newsletter or simply your restaurant name.

With food-and-beverage businesses, it’s best to use your restaurant’s name. Why? Because it’s what your guests are familiar with.

Few guests know the reservation manager’s name or even the owner’s name.

Moreover, using your restaurant’s name as the sender instantly tells readers who this email is from. They can also know what to expect.

Email body 

Now, we get to the heavy lifting. The above are the smaller parts that get people to open your email.

The email body is where you add your message.

If you’re sending a monthly–or weekly–newsletter, you should have a design or template you fill out each month.

In the email body, you should include

  • A short introduction

  • Mention the contents of the newsletter (optional)

  • Add the different sections of your newsletter

  • Add breaks between those different sections

  • Include links and calls to action

  • Include an email if you want people to reach out to you (optional)

Email footer 

Don’t forget about your email’s footer, which should include your restaurant’s brand colours and social media links.

You can also add in a reminder if guests enjoy your newsletter, they can forward it to others.

If you’re using SerVme, you can create your email layout once and use it for each newsletter or campaign.

Email marketing tips for restaurants: Best practices

Email marketing tips for restaurants: Best practices

You now have an idea about what your email looks like. Here are some best practices to increase email open rates and click-through rates.

Use pictures

Make your restaurant newsletter enticing for readers by adding images – where relevant. These can be of your restaurant setting, locations, or your dishes.

Bonus tip: Make sure your images are neither too big nor pixelated. Large images take up space and load slower, while pixelated images just turn people off. 

Review your email before sending 

Before you send your newsletter, send a test version to yourself. That way you’ll be able to see how it looks and make sure images aren’t out of place and so on.

Segment your email list 

If you send a monthly newsletter, you can add your entire mailing list – assuming they haven’t opted out.

But if you’re sending out restaurant email campaigns, then it’s best to segment your email list.

Like guest segmentation, email list segmentation lets you send relevant emails to your guests.

For example, you get segment your list by VIPs, top-spenders, frequent visitors, or something else. You can then tailor your emails to one or more of these groups.

Another example is if you’re opening a new branch in the UAE, it’s unlikely guests in Qatar or Saudi Arabia will travel to visit your restaurant. You can make the announcement in your newsletter. But if you have a better chance of increasing traffic directly from your UAE guests. 

Add CTA(s) 

Your newsletter should include at least one call-to-action (CTA). If it’s a monthly newsletter, you’ll likely add several CTAs.

If you’re sending your restaurant’s email campaigns, then it’s best to include one CTA per campaign. You can repeat the CTA 2-3 times in an email, but the action your guest should do should be the same.

For example, if you’re notifying guests about a new event that’s one week away, you can have a CTA button right after the announcement and another at the bottom after an image.

The length of your email will determine if you need more than one CTA button or not.

Use email automation software 

Some restaurant marketing automation tools, like SerVme, include email automation software.

Email software saves you time and effort because it lets you create email campaigns faster, schedule campaigns and newsletters, and segment customers.

If you’re planning your events calendar, you can create email sequences and campaigns ahead of time and schedule them. Or you can add them to your drafts until you decide on the dates for these events before scheduling them.

For example, if you have a monthly Ladies’ Tea, you can schedule the campaign to go out to women in your email list one or two weeks before the event. 

Email frequency 

One of the most frequently asked questions about email marketing is ‘How often do I email customers?’

There’s no exact answer. But the simplest answer is ‘not too much.’ Don’t overdo it with the number of emails you send your guests.

Apart from automated confirmations and cancellations, you need to keep track of the number of emails you send. How many newsletters are you sending out? One each month? Once per week?

How many email campaigns do you create for each customer segment?

It may be tempting to send emails often, as means of engaging customers. But you don’t want guests to unsubscribe because you’re filling up their inboxes.

How to capture emails for your restaurant’s newsletter

How to capture emails for your restaurant’s newsletter

Before you send out your newsletter, you should have at least a few subscribers to that newsletter.

But how do you get guests’ emails? How do you get people to subscribe to your newsletter?

Here are a few tips.

Add an opt-in on your website 

The easiest and most basic step is to let website visitors know you have a newsletter and ask them to sign up.

You can do this using a pop-up, or using a quick signup form in your website’s footer. Or both.

Use a reservation management widget

Restaurants that allow or require reservations can easily collect guest emails directly from their reservation widget.

Bonus tip: Let guests know that their email will be added to your monthly newsletter, which they can opt out of anytime. 

Ask guests for their email when paying their bill

One way to get guests’ emails–without appearing intrusive–is to get your server to ask for their email when they’re paying their bill.

Your server should mention the benefits of joining your emailing list. These include getting your newsletter, special event announcements, and potential special offers. They can let them know that they can opt out any time.

Social media signups 

Collect guests’ emails by making an announcement on social media and getting guests to sign up by visiting your website.

If you don’t have a website, some social media platforms let you create a signup form. 

Waitlist and walk-in guests 

Do you have guests waiting to be seated? Take the opportunity to ask them for their email. Explain the benefits of joining your email list. 

Mobile app users 

If you have a mobile app for your restaurant or chain, it’s easy to get guests’ emails. Often guests will sign up with their email so you can easily add that to your email list.

Alternatively, if they sign up with their cell phone number, you can send them a popup asking for their email.

Restaurant Wi-Fi email prompt 

Do you offer free Wi-Fi in your restaurant? Then, offer to let guests use your free Wi-Fi by entering their email. 

Email marketing for restaurants: More restaurant management and email features with SerVme

Finally, it’s time to create your newsletter and manage other email marketing campaigns. But where do you go?

You can use email software like HubSpot, GetResponse, ActiveCampaign, or something else.

Or if you’re using SerVme, you can manage your email marketing campaigns directly from the SerVme dashboard.

This means

In addition to getting all the perks of email marketing for restaurants, SerVme also helps you

In other words, SerVme is the ultimate restaurant management software including restaurant marketing tools such as email and SMS automation. Each of these marketing automation features comes with their own set of features along with regular updates.

For example, our product team recently launched the ‘cancel reservation’ option for email notifications and SMS.

If you need help creating email campaigns on SerVme, we’ve got a complete Knowledge Base (Help Center) to help you. Plus, our customer success team is here to help you every step of the way.

Wrapping it up

Email marketing offers many opportunities for restaurants and chains to engage their guests, build retention, and increase their revenues.

Not to mention, there are many ideas restaurants can use in their emails to guests.

Want to learn more about email marketing for restaurants? Send us an email at

Curious about how SerVme works? Get in touch with our team.

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Posted by:

Mohammed Rafy