How to Start a Restaurant Email List – And Why You Need One

As a restaurant owner you wear many hats: server, host, busser, accountant, and more. At some point, your attention is going to shift to marketing and how to best attract new customers to enter your restaurant and sit down for a bite. One popular marketing channel is the coveted (or dreaded, depending on who you ask) email list. A robust email marketing strategy will help you to engage current customers, grow brand loyalty and drum up recurring revenue.

Read, ‘How to Advertise Your Restaurant Business.

How to Capitalize on Existing Customers (people already visiting your restaurant)

It’s common for restaurant owners to have many questions regarding email marketing. After all, marketing may not be your passion or your background—and that’s okay. Below we provide some ideas to get you started on how to turn those subscribers into repeat customers and spark more sales.

  • Free dessert when you sign up for emails. Have a QR code on the table that is prompted by servers to encourage diners to sign up directly from their phone and use the coupon right away.
  • Refer a friend (for existing subscribers). Give a meal, get a meal. Forward the email to a friend to send them a coupon/free entree item and earn one, too.
  • Create a pre-selected opt-in for processing digital receipts and online orders (they are already giving you their email)! This is ideal for restaurants using tablets/digital payment processing and online reservation systems.
  • Raffle a restaurant prize. Entice new customers to join your email list for a chance to be entered to win something special like dinner for two, access to an event, or one free dinner per month for a year.
  • Birthday promo. People love being celebrated! Offer an annual birthday treat in exchange for an email subscription. Offering customers a coupon they can expect every year is a great way to bring them back regularly and earn their loyalty.
  • Include polls within your emails to current subscribers. Your returning customers know you the best. Ask them to vote on new specials/desserts/live music. Use this information to give the people what they want and to bring in more new customers.
  • Business card fishbowl. Encourage customers to leave their business cards (to be added to the email list) when they visit to enter for a chance to win free lunch for their office.
  • VIP Offers. Provide exclusivity to your most loyal customers. Give email subscribers priority reservations for special dinners and events. This is a great way to drum up excitement and book out your restaurant in advance.

Many restaurant owners are so busy running their restaurant, they simply don’t have enough time to dedicate to strategic digital marketing strategies. If this sounds like you, consider outsourcing certain marketing duties to stay ahead of the competition and devoted to doing what you do best.

Read our hospitality blog series for more information on the latest trends in the industry or contact your local agent to discuss your restaurant or bar coverage options today.

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