Restaurant Marketing: How To Split Test Your Emails

Split testing emails is a great way to zero in on what works for restaurant marketers. Whether your list has a few hundred or a few thousand opt-ins, you can develop a split testing strategy to improve open rates and response.

Subject Line

The subject line is easiest to change, so start there. Try running “Delicious Deals from Cuisine du Jour” against “What’s Hot at Cuisine du Jour” to see which produces more response. (You can be as creative as you like.)

Add personalization to one of your splits and leave it off the other. “Ericka, Bring a Friend to Cuisine du Jour” might prompt more opens than leaving the subscriber’s name off, or it might not.

Your company name may be taking up valuable character real estate in the subject line. Try leaving it off and letting the “from” field stand on its own. As long as subscribers can identify you, they’ll be likely to click.

“From” Field

You must always clearly identify yourself so opt in subscribers don’t ignore your emails or mark them as spam. However, the “from” field is where you reinforce your brand image, so play around a little.

Try just your business name. Try your owner’s name plus the business name. Try the chef’s name plus the business name. Add “the team” or “the crew” to include the whole staff. If your mascot is really recognizable, go with the mascot’s name in one of your split tests.

 Email Preview

Did you know a lot of email service providers show a few characters of preview in the inbox pane? Pay attention to the first few lines of text in your email.

Instead of writing, “Dear Jane, the weather has been really wonderful and we hope you had a great week,” write “Jane, bring a coworker and get a free appetizer this week only!” The preview packs a punch. Leverage this in split testing by writing different opening lines.

Tweaking the Offer

Once subscribers open your emails, you want them to do something (like drop by for a visit). Split test your call to action. Go for the homey approach (“Come on down, folks!”) or try something a little more aggressive (“You might starve if you don’t visit Cuisine du Jour today!”).

Or you could offer the same coupon in a split test but change the expiration date. A short window of opportunity might get subscribers to take advantage of deals more quickly, but a longer offer might get you more response overall.

Track Open Rates and Response

No matter what type of split testing you choose, make tracking easier by changing only one element at a time. Log into your account and note open percentages, click tracking, and forwarding. You could even get really fancy and track opens over a period of days to see which split produces immediate opens and which takes a little longer.


Split testing isn’t a one-time proposition. Make it part of your overall online marketing strategy and you’ll be a better—and richer—restaurant marketer.