How To Plan Your Restaurant’s Email Newsletter

Restaurant marketers: Are you ready to join the email newsletter marketing trend? Plan and schedule emails ahead of time so you’re not scrambling to create valuable content for your email subscribers.

Frequency: The “Just Right” Dilemma

Remember Goldilocks and the three bears? The same thing can happen to email marketers. Too much contact and your customers feel burned and unsubscribe. Too little and customers forget who you are in between emails. But what is the “just right” target?

If you’re a popular family-style restaurant, weekly newsletters would probably be just right. If you’re a fancy five-star restaurant, bi-weekly or monthly might be better. Kid-focused establishments might even be able to email twice a week. Take a look around at your customers. How often do you have repeat visitors? Use this as a gauge for how often to send emails.

Departments: Structure Your Email Messages

Using departments simplifies email creation. Rotate weekly specials in one department, include a photo gallery in one, and insert a message from your chef or owner in another. These basic departments get you started, but you’ll need something more unique to capture customer interest on a continuing basis. Profile your regulars, whether they’re local celebrities or just ordinary folks. Everyone has a story to tell! Include information about upcoming community celebrations. Talk about the latest happenings at your local high school or college.
You could always choose the easy route and include a recipe based on your restaurant’s cuisine, but try to be more creative.

Cross-Marketing: Getting the Click

Keep departments short and offer the option to click to your website to read more. This strategy takes more planning and you must work closely with your webmaster so everything is in the right place at the right time. Some newsletter services (Constant Contact, for instance) allow you to upload PDF documents to your account, simplifying this process.Always have your “Like” and “Share” buttons at the top of email messages so customers can use social networking to share their opinions of you with friends.

The Final Touch: Coupons

Most people subscribe to restaurant emails so they can save money. Give customers what they want but do it in a strategic way. Some ideas:

  • Free first round of drinks for parties of six or more
  • Exclusive chef’s special only for email coupon holders
  • Free meals for grandkids, but only half off for kids
  • One percent off for every year diners have known each other (would work great for couples, families, and old friends)
  • Deals centered around weird holidays, such as 41 percent off for all customers wearing organic fabrics on the 41st annual Earth Day

  • Free appetizer for all customers who use their cell phones to “Like” you on Facebook while at the restaurant
  • Specials just for groups of coworkers

Wrap It Up: Get Those Newsletters Scheduled

With a little planning, you can get newsletters scheduled in advance so you don’t have to scramble at the last minute. At least get your departments in order, even if coupons change regularly. Email marketing is a powerful tool for restaurants—include it in your overall strategy.