3 Easy Email Marketing Ideas for Restaurants

This post was originally published on NextRestaurants

By Brandon Hull

Do your emails look like this?

 Boring restaurant marketing email newsletter.

Boring!

They look like every other restaurant’s emails. I created this in 15 minutes — if that’s what it takes you, you’re not trying hard enough.

I know, I know. Conventional wisdom says that tender, delicious foods in crisp photography is THE WAY TO GO, you’ve been assured.

People want to see images of your food, you’re promised.

And they’re right. But here are three NEW email marketing ideas you’re NOT employing, if this is your SOP above.

1. Use your next email blast to start a conversation.

Sadly, we’ve been trained as consumers to think that brand emails are sent from “no reply” email accounts. That they’re personality-less. That they’re just a broadcast medium.

Turn this on its head with your next blast. Encourage replies. Let people send you instant, unedited feedback. Let them send you questions, comments, anything. Then read these.

Yeah, maybe you’ll get 200 replies. Maybe 1,200. IS THAT A BAD THING?

If you’re worried about where this could go, choose a segment of your list (you do have your list segmented, right?) and start there.

You will be so glad you did, as you read through the off-the-cuff interactions you get from your brand fans and choose which ones you’d like to reply to with well-thought-out answers. Others, maybe not so much, but imagine how far it will go to neutralize the “haters” with a simple thank you reply to THEIR reply?

2. Invite people to a contest.

We’re huge fans of Woobox for facilitating this, but there are many others (ShortStack is the biggie in this space. NorthSocial is another.)

You obviously want people going from reading your email to visiting one of your restaurant locations. But let’s be real here. Such a small percentage of people will do this (or CAN do this based on when they READ the email)…and you are only measuring THAT right now via coupons and discounts anyway.

Why not try to engage a higher percentage of those email subscribers? I mean, that’s all they REALLY are — they’re not, as far as you REALLY know, actual brand advocates. They’re not yet truly loyal. They’re just email addresses without some history or activity associated with them. So why not test that allegiance while having some fun with it.

Woobox (or Shortstack, or NorthSocial, or others) can give you a tool with which you can run a sweepstakes, or a photo-sharing contest, or even just one-click “gates” through which people have to travel to unlock a deal.

Talk about a killer way to refine your list and identify your real advocates and engaged subscribers.

3. Add some personality.

Listen, we’re all busy. We’re all stressed a little about our work lives, or our personal lives, or our work/life balance.

Help us out with that. Acknowledge that. And not with just an offer of good food. Add some personality that tells us people run your restaurants. Break with the marketing-speak. Just be a person.

The best brands have a personality. They give off a vibe. They’re still corporations, but they don’t talk to us like one.

You should do the same. Leave the boring, bland, overly-polished manner of speaking to some other brand.

That’s a Wrap

There are so many other ways you can better use your email list than the demo image we’ve added to this post. We’ll get to more in future posts.

Meanwhile, start with a blank canvas with your next email, not a pre-formatted, “Insert Image Here” template. Be fresh.


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