Email Marketing for Restaurants – Restaurant Newsletter Ideas and Templates – the Ultimate Guide

If I were to pick two passions in my life, I’d definitely pick food and marketing. Luckily, I get to do both quite often 😉 – as a typical millennial foodie and a digital nomad, I probably go to several dozens of restaurants per year; as a marketer, I do content marketing for small businesses.

What recently struck me though – is that much as many restaurants use social media for their marketing, none – literally no restaurant I’ve ever been to ever asked me for my email address. 

And the more I thought about it the more I realised – restaurant owners are literally leaving thousands of dollars on the table by not sending newsletters to your restaurant guests! 

Now – I’m on a mission to change that! 😉 If you’re a restaurant owner – read on; if you know a restaurant owner – share this post with them asap! Now let’s dig in 👇

In this post, you are going to find out: [Click to jump to the relevant sections!] 

  1. 👉Why you should use email marketing as a restaurant owner – some email marketing stats 
  2. 👉How to get your restaurant guests to leave their email address with you – how to collect email subscribers in your restaurant 
  3. 👉What to send in your newsletters to bring your guests back – restaurant newsletter ideas
  4. 👉Restaurant Newsletter Subject Lines 
  5. 👉Restaurant Newsletter Templates
  6. 👉Restaurant Newsletter Calendar 

Why you should use email marketing as a restaurant owner – some email marketing stats 

“How often would you like to get promotional emails?”

So somebody comes to your restaurant for the first time and is really happy with your food and service. Great! Assuming they are not tourists coming for a one-off stopover in your city, they may want to come back:

 

  • to bring their friend
  • for a special occasion
  • on a date
  • with a business partner…

 

But actually – how do you make sure they will remember your place when the time is right?

I so often forget about the places (or people!) that would be the right fit for the occasion/ job I need…

Why?

Because they don’t remind me of their existence!

Same goes for restaurants. There are some restaurants I really love and that I have brought my friends again and again when I was visiting:

 

  • A Georgian restaurant in my hometown where I went with a friend last year and with my parents for my birthday this year
  • Giddy Bridge Weatherspoons in Southampton! I think I’m a local there…
  • A hamburger place in Cambridge where I’ve been taking all my consecutive boyfriends to since I was a student (oh well 🙄😏)

 

You get it. Going to a restaurant is an experience people want to share with people again and again. But sometimes you need a special *nudge* to actually do it. And that’s where newsletters come into play.

Why newsletters and not social media? 

restaurant newsletter screenshot

 

Well, with organic reach on Facebook at around 6.4% of the total followers’ count, you have a very small chance that your followers will actually ever *see* your social media posts. With newsletters though – most email marketing tools have a deliverability over 90% (we do 😈) – which means most of your subscribers will get your message straight to their inbox! And it’s then only up to your subject line and newsletter text whether they open it and want to come to your restaurant again 😉

If you’re not convinced you should be sending newsletters to your restaurant guests, here is a bunch of stats that speak for themselves (Source: Backlinko)

 

  • According to McKinsey, email is 40x more effective at acquiring customers than Facebook and Twitter combined
  • 73% of marketers asked by Sales Cycle said email has an ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ ROI – with $ 44 made out of every $ 1 invested on average
  • 86% of 2,057 people asked by Marketing Sherpa would like to get promotional emails from the companies they are doing business with at least once per month

 

Bottom line? Newsletters work, and people actually want to get them 😉 Now let’s see how you can get your restaurant guest to leave an email with you!

How to get your restaurant guests to leave their email address with you – how to collect email subscribers in your restaurant 

collecting restaurant newsletter subscribers

First and foremost: the best way for you to get your restaurant guests to leave you their email (and return to your restaurant) is to offer them great food and service.

But once you checked that box, here’s a strategy of how to collect email subscribers in your restaurant:

 

#1 Put plastic holders with an ad encouraging your guests to sign up for your newsletter in return for a *FREE* dessert:

#2 Print single-use signup forms with a name, email box and a tickbox for agreeing to your abbreviated privacy/ data processing policy (required under the GDPR – read more about it here and generate your privacy policy) – make sure the sign-up forms explain what you will send in your newsletters and encourage your guests to sign-up. E.g. ‘Sign up for our newsletter for a chance to win a free dinner for two every month! Plus amazing recipes, special discounts and new items on our menu – delivered straight to your inbox twice a month!’  – see the example below;

#3 Equip the waiters with a tablet and let your guests sign up directly when they are finishing their meal/ paying the bill – give your waiters the following script: ‘Did you enjoy your meal? Great! We have this promotion now – if you sign up for our newsletter now you get a FREE dessert next time you visit us. We would be sending you special offers, seasonal menu updates and recipes a few times per month. Would you like to sign up now?’ 

newsletter subscription form

#4 You can also stand with the tablet and free samples of the said brownie in front of your restaurant to attract potential new guests!

Feeling inspired? 😉 Sign up for our FREE email marketing account and start creating your newsletters!

What to send in your newsletters to bring your guests back?

Now that you have collected your subscribers, it’s time to write those newsletters!

What should you include in your restaurant newsletters though? 🤔 Here are some ideas what you can share in your newsletters:

 

  • Discounts and special offers: e.g.: ‘Come to our restaurant this weekend and enjoy 15% off all dishes!’ or ‘Visit [Name of your restaurant] this week and get 10% off our new winter menu!’
  • Recipes for your most popular dishes: e.g.: ‘You’ve enjoyed our Green Curry 🍲- here’s how to make it at home!’
  • Stories about your restaurant, and your flagship dishes: e.g.: ‘I can’t believe it’s been already 5 years since I started [Name of your restaurant] – wanna learn our story?’
  • Social proof – reviews left by other guests – e.g.:’ Maria really enjoyed her anniversary dinner in our restaurant – check why 😉’
  • Seasonal menus: e.g.: ‘Christmas is coming! Try our limited-time Christmas tasting menu – only till 31/12!’
  • Special event bookings: e.g.: ‘Only 5 slots left for our Christmas Dinners! Hurry up before they go!’
  • New dishes on your menu: – e.g.:’ You asked, we listened! Double-choc brownie is finally here 🎂😍!’
  • Dishes for different times of the day: e.g.: ‘You’ve tried our dinner, now come for breakfast! 🥐🥞😍’
  • Vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, halal or kosher options: ‘Vegan? 🥗 Not a problem. Check out our new vegan menu!’

For more newsletter templates for these occasions, jump to our template section below!

Restaurant newsletter subject lines 

restaurant newsletter subject line

So now you know what you’re gonna include in your newsletter – it’s time you think about the most important element…yes, the subject line! Subject lines are critical for your open rates – after all, it’s because of the subject line that you decide whether you want to open and read the newsletter or not.

I wrote a more detailed post on subject lines earlier here, but just to recap the main pointers:

 

  • Use personalisation (your recipients’ name) in the subject line – it boosts the open rates by 26%
  • Use emojis (😁😂😍) – they can boost the open rates by up to 56% and only about 6% of newsletters have them!  If you’re using a Windows computer – you can easily open an emoji menu by pressing: “Windows” + “.”

emojis menu

  • Create a sense of urgency and scarcity – limited time-offer discounts or menus, limited stock (e.g. We made 10 hamburgers only – and when they’re gone, they’re gone! 😁) , dishes limited only to particular day of the week etc.
  • Make your subject line into a clear CTA (call to action) – ask your readers to do something in an imperative ‘Claim your discount!’ ‘Try our new menu!’ ‘Don’t miss our Christmas party promo!’ etc.

 

Examples of subject lines you can use in your restaurant newsletters:

 

  • {Personalisation, e.g. Emilia,} 👉 come to our restaurant this weekend and enjoy 15% off all dishes!
  • {Personalisation, e.g. Emilia,} 👉visit [Name of your restaurant] this week and get 10% off our new winter menu!
  • {Personalisation, e.g. Emilia,} 🎄🎁 Christmas is coming! Try our limited-time Christmas tasting menu – only till 31/12!
  • {Personalisation, e.g. Emilia,} you’ve enjoyed our Green Curry 🍲- here’s how to make it at home!
  • {Personalisation, e.g. Emilia,} I can’t believe it’s been already 5 years since I came to Sweden ✈ and I started [Name of your restaurant] – wanna learn our story?
  • {Personalisation, e.g. Emilia,} we made 10 hamburgers only for this Saturday 🍔– and when they’re gone, they’re gone!
  • {Personalisation, e.g. Emilia,} only 5 slots left for our Christmas Dinners! 🎄🎁 Hurry up before they go!
  • {Personalisation, e.g. Emilia,} you asked, we listened! Double-choc brownie is finally here 🎂😍
  • {Personalisation, e.g. Emilia,} you’ve tried our dinner, now come for breakfast! 🥐🥞😍

Feeling inspired? 😉 Sign up for our FREE email marketing account and start creating your newsletters with the subject lines above!

Restaurant Newsletter Templates

And now we are finally moving on to our irresistible newsletter templates for your restaurant!

Again, before you roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty with them – here are a few pointers to remember: 😉

👉 Make sure you include beautiful photos of your food in your newsletter – you can take them on your phone, but make sure they are:

  • high-resolution
  • taken in good light – always daylight, if possible!
  • have a good balance of brightness, hue, contrast and saturation – you can easily adjust those metrics with an app on your phone! As a rule of thumb: food photos look better when they are brighter, more saturated, and have a ‘warmer’ hue

👉 Have a clear Call to Action (CTA) in your newsletter – e.g. Try our new Christmas menu! – with a button leading e.g. to your table reservation system or website

👉 Tell a story – this is a really crucial factor that will influence whether people actually read your newsletters and get a mental picture of your food that will make them actually crave it: here are some ‘footholds’ you can use:

 

  • tell a story about a particular dish
  • talk about how it’s made in your home country
  • talk about your traditional cuisine
  • talk about a particular memory associated with your favourite dish
  • talk about a special ingredient used to make it
  • talk about your passion for the food you’re making and why you decided to open your restaurant 

 

Show your personality and love for what you’re doing! ❤

 

People love stories and they make them relate to you more – and the more personable, authentic and relatable you are to your guests – the more likely they will be to return to you (and leave generous tips 😉)

👉 Don’t forget your contact detailsaddress and telephone number + information about home delivery options

👉 Use discounts to attract your customers back – because nothing works better than a ‘free’ meal 😉

Here are some sample restaurant newsletter templates you can use as inspiration:

Feeling inspired? 😉 Sign up for our FREE email marketing account and start creating your newsletters with the templates above!

Restaurant Newsletter Calendar 

Email Marketing Calendar

Now, how often should you send newsletters to your guests?

 Companies have the highest open rates when they send 2 emails per month – and that’s the kind of natural timeframes for a restaurant to communicate with their guests too.

Considering this, and the tips for what to include in your restaurant newsletters I gave you above – here’s a sample newsletter calendar for your restaurant:

After a guest signs up to your newsletter: 

  1. Week 1: Send a follow-up ‘thank you’ note with a discount voucher for their next meal
  2. Week 2:
  3. Week 3: Send a menu update
  4. Week 4:
  5. Week 5: Send a recipe (with an interesting story)
  6. Week 6:
  7. Week 7: Send an invite to try a seasonal dish/ holiday menu + FREE dessert

You can easily automate the whole process with our handy autoresponders – design your newsletters in advance and they will go out automatically to your new subscribers at the right time intervals!

autoresponders

Final thoughts

Being 40 x more effective than Facebook + Twitter for acquiring news leads and never used by your competition – using email marketing for your restaurant business seems like a no brainer!

So – don’t wait for someone else to start! Sign up for our FREE email marketing account and start creating your newsletters with our easy to use templates – we will be more than happy to help you with that too!

 

 

Emilia

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