Around the world, 4.03 billion people use email. That makes your restaurant’s newsletter one of the most powerful tools in your marketing arsenal – more powerful than even Facebook and Instagram combined.
Despite how commonplace newsletters are, they’re surprisingly effective.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll break down everything from how to design a restaurant newsletter to how to write and launch yours. Let’s get to work.
The purpose of a restaurant newsletter is to give the people on your mailing list updates about your restaurant, menu and product offerings and services.
Newsletters do more than just keep in touch with your audience. They’re used to motivate people to take action, make a reservation or book a ticket for an upcoming event. However, they’re not used for a hard sell – like an email strictly about gift cards for the holidays, for example.
Your newsletter should feel like an update, rather than a message from a forceful salesperson.
And with email being 4 times more effective in reaching your audience than Facebook, starting a restaurant newsletter is the best way to create repeat business and engage with guests outside of the dining room.
The difference between a newsletter and an email marketing campaign is that newsletters engage, educate and connect with customers over time. Email marketing focuses primarily on the sale.
The difference is in the end result. Your restaurant’s newsletter may include calls to action (CTAs) that sell, like announcing tickets to an upcoming 4-hand dinner, but its ultimate goal is the customer connection, not the purchase.
The easiest way to get people to sign up for your newsletter is to include a sign-up form on your website.
Like Barr and Sushi Anaba, be sure to let the guest know what they’re subscribing to – news and updates from the team, special promotions, etc.
With an email marketing platform like Mailchimp or a dedicated pop-up builder like Sleeknote, you can add a pop-up to your website.
These are the small windows that appear and ask for an email in exchange for something. That something can either be a gift, discount or, like Til Elise fra Marius, a promise of news and updates about the restaurant.
Take note of how Til Elise Fra Marius used the pop-up. It doesn’t dominate the screen or keep a guest from finding the reservation button. The last thing you want from a newsletter pop-up is that it hurts the guest experience.
If you want a more discreet option to get people to sign up for your restaurant newsletter, include it in the footer (the bottom of your website), like Mochi.
Most people know that the bottom of a site has more information, and it’s natural to look there for a sign-up form.
Whether you choose a pop-up, a footer or a designated block on your homepage, remember that you can’t add a customer to your email list without their permission. They have to sign up and acknowledge that they want to receive emails from you, and they have to have a clear way to unsubscribe.
Keep in mind that there’s no minimum number of subscribers to start a newsletter. If you have 10, that’s enough. The quality of the subscriber is more important than the quantity.
You’d rather have 10 interested readers than 3,000 who never open or interact with what you send.
Plan your newsletter according to a realistic schedule. Once a month, once a week or once a quarter are all fine.
Think about how much content you have and how much time you want to dedicate to creating a newsletter for your restaurant.
You want your subscribers to open, read and take action because of your newsletter. Keep that in mind and send yours only when you have enough content to provide value to a customer.
Your newsletter should help you connect and engage with customers. How do you plan on doing that?
Decide now what angle you want to take with your newsletter. Knowing your audience helps you narrow it down a bit.
Think of your newsletter as a conversation – not a speech. Does your newsletter feel like it could come only from your restaurant, bistro or bar? You know who your guests are. Create your newsletter for them.
You may think that designing a newsletter happens after writing it, but the design dictates how much copy (words) you need.
Whether you’re designing it from scratch, using a service like Mailchimp or a free, customisable newsletter template from Canva, here are 4 design tips to help your newsletter stand out in a crowded inbox.
Over 46% of all emails are opened on mobile devices. That means your newsletter will probably be read on a phone, too. Consider single column layout for mobile devices. This makes it easy to read on a smartphone without scrolling left and right.
Keep the message short and direct. And always preview your newsletter (and any email) on a mobile device before sending it out.
If you’re using an email marketing platform with templates, make sure to use a responsive design. That means that your newsletter will automatically resize to fit the device it’s viewed on.
A picture is worth a thousand words… so use more of those and fewer actual words.
Since most people will view your newsletter on their smartphones, make the most of that real estate with high-quality photos. Don’t have any of those? Check Instagram and see if anyone has tagged your restaurant. That’s UGC (User Generated Content) that you can ask to share.
Too many images can clutter the newsletter and make it hard to read… and make it feel cheap. Use white space to your advantage and keep the layout neat and clean. White space is what you get when you put space between images or centre a photo and have space around it.
It’s easy to find a template that you like and blindly follow it. What you’re left with could be so far off-brand that your audience doesn’t recognise it.
For consistency, stay true to the colours, mood and feel of your restaurant. If you don’t have balloons and puppies in your dining room, then don’t add silly gifs and memes in your newsletter.
Add your social media channels to the bottom of your newsletter. Your guest is already on their phone, so it’s a perfect opportunity to click over and follow you on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.
The best way to write a newsletter that your audience will read is to give content worth reading.
While this may seem obvious, think of all the newsletters sitting in your inbox. How many provide value (something you benefit from) and how many are just a list of promotions, deals and discounts?
To help you write your newsletter, think of it in 5 sections: subject line, preheader, body, CTA and contact information.
The subject line is the first thing your subscribers see. If you write a boring subject line, it doesn’t matter how great the actual newsletter is, no one will open it.
A strong, interesting subject line is more likely to catch someone’s attention and make them want to read more. Do not overpromise or write clickbait (a subject line created only to get someone to open an email). An example of clickbait would be “Open now or we close tomorrow”. You have no intention of closing your business, so there’s no need to trick your audience.
Since most of your audience (4 out of 10) will read your newsletter on their phones, keep your subject line short and to the point. We suggest around 9 words or less (60 characters).
You don’t have to be a creative writer to come up with a great subject line. Just write what the newsletter is about. A newsletter about an upcoming event could use the subject line “See what’s coming this month” or “Are you ready for our next event?”.
Questions always make great subject lines and emojis help your newsletter stand out. But only use emojis if they fit your brand.
Not every email service has a field for preheaders (email preview text). These are the lines of copy that let you expand on the subject line.
If your newsletter is about a new menu item, use the subject line “We’ve created something new just for you” and “See the latest menu and reserve your table here” as the preheader.
The preheader is also honest (no clickbait) and doesn’t overpromise or trick.
Keep your preheader short – between 30-100 characters
This is where the magic happens – the body is the actual message of your email.
Your subscribers signed up for your newsletter because they want to know what’s going on with the restaurant or bar. However, that doesn’t mean you should write a novel. Focus on relevant content and keep it short, skimmable and easy to read.
The tone of the email should match your brand. Are you casual or formal? Would you say “Check this out” or “Introducing” to describe something new? These are small differences that matter.
Use repeating sections in your newsletter – like a Book Your Table section – so that you don’t have to start from scratch every time.
Add links that direct customers to your social media, your reservation platform, where to book tickets for events and how to buy gift cards.
Use quality images. Images have a greater impact than the words you use. They instantly engage your audience and keep them scrolling through the email.
Double-check your grammar and spelling with a free tool like Grammarly.
Always read your newsletter out loud before sending it. If it doesn’t sound like you (and your restaurant), edit it.
Ask a team member to give it a read. A second pair of eyes is always helpful.
The call-to-action (CTA) button is where the interaction with your email happens.
Place these buttons or links throughout your newsletter to let subscribers know what action to take.
If you want them to book a table, use “Reserve Your Table Here”. Do you want them to read more about an upcoming event? Use “Find Out More”.
We’ve found that using “you” and “your” works well. Instead of writing “Book a Table”, write “Book Your Table”.
Your newsletter should always end with your contact information – address, phone number and reservation link. Plus, clickable links to your social media pages.
You can also add a button that lets subscribers share the newsletter with others. This is great if your email contains a special promotion or news about an upcoming event.
The last thing you want is to send a newsletter while your guests are busy with work or preoccupied.
You want to choose sending times that give the highest open rates and click-through rates (this means that the person clicks the link in your email and goes to your site to book a table, etc).
Best time to send a restaurant newsletter
Best days to send
Worst days to send
Most restaurants, bistros and bars forget to send a welcome email when someone subscribes to their newsletter. This simple mistake can equal lost revenue and lost opportunity for engagement.
Research shows that 74% of new subscribers expect a welcome email when signing up, and starting with one leads to a 30%+ higher engagement rate with your restaurant over time. See what makes a great welcome email for restaurants here.
You can easily set up a welcome email in your email marketing platform – just make sure that it matches the tone of your restaurant and the look of your newsletters that follow.
When you know exactly what your audience wants to hear from you, your newsletters will have a higher open rate and ultimately lead to return visits and increased revenue.
But how do you know what your subscribers want in a newsletter without guest data?
With Superb’s Guest Experience Management platform (GXM), you’ll have the exact information you need to write a newsletter that catches your audience’s attention.
And the best part? You’ll own the email list. It’s a built-in part of the GXM platform and doesn't require any pop-ups or lead magnets to get started.
With everything from dietary information and allergies to spending habits and special occasions (great for email marketing, too), you’ll create a newsletter that isn’t just noise in an inbox – it’s a personalised message from your guests’ favourite restaurant.
Want to hear how Superb’s GXM platform takes the stress out of newsletter creation? Click here for a free demo.
If you’re already a part of Superb’s worldwide community of restaurants, accessing your guest data and guest list is easy…
Our customer support team is ready to help you get started. Click here to see how easy it is.