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September 13, 2021

How to promote your restaurant with email marketing

This restaurant email marketing guide shows you exactly what emails to send guests and when. From promo emails to newsletters, see why guest data matters.
September 13, 2021

Any restaurant manager or owner knows the importance of marketing a restaurant. 

Social media and word of mouth are great, but there’s nothing as profitable as email. Restaurant email marketing is the best channel to connect with your audience, promote your restaurant, upsell and attract new and returning guests. 

And there’s more good news. If you’re using Superb’s Guest Experience Management platform (GXM), you already have access to an email list and the guest data needed to start with restaurant email marketing today.                  

What is email marketing for restaurants? 

Email marketing is when you use emails to promote a product or service. 

For restaurants, bistros, bars and cafes, these emails can be purely transactional (selling gift cards or prepaid tickets) or used for personal connection (wishing a guest a happy birthday). 

Is email marketing effective for restaurants?

It’s more than just effective – it also makes money. Research shows that for every $1 spent on email marketing, you’ll see a return of $42. That’s higher than any other form of digital marketing.

Which is better for a restaurant – social media or email marketing?

Email marketing has a higher return on investment (average of $42 for every dollar spent). And with email marketing, you’ll own the email list and data. With social media, the information about your guests is owned by the channel. 

However, both are necessary for a restaurant’s marketing strategy. 

  • Social media helps build your brand and awareness.
  • Email is better for actual conversions (selling something, making a reservation, etc).

Why is email marketing important for a restaurant?

Email marketing for restaurants is important because over 90% of internet users use email (USA) and over 50% of the global population checks email regularly. 

With email being one of the most common means of communication, if your restaurant isn’t using email marketing, it's missing out on a chance to join the conversation. 

3 reasons why your restaurant should use email marketing 

1. Email marketing doesn’t cost a fortune.  

Restaurant email marketing is inexpensive and the return on investment is high. And unlike paid ads, you don’t need to increase your budget to reach your email list. All you have to do is write the email and send it. 

All you need is an email list, a plan (we have ideas for that below) and email marketing software with templates. 

With Superb’s GXM platform, your email list is already collected for you – saving you time and money.

When it comes to email marketing software, most services offer plans based on the number of contacts you have (the number of people on your list). Mailchimp has everything from a free plan to one for $9.99 with free templates and 24/7 customer support.  

2. You’ll have control over the guest experience. 

The guest experience at your restaurant, bistro or bar also includes communication outside of your actual business. 

The way a guest – old or new – views and interacts with your restaurant on social media and email is 100% part of their experience. 

With email marketing for restaurants, you’ll have complete control over how you communicate. From the feel and colours of the email to the actual message, you control how your restaurant is viewed. 

This is also your chance to inject personality into your brand – a side of your business that most guests don’t get to see – with personal notes from the chef or a welcome message from the restaurant manager. 

3. Email marketing targets people who already like you.

When you post on Instagram, you can’t control who interacts with your post. The same goes for a tweet or even a printed flyer for an upcoming event. You have no control over the reach of that action. 

Restaurant email marketing isn’t like that. With an email sent to your email list, you target a “warm” audience (people who have already interacted with you and agreed to receive emails). 

These people want to hear from you and are more likely to engage with what you send. 

Better yet, with GXM, you’ll have more than just their contact information – you’ll know exactly what they like to eat, drink, their spending habits, and even their favourite seat in the house. 

With this information, you can create precise, targeted campaigns that keep them coming back. The following content ideas work great:

  • Promotional deals and offers
  • Information and updates about events 
  • Responses to concerns or questions that guests have raised 
  • Updates on new menu items that the kitchen is working on 


Explore 5 emails that keep guests coming back to your restaurant, bistro or bar


How to build an email list for your restaurant

You can’t start email marketing without an email list. We’ve covered the best ways to build your list in our ultimate guide for creating a restaurant newsletter. Those include pop-ups, sign-up forms and how to use the footer of your website. 

You can also use a guest experience management platform that captures guest information during the booking process – like Superb’s GXM. 

Another way to build your email list is to include a section in each email (especially ones with offers or promotions) that encourages subscribers to forward the email to their friends. 

Superb makes email marketing easier 

When we say that Superb’s GXM platform gives you everything you need to market and run your restaurant… we mean it. 

With both GXM Lite and GXM Pro, you’ll be able to build email lists and export them quickly into your favourite email marketing tool (like Mailchimp). And you can do it in the same platform you already use to run your business – that saves you time not having to worry about multiple systems that won't integrate. 

You’ll also have access to guest data. That means you can personalise and target emails based on guest behaviour without having to rely on intuition or guesswork

This is called segmentation. It happens when you cater your emails towards a specific group of people (your guests) based on anything from their favourite wine to your VIP guests who spend more per visit.  

Personalisation in email marketing is when you write directly to a person, using their name. Guests are 72% more likely to open an email when it has their name in the subject line. 

You can use guest data from the built-in POS in GXM Pro to track the dining habits of your guests. With that information, you can tailor an email to a segment of your list. 

Say you have a guest who often eats at your bistro on Friday evenings at 8:00 pm and always orders the same cocktail. Use this data to personalise an email offering a free cocktail the next time they visit. Send it around 18:00 with the subject line “Drinks are on us tonight”. 

This type of personalised restaurant email uses segmentation and adds to the guest experience. 

Segments may include:

  • Profession
  • Location
  • Visit frequency
  • Spending habits 
  • Guests who drink only white wine 
  • Guests who always make reservations when you create new menu items 
  • Guests who buy and use gift cards 

The more relevant your emails, the higher your engagement and conversion rates. With GXM, the guest data is there. All you have to do is use it. 


See how Superb’s GXM platform gives you the power of guest data 


5 types of emails restaurant guests want to read 

Whether it’s a newsletter or a promotional email, the goal is to provide value for your audience. 

Treat your email subscribers like your guests, and they’ll become guests. 

Here are 5 different restaurant email marketing options you can use. 

Welcome email 

A welcome email is the first email you should send to customers – regardless of whether they sign up for newsletters or promotional emails. 

Goal of a welcome email: Build relationships and encourage guests to visit again 

What should you include in a welcome email? Besides the obvious welcome message, let them know how often they’ll hear from you. Are you planning on sending monthly newsletters? Weekly promotional deals? If you’re not sure, write “We promise to only send emails that we know you’ll enjoy.”. 

8 out of 10 people open a welcome email, so this is your chance to strengthen your brand and the perception of it. Offer subscribers a sneak peek in the kitchen or a greeting from the head chef. 


Newsletters help you build the connection between your restaurant and your guest. They’re primarily created for connection, not sales. 

Goal of a newsletter: Connect and engage with guests without trying to sell 

What goes in a newsletter? Your restaurant newsletter should give updates about your restaurant, menu and product offerings and services.

Celebration emails 

One of the best things about collecting guest data is that you’ll know when someone celebrates a special date. Celebration emails are sent to customers when they have anniversaries, birthdays and even to recognise the first time they ate at your restaurant.

Goal of a celebration email: Show your customers that you care and encourage them to come back.

What should you put in a celebration email? This type of email isn’t mass-produced and sent to everyone on your list… unless everyone is celebrating the same birthday. Probably not.

Instead, use guest data to identify the specific customer you want to target and create an email just for them. 

You can use the same copy (the message) over and over… just remember to change the name each time. Since you’ll know what they like to drink, eat and how much they usually spend, offer them a complimentary bottle of wine or a gift card to use when they make their next reservation. 

Promotional emails

Unlike a discount, a promotion doesn’t devalue your brand. Use promotional emails to offer an incentive for making a reservation and increase spending by encouraging add-ons. If your restaurant experiences slow days, this type of email is great to get people in the door. 
While the holidays may seem like the best time to run a promotional email campaign, take a look at your past reservations before doing so. Are you usually booked during the holiday season? If you are, save this type of campaign for slower months. 

Goal of a promotional email: Sell a product or service 

What goes in a promotional email? Be sure to include the promotional offer in your subject line to increase the open rate. For the rest of the email, be sure that the copy and the CTA are clearly stating what the offer is. 

Win-back email 

Think of a win-back email as a “we miss you” email. Its goal is to get guests back in your restaurant, bistro or bar. 

Use data to see if one of your frequent guests hasn’t made a reservation in a while. Send them a personalised email, maybe with a promotion, that lets them know they’re missed.

Goal of a win-back email: Get former guests back in your door

What should you include in a win-back email? Win-back emails are not for new customers. They are strictly for frequent guests who haven’t been to your restaurant in a while.

If you’re worried that this type of email is too intrusive, wait until they have a special date coming up (like a birthday) and send a celebration email about that. This gives you a reason for emailing and provides them with an incentive to make a new reservation.

Want to see what these emails look like in reality? Explore 11 of our favourite restaurant emails and templates to copy here.


See how Superb’s GXM platform gives you the power of guest data 


How to measure the success of your restaurant’s email marketing 

Part of a great restaurant email marketing strategy is to continuously look at what’s working and what’s not. 

In your email marketing platform, look at the metrics below to identify areas of success and places where you missed the mark. For example, if you’ve had a lot of unopened emails, try personalised subject lines for the next email and see if your open rate increases. 

If your CTR is low, make sure that the CTA is clear in your next email. And make sure that your email is designed with smartphone users in mind. Check out more email design tips here.

  • Open rate – How many people open the email
  • Click-Through Rate (CTR) - How many people click the links in the email
  • Unsubscribe – How many people unsubscribe from your list

Restaurant email marketing and compliance 

Everyone you email must give consent to receive emails from you. Getting that permission is very important (and legal), but it’s not that complicated. 

The first thing to do is find out where the people on your email list are located. From there, find out the laws of that country and how to go forward with email marketing. Your email platform should be able to provide current information and guidance. 

Take a look at the necessary rules on email compliance for the USA and EU below:

With Superb’s GXM, you own the customer data and your guest will have already given permission to receive emails from you. That’s one less thing to worry about and one more way that the GXM platform helps you market your restaurant.

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