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7 Stellar Restaurant Email Marketing Examples (+ Why They Work)

Authored By: Michelle Doss, Director of Corporate Marketing

email marketing for restaurants

It’s no big secret that email is a restaurant marketing tool that works — and can draw $42 returns per $1 spent. It’s also not a big secret that using data to segment and automate emails is necessary when sending emails to customers to drive brand loyalty.

But how exactly do you craft emails for your audience? With so many options — from welcome sequences and follow-ups to habit-boosting emails — how do you know what works?

This article lays out:

  • Why you need a strategy for restaurant email marketing (hint: so you have a system that targets your specific customers)
  • What kinds of emails to send to your customers
  • 7 examples of restaurant emails to send

Strategy First: Email Marketing As A System (Not One-Off Campaigns)

You’re busy and spending all your time — or forgoing sleep to spend more time — figuring out an email strategy is not an option. Neither is spending a fortune hiring someone to do emails for you.

A repeatable system for emails helps restaurants scale their impact without extra effort, and without sacrificing the other aspects of their business (there should be good food waiting for those who take advantage of the email offer, right?).

Sending emails that are segmented and personalized, instead of one-size-fits-all mass offers, should be part of your automated email strategy. Here are a few reasons why having a system to personalize emails is worthwhile:

How can you start segmenting, personalizing, and automating emails for your customers, while also giving them an experience they’ll respond to? Here’s what you’ll need:

How We Think About Effective Email Marketing Automations

Automation is exactly what it sounds like — automatic. It uses AI and data intelligence to do the work for you. You’ll need to gather the data first, then send the right kind of emails. Using HungerRush 360 to do this for you means you don’t have to worry about the details, the automations and email are done for you, and you don’t have to spend a fortune to get the job done well.

Here’s what you’ll need for effective email marketing automations:

1. Customer Data Capture

The key to effective and strategic emails is your data.

Before you begin sending emails, you’ll need to have access to all your data, which comes from a variety of sources. (For starters, make sure any third-party delivery service you’re using isn’t keeping your data for themselves.)

You have customer data from your POS system, WiFi opt-ins, third-party ordering apps, social media, and your website. Whenever someone makes a reservation, gives you a review, or orders from you, they check a box to consent to their data being used — in exchange, of course, for those personalized offers they expect. In fact, the majority of people will only engage when communication is personalized to them.

2. Automated Surveys

With automated surveys, customers receive an email with a survey link 90 minutes after placing an online order. You can find out what they thought of their food and service — and redirect negative reviews to your team so you can resolve issues.

3. Habit Boosters

Habit booster emails are offers sent to customers so they make visiting your restaurant a habit – the idea is to incentivize repeat visits to encourage a higher rate of return. Whenever a user who has opted into emails makes an order, they’ll get a Multimedia Message (MMS) in their smartphone texts two days later with a promotion that’s good for two weeks for something that they’ve ordered before or that you know they’ll love based on the data. The promotion could be something like $4 off their next order of their favorite combo, or 15% off the veggie pizza they ordered last time. 

If they don’t take you up on the offer, they’ll get another email seven days later, reminding them that the offer expires in one more week. If they still haven’t ordered, they’ll receive one more reminder by SMS when they have two days left to use their special offer.

4. Re-Engagement Campaigns

If a customer who opted into emails hasn’t ordered in 30 days, they’ll automatically be sent a re-engagement email (to remind them you exist) with a promotional offer they can use when they visit you again within the next three days.

They’ll get one more reminder when they have 24 hours left to use the offer if they haven’t already—hopefully at this point, any guest who was on the fence about returning has enough urgency and incentive to re-engage with your restaurant.

7 Email Marketing Examples That Follow This Methodology

What do these kinds of emails look like in the wild? How can you tangibly use this strategy to increase revenue? Check out these seven restaurant email marketing examples:

1. Welcome Sequence Emails


When someone first orders from you and/or opts into receiving emails from you, it’s your chance to properly introduce your brand, which lets customers know what to expect from you. This has the potential to make people loyal customers right away.

You can get more sales when you send more than one welcome email, as part of a series. This is because:

  • Welcome emails have the highest open and response rates, because new customers are excited to buy from you;
  • While they’re excited, they’re more engaged, so take this opportunity to find out what they want from you and segment them in your lists;
  • Repetition up to 7 times makes people remember you more.

The welcome series includes a personalized offer, like in the licorice example email above, to get them back in the door sooner rather than later. This functions as a welcome gift and a thank you for visiting. 

A welcome series can also include your brand story, customer reviews, upsells/cross-sells, surveys, and other promotions.

2. Habit Booster Email


You can send personalized offers for many reasons, but this type of email is meant to get people coming back to create a habit. Diners in the U.S. love their favorite restaurants — in fact, over half frequent the same establishments. But 20% said they switch restaurants if they get promotional offers from another place, and more than half said they’d choose the restaurant that gave them a discount over the ones that didn’t. Why not make that place your restaurant?

The email above gives some urgency so they’ll get their offer within a certain time frame, and the more they return, the more likely they’ll make this pizza place a habit over others.

3. Newsletter Emails


Newsletter emails function as a way of community-forming and personalization because they give updates, tell people you’re involved with the local community, and more.

In the example above, the newsletter is sharing the latest seasonal products, plus how they make their peach iced tea. Here are some other things that can be shared in a newsletter email to drum up more loyalty and revenue:

  • New and seasonal menu items
  • Live music performances and events
  • Opportunities to give back to the community or charities
  • Places you’ve been featured
  • Any newsworthy restaurant information, like new ways to order or changes in restaurant design or menus

Showing customers you care by sharing information with them and being involved with the community is a major way to add to the overall customer experience.

4. Survey or Poll Email


Survey emails give people the opportunity to provide feedback on their experience, customer service, taste of food, and more. This helps you improve as a restaurant and get another chance with unsatisfied customers through a special offer to show them you listen.

In the above example, the survey is sent 90 minutes after the order so the customer can let the restaurant know what they think while their experience is still top of mind. If they’re unsatisfied, the restaurant has an opportunity to win them back with an offer.

Poll emails like this one can help personalize emails even further than the data you have from past orders. You can ask what they prefer from a list of menu items, what kinds of emails they want from you, or how often they want emails, and more. This gives you a higher chance of staying in people’s primary inboxes and having them use your offers.

About 70% of customers say that a business understanding their specific needs influences how loyal they are. Get to know your customers — and personalize better — by surveying and listening to them.

5. Loyalty Program Email


People love a good challenge, and sending loyalty program emails can prompt people to complete challenges as they get closer to offers and milestones in the program.

Challenges are addictive. People love them because they can be involved and play the game, which is what loyalty programs provide. Emails can include games to play (like the Pac-Mate one above), updates on their progress, and challenge offers for specific points related to specific purchases (like Starbucks does). 

Once you know what kind of loyalty program your customers respond to, send them emails to keep them engaged.

6. Story Email


Story emails can involve any restaurant-related story, from customer testimonials to employee stories, to the story of how the business was founded. People love stories, and the above email takes this to a community level by highlighting Black-owned restaurants and stories about them. The email also takes the opportunity to inform readers about their app and social media accounts to gain more engagement.

Story emails help your customers get to know you better and also increase your authority and reputation so customers feel more connected to your brand.

Short story emails are a quick way to send something that isn’t directly selling and that adds another dimension to the relationship your customers have with you.

7. Re-Engagement Email


A re-engagement email can be sent when customers haven’t made a purchase in 30 days or when they’ve stopped opening emails or redeeming offers. These emails help you increase customer retention.

People are busy, and sometimes they just need a reminder that you exist and you have their favorite pizza. If you send an offer with the re-engagement email, that can give them a reason to return. You can also let them know what they’re missing out on at your restaurant like new specials (like a deal that includes their favorite pizza plus garlic knots), or events.

Customer retention is easier and cheaper than getting new customers, and re-engagement emails can spur previous customers to visit more often.

HR 360 Marketing, Your Email Marketing Solution

How does HungerRush 360 Marketing help with email marketing? We automate your emails for you using your data, so you don’t have to do the work or worry about the expertise and level of emails your customers will be getting. Our team does the whole process from data gathering to email segmentation, design and writing, so you’ll see more customers ordering from you. If you’re ready to get consistent results without extra hassle or a small loan, talk to our customer success team today.

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