Business owner is using facebook on laptop

58% of adults check their email from bed, before their coffee is even poured. Be sure they’re reading yours.

The rise of social media marketing has not killed the need for marketing directly to your customers through direct emails. In fact, it still remains one of the most effective tools, with one of the highest rates for actually hitting your customers.

There are many tools out there to help restauranteurs design better emails, with simple drag and drop tools to make it fast and easy to update and send. Do a little research, try some of the free trials, and find the one that’s best for you, your business and your budget.

8 Tips To Design A Restaurant Newsletter

1. Design for mobile devices

Over 50% of emails are opened on mobile devices, and 33% on iPhones. Your email should look exactly how you want it on this format. Single column layouts work best when it comes to mobile devices, and always test out your email before sending it, by viewing on a computer and a mobile device.

2. Keep it visual

Have good, professional photographs and use a lot of them in your newsletter. Get creative when finding photos that fit with your subject. For example, if you’re writing about Mother’s Day brunch, think beyond the photos of eggs and consider using a photo of a mom and her cute kid.

person typing on laptop

3. Avoid visual clutter

Keep the layout nice and clean. Incorporate lots of white space that show off your gorgeous photos, and don’t clutter the layout by wrapping text around images, or adding unnecessary visual elements.

4. Stay on brand

It’s so fun to work with design templates with so many options, but remember to stay on brand when it comes to your color selections. For consistency, use colors in your restaurant’s branding, only adding extra colors as accents, if at all.

5. Include a call to action

Immediately in the email, create a call to action that people can click on and react to. Maybe it’s making that reservation for Mother’s Day brunch, or RSVP-ing to a special event. Whatever it is, make it obvious right away.

6. Keep it social

Be sure to include all your social sharing buttons. The end of the email should have buttons to follow you on all your active platforms, but also consider adding in PinIt buttons on images so that your content gets pinned, or including prewritten tweets that they can easily click to tweet.

7. Keep it simple

Emails aren’t the place for long and detailed stories, that’s what your blog is for. Instead, keep the copy short, simple and direct and link to any longer pieces that require more reading.

8. Link it up

Have lots of buttons and links spread out throughout your emails. Be sure your call to action is obvious, and easy to act upon. Articles and other content in your email should also include links that open in new windows and direct your customers to blog posts, your social media, or wherever you want them to go.

Don’t forget, you’re not bothering people. Your customers have signed up for your emails because they want to hear from you and they want to know what’s going on.

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Writing a restaurant email newsletter

10 Tips To Write A Restaurant Newsletter

With all the writing that you do to promote your voice, take the time to consciously develop your own voice, and keep it consistent in your newsletters, emails and across all social media platforms. Your voice should be reflective of your overall brand and should be consistent no matter who is doing the actual writing or tweeting.

Newsletters in particular can feel time consuming to come up with a lot of content. Here are some ideas to get you started. Consider having sections that have recurring features so that you are not starting from scratch each time you put a newsletter out.

1. Pull them in with a catchy subject line

Write a subject line that draws people in. Keep it fun and exciting, try including words like secrets, e-sales, specials, exclusive. Give your readers a reason to open the email with a sense of anticipation. Try to limit your subject to around 35 characters.

2. Always include a call to action

Every newsletter you send out should have at least one item that you want people to act on. Whatever that call to action is, be sure it’s the first item featured and has all necessary links to make acting on it quick and easy.

3. Feature your staff

One the biggest advantages small, independently owned businesses have over their big box counterparts, is a staff that is local to your community. Include a regular feature that highlights your talented staff. Maybe you interview staff on what they do out of the restaurant, or highlight an employee of the month.

4. Feature your community

Foster your relationship with your community by featuring events going on in your neighborhood, or consider featuring some of your favorite customers. Do you have good relationships with some of the shops, galleries or theaters in your neighborhood? Talk to them about cross promoting each others businesses.

5. Give access to special events or offers

Promote an event that you’ll be running, being sure to link it to a Facebook event page, or Eventbrite page that contains all the details. If you’re participating in a city-wide event like Restaurant Week, let your customers know. Make your customers feel like they’re the first to hear all this news first.

6. Include a testimonial

You’re already reading your online reviews, let your customers know you’re paying attention to their thoughts by sharing them. Consider a regular feature where you feature one positive review in each newsletter.

7. Provide a tutorial

Do you have something unique in your restaurant that you want to encourage diners to use? Maybe an online reservation system? Post a quick tutorial about how to make a reservation.

8. Share your knowledge and give a recipe

People who dine at your restaurant love food, making recipes a perfect item to share. Pick a favorite recipe from the kitchen or the bar. A new summer cocktail or a menu favorite would be perfect.

9. Supplier news

As more and more restaurants work with local suppliers, it’s important to let your customers know about these relationships. Take a visit to the farm and take lots of photos. Do a quick interview with a farmer, or cheesemaker and promote each other’s businesses.

10. Get social

Remind your customers of your social media by posting something from it. Maybe your most loved Instagram photo, or a favorite photo that one of them took of you. This is a great way to encourage your diners to talk about your restaurant in their circles.

Remember to add lots of tags and links. Keep the content in your newsletter or emails short and focused, but link to the longer pieces on your blog. Incorporate great photos and you’ve got yourself a newsletter that your customers are sure to open, read and share.

restaurant marketing strategies for instagram

3 Tips to launch your restaurant email newsletter

Anyone who wants to become a restaurant manager or owner needs to market their restaurant. And while social media may be newer and sexier, email marketing remains the most cost-effective marketing there is.

Every dollar spent on restaurant email marketing reportedly generates between $38 and $44 in return.

Restaurant industry publications—when well executed—keep diners coming back, and repeat customers are the key to restaurant industry profitability.

1. Collect Email Addresses and Establish Your Email List

There are many email service providers (ESPs) to choose from, including mainstream options such as MailChimp and Constant Contact, along with restaurant specific options such as Bridg, BentoBox, and Fishbowl. Make sure it has responsive design (so your newsletter is automatically resized to fit the device it’s being read on) and offers a variety of attractive templates and useful analytics that allow you to track the success of your email campaigns.

You then need to populate your ESP with email addresses. Use an opt-in form on your restaurant website that offers giveaways or discounts for signing up, or prompt customers to sign up when ordering online, making a reservation, and on your social media channels. Add an offer for signing up on bills and receipts, and encourage diners to leave their business cards to sign up for a prize draw. For anyone that wants to use your free Wi-Fi, ask them for their email address to access it. Just be sure to always gain opt-in consent from every person; there are strict laws about spamming people with unwanted emails.

2. Format Your Newsletter

Always include your logo, and keep the colors/style consistent with your brand. Start with one main story about you or the restaurant if you’re not sure how to begin.

Other items to potentially include: upcoming specials and deals, menu changes and what’s behind them, descriptions of new beers or cocktails, events at the restaurant—or that you support in the neighborhood. Allow people to RSVP to events via Facebook. Include a photo with each article and stick to a light background for easier reading. Keep it short, personal, and positive—and it never hurts to be funny. Make sure you have a more compelling subject line than “This Month’s Newsletter.” Don’t be too clever—be specific about your email’s contents—but if you can tease, that’s a great way to make people open to find out more.

3. Build A Distribution Strategy

Inbox management fatigue is a widespread problem; the best way to get people to unsubscribe from your list is to email them too often. Most restaurants send monthly email newsletters, according to this white paper from Benchmark Email. If you can’t send monthly, send quarterly. Your email is most likely to be opened if it’s sent at 10 am or 11 am, or between 8 pm and midnight on a Tuesday or Thursday. (Sunday is the worst day to send).

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Kristin lives on the West Side of Providence with her wine blogger husband. When she's not co-hosting their monthly wine tastings, she's planning her next travel adventure and daydreaming about Spanish jamón. She can often be found pouring over travel guides at her favorite neighborhood spot, Nick's on Broadway.