Imagine this: you’re at work and having a busy morning. It’s almost noon, and your stomach is rumbling with hunger. You still have a meeting to attend before you can grab a bite.
You start thinking about what you’ll eat. Will it be a quick cold sandwich, a green salad, or maybe a burrito? You’re even hungrier now!
To distract yourself, you start checking your emails and look what pops up:
Just what you needed – a restaurant you are familiar with, good food, and a discount to top it off. This email marketing message has reached you right on time, and if you order now your food will be ready by the time your meeting is over.
Okay, stop imagining and think of all the times this has actually happened to you.
So what happened in this example? The restaurant sent an email at just the right moment with a tempting offer. Perfect timing and a strong incentive are two things that made this email work.
But, equally important, was that you – the hypothetical hungry office worker – recognized the sender and opened the email. Your familiarity with the business impacted your decision to open the email, as well as to take action.
3 Steps to Building Your Restaurant Newsletter
Sending a regular newsletter, whether weekly or monthly, helps your restaurant build brand engagement with your customers. Your email subscribers stay up-to-date with everything that’s happening at your restaurant, keeping you top of mind; so, when you send them limited time offers and discounts, they are more likely to redeem them.
Let’s jump in, and better understand each of the three steps for creating a successful restaurant newsletter – plan, build, and create.
Step 1: Plan Your Newsletter
A little bit of upfront planning can go a long way. Whether you are starting your newsletter, or revamping your existing one, ask yourself the following three questions before you jump into the creation process.
What is the purpose of your newsletter?
Sure, you want to stay connected and engage with your customers, but what does your newsletter offer them? Is it informational (menu changes, special events; educational (tips, guides, recipes, and videos); or entertaining (customer testimonials or staff profiles)? Maybe it even has a bit of everything! Make some decisions up front about what you are trying to convey and what actions you want subscribers to take after reading your newsletter.
Who is your audience?
Ask yourself who this newsletter is for and what motivates them. What are their interests? Do you have a very health conscious audience that is more inclined toward healthy eating and living? Or, are your customers more interested in the latest foodie trends? Form a picture of your typical customer in your mind and refer back to it as you craft your content.
How frequently will you send it?
How often will you be sending the newsletter? Be realistic. Think about how much content you have. Do you have to send a weekly newsletter, or would it be better to start with sending once a month?
Think of the purpose, your audience, the type and amount of content you have to share, and then decide on the frequency.
How do your marketing efforts stack up? Find out now with the free Restaurant Marketing Grader.
Step 2: Build Your Restaurant Newsletter Template
When we talk about making your restaurant newsletter instantly recognizable by the reader, it’s the design elements that impact this most. Building a template that aligns with your brand will let people know the email is from you before they even have to read it.
The best way to build a brand identity is to create a master template that can be tweaked for all your emails. Your pre-designed template should include the brand logo and colors.
Let’s take a look at what a master template looks like:
With a master template like this, every time you need to create a newsletter all you need to do is add relevant images, and change the content within it.
Five elements of your master template
1. Restaurant branding
The colors you use for your newsletter must align with your website and other communication channels you use. Additionally, always put your restaurant logo right at the top of the email so readers instantly know who sent the email. These are all the elements that make up a strong brand identity.
Choose a layout that enhances your newsletter, and draws attention to the multiple text blocks and images you are featuring. The template styles that work best for newsletters have multiple blocks that make it easy for you to highlight valuable information.
Constant Contact has a wide range of templates specially designed for restaurants. Below is one example that you can use and modify to match your brand:
3. Mobile optimized
Most people today open emails on their mobile phones, so optimizing your newsletter for mobile will ensure that it looks and reads perfectly for everyone. Choose templates, images, and content that are mobile optimized to increase the chances of people not just opening your email, but taking the desired action as well.
4. Number of content blocks
Think of the number of content blocks you will need for your newsletter, then pick a template that allows easy placement for all your information without making it look chaotic. Three content blocks are ideal for a newsletter.
5. Strong and simple
Aim for a strong but simple layout for your newsletter. Don’t try to fit in too many images, colors, or fonts. The idea is to keep it easy-on-the-eyes, effective, and impactful.
Step 3: Fill in Your Newsletter Content
Once your template is ready, it’s time to jump in and start creating your newsletter. There are several areas to complete.
The subject line is the first thing your subscribers will read – one that’s strong and catchy is more likely to entice someone to open the email. In about 4-7 words you must be able to tell people what the email is about and convince them to open it.
For your restaurant newsletter, you can use simple and direct subject lines like, “Know what’s new and happening” or play a little with words like, “Your monthly grub-date.” Whatever you do, make sure that the tone of the subject line matches the vibe of your restaurant and your brand voice.
The preheader text allows you to expand a little more on the subject line. Use this to give more details about the email and what the readers can update to see.
For example, if your newsletter’s purpose is to share the blog and social media updates, the preheader text could highlight one of the blog post titles. The preheader text should be around 5-8 words.
Images and visuals
Powerful and real images catch one’s attention instantly. Once the subject line and preheader text have compelled a subscriber to open the email, the image is what makes the next impact.
Use relevant images that are inclusive and real, to make them more relatable to the reader. Find the images that display your restaurant at its best – the chefs at work, your signature dishes, or the dining room pre-service.
The title is like a blog topic or a news headline – interesting, informative, and explanatory. Keep it short and simple, urging people to go on and read the rest of the text. You could keep it simple, like, “Hello again! We’re back” or something more fun like, “Here’s your dose of fun and flavor.”
Here’s where the meat of your newsletter resides. Populate the content blocks in your template with your images and body copy. Be concise and don’t overload the reader with tons of information. You can always have them click through to your website to learn more.
Pay attention to the tone of your email. Make sure that it aligns with your brand and other communications and is suitable for your audience. If you’re talking to millennials, you can use casual language, add popular abbreviations, and even communicate with emojis. But, if your audience is more mature and expects professional communication, keep that in mind.
Not sure what to include? Here’s a list of ideas of content blocks you can use in your restaurant newsletter:
- Staff or customer stories: Share the stories of your staff – things like what they like about working at the restaurant where they’re from. You could also reach out to one of your regular customers and ask them to share a story.
- Testimonials: Pick up snippets of online reviews from customers or comments and feedback on your social channels to include in your newsletter.
- Recipes, guide, and tutorials: Create a food community by sharing recipes, cooking guides, or tutorials. You can play around with different themes like healthy meals, quick-prep meals, or holiday menus.
- Special events and offers: If you’re hosting an event at the restaurant or have special offers running, talk about it in your newsletter.
- Blog updates: Pick two or three of your best new blog posts, write a summary, and add a button that allows readers to click through to read the full post.
- Social media updates: Showcase how people are engaging with your restaurant on social media channels. You can encourage people to share more with creative social campaigns and contests.
Call to action
The call to action (CTA) button highlights what action you want the reader to take after reading through a section or the entire newsletter. You could want them to “Read More,” “Visit the Website,” “Reserve a Table,” “Order Online” or whatever else you can think of. What do you want your readers to do? The answer to this question gives you your CTA. If you’re adding a special event invite or discount coupon to your newsletter, that could be the CTA too.
Always add complete contact information at the end of your newsletter so your subscribers know how to reach you. Add your website information, physical location address, phone numbers, and any other way your readers can contact you. Also include clickable buttons to all your social media pages to encourage follows and social sharing.
These are the important elements to create a newsletter that piques interest, engages with your subscribers and gives them valuable bite-sized information. Here’s how they all work together:
Serve Up Your Restaurant Newsletter
A newsletter is one of the best ways to connect with and delight your customers because it can offer value that goes beyond the restaurant. The right design elements and a persuasive email copy will catch your subscribers’ attention and keep them coming back for more.