Picture this: It’s Saturday afternoon and you’re thinking about your plans for the evening (post-pandemic, of course). Your friends want to hang out, but you’re not sure what to do—and then, in your inbox lands a restaurant newsletter from a nearby gastropub reminding you about their Saturday night trivia event. It’s perfect—and made even better by the 10% off promo that came with the newsletter.
How many times has a restaurant newsletter hit your email inbox at just the right time—when you’re ready for lunch, looking for weekend plans, or thinking about what takeout to grab for dinner?
This is the power of a good restaurant newsletter. It keeps your restaurant at the top of guests’ minds—and can be used to share specials and promos that might tempt them to visit or place an order.
There are so many benefits to having a restaurant newsletter, and it’s one of the simplest and most straightforward marketing tools to set up. Read this ultimate guide to learn all you need to know.
Why You Need a Restaurant Newsletter
To understand the benefits of an email newsletter, you have to look at the importance of having an overall marketing plan for your restaurant business.
Not only does marketing your restaurant help you reach new guests, but it makes your current guests feel valued and gives them dining experiences that will keep them coming back to your restaurant over and over. The right marketing plan will utilize guest data to tailor guests’ experiences, which not only keeps them loyal to your restaurant, but drives word-of-mouth endorsement for your business.
One of the most powerful marketing tools the restaurant industry has at its disposal is email, but many restaurants don’t utilize it to its full potential—if at all.
Benefits of Email Marketing for Restaurants
There are a lot of reasons restaurants should be putting a lot more focus on email marketing. Here are a few to consider.
Restaurant Newsletters Are Low Risk and High Reward
As far as marketing plans go, an email newsletter is one most restaurant owners can pull off, even if they don’t have a lot of marketing or tech experience.
There are plenty of software and web tools you can use to manage your email list, create newsletter templates, and send out email campaigns, and many of them are extremely affordable, or even free. If you’re really on a shoestring budget, you can create and send an email newsletter without any software tools, though it will take more time to manually manage your email list and create your newsletter.
In addition to the low barriers to entry, email marketing campaigns come with excellent ROI for foodservice establishments—they can expect to make, on average, a $44 return for every $1 spent on email. This kind of marketing comes with the lowest risk, and some of the highest return for restaurants.
Newsletters Help You Connect with Your Guests
Newsletters are a great way to stay connected to your guests and make them feel valued for their loyalty to your restaurant.
With social media, it’s easy for your message to get lost in guests’ feeds. But email can feel much more personal, since their inbox is something guests curate and control. With the right email marketing software or data about your guests’ behavior, you can even personalize the emails they receive from your restaurant. You can send them personalized event reminders, for example, or invite them to return to your restaurant with a promo code for a dish they’ve ordered in the past.
Newsletters Help You Promote Specials, Events, and More
A great way to increase traffic in your restaurant is by offering food and drink specials or hosting events. And a restaurant newsletter is a great way to let your guests know about these efforts.
If you offer live music on a certain night, scheduling a newsletter for that day or the day before means you can highlight your event and remind guests about when and where it’s happening.
The same goes for menu changes or promotions—use your restaurant newsletter to spread the word among your guests. Specials that you advertise in your newsletter don’t even need to be new. Use that connection with your guests to remind them about a long-running promotion, like happy hour pricing in the late afternoon. The quick touch coupled with some mouth-watering photography of the food and drink you’re promoting, you’re bound to entice some guests to take advantage of the promotion.
Restaurant Newsletters Fit Seamlessly Into a Larger Marketing Plan
A restaurant newsletter works great as a standalone marketing tool, but what’s even more powerful about it is how seamlessly it can fit into a larger marketing plan—if and when your restaurant builds one.
Having a restaurant newsletter allows you to start small with your digital marketing strategy. But when you’re ready to jump into more digital marketing channels, it’s easy to build them on top of that email marketing base. You can even use your newsletter to promote other marketing efforts, like social media.
In other words, a restaurant newsletter is a great place to start if you’re new to online marketing. But how?
10 Restaurant Newsletter Ideas Guests Will Love
Not sure what to include in a restaurant newsletter? There are plenty of things you can write about, but start with these 12 to craft a newsletter that your subscribers will be sure to engage with.
Special Offers and Promotions
The best way to entice guests to visit your restaurant is by offering them a reward for doing so. That’s why some of the most successful restaurant newsletters are those that contain special offers and promotions. These can be buy-one-get-one deals, percentage discounts, free apps or drinks—whatever offer your restaurant can afford can help get guests in the door.
New Menu Items
If you add a new item to your menu, guests in your area likely want to know about it. Sending out a newsletter to feature a new dish (including a mouthwatering photo of said dish) is sure to catch some guests’ attention.
Limited-Time Offers or Seasonal Menu Items
Whenever your menu changes, send out a newsletter to let your email subscribers know! Tell them about seasonal offerings of limited-time menu items so they can plan a visit to try something new.
Events, Holidays, and Other Special Dates
If your restaurant hosts any type of event, help spread the word with a newsletter. The same goes for holidays—email your guests around each holiday to wish them well (and share any special menu items or deals you’re offering to celebrate).
If a guest leaves a particularly glowing review after visiting your restaurant, brag about it! Send out a copy or screenshot of the review in a newsletter, so other guests can be reminded of your delicious food, great service, and impeccable atmosphere.
Do you have any special menu items made from recipes passed down between generations? What about a particular dish that guests just can’t get enough of? One great idea for a restaurant newsletter is sharing a special recipe so devoted foodies can make it at home. It might seem counterintuitive to give away your restaurant’s secrets, but you may be surprised by how many subscribers forego the recipe and plan a visit to have their favorite dish made by the pros.
New Services and Business Updates
Any time your restaurant adds a new service—contactless dining, online orders, or delivery, for example—your newsletter is a great way to spread the word. The same goes for any business updates, like if you change your restaurant’s hours or open a second location. In the post-pandemic era, a newsletter is a great way to keep guests informed about safety measures, policies, and changing hours.
Many restaurants send out special gifts or offers to guests for their birthday, and you can too! If you don’t have your guests’ birthdays saved, then send out a special offer on the restaurant’s birthday, instead.
Contests and Giveaways
Contests and giveaways are another great way to entice guests to visit your restaurant. You can use your newsletter to promote them, but also promote the contest or giveaway to guests who dine in to encourage them to sign up for your newsletter.
Your restaurant wouldn’t be what it is without its employees, so feature them in a newsletter! Include a photo and some fun facts, so subscribers can get to know your chef, servers, and more.
How to Create a Restaurant Newsletter in 3 Steps
Starting a restaurant newsletter doesn’t need to be a complex process. Here’s how to get started.
Step 1: Make a Plan
The first step is to plan your restaurant newsletter. This means deciding:
- What kind of content you’ll include in your newsletter—just information about your restaurant? Reviews? Profiles of staff?
- How frequently you’ll send your newsletter. This will depend on how much content you have to include. It might be easier to start small (say, once a month), and build up to more frequent newsletters if you find you have enough content to do so.
This is also the best time to start gathering guests’ email addresses so you can send the newsletter to them. There are many ways to collect basic contact information from guests:
- From online orders.
- By prompting them on your website to sign up for your newsletter.
- By asking for an email address when they leave a review.
- By collecting contact information for reservations or your waitlist.
- By simply asking guests; for example, with a sign on your tables.
Step 2: Create a Template
The most effective newsletters are recognizable to their readers. That means you should use a template to create each newsletter to maintain consistency in your newsletter design.
If you use any kind of email marketing software (like Mailchimp, one very popular option), there will likely be templates included, but you can also build your own—just be sure to use your restaurant’s colors and branding, so guests recognize it. Add content blocks for images and text, and then fill them in before sending out each newsletter. This will give all your newsletters a uniform look that will make them recognizable to guests.
Step 3: Send Your First Newsletter
Once you have an email list and a template, it’s time to create your first newsletter. In order to make your restaurant newsletter an effective marketing tool, there are a few things to focus on:
- Your subject line. Make it short, but strong and catchy. This is one of the hardest parts of writing an email newsletter—you only have about 4-7 words to catch guests’ attention and convince them to open your email.
- Images and visuals. You want to make your newsletter appealing to look at, and images of food are more likely to catch a hungry guest’s eye than just text.
- Your content. This is the body of your newsletter, so it should be informative and fun to read, but not too long. This can include restaurant information, event reminders, promo information, news, social media links, blog post summaries, review, testimonials, or recipes.
- A call to action (CTA). This is important, because it’s what turns your newsletter from a piece of informational content to an effective marketing tool. It represents the action you’d like guests to take after reading your newsletter. For example, you can include a link to “Reserve a Table,” or “Place an Order.” You can also include a special discount—“Show this email to your server for half off an appetizer,” for example.
- Your contact information. The last important piece of your restaurant newsletter is information on how guests can find you, including your phone number, address, and hours of operation.
Restaurant Newsletters Are Easy with Popmenu
Email marketing is one of the easiest types of digital marketing to do manually—but that still takes time, a resource restaurant owners never seem to have enough of.
Wouldn’t it be better if you could automate your email marketing efforts so guests get personalized emails with special events, offers, and promotions—without a ton of time on your part?
Popmenu makes that happen.
Popmenu is an all-in-one digital toolkit for modern restaurants, but one of its most useful features is its automated remarketing, which uses guest data to send email newsletters and offers, SMS messages, and more—automatically. For restaurants who want a comprehensive digital marketing plan that’s affordable and simple to execute, Popmenu is the only choice.
Want to see how Popmenu can make your restaurant’s digital marketing plan easy and effective? Schedule a free demo today.