If you’re investing significant amounts of time in social media marketing for your restaurant and seeing poor results, did you know that you’re six times more likely to receive click-throughs from email marketing campaigns?

Social media is a vital tool for restaurants, but it all too often overshadows the benefits of one of the Internet’s oldest and most maligned forms of communication – email.

Email gets a bad wrap for two reasons:

  1. The abundance of spam. “Give us your credit card details”, “you’ve parked illegally, give us £1,000”, “Uncle Jim (you know, the one you weren’t aware of) died recently and left you £18bn”. That kind of thing.
  2. The abuse it’s subjected to. Email is still used far too regularly as a means by which to grab someone’s attention when a phone call or visit in person would have been far more appropriate.

This is a little unfair, because email remains a fantastic medium for marketing purposes. However, the abundance of spam and lazy messaging is actually pretty good news for business owners. It means your hard work in crafting a beautiful, engaging marketing email won’t go unnoticed, because if you get it right, its presence within an inbox will be obvious, thus encouraging opens and clicks.

One of email’s greatest strengths comes in the form of personalisation. Because the messages you send have a defined end-point (the recipient’s inbox), you can get very clever with the way in which you pitch the content; you can talk directly to the recipient and even address them by name.

We think email is a perfect marketing tool for restaurateurs, but if you still need convincing, here’s five ways to use perosonasliatsion to your advantage:

1. Hey, big spender – come back!

Your highest-spending customers should always be tempted back, but you need to be strategic with your timings for doing so.

When you know you’ve got a busy period ahead (for example, Christmas), email each of your big spenders and offer them a guaranteed table, no matter how busy you get. No special offer or discount needed!

2. Tempt back the departed

If a guest fails to return, it doesn’t necessarily mean they had a bad time in your restaurant. People are busy, and they may just need a gentle reminder that your business exists.

Sending emails to long-since departed guests tempting them to return with a mini special offer or reveal of the new menu is a zero-cost (bar your time) marketing endeavour that will likely result in a few return visits and, who knows – maybe some new regulars.

3. Highlight approaching loyalty milestones

If you’re running a loyalty scheme that includes milestones for certain spend thresholds or visits, email is a brilliant way to highlight when those milestones are within reach.

For example, an email blast to all of the loyalty members who are just one visit away from a free drink at the bar could fill an otherwise quiet night.

4. Say “happy birthday”

Does your guest database include the birthdays of customers? If so, why not wish them a happy birthday and suggest they spend their special day with you? Last minute birthday bookings happen, and a well-timed email might put you first in line to be on the receiving end.

5. Offer personalised discounts

By tracking the dining habits of your customers, you can send more targeted offers their way.

For example, if Mr and Mrs Smith visit every other Thursday and always order the filet steak and prawn linguine, why not say “thanks” with an email that offers them a 10% discount for their next meal or a free appetiser that compliments their choice of main?

Despite their regularity, such a gesture will further increase their allegiance to your restaurant and the chances of them mentioning how wonderful you are to their friends.

Wrapping up

There’s just one caveat to this email marketing goodness; all of the campaigns above rely on a solid data haul on your behalf. That means a restaurant booking system that captures as much customer data as possible – you simply can’t run your restaurant business effectively these days without one.

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