How to Get Started Email Marketing your Restaurant

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Email marketing may sound antiquated or out of place in the fast paced world of Tweets and Shares, but recent research shows that direct email advertising has the highest return on your investment of any digital marketing channel.  And for restaurant owners with limited time and resources, that’s hugely important.  If you don’t have too much experience with email marketing, and are looking to get an email marketing campaign jump started for your restaurant, you’ve come to the right place: in the guide that follows, we will share everything you need to know about jumping into email marketing your restaurant.  Don’t worry, we will share more information on advanced email marketing techniques soon.  Today it’s all about taking those first steps, which can pay off big time for your restaurant down the road.

Building an Email List

Email marketing works by sending out engaging and strategic emails to a list of subscribers that you have generated, but before you learn the specifics of what to write and how to bring in customers, you need to build up that list!  Building an email list can seem daunting, but here’s a few tips to get you started with building your email marketing list.

1. Recruit From Your Website

If your restaurant’s already has a website, it should be easy to find a plug in to help you recruit people to your email list directly from your home page.  Think about offering incentives for people that sign up for your list, like a small discount the next time they come in to eat.

2. Collect Emails in Person

Adding a simple line on your checks asking for email addresses can be a very effective way to build up your list.  Just make sure to instruct your staff to point out the email line, and consider offering a small freeby like a free drink or dessert to every new subscriber that signs up.

3. Incentivize Your Staff!

Help your staff get invested in collecting email signatures by offering a small cash bonus or other prize to the staff member that collects the most emails in a shift or a week.  Think of a prize that’s perfect for your staff, and that will really get everyone on your team invested in collecting addresses.  Give your host or hostess a clipboard and get them in on the competition too!

4. Be Consistent!

Often, business owners who are new to email marketing will make a massive push to build up their email lists, and then forget about adding new email addresses all together once they’ve built up a small collection.. But remember that some of your subscribers will stop reading your emails or ask to stop receiving messages, so it’s best to keep your list constantly growing.  Anything that you find that works for you in collecting emails, keep doing it, and remain consistent in building your list!

Storing Your Email List

Once you have started collecting email addresses, it will become very important to store them in a place that is reliable and easy for you to access.  Entering every email address into a spreadsheet might feel exhausting, but it can be one of the most reliable ways to create a database.  Most email programs like Outlook can help you build lists as well.  Whatever storage method works for you, just be sure that all of those valuable emails you have collected get kept somewhere safe where they can’t be lost or destroyed!

Get Automated! 

As your email marketing list grows, it might become overwhelming to manage all of the email addresses you have received individually.  Luckily for restaurant owners who are pressed on time, there are a whole lot of programs and apps out there that can help you automate your email marketing,  and take some of the burden of handling email lists off of your shoulder.  Here’s a few popular options.

1. MailChimp

MailChimp’s slogan of “send better emails” is true on all fronts, as the program will let you do everything from store email lists to track the results of emails you have sent.  Depending on how big your email lists get, you can even use MailChimp for free.  If your lists get really huge, it’s worth the small fee.

2. Drip

Drip offers a lot more customizability and functions that MailChimp, but many restaurant owners will find some of the advanced features more of a hassle than a benefit.  There’s no free option with Drip either, but it does provide a lot of power to restaurant owners with huge lists.

3. Something Else?

There are so many great automation apps out there, and so many new ones getting released all the time, that by the time you read this it may be obsolete.  So do some research and find the perfect solution for your business.

Next time…

Soon, we will share some tips on crafting email marketing campaigns that work.  But before you can launch a successful campaign, you need to build that list up.  So re-read this post and get to work!

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How to Get Started Email Marketing your Restaurant was last modified: October 8th, 2015 by Rafi Cohen

Rafi Cohen, a graduate of Baruch College & Brooklyn native is the Co-Founder @ Orders2me, an online ordering platform that gives restaurant owners all the features they need to grow their business in the digital age.

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We are on a mission to help local restaurants thrive in the new digital economy. Our blog is designed to give local restaurants best practices from some of the top restaurants in the world today. 


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