Email Marketing For Restaurants: Why & How?

Why Restaurant's should be shifting their marketing efforts towards email

When you think about Restaurant Marketing, what comes to mind? Perhaps it’s running ads on Facebook or Google, maybe it’s direct mail, maybe it’s something else. Whatever it is, Email Marketing should be high on your list of marketing efforts for 2021 and beyond.

What is Email Marketing?

Email marketing, simply put, is communicating with your customers or audiences via email. This usually involves creating and using an email list. Then, sending relevant information, deals, and promotions. 

What is an Email Marketing List?

An email list is a list of emails that your restaurant has collected from visitors or customers that would like to receive information, updates, discounts and other details about your business through email communications. 

Email lists are important because, well, email marketing is literally the best way to connect with your customers. It’s even better than social media. When you’re considering something like return on investment (ROI), in general, Email Marketing generates $38 for every $1 spent. Also, your email is 6x more likely to be clicked on than a tweet.

How to collect emails, and make a list

Sending the emails is the easy part. Collecting the emails is the hard part. Luckily, good ol’ fashioned technology is making this process a lot easier. 

Before 2020, email collection would have been done mostly manually, or through a website. Due to Covid and the rise of contactless dining solutions such as QR code menus, and contactless ordering and payments, it opens the door for restaurants to collect emails like never before. Directly from their menu, on their diners mobile device. The best part is that this is completely free and as law-abiding as possible. 

One way to collect email addresses and build your list is to use a digital menu that has a “Call to Action”, asking guests who are already dining at your restaurant to opt-in to your email communications. One study shows that 50%+ of consumers are comfortable sharing their data with a brand in exchange for a better service.

OrderUp offers this service with our free digital menu. When a diner scans the QR code, a quick and easy call to action appears. See below:

The colors and wording can be easily changed, and if the guest clicks “yes” the next form is a text field asking for their email.

So far, we’re seeing opt-in rates of about almost a 10% opt-in rate. Around, 10 out of every 100 guests decide to opt-in, and this is without an offer or discount

Reflecting back to the statistic that the ROI on email marketing is somewhere in the ballpark of $38 revenue for every $1 spent, you may want to consider offering a discount to boost the amount of opt-ins.

If this is something that you think could be beneficial to your restaurant and its marketing efforts, we’d love to hear from you!

How to Manage and Send List Emails

You’ve started collecting emails, great! But now you have to figure out how to send your list members and customers promotional emails or exclusive deals. 

The easiest way to do this is to use a marketing email platform. It doesn’t have to be fancy, and there are a bunch of them out there for free. A few that come to mind include: 

Hubspot Marketing Platform: Free for 1 user, with some limitations on the number of contacts on your list. It comes equipped with a ton of pre-made templates that you can customize to match your brand’s colors and logos. 

Mail Chimp: Free for up to 2,000 contacts/emails. $9/month for up to 50,000. Similar to HubSpot, it allows you to manage and send list emails, with a ton of available templates. 

Or, if you don’t have the time or expertise to set up marketing email software for your restaurant, reach out to us. We’re happy to lend a hand. 

Why is Email Marketing Important?

ROI, Engagement, Repeat Customers

Beyond the increase in data-privacy and general effectiveness versus running digital ads, there’s a TON of benefits to building out and using an email list for restaurants. Here are some of the stats: 

Combine these stats, with the fact that 77% of consumers prefer to get permission-based promotional messages via email. The key here is “Permission-based” meaning that they have given you permission to engage in receiving your promotions. This shows that customer has intent to return, and enjoys your restaurant.

Changes To Data Privacy and Effectiveness of Digital Advertising

Another reason to consider email marketing for your restaurant is that running digital ads will become more and more difficult and in turn, more costly.

Whether you’re in Canada or the United States, you may have heard about the battles going on for consumer data, and privacy. 

Essentially, both Governments and consumers are demanding more transparency when it comes to how their data is acquired, sold or used. That sounds fair, right? 

Well, the truth is some of the changes that will be coming in 2021 and 2022 may actually have the biggest effect on Small Businesses with a small budget, trying to run digital ads

This has to do with new laws such as the California Consumer Privacy act which was implemented as of January 1st, 2021. The California Consumer Privacy Act is lengthy and in depth, but essentially it limits how companies acquire, use or sell consumer data, and specifically “third party data”.

Without diving in too deep into the specifics – it’s going to be harder to run digital ads that work. This is because ads on say, Facebook or Instagram rely heavily on the type of data that is in question – third-party data. Without this “third-party data” accessible to the ad platforms, it makes targeting specific customers much more difficult. The law in California is just the beginning of eliminating easy access to this type of data.

For example, if your restaurant is considering running Facebook ads to drive traffic, Facebook conveniently gives you the option to target people based on how they act and browse online (third-party data). So, if you’re targeting an audience that’s interested in dining out, restaurants, bars, you can literally choose those options, and Facebook’s algorithm does the rest. 

Facebook gets this information (third-party data) by “tracking” users across the web. So the Audience in this let’s call them “Restaurant-Go-ers” have expressed interest in Restaurants somewhere or somehow during their activity online.  For example:

  • They Google Searched “Best Restaurants in Austin” (or something similar) 
  • Their location shows them in areas that have lots of restaurants
  • Interactions with restaurants on Social media
  • Visits to restaurants websites
  • Purchase behavior (takeout vs. delivery) 

All of this data is collected by Facebook to help advertisers target their ideal audience. The issue is, a lot of this data collection happens without the consumer knowing. Thus, the pushback from governments and consumers. 

By 2022, the ability to target like this will no longer be possible – at least to the extent that it previously was. With Apple’s latest IOS software update Instagram and Facebook are giving their users the option to opt in to share this information, which I’m going to assume, the Average Joe won’t accept… Would you? 

So, what does this mean? Advertisers and Restaurants alike need to adjust their strategy and focus on collecting the data that will be not only legal but also the most effective. Running digital ads will only get more difficult to target, and will end up costing a pretty penny. And it’s already happening – advertising costs on Facebook have grown almost 100% from 2019 to 2020. 

Strictness around digital ads and consumer privacy will eventually impact small businesses ability to run profitable ad campaigns. Collecting emails is arguably the best and most organic way to build relationships and communicate with your customers, and drive repeat business. 

Collecting emails and building this list can be done very simply through OrderUp’s Free Digital Menu. If you are currently an OrderUp partner, you already have access to this feature. If you’re not an OrderUp Partner, hop on for the ride! All of our menus and services are completely free, and we’re just getting started.

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