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How to Build Your Restaurant Email List

Feb.01.18

The term “marketing” tends to flash dollar signs in front of the eyes of the beholder. Marketing efforts typically cost a pretty penny to be effective, and sometimes they are a total wash. When you are trying to promote your restaurant but the budget is tight, a major marketing campaign can seem daunting and nigh impossible.

Email marketing could be your solution.

Most email marketing platforms are either free (up to a certain number of subscribers) or highly cost effective as a marketing tool. We’ve already discussed 4 Tips to Develop Strong Restaurant Email Marketing. Now let’s dive in to how to build your email list in the first place (complete with cheesy fishing metaphors).


Your hook

Let’s face it, no one signs up for newsletters any more. Inboxes are full of daily news bites, promotions, and messages from grandma. A newsletter rarely gets read, as it’s generally a passive piece of information, like updates to a menu. Updates aren’t very exciting for a guest. What is the hook for your restaurant email list? What does a guest gain from handing over their precious email?

Your bait

Treat your customer’s email addresses like a piece of gold. Think about how to make them special. A lot of restaurants have found a lot of success with birthday clubs. If you collect a guest’s birthday when they sign up, be sure to invite them in for a free birthday meal each year. Have email-list-only specials, offers, and sneak peaks at your upcoming new menu items. Invite them to vote on what they want the most. Give them a piece of your business and you’ll gain more of theirs.

Reel ‘em in

Once you have your hook and bait all ready, it’s time to reel them in. Driving attention to your email list is crucial for any email marketing strategy. If your guests don’t know they can get sweet deals bi-monthly simply by signing up, let them know about it. Make your email list sign up prominent on your website and consider have cards for guests to fill out when they visit.

Easy catch

The most crucial part to any email capture strategy is how easy it is for a customer to sign up. If you have a long form asking for their phone number, email, birthday, favorite food, mailing address, food allergies…less people will fill it out. The more items on your form, the less conversions you’ll see. Really focus on how simple you can make your form.

A hearty meal

A strong email list means food on the table, not just at your restaurants but in your own home. Spending the time to build up a list can really help you out on your slow weeks to drive people into the restaurant. An email list isn’t just another avenue for offers and promotions, it’s another way to communicate with your most loyal guests. Through email marketing you can develop stronger customer loyalty, which means more regulars, which means more plates being served up.