Type to search


Email Marketing


How to improve a restaurant’s brand image with email marketing.

 By Colby Cavanaugh

If you work for a large restaurant group, chances are you’re sending customers regular email updates on news such as restaurant openings, menu updates, event invitations, giveaways and so forth. However, while many restaurant groups turn to email as a marketing tool, far too few actually utilize the best practices needed to do it well and get lasting results. 

It’s important to understand the best way to present this information for your restaurant in a way that A) includes all the content you wish to present and B) keeps the intended audience interested and engaged. Here are essential ways brands can bolster their image utilizing email marketing.

Target Your Customer

Successfully targeting your customers is the first way to boost your brand image and therefore improve overall brand engagement. For instance, Patina Restaurant Group segments their audience using point-of-sale data: big spenders, those interested in wine, people interested in corporate bookings, etc. By sending tailored messaging to those hyper-targeted segments, Patina Restaurant Group regularly achieves open rates far above industry averages. 

Using your customer data to send more relevant and personalized campaigns is necessary to make sure you’re hitting the right target for a specific campaign. That said, it’s important to look for opportunities to build your email list wherever you interact with your target audience: your website, social channels, events, locations, etc. It’s all fair game as long as you’re offering something valuable for joining your list and delivering on that promise.

Personalize Your Email

Personalization is key. According to Infosys, 86 percent of consumers say personalization plays a role in their decisions. As a restaurant group, it’s imperative to put the focus of your message right where it should be: on the customer, not on your brand. You’re taking the customer data you’ve collected (those preferences and behaviors) and using it to anticipate what content your subscriber would like to receive from you. Everything from new menu items, booking a reservation for special occasions to event follow-ups are examples of personalized messages that you can send based on the data at your disposal. 

When done well, it should make your guests feel like you’re paying attention and genuinely care about delivering great customer service. In order to scale these types of personalized communications, don’t forget the power of automation: By setting up automated workflows to fire off on guest’s birthdays, anniversaries and more, you can maintain a personal touch while also saving time and resources. 

Re-engage with Existing Customers

This is something all restaurants need to do to effectively meet business goals. If you’re a restaurant group, you have to focus on one of your greatest untapped resources: your existing customers. In other words, you’ll have to spend more time marketing to your current customer base and delivering them the best experience than trying to acquire new customers who may or may not have ever heard of you. 

This is a simple case of making the most of your time and resources. According to Marketing Metrics, the probability of selling to a new customer is somewhere between 5 and 20 percent. The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60 to 70 percent more effective. Remember, take a moment to focus, provide value and be generous to your most engaged audience, and they’ll return the favor.

Tailor Your Email Design

You’ve reached your intended customer’s inbox, but how will you ensure they don’t delete your email before opening? First and foremost, a catchy subject line will help get your foot in the door, but there are a few additional steps to ensure success with your customer. 

A key part of maximizing engagement for customers is making sure that you’re using a mobile-optimized email design. As consumers, we’re addicted to our phones, so mobile optimization is no longer a “would be nice to have” thing. It’s an absolute must have. Besides, 80 percent of people are only scanning your email. 

To optimize for that experience, make sure to include a short blurb of copy, bold headlines and high-quality images. Finally, be sure to include easy ways to engage with each section, like a big, eye-catching call-to-action button. Not only does it make it clear where they can find out more, it’s much easier to tap on a mobile phone than a text link.

Perfect Opportunity

Consumers pave the way for what they expect from a business. It is important restaurants are continually listening to their customers and providing them with the service they desire, and that extends to the inbox. Email marketing allows restaurants the perfect opportunity to connect and deliver their message in a unique and effective way to get customers in the door, turn first-time guests into regulars and maintain a strong brand image by delivering exactly what they ask for.

Colby Cavanaugh is senior vice president of marketing for Emma. Its customers include Patina Restaurant Group.


Previous Article
Next Article

Welcome to our new website!


is the online community for our re-launched media brand, Retail & Food Best Practices.

Here you will learn about the remarkable processes, techniques and thought-leadership that will benefit your business and the entire industry.