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Email Marketing for Restaurants in the age of COVID-19

Part three in our series on digital marketing for restaurants in the age of COVID-19, with tips on email marketing from Madeline Grenadier of Digital Society LLC.

a man sitting at a table using a laptop

We’ve established the importance of optimizing your website in the age of COVID-19 as a way of communicating to your guests efficiently and effectively when they’re looking for information about your restaurant. From there, we discussed social media marketing tips and what content works best for maximizing exposure online. For part-three in our series on digital marketing for restaurants Madeline Grenadier, Founder & CEO of Digital Society LLC — a leading digital marketing agency in Austin, TX — provides some tips and insights into email marketing for restaurants and a few actionable ways to optimize your strategy for increased conversions.


Watch Taking Control During COVID-19: How to Jumpstart Your Restaurant's Marketing


What is Email Marketing and How To Get Started

Email marketing is an important channel for your restaurant’s marketing strategy. Newsletters are a direct line to share information with your guests and direct them back to your website to perform a function, such as order online, purchase gift cards or tickets to a virtual cooking class, for instance. After restaurants began to close for normal service to the public, some like Colonia Verde in Brooklyn, NY found a way to cater to their guests’ needs through takeout and delivery.  Getting the message out was easy with a simple email.

A graphic of an envelope

Email Newsletter from Colonia Verde

To get started, you’ll need a list of email addresses to target. A database of your customers' information — like name, email and phone number — should live in the backend of your website if they’ve ever ordered or purchased anything through it. Guests should have the option to opt-in to receive your email newsletters if you don’t already provide the option.

an example of an email newsletter

Email Newsletter from Major Food Group’s Carbone

It’s also important to check your POS system, as many provide your guests' information as well. Once you have your audience, you’re ready to start sending emails out through your email marketing platform of choice.

Email Marketing Best Practices

Grenadier suggests communicating with your guests more than usual right now. Send out more email newsletters than you’d typically send. Overcommunication isn’t a bad thing at a time like this. Highlight the fact that you’re now offering pick-up and delivery.

An example of an email newsletter

Email Newsletter from Blank Slate highlighting their to-go offerings

When it comes to email marketing, do what works best for your brand. If you’re a first-time marketer, experiment with different messaging, images, CTAs and especially what day and time you send them. A few items to take note of: 

  • Use images of your food or your restaurant’s logo
  • Keep your message and copy short, actionable and engaging
  • Stick to the relevant information only
  • Make sure a clear Call To Action (CTA) button is present to maximize conversions.

Choose Which Day Performs Best

It’s important to pay attention to the data that your email marketing platform provides. Which day do your emails perform best? When are your guests opening them? Do you A/B test different subject lines? These are important questions to ask yourself so that you can optimize your strategy for better performance and more conversions.

a graph showing which day people open emails

A graph showing when guests are ordering online during COVID-19

For example, if you’re looking to promote meal-kits or purveyor goods, it might prove beneficial to send out an email on Thursday. Tailor your message around stocking up on goods for the weekend. Even send a reminder on Friday or Saturday morning. Take note of the results.

a graphic with information on it.

Email Contact List Tips

Grenadier suggests using your email contact list for when you run ads on Facebook and Google. This will ensure that guests who are loyal to your brand will see you even more. This is simple to do from the BentoBox backend by exporting your contacts into a .csv file, which you can then upload to your advertising campaigns.

graphic with information on it

Next Steps

Putting an emphasis on email marketing as a means to reach your guests and spread important information is pertinent during these challenging times and can be a big driver in needed business. If you’re interested in learning more about ways to market your restaurant right now, feel free to reach out to your account manager here at BentoBox or get in touch with Grenadier and her team at www.digitalsocietyllc.com for expert consultation and services.

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