5 Restaurant Email Marketing Campaigns You Can Learn From

November 7, 2023

Thanks to digital marketing, you can continue to nurture relationships with customers even after a restaurant meal. So, after their nice dinner, you might send them a chain of remarketing messages, ranging from review requests to special offers for their next visit. From fast-food outlets to fine dining establishments, many restaurants implement such campaigns.






Email marketing campaigns find favor with marketers due to the high Return On Investment (ROI). According to Campaign Monitor, emails have an ROI of $44 per marketing dollar spend. Besides, receiving these types of messages is what customers want. A staggering 68% of customers want to hear from restaurants via email at least once a month.


Want to run an email marketing campaign that generates results for your restaurant business?


Be inspired by these five stellar email marketing campaigns run by well-known restaurants.


Backyard Burgers’ Welcome Emails


Welcome emails are the starting point of any email campaign. The purpose of a welcome email is to share information about your company. They’re a critical part of the consumer onboarding process and a crucial top-of-the-funnel lead nurturing tactic. That’s because the average open rate of welcome emails is 86%, which is significantly higher than the open rate of regular email newsletters. So, with welcome emails, you can easily build that relationship with your customer.


You can even use your welcome emails to generate sales.


Take the example of Backyard Burgers. In its welcome email, it offers a hook: a free burger. It’s a win-win strategy for both the brand and prospective customer. The subscriber gets free food. As for Backyard Burgers, it gets to entice the subscriber to visit any of its stores to avail of the freebie. When they make that visit, it’s also likely they’ll buy something that complements the free food, like a cold drink or a side dish. That counts as a sale for the restaurant.


To ensure your welcome email is effective like Backyard Burgers’ (Backyard Burgers reported a 68.7% open rate on their welcome emails), don’t just offer an incentive. Write compelling copy and incorporate excellent visuals like the restaurant did.


Your copy can’t be compelling if people don’t understand it. So keep your messaging simple. As for your images, they should complement your copy. Make sure they’re high-quality, too. You want your subscribers to see how appetizing your dishes look.


As a final tip, avoid one of the most common email marketing mistakes: not creating mobile-friendly emails. A whopping 66% of customers use their phones to search for deals before dining out. Their search may take them to their emails, where they receive marketing emails with exclusive offers like yours. So, make your call-to-action buttons at least 44×44 pixels and keep them front and center. Use a responsive email template as well.


Lincoln Ristorante’s Special Events


You should also run email campaigns around special events. Take your cue from New York-based Italian Restaurant, Lincoln Ristorante. The restaurant sends emails about its special events ahead of time.


But that’s not all. Lincoln Ristorante embeds one prominent Call to Action (CTA) in their email. Click on the CTA, and you are directed to the reservation page. So, anyone interested in attending the event can reserve a slot with just a few clicks.


The nice thing about this strategy is that you can anticipate demand. You can then use restaurant scheduling software to increase staff capacity at peak times.


When running these email campaigns, make sure the designs of your email are also engaging. Your goal is to get subscribers excited about your event. You can’t do that if they see dull colors and low-quality visuals in your email. Lincoln Ristorante, for instance, doesn’t just use bright colors in its emails. It also experiments with GIFs.


You should also consider the possibility your email subscriber will want to invite other people to the event. So, like Lincoln Ristorante, why not include a Forward to a Friend button? Alternatively, you can include social sharing buttons in your email. Email marketing software solutions usually have features that allow you to embed these sharing buttons.


Olive Garden’s Promotions


Olive Garden is a restaurant chain known worldwide for its casual dining experiences that combine the best of Italian and American dishes. The restaurant also tweaks its menu to suit local palates at its international locations. But it doesn’t just rely on these to get customers. It also offers regular promotions to keep its restaurants full.


Promotions like discounts and coupons are short-term strategies that aim to convert leads into paying customers. In the restaurant industry, they’re that effective. Over 70% of consumers say they are more likely to visit a restaurant that offers relevant promotions. Approximately 60% say they also avail of these.


Now what better way to announce these promotions than via email?




But if you opt for this strategy, make sure you do it right.


When announcing its promos via email, for instance, Olive Garden highlights the subscriber’s specific benefit if they avail of their discount or coupon in the copy. In the email above, the restaurant emphasizes that the recipient can “save on your family favorites at home tonight.” It also gives them an additional benefit: they can save time if they pay online. With the email copy written this way, subscribers can visualize their gains easily. That can, ultimately, lead to them taking your desired action.


If you’re having a hard time writing something like this, don’t fret. The good news is, there’s now generative AI technology that can help you easily craft messaging that resonates with your audience. While there are generative AI risks, there are countermeasures you can implement. The tools can ultimately help you scale content creation without compromising overall quality.


All this is not to say you should only rely on email marketing campaigns to promote your discounts, coupons, among others. Social media marketing is a potent promotional strategy as well. More than 4.74 billion people use social media. That number is bound to include your potential customers.


Patina Group’s Re-Engagement Emails


Re-engagement is a digital marketing tactic that involves sending emails to activate subscribers who have stopped engaging with your content. While you plan to execute this, it is crucial for us to verify email addresses to ensure they are still active and target only those ID’s to save time. It is important to set up a re-engagement email for two reasons:


  1. Spam score: you want a low spam score. The more people on your list who don’t open their email, the higher the chance your spam score will rise. A high spam score results in low delivery rates.


A re-engagement email campaign will help you determine the subscribers who aren’t actually interested in your content and don’t open your emails. This way, you can remove them from your email list.


  1. Engaged Audience: you want the maximum number of people to engage with your content and react to your promotions. A recent consumer study found that 45% of win-back email recipients proceeded to read subsequent messages.


Patina Group implements this re-engagement strategy. It sends win-back emails to get inactive subscribers to interact again with the brand. But don’t just send one email of this sequence. You want to send at least three emails to ensure you’re removing the right person from your mailing list.


In the first email, why not remind them they subscribed to your newsletter? You can ask them to update their content preferences.


If that doesn’t work, send them a second email. In this email, you can remind them of the benefits they can receive if they remain subscribed to your list.


Send a third email like this one if that still doesn’t work. In this win-back email, Patina Group gives the subscriber two options: manage their preferences or unsubscribe completely.


Whichever option the subscriber chooses, the company ends up “winning” in a way.


If they choose to manage their preferences, Patina Group can tailor their subsequent email content to the subscriber’s interests. That can help boost interactions with their emails. If the subscriber chooses to unsubscribe completely, Patina Group can remove them from the mailing list and maintain a low spam score.


Starbucks’ Cross-Channel Marketing


When it comes to covering all the marketing bases, few brands do it better than Starbucks. The global coffee and snack food giant has mastered the art of cross-channel marketing. What is cross-channel marketing? It’s the combined use of several marketing platforms to ensure a cohesive customer journey and achieve a common goal. In the case of Starbucks, these marketing platforms include a mobile app, the store, and, of course, email.


Here’s how Starbucks’ cross-channel marketing works.


A customer gives Starbucks its email address when they sign up for free Wi-Fi in the store. Starbucks then sends them incentives via email so they can progress through the funnel. For instance, in the email below, Starbucks offers a free drink if they register for Starbucks Rewards:




Once they register, they can start accumulating points for their purchases, whether in-store or via the app. When they reach a number of points, they can redeem a specific reward—like a drink upsize—from the store.


Notice how Starbucks coordinates its marketing efforts–including in email marketing—across channels for synchronicity? The combined use of these channels–email being one of the first touchpoints—ultimately leads to the achievement of a common goal: increased sales.


When implementing this type of strategy, you have to know what your target audience wants and the platforms they frequent, of course. Map out their customer journey. You can ask your target customers directly what their other platform preferences are, apart from email. Or seek help from your marketing department and check historical data.


In Conclusion


A proper email marketing strategy can help you engage with people who are interested in what you have to offer as a restaurant. Take inspiration from these five email marketing campaigns. From Starbucks to Patina Group, these brands have shown that you can harness the power of email marketing in many ways.


Send welcome emails, promote your events and promotions, and re-engage inactive subscribers with your emails. Why not implement cross-channel marketing, with email as one of the primary touchpoints?


Endeavor to implement one or more of these approaches, depending on your business needs. Either way, expect excellent results.


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