Inflation Ahead: The State of Email Marketing for Restaurants

Published On: October 25, 2022

As explained in a recent post, economic headwinds will force restaurants to consider a variety of options to see their businesses remain competitive in 2023. Already restaurants have been forced to contend with crushing operating costs, ongoing labor issues and employee turnover, and ever-changing consumer behaviors. From a marketing point of view, keeping your business visible will be more critical than ever — and restaurant email marketing remains the most cost-effective way to reach an audience at scale.

That may be surprising given the number of channels available to consumers these days — influencer marketing, streaming, social media, geo-location, keywords, partnerships, pop-ups and celebrity endorsements are all vying for your guests’ attention. But after all that, email remains the most powerful way to reach them — and the best way to segment your audience, personalize the right message at just the right time, in a way they expect.

Recent trends help support the idea that brands should feel comfortable leaning into email:

  • Email remains the best ROI, with $36 back for every dollar spent compiling and sending message
  • 99% of people with email accounts check their inboxes every day (often 20 or more times a day)
  • 58% of consumers check email first thing in the morning
  • Email marketing revenue is estimated to reach almost $11 billion by the end of next year
  • 33% of marketers send weekly emails, and 26% send emails multiple times a month
  • 77% of marketers saw an increase in email engagement in 2021

As the economy tightens and the cost of living rises, consumers will become more cost-conscious about leisure spending. But restaurants can utilize different types of email campaigns to reassure guests and stay top of mind.

Email Newsletters

The classic newsletter remains one of the most important communications in your marketing toolkit. Recipients typically opt-in to request a weekly, monthly or quarterly communication from your restaurant, and expect to receive the contents in a given time frame. Restaurants use newsletters to send promotional messages, account information, product updates, menu changes and more.

Email newsletters provide a continual link between you and your guests, in a branded and timely fashion. They are constantly updated, and always relevant.

  • 82% of B2B marketers say email newsletters are their most used form of marketing
  • Email is the leading way US consumers discover coupons or discounts from brands
  • 59% of consumers say marketing emails have influenced their purchase decisions

When putting together your email newsletter campaigns, consider:

  • Opt-in or double-opt-in newsletter signups on your website and social media to ensure a quality list of recipients
  • Length and type of content: a newsletter should have easily-digestible text that introduces new information. If your article is too dense you’ll lose the viewer, so it’s best to link from the email to a longer article your website, where the visitor may see more good content. Make sure the information is engaging and desirable — avoid repetition and keep it fresh — it’s supposed to be news.
  • Images and good design can help a reader navigate your newsletter, and they create better outcomes: Emails that include some sort of graphics have a higher open rate (27%) and CTR (4.5%) than text-only emails.
  • Include a clear call to action (CTA), and make it measurable. You want to the reader to know exactly what happens when they click a link, and why. This way you get more qualified clicks — your guests will expect an outcome, and are more likely to engage when they get what they want.

Transaction Emails

Receipts, invoices, statements and confirmations are triggered by transactions that consumers make. They generate very high open rates compared with marketing emails, but include an opportunity for additional cross-marketing and lead generation. (For example, an email confirming a banquet booking can also include a link to your newsletter signup!)

Customers want these emails for their records, which is why they get such high open rates. Combining a transaction with an offer gives restaurants a potent way to extend the value of that relationship.

Behavior-Based Marketing Emails

These marketing emails are all about segmentation and personalization. When you understand your customers’ behaviors and create guest personas, you can tailor emails to be relevant when it’s most important: when they are ready to buy.

  • 87% of B2C marketers use automation
  • Automation (Marketing Automation Platform) is primarily used to send triggered emails, for drip or nurture campaigns, and segmentation
  • The most effective strategies for email marketing campaigns are segmentation (78%), message personalization (72%) and automation (71%)
  • The most effective subject lines include personalized details like names or interests
  • 60% of retail, ecommerce and CPG companies personalize emails based on past purchases or engagement
  • 50% of consumers buy from marketing emails at least once a month
  • More than 8 out of 10 people will open a welcome email, generating 4x as many opens and 10x as many clicks as other email types

Using data to track behaviors, Personica helps restaurants understand where customers are in the purchase cycle. We can contextualize data from multiple sources; develop guest profiles; help personalize offers and communications; and automate emails that are triggered by specific actions. As you collect more guest data over time, you can evolve how you personalize those emails to greatly increase the chance that customers will engage with your content.

Behavior-based emails include welcome/onboarding, offers, menu updates, restaurant and service review requests, cross-selling, anniversary reminders, free trials and more.

With inflation on the rise and the current state of the restaurant industry, operators need to make adjustments across the board to provide guests exceptional dining experiences without compromising net profit. By harnessing the formidable power of email, restaurant marketers can continue to reach audiences at scale, with tailored messaging designed to propel your relationship through even the toughest economic climate.

Learn more or take a demo of Personica’s email platform here.


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