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The smartest ways to build and grow your restaurant email list

4 min read

In this article we’ll cover:

Why is email marketing important for a restaurant?

You might be wondering why a restaurant needs email marketing at all? It’s not an online business. On the contrary, many customers get in by walking past a restaurant and liking it from the outside. The frequent customers keep coming. So what’s the point of having to do more work and introducing email marketing at your restaurant?

Well, setting up your restaurant email list and proper email communication at least once a month (or once in a quarter) when you have an updated seasonal menu or a special offer is what is expected from a restaurant in 2020. Many sources mention that email marketing is a great way to get new customers, but we at TableYeti slightly disagree with that statement in regards to the hospitality industry. Unless your restaurant heavily specialises in discounts and offers, most other people on your list will be your existing customers – people who visited your restaurant, liked it and opted in for notifications from you.

So why is it important to email your existing customers? Well, the answer is straightforward: because the competition is fierce. You want to always be on top of the mind of your customers. You also want to reward your most loyal customers with a birthday voucher, for example, because it does make a difference to them and it’s a lovely gesture as well.

If you run special events like masterclasses, concerts or meetings in the restaurant, email marketing is a great way to update your customers on the upcoming events.

You can also inform your customers about your newest menu additions, seasonal dishes, openings of new locations and all about the exclusive deals you might be launching soon.

So how do you get all these people to subscribe to your email list?

Gather emails while your customers are paying the bill

The easiest way to grow your restaurant email list is by asking customers to provide their email address at the checkout. Of course, to be able to send your marketing communication, you need to ask them for permission. Having processed over 46,000 transactions in the last five months, we established that around 5% of customers are happy to opt-in for marketing communications, which is a significant number. That’s over 2300 emails that we collected for our restaurants so far.

To be able to capture customer emails, while your customers are paying the bill, you need a smart payment terminal. One of the options is our product, Yetipay, that was designed to be a restaurant card machine from the future that is 10x better for the waiters, customers managers, and our planet.

Introduce an online table booking system

Another smart way to crawl your restaurant email list is by introducing an online table booking system at your restaurant. Alternatively, you can work with an external restaurant booking system. You need to make sure to have a deal with them that they will be able to provide all the necessary data about your clients who are willing to receive marketing communication.

If you have your online table booking system, it’s very easy to capture customer data and ask people if they want to receive your marketing communication. We estimate that up to 5% customers would like to get your emails.

Run a competition/giveaway

If you have a chance to organise a competition or a giveaway in which people could win a meal at your restaurant, do it! If you are also present on Social Media, it’s a great channel to advertise your giveaway, and then you can direct people to your website. You can even pay for Facebook / Instagram ads to reach more people and thus, get more subscribers. You can create a page with a contact form, so people who leave their details, will enter the competition.

It’s an easy and cheap way to get more email subscribers, however, it can be a bit tiring in terms of setting up, and you will probably need a dedicated marketing person to take care of everything.

Gather emails when enabling public Wifi

Finally, the last of the smart ways to grow your email list is by enabling email collection through free Wifi. It’s not an option for all the restaurants, however, we’ve seen it around a lot, and it works miracles!

When people want to connect to your restaurant wifi, you can direct them to a page, where they need to leave their email. They can also tick/untick the option for Marketing emails. The conversion of this form might be quite low, but the volume will be high, so you can still potentially get a lot of email subscribers for your list.