This Drug Could Take Your Restaurant Down – The Hidden Truth Behind Email Marketing

People are constantly checking their email – when they wake up, eat dinner, and even relax on the weekend. So why aren’t you seeing higher open rates for your restaurant’s emails?

According to Mailchimp, the likelihood of someone opening an email from a restaurant is about 20%. That number doesn’t look so hot for brands putting a lot of time, energy, and money into their email marketing program.

The solution seems to quickly present itself: “Aha, an offer will get the clicks we need!” From there you can easily fall into a tricky cycle: Do some math. Email an offer. See traffic go up. Repeat.

Then you’re expected to comp the same offer next year and begin to see the trap.

Although offers can result in a blip of increased traffic, we often forget to ask if we’re actually profiting from these discount-focused emails. Are we getting new guests to come into the restaurant? Are we putting money back into our own pockets? Do these discounts position us as a value brand? What story are we telling about our identity?

Sending discounted offers can be a difficult drug to get off of once you start. They can be very helpful as part of an overall email marketing strategy, but don’t serve as a silver bullet that will save your brand.

Email is one of the most effective ways to speak to your guest. It’s immediate, sent to guests who have already shown interest, and an opportunity to directly tell your story. So how do we do it well?  

Email Fatigue Syndrome

According to a study conducted by TechnologyAdvice, the primary reason a user unsubscribes or blocks certain businesses is that they “emailed too often.” It was also the number one way a business could improve their emails according to users: “less frequent emails.”

When you reflect on your own experience as a consumer, this reaction holds a lot of common sense. You may love a certain company, but when they email you every day, your loyalty wanes. Today we all expect high-quality, highly targeted messages that speak directly to us and show us exactly what we want to see.

This is powerful information that comes with a positive message. It proves that one simple tactic, a disciplined email frequency, can change your whole email game.

Finding the sweet spot of how many emails to send monthly is a unique challenge (and opportunity) for every business. Daily is too often, monthly too infrequent, so what’s your unique targeted number? Conducting an internal review of the success of certain emails can help you make that decision.

Storytelling Opportunity

Making the click worth the hit doesn’t require an offer, but it should still hold something of value. It’s a perfect opportunity to educate guests about who you are and what your brand stands for.

Keep the content true to your brand’s voice. That can mean tone, verbiage, offers, and partnerships. Would someone who walks into your restaurant use these phrases? Does this partnership make sense with your brand? Tailor your message to feel true and resonate with your guest.  

What Should Be in Every Email?

In today’s digital age, emails have become the new billboard. If you’re not catching their attention in 2-3 seconds, they’ve already driven by on the digital highway. Maximize the bones of your email while letting your creativity go wild. The best emails contain a few certain elements.

An interesting (and delicious) photo in your email gets your guest’s mouth watering and button-clicking going. In the restaurant industry, this will 9 times out of 10 mean a crave-worthy image. A zoomed-in photo of Mac & Cheese can drive traffic in an impactful way.

According to Norton Creative Senior Digital Manager Lindsay Loudermilk, “Thoughtful subject and preview lines are what convince your guest to click. Spending time on these can pay off big time. Using 30-50 characters, action verbs, the guest’s name, and emojis humanize your brand before they even open the email.”

An enticing headline introduces the guest to your email, and in a matter of seconds can hook them into reading the rest. Whether presenting a compelling offer or simply entertaining, this introduction presents a benefit to interacting with your brand. That could be an offer or that delicious Mac & Cheese!

Describe your benefits concisely and clearly. Vague wording only confuses and disengages your guest from participating. Speaking like a human to humans is always a good idea! This also relates to a clear call to action in a button, whether that’s to “View Menu” or “Find Nearest Location.” Keep the engagement with your brand going.

Successful Tactics to Keep Them Clicking

Now you’re creating beautiful emails, so how do you turn that 20% open rate up to 30%?

  • Reward subscribers with meaningful offers. “10% Off” doesn’t leave a meaningful impression on your guest, but “free coffee with any purchase” will help them visualize enjoying their perk.
  • A/B testing email campaigns and recording results is a living, breathing way of understanding your guests. You’re able to see what subject lines draw them in and what offers actually lead to higher traffic and sales.
  • Get the timing right, whether that’s a.m. or p.m. Generally early morning or mid-afternoon is the best time to catch guests at their desks checking their email.
  • Lead with concise offers and end with brand storytelling when needed.
  • Ensure there are little to no links to off-brand sites. All links in your email should lead to internal pages.  
  • Include clear CTAs that are actionable for at least 48 hours. You want a sense of urgency behind your CTAs, but also make it realistic for your guest to enjoy.    

Social Media Coordinator Alfredo D’Uva also noted, “Email segmentation is a game changer. The feeling of personalization of these messages only lead to higher open rates and click-throughs.”

A successful email campaign strategy is possible for every brand. The journey of reading an enticing subject line, clicking into the email, and resonating with your message is just a few seconds, but can result in a life-time guest.

Specializing in restaurant email marketing focused on getting you higher open rates, Norton Creative is a partner that takes an existing email program and runs with it. Through strategic campaigns and thoughtful copy and design, Norton creates beautiful emails that drive results. 


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