5 Biggest Benefits of Email Marketing for Restaurants

May 2, 2024 3:04:22 PM

Despite the rise of social media, email remains one of the most powerful marketing tools for restaurants.

Moreover, it is by far the most affordable digital marketing channel and the preferred way of communication for many restaurantgoers.

An effective email marketing strategy can boost your restaurant’s revenues in a myriad of ways, from increasing table bookings through special offers to building customer loyalty and helping you stay ahead of the competition.

In this article, we'll explore how email marketing can be harnessed to bring you these benefits and drive tangible results for your restaurant.

Builds Customer Loyalty

While exceptional food and service are crucial, consistent communication plays a pivotal role in fostering strong relationships with customers and earning their loyalty. 

This is where email marketing comes in as a user-convenient and cost-friendly way of keeping your restaurant top-of-mind of your prospective repeat guests.

Why is email convenient? 

For starters, because (almost) everyone has it and uses it.

According to research, there were 4.3 billion worldwide email users in 2023, and this number is expected to exceed 4.8 billion by the end of 2027.

Furthermore, 70% of U.S. consumers surveyed in June 2022 said they liked brands contacting them via email.

The cited percentage is an average, with some inter-generational differences, as shown below.

statistics about the popularity of email marketing in the us among different generations

Illustration: Tablein / Data: Statista

Since email marketing in the restaurant industry usually involves opportunities for great dining experiences with some perks (discounts, promotions, events, etc.), the percentage of interested repeat guests should be similar or higher.

To illustrate, a survey by Toast showed that 68% of diners expect restaurants to communicate with them regularly and to preferably do so by email

As for cost-effectiveness, different studies have shown that every dollar spent on email marketing returns between $38 and $44, which makes it the most affordable digital marketing channel.

Having shown why email marketing is very convenient for customers and highly affordable for restaurants, let’s turn to how it can be effectively used to enhance customer loyalty.

Here are some loyalty-boosting ideas for personalized emails that can be sent to guests who opted in to receive your promotional offers:

 loyalty-boosting ideas for personalized emails

Source: Tablein

For example, you can send emails that highlight the rewards and benefits of your restaurant's loyalty program to incentivize repeat business.

This can include incentives for referring family members, friends, or colleagues to your establishment.

Likewise, you can send personalized offers to celebrate customers' special occasions and make them feel valued, thus building their loyalty.

restaurant birthday email example

Source: Gloria Food

As these and other email marketing options simultaneously generate other benefits mentioned here—such as increasing table reservations and promoting special offers—we’ll explore them

in more detail throughout the article.

For now, let’s just underline that the success of any email campaign is predicated upon how well you know and understand your diners’ preferences and interests.

Lastly, it’s worth noting that these are not the only loyalty-building tools in your email marketing arsenal.

For instance, highlighting your establishment’s charitable initiatives or providing educational content via a newsletter—as discussed in later sections—can also foster customer loyalty.

To recap, email marketing builds loyalty by delivering personalized and timely communication that resonates with your guests' preferences and interests.

Earns You More Table Reservations

As mentioned, email communication in general, and email marketing in particular, offer numerous avenues for increasing table bookings at your restaurant.

For instance, by sending personalized birthday and anniversary offers via email, you not only cultivate customer loyalty but also prompt guests to make reservations for their special occasions.

Therefore, even if you used no email automation tools and sent every promotional email manually, you could still benefit from effective email marketing and see an uptick in bookings.

However, leveraging restaurant management tools like table reservation software can truly advance your reservations-boosting efforts.

To illustrate how software can do that, we’ll use our table booking system, Tablein, as an example.

tablein homepage screenshot

Source: Tablein

Tablein is an online table booking system that seamlessly integrates with your website and other online channels, including Google, Facebook, Instagram, etc.

This enables your guests to make online bookings through all these channels while the software records and processes them all in one centralized database available to restaurant staff on any internet-connected device.  

In a nutshell, here's how Tablein helps your restaurant get more bookings and enhances related email marketing efforts:

  • It makes online table reservations easy and convenient for customers.
  • It gathers a wealth of guest data crucial for targeted and personalized email marketing.
  • It automates various email marketing tasks, streamlining your operations and freeing up staff time for other important duties.

For example, Tablein can serve as the central database where relevant guest information like dietary preferences, booking history, special occasions, visit frequency, and more is collected.

tablein tool screenshot

Source: Tablein

As illustrated, this data can be used to segment your email list and tailor marketing strategies and campaigns to specific customer segments, increasing the likelihood of return bookings.

Likewise, the collected data can be leveraged to personalize promotional emails and target specific customers with relevant offers (birthday, anniversary, etc.) or incentives (discount, loyalty reward, etc.) to book a table.

Another very helpful aspect of table booking software is that it can automatically send reservation confirmation emails to customers, reminder emails leading up to their reservation date, follow-up feedback requests, and more.

Since these automated emails can include promotional offers and newsletter opt-in fields, this means that your email marketing efforts are streamlined by allowing you to integrate promotional content into essential reservation-related communications.

Here’s an example.

tablein special event email

Source: Tablein

Lastly, since Tablein can be easily integrated with email marketing platforms like MailerLite and Mailchimp, your restaurant can maintain consistency across all marketing channels and further enhance its email marketing capabilities.

In summary, fueled by a seamless table booking experience, comprehensive guest data collection, and email automation features of restaurant management tools, email marketing can become a powerful tool for driving table reservations.

Helps You Stand Out From the Competition

Another benefit of email marketing is that it helps your restaurant stand out from the competition in what’s typically a fiercely competitive environment.

In other words, email marketing offers a powerful platform for attracting and retaining customers by showcasing your restaurant's unique offerings and integrating your email marketing efforts with other competition-differentiating marketing activities

So, let’s look at some ideas that can be turned into creative and engaging email content to make your establishment stand out and leave a lasting impression on diners:

 ideas that can be turned into creative and engaging email content

Source: Tablein

Each of these ideas can help you differentiate your establishment by providing unique experiences for your guests, which then also serve as excellent opportunities for email marketing.

For example, you could host a weekly or monthly themed event, such as "Wine Fridays" or "Sports Saturdays," and promote these events through targeted email campaigns.

Likewise, you can use international and national holidays, such as Halloween, to hold a themed night.

halloween restaurant event email

Source: Old Monterey

By highlighting the theme, menu offerings, and special promotions in your emails, you can generate excitement and anticipation among your subscribers, encouraging them to make reservations and attend the event.

Similarly, exclusive chef's table dinners present a prime opportunity to engage with your most loyal customers and create memorable dining experiences.

chef's table dinner email

Source: Wynstone

By sending personalized invitations via email to your VIP customers, you can make them feel valued and exclusive, driving attendance and fostering customer loyalty.

Of course, the list of competitiveness-boosting actions that can be turned into effective email marketing campaigns does not stop with these examples.

There are numerous other innovative ideas and strategies you can implement to set your restaurant apart from the competition online and engage with your audience in meaningful ways.

For instance, you can use email marketing to share behind-the-scenes stories about your restaurant or insights about menu preparation, introduce guest chefs, or—as discussed next—offer exclusive discounts or perks to incentivize attendance.

In conclusion, leveraging email marketing to highlight your restaurant's unique offerings can significantly enhance your establishment's visibility and guests’ engagement in a highly competitive market.

Allows You to Promote Special Offers

One of the biggest advantages of email marketing is that it provides you with a user- and business-friendly, convenient, and affordable way of promoting your restaurant’s special offers.

More precisely, it allows you to easily craft and distribute eye-catching emails that showcase your latest exclusive promotions, discounts, and special deals, enticing your email subscribers to visit your restaurant.

For example, you can send out limited-time offers, such as "Happy Hour Specials" or "Buy One Get One Free" deals, to create a sense of urgency and encourage immediate action.

restaurant buy one get one free email

Source: Senior Discounts Club

Generally, consumers tend to respond best to these offers when they present them with a variety of choices. 

As for restaurants, they stand to profit the most when the items included in such promotional emails are low-cost compared to the other items usually ordered with them, like in the example below.


Source: Perry’s Steakhouse

Another field-tested promotion strategy that can be included in your table booking confirmations, reservation reminders, newsletter, and other emails is food combo offers.

As you’re aware, such offers provide diners with discounts when they order specific combinations of food or drink items together.

This type of promotion can also be highly effective in attracting diners, particularly when the offered combinations complement each other well in terms of taste or convenience.

Interestingly, research found that, while 65% of guests prefer special discounts on specific meal combinations, only 35% of restaurant owners use this strategy to increase table bookings.

statistics about special discounts on specific meal combinations

Illustration: Tablein / Data: Revenue Manage

Of course, your special offers should be advertised on other channels beyond email to increase their reach and complement your other marketing efforts.

However, you can also create exclusive offers designed only for your loyal email subscribers.

The options for your email-only offers are practically endless, ranging from discount coupons and limited-time promotions to VIP access to events and personalized birthday surprises.

Naturally, all these perks should also be advertised on your website and social media and in your restaurant (on bills or and/or near the cash register) to draw in new subscribers and grow your emailing list.

This is what that can look like in practice:


Source: Dukes Seafood

In summary, email marketing provides a versatile platform for promoting your restaurant's special offers, from limited-time deals to exclusive perks for loyal and new subscribers. 

By leveraging a variety of promotional strategies, you can effectively attract and retain customers while enhancing your overall marketing efforts.

Helps You Collect Guest Feedback

Last but not least, email marketing in the form of feedback surveys enables your restaurant to gather crucial insights from guests, facilitating continuous improvement in service and menu offerings, while also shaping your online reputation.

As a marketing tool, guest feedback:

  • improves guest experience,
  • tells you how your staff is performing,
  • helps you make informed decisions, and
  • allows you to manage your restaurant’s reputation.

For instance, by enlisting email feedback from guests after their visit, you demonstrate that their opinions are valued, fostering a sense of importance and engagement, and ultimately enhancing their experience and likelihood of revisiting.

Additionally, positive feedback collected through email surveys can be used to encourage satisfied customers to leave online reviews, further bolstering your restaurant's reputation and attracting new diners.

Just take a look at the example below:

restaurant feedback request email

Source: Jack’s Backyard Bar-B-Que

Of course, feedback surveys also show you’re ready to promptly address any complaints, issues, or concerns noted by your guests. 

In addition to demonstrating your dedication to customer satisfaction and continuous improvement, this also provides invaluable insights into how your food and service are performing.

Armed with this knowledge, you can make more informed decisions about menu offerings, service protocols, and staff training and recruitment strategies.

Given the importance and frequency of guest feedback, it’s best to automate the emailing tasks involved.

tablein tool screenshot

Source: Tablein

Although the last highlighted part shows “Always”, the frequency of feedback request emails should be adjusted to specific guest segments. 

For example, your everyday or very frequent diners shouldn’t receive automatic feedback surveys every time they visit your establishment.

Given they’re likely reading your other email content, there are further ways to award their loyalty and make them feel engaged.

Overall, email-driven guest feedback provides valuable insights into various aspects of your restaurant's operations, from the food served to the service provided by staff members. 

This helps you continually enhance your guests’ experience and manage your restaurant's reputation, ultimately boosting table bookings and revenues.


To recap, email marketing can bring all the benefits outlined in this article because, first, email is a convenient and expected communication channel for customers, particularly in the restaurant industry. 

Think free meals, coupons, and discounts versus hungry clients.

Second, email marketing is an extremely affordable and highly automatable solution that empowers restaurants to efficiently engage with their audience, drive bookings, and cultivate lasting customer relationships.

Therefore, by embracing email marketing and related software tools, your restaurant can leverage the power of convenient communication, affordability, and automation to enhance customer engagement and drive business growth.