8 Metrics for Tracking the Success of Restaurant Email Marketing

Jul 1, 2024 10:32:13 AM

You've invested so much in your email marketing but still no success? 

Don't give up just yet. 

Every email marketing campaign’s performance needs to first be measured and then optimized in order to get it where you want it to be. 

And that takes time.  

But how exactly do you measure your email campaign’s success? 

By tracking certain key performance indicators (KPIs).

In today’s article, we reveal what these KPIs are, show you how to calculate them, explain what they reveal about your campaign, and even offer tips on boosting these metrics. 

Ready to turn your email marketing around? 

Let’s get started.

Open Rate

The open rate KPI measures the number of people who have opened your email out of everyone who received it. 

You calculate it by dividing the unique opens by the number of emails sent and then multiplying that figure by 100 to get a percentage.

email open rate formula

Source: Tablein

What does this metric tell you? 

Well, it can be a good indicator of how recipients react to your subject lines, preview text, or even your brand in general. 

Therefore, if your open rates are high, congratulations! 

The recipients are eager to open emails from you, whether it’s due to your amazing, engaging subject lines, or because they simply love your brand and want to stay updated on what’s going on with their favorite restaurant. 

But what exactly qualifies as a high open rate? 

According to the 2023 Email Marketing Benchmarks by GetResponse, for the restaurant industry, the benchmark is somewhere around 35%.

So, if your open rate is lower than that, it might be time to reevaluate how you write your emails, especially the subject lines. 

After all, they are the first thing readers see when they receive your email.

Personalization is key here, says Sami Rahman, Link Building Director at UpperCutSEO, an SEO company providing link-building services and website content.

quote explaining that email personalization and segmentation can improve the open rate kpi

Illustration: Tablein / Quote: Mailmodo

Simple tweaks like adding the recipient’s name in the subject line or more advanced strategies like offering recommendations based on their past behavior and interactions with your restaurant can work wonders. 

This personalized touch is sure to spark curiosity and, in turn, boost your open rates.

Click-Through Rate (CTR)

This metric measures how many people are actually clicking on the links within your emails. 

How do you calculate it? 

Easy: just divide the number of unique clicks by the number of sent emails and then multiply by 100.

click-through rate formula

Source: Tablein

CTR is one of the most talked-about metrics in the world of email marketing, and for good reason, too. 

It's an indicator of how relevant your actual copy is to the recipients of your campaign and how well it leads them to take action, such as visiting your website or redeeming a special offer.

Jon Holbrook, Director of Product Marketing at Mailchimp, agrees that click-through rate, although it can’t be your sole focus, should still be one of your go-to KPIs if you want to gauge the overall efficiency of your emails.

quote about the importance of tracking email click-through rate

Illustration: Tablein / Quote: Digiday

At the end of the day, it tells you how actionable they really are. 

And isn’t eliciting some kind of action precisely what you’re aiming for?

According to Campaign Monitor, the industry average for click-through rates is 2%. 

Surpass that, and you'll be way ahead of your competition

How do you get there? 

By focusing on creating compelling content, of course. 

Think clear and well-designed CTAs, high-quality images of your dishes or restaurant, and an interesting offer or a discount here and there.

Click-To-Open Rate (CTOR)

Similarly, CTOR measures how many recipients click on at least one of the links in your emails, but unlike CTR, it does this out of all opened emails, rather than all sent emails. 

Calculate it using this formula:

Click-To-Open Rate formula

Source: Tablein

Just like click-through rate, this metric informs you about the relevancy and engagement levels of your emails, but it goes a step further by offering a more detailed insight into your campaign's performance. 

More specifically, it zeroes in on the behavior of those who choose to engage with your emails, helping you understand a smaller, more loyal group of customers.

Ari Echt-Wilson, a Senior Team Manager at Hubspot, explains that tracking CTOR can help you determine how well your emails resonate with your subscribers and elaborates on why you should keep an eye on this metric.

quote explaining why it makes sense to track click to open rate for emails

Illustration: Tablein / Quote: HubSpot

Still, this doesn't mean this KPI should completely replace CTR. 

You can think of it like this: CTR provides a broad picture of your email campaign's effectiveness in generating clicks, while CTOR focuses on the quality of your content among those who are genuinely interested.

The bottom line? 

You need to measure both. 

Use CTOR to fine-tune the content and design of your emails, making them more appealing and engaging for your audience, but also keep an eye on CTR to gauge the overall success of your email campaigns.

Email Conversion Rate

Conversion rate (CR) helps you track the number of people who take a desired action (conversion) after receiving your email. 

To calculate it, divide the number of conversions by the number of emails delivered, then multiply by 100.

email conversion rate formula

Source: Tablein

What counts as a conversion, you ask? 

It can be almost anything you want, from placing an online order to signing up for a loyalty program. 

In the restaurant world, though, increasing reservations is often the ultimate objective. 

If you use an online reservation system like Tablein, tracking this metric is very simple. 

Tablein integrates with your email marketing tools, monitors all reservations including those made through email, and helps you analyze your marketing campaigns' effectiveness via its reporting dashboard.

screenshot of tablein sales and marketing tools

Source: Tablein

That's right, all essential data—at your fingertips. 

Keeping tabs on your conversion rate is of utmost importance because it shows you just how effective your email marketing is at driving real business results. 

Now, the ideal CR will vary from restaurant to restaurant, but improving it should always be a goal. 

To do that, focus on creating emails that grab the readers' attention and persuade them to take that desired action. 

Just take a look at the example below.

restaurant email screenshot-2

Source: Private Inbox / Stella 34

Not only does it contain a high-quality image and a clear CTA, but the copy is very enticing, leaving you wondering: what is this extraordinary dish the chefs are working on? 

As a recipient, you feel like you simply must click on the menu and find out. 

That’s what email marketing is all about. 

Whether it's your brand's unique voice, an irresistible offer, or amazing email design, making a strong impression is crucial for creating successful emails and boosting your conversion rates.

Email Forward Rate

Want to know how many people forward your emails to others? 

This is where this next KPI comes in. 

To find out your own forward or share rate, divide the total number of forwards by the total number of delivered emails, and then multiply by 100.

email forward rate formula

Source: Tablein

This metric is very interesting because it reveals the shareability or virality of your email campaigns. 

So, if your forward rate is high, it's an indicator that recipients find your content so valuable and relevant that they want to share it with their friends and family. 

And you know what that means? 

Your emails are reaching people beyond your original email list, potentially bringing in new customers.

Generally speaking, word-of-mouth marketing is incredibly powerful. 

In fact, did you know that 88% of consumers trust recommendations from people they know over paid advertising, according to a 2021 Nielsen study?

statistic showing that 88% of consumers trust recommendations from people they know more than they do paid advertising

Illustration: Tablein / Data: Nielsen

This shows just how important it is to get people talking about your brand, and email is a great way to do so. 

Therefore, don't underestimate the power of this KPI. It’s a source of extremely useful information. 

And to boost your content’s shareability, focus on its value. 

Manuel Suarez, CEO of AGM, a digital marketing agency, elaborates on what that means.

quote explaining what valuable content is

Illustration: Tablein / Quote: Manychat


It isn’t all about offering discounts (although they are always appreciated). 

You can also provide exclusive tips, recipes, behind-the-scenes insights, and more, as long as your customers will have some actual use for it. 

Oh, and don’t forget to make your emails easy to forward by including share buttons in your email design.

Email List Growth Rate

The email list growth rate helps you analyze how quickly your subscriber list is expanding, indicating the effectiveness of your lead generation and marketing efforts. 

Calculating this KPI is pretty straightforward, and the formula is shown in the illustration below.

email list growth rate formula

Source: Tablein

If you notice your list isn't growing or, worse, it's shrinking, it’s a clear sign that people don’t find your emails worth subscribing to and that some changes are needed. 

For example, maybe the process of signing up itself is too complicated, or maybe your emails simply aren't interesting enough. 

After all, high-quality content is at the core of attracting and retaining subscribers. 

Without it, your emails feel generic or spammy, only cluttering the recipients' inboxes. 

ChatGPT users, we’re looking at you. 

Using completely AI-generated content is simply one of those email marketing mistakes you should try to avoid

Jessica Bell Wiggins, Digital Marketing Strategist at the digital marketing agency Growth Spurt, explains why.

quote explaining why it's not recommended to use ai for writing

Illustration: Tablein / Quote: TechTarget

Sure, AI is super convenient, but the text it generates just sounds so unnatural. 

And readers can spot it from a mile away. 

So, why would they subscribe to something that so little effort was put into? 

Remember, you have what it takes to create engaging content that stands out and resonates with your audience. 

Your restaurant is unique. Your team is unique. And your food is unique. 

By tapping into this uniqueness, you can create emails that subscribers look forward to and boost your email list growth rate, reaching a ton of potential customers. 

Unsubscribe Rate

Now, this is one of the metrics you want to keep as low as possible. 

The unsubscribe rate, as the name suggests, measures the percentage of your email subscribers who decided to opt out or unsubscribe from your email list. 

To calculate this KPI, divide the number of unsubscribed users by emails sent and multiply by 100.

email unsubscribe rate formula

Source: Tablein

Keeping a close eye on this metric is very important because it’ll tell you when your subscribers start to feel dissatisfied or disinterested in your emails. 

Armed with those insights, you can then optimize your content to improve the customer experience. 

If a large number of people start unsubscribing, it’ll signal to email providers that your emails are unwanted, potentially leading to them being automatically flagged as spam. 

According to Mailchimp, the average unsubscription rate within the restaurant industry is 0.3%, so try to keep yours at or below this benchmark. 

And do you know what kind of emails have the highest unsubscribe rate? 

Stephanie Griffith, Founder of emailpreview.io, an email preview tool, does.

quote explaining that welcome email series unsubscribe rates are usually very high

Illustration: Tablein / Quote: Mailmodo

Welcome emails are usually sent right after someone signs up, so they can catch them at a point where they haven't yet fully committed. 

Therefore, to prevent the recipients from changing their minds about their subscriptions, be sure to create welcome emails that will align with their expectations and, ideally, provide immediate value or incentives.

Email Bounce Rate

Bounce rate tells you how many of your emails never reach their intended recipients. 

You can calculate it using the following formula:

email bounce rate formula

Source: Tablein

Now, bounces can happen for a variety of reasons and based on their cause, they are classified into two categories: soft and hard. 

Here’s a quick breakdown of each. 

Type What it indicates Example
Soft bounces Indicate a temporary delivery issue Mailbox is full or inactive, email is too large, recipient email server is down or offline
Hard bounces Indicate a permanent reason an email can't be delivered to the recipient The recipient's email address doesn't exist or their server has permanently blocked the delivery


So, why should you track this KPI? 

Put simply, because it allows you to maintain a healthy subscriber list, free from outdated or fake addresses that serve no purpose. 

Neglecting to do so can have serious consequences, too. 

Letting your bounce rate climb can negatively impact your reputation as a sender with email service providers and therefore harm your emails’ deliverability, just like unsubscriptions. 

So, what can you do if you want to optimize this metric?

Well, it’s smart to use email validation tools before adding new addresses to your list and regularly clean up your list of subscribers to remove those who are no longer active. 

Chase Dimon, Co-Founder of Structured Agency, an email marketing agency, fully backs this approach.

screenshot of a tweet explaining that it's important to suppress inactive email list subscribers

Source: @ecomchasedimond on Twitter

It’s the best way to ensure you reach out only to real, active users, and keep your bounce rates under control. 

In terms of specific numbers you should aim for, try to keep hard bounces at 0.17% or below, and soft bounces at 0.57% or below. 

Those are the current benchmarks for restaurants, as reported by Mailchimp


As you can see, there’s more to successful email marketing campaigns than first meets the eye. 

It isn’t just about sending out as many emails as possible to everyone you can and hoping for the best, but about understanding your audience and tailoring the content to their own needs. 

So make sure to keep a vigilant eye on these metrics. 

They will reveal what’s working and what’s not, guiding your email marketing in the right direction. 

By doing this, you'll transform your emails into something your customers look forward to, increasing the chances of them visiting your restaurant again and again.