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How to create a restaurant newsletter email campaign

Published June 17, 2022

Increasing customer touchpoints with a regular newsletter

As consumer preferences continue to change, those in the restaurant business can benefit from maximizing touchpoints with customers outside the restaurant. In fact, over 77% of customers visit a restaurant’s website before visiting. Considering the rise in consumer engagement with online platforms like social media and email marketing, now might be the perfect time to create a newsletter for your restaurant.

You might think, “How is a newsletter different from a website or existing social media channels?” Well, a newsletter allows for regular, targeted engagement with your customers. It lets your diners know that you’re innovating your business. It also promotes loyalty by making people feel more consistently connected with your restaurant and its brand. The best part? You can create a restaurant newsletter in just six easy steps.

1. Define who you’re sending the newsletter to and why

As with most creative endeavors, it’s important to start with purpose. Consider who you’re attempting to reach by way of your newsletter. Realistically, this email communication won’t appeal to all of your customers, but there’s likely a subset of frequent visitors who will want to hear about weekly specials, local food-sourcing efforts and community involvement.

Make sure your newsletter content meets this group’s needs and reflects your restaurant's personality. In addition to knowing who you’re reaching, it’s crucial to know why you want to reach them. Do you want this newsletter to inform readers about menu changes and restaurant logistics, or cover a broader range of topics like your restaurant’s commitment to sustainability or partnering with other local businesses?

Regardless of what topics you choose to focus on in your newsletter, knowing your audience and the purpose behind your messaging will help you set a clear direction for the newsletter going forward.

2. Design a cohesive look and feel

Next comes the fun part: designing your newsletter. What your newsletter looks like demonstrates to your customers your commitment to effective communication and reflects your overall brand. Be selective about the design elements you choose. Make sure the colors and font reflect your existing brand and create a title that’s short, catchy and easy to remember.

Incorporating food images as well as staff pictures can bring a text-heavy email to life, but be careful not to overdo it. Including too many images can distract from your messaging and make the newsletter look cluttered. In today’s world, it’s imperative that your newsletter is compatible with mobile devices as well — after all, how many of us check our emails on our phones these days? The most important design element to incorporate, however, is simplicity. Don’t crowd your newsletter with extraneous text, distracting fonts or busy icons and captions. Keeping the visual design clean will encourage more views.

3. Create a standard, reusable restaurant newsletter template

After thinking through the key design elements of your newsletter, it’s time to bring them to life in a template. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of free or low-cost newsletter-builders online. Choosing to leverage one of these tools will make the process much easier.

Next, narrow down the main topics you want to cover in each newsletter. For example, a sample template could include a letter from the manager or owner, a section that highlights upcoming events, a spotlight on new menu items or even a feature sharing community news that’s important to your restaurant.

Whatever sections you choose to include, strive for consistency across  issues and keep your content true to the values of your restaurant.

4. Provide links to drive website traffic to other online platforms

When creating your newsletter, use hyperlinks to your advantage. Include one to two sentences enticing readers to learn more, followed by a link to your restaurant’s website or social media pages like Facebook or Instagram. Not only will this strategy help keep your newsletter brief and to the point, but it will also drive more traffic to your restaurant’s online pages, resulting in more online reviews, increased impressions and overall search engine optimization (SEO).

5. Determine when to send the newsletter and how often

Now that you have a well-designed newsletter template with a clear purpose and cohesive content, it’s time to think about when to send your newsletter and how often.

Research shows that emails perform best when sent mid-week (Tuesday - Thursday) because they’re less likely to get lost in the weekend build-up. They also perform better when sent in the early morning or evening, outside the flow of regular work emails. Additionally, it’s important to establish a cadence for sending your newsletters. For example, will it go out weekly or monthly? The cadence should depend on the relevancy of your content and the availability of your team to generate it. Start simple with a welcome email and distribute subsequent communications according to an established cadence after that. Consistency is key.

6. Build your subscriber list

A newsletter’s most important feature is its audience, so building your subscriber list is imperative. There are many tactics through which you can expand your email list, such as running an email marketing campaign, offering an incentive to your customers to join (e.g. offer a 15% off coupon when they sign up to receive emails), having your servers share a sign-up form with customers, creating social media posts, offering an opt-in option in exchange for free Wi-Fi or including the option for readers to forward newsletters to friends. It will likely take some trial and error to identify successful ways to build your subscriber list, and that’s okay — just be patient.

Related: How to build customer and brand loyalty for your restaurant

As restaurants continue to look for new and creative ways to attract customers, consider launching a newsletter. This email channel can provide your restaurant’s most loyal customers with updates about your chefs, changes to your menu, exclusive specials and your business in general. These consistent touchpoints promote heightened brand awareness, build customer loyalty and drive repeat business. What’s more, building a newsletter is easier than you think. All you have to do is identify the motivation behind the newsletter, develop a creative design and template consistent with your brand and deploy tactics to attract and retain regular readers. It’s that simple!

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