The Top 3 Mistakes Restaurants Make With Email Marketing


Email marketing is one of the easiest (and cheapest) ways to keep your customers up to date on promotions you’re offering, and changes you’re making to your menu or your restaurant itself. Emails that catch the consumer’s eye are a surefire way to engage clients and prospects alike.

However, no matter how catchy you may think your email is, there are some major restaurant email marketing mistakes that all restaurant operators are guilty of. Let’s jump right in and talk about three major ones.

1. Purchasing lists and sending unsolicited emails 

Yes, list purchasing may seem like a tempting option but the easy way out is almost never the right choice. Sending unsolicited emails can leave consumers with a sour taste in their mouths and worse can cause them to mark your business’ emails as spam. A few emails marked as spam here and there may not seem that bad but over time, but this can negatively affect your restaurant’s email domain and prevent emails from being sent to even your most loyal customers. Not to mention that sending emails to people who didn’t choose to be on your list is plain out rude.

Always seek permission before sending out marketing emails. You can easily do this through a feedback form or newsletter sign-up sheet on your website, social media platforms, and even in-house. Your current and future customers will thank you. 

2. Failing to segment

This one is constantly ruining my day because it happens to me all of the time. I can’t count the number of times I’ve received a marketing email from a restaurant that has literally nothing to do with me. Just yesterday I received a promotional offer for a singles event at a local restaurant I often go to with my husband and children. Clearly I’m not the right audience for “singles mingle.” 

I’m not saying you have to segment down to each customer’s favorite food and drink to curate promotions, although that would be awesome, what I am saying is at least break it down by gender, age, marital status, and type of customer (corporate client, social customer, etc.). Your customers are not the same, and if you continue to send the same type of message to your entire database without even considering who they are, you once again stand the risk of detouring your emails to the dreaded spam folder.

3. Oversending

The number one reason that people unsubscribe from marketing emails is that they receive too many of them. Some of you are probably laughing right now considering I send out a hefty amount of emails to our customers. But, each email I send out has a separate purpose, whether that be a feature release, product spotlight, or marketing announcement. 

Restaurants tend to send out the same type of content over and over again and sending the same thing too many times will surely anger some potential customers. I would start by offering your customers different options for subscribing. For example, one subscribe option for your monthly newsletter, another for bi-weekly promotional offers, and another for both. This way you can gauge what is the most popular option for your database and stick with that cadence. 

Don’t be afraid to try a few different patterns to see what gets you the most engagement. Do you pack your monthly newsletter with all of the information your customers will need and then just send one additional promotional offer a month? Or maybe you try a bi-weekly shorter newsletter type email and put the promotions within them. Play around and see what works best for your audience.

Learn more marketing tips

Just remember that email marketing isn’t a one size fits all strategy. It’s important to track and report on your results so you can adjust your campaigns and do what works best for your business and your customers. For more information regarding email marketing for hospitality, check out our webinar, How Marketing Can Boost Event Bookings.