11 Restaurant Email Marketing Examples

Written by: Chris Donald

Published on: 07-05-2024

Chris is Managing Partner at InboxArmy and has more than 25 years of experience in email marketing

On average, people spend around $166 when eating out. With restaurant email marketing, you have the power to invite customers to dine at your place or order food online.

Email marketing has the highest ROI of a whopping 4400%. Besides, successful restaurant email marketing can help craft narratives and curate experiences that keep customers coming back for more.

In this article, we’ll dive into the best practices of restaurant email marketing and share inspiring examples you can replicate for your next campaign.

Is email marketing effective for restaurants?

If you’re not using email marketing for your restaurant, you’re leaving money on the table. Here’s why:

A survey revealed that 84.3% of consumers check their emails daily. That’s a massive audience you could be reaching directly amidst all the online noise.

An effective restaurant email marketing campaign can achieve an average open rate of 38.01% and a click-through rate of 2.89%. The trick is pretty simple! Tempt your customers with enticing food photos, keep the content concise, and highlight your offers and reservation options.

Furthermore, email marketing allows you to track and analyze customer behavior. You can see who opens your emails, what they click on, and what grabs their attention the most. This data is invaluable for refining your marketing strategy and tailoring offers to different segments of your target audience.

But how do you do right at the first attempt? Here are some great restaurant email marketing examples that I’ve analyzed to help you get inspired.

11 restaurant email marketing examples

These restaurant email marketing examples are carefully curated to offer unique and innovative approaches to your campaigns.

1. Free classic burger as a welcome gift

Backyard Burgers offers a free classic burger on their first visit


You made a consumer sign up for your email list. Congratulations! But how do you turn that sign-up into a customer?

Backyard Burgers offers a free classic burger on their first visit, clearly stating the expiration date. Who can resist a freebie? Once they’re in for the burger, they’re likely to explore more of your menu.

Additionally, including a store locator at the end of the email encourages readers to visit a nearby location. It’s a great way to boost foot traffic and potential sales.

2. Create FOMO with 1,682,581 orders

sweetgreen Created FOMO with 1,682,581 orders

They say you eat with your eyes first, and it’s spot on. The more mouthwatering your food photos, the stronger the craving they stir in your customers.

Sweetgreen, a popular restaurant chain, knows how to reel you in. They drop a tempting image of their hot honey chicken dish and casually mention the staggering number of orders it’s racked up: 1,682,581+ to be exact. Talk about FOMO!

Their subject line, ‘Feeling hot, hot, hot!’, sets the stage for something spicy and delectable, and boy, does it deliver.

What’s more? They throw in user-generated content — a real customer’s tweet — to back up the hype around their dish. Hearing from satisfied customers adds a whole new level of credibility. And in line with their mission to inspire healthier eating, they also share the dish’s nutritional value — like 49g of protein to keep you on track with your daily intake.

Now, wouldn’t you be tempted if this landed in your inbox?

3. Drop some personalization

The Charlie Palmer Group


Besides addressing your recipient by first name, how else can a restaurant infuse a personal touch? Take a page from The Charlie Palmer Group’s playbook. They included a personal note in their ‘Negroni Week is Coming’ email, complete with a signature. The bartender shared his personal twist on the classic Negroni and explained why he finds it so irresistible.

Personal messages from your chefs add authenticity and credibility to your campaigns. It’s a fantastic way to personally connect with diners and showcase the culinary innovation behind each dish.

This restaurant email not only introduced new menu offerings but also built anticipation and drove customers to their restaurant.

4. Create excitement with seasonal menus

Spring Sensations seasonal menus


Restaurants like to spice things up by rolling out limited-time, season-inspired menus to a) create a sense of urgency and b) attract more customers.

This email campaign named “Spring Sensations,” curated by corporate chef Eric Parker, immediately sparks desire in readers. The restaurant elevates the experience by visually showcasing a diverse range of delicacies from its spring menu.

Each dish is visually presented, highlighting tantalizing flavors and ingredients. To ramp up excitement, the email cleverly promotes a limited-time offer at the end, urging customers to act quickly and visit the restaurant.

5. Attract customers with interactive content

how to Attract customers with interactive content


Want to spice up your restaurant’s email marketing? Consider adding interactive content like Chick-fil-A did with their clever crossword puzzle.

Chick-fil-A recently caught attention by including a fun crossword in one of their emails. The puzzle was used to generate excitement around their menu offerings. By providing clues, readers had to guess the names of their menu items hidden within the crossword. This interactive element not only engaged their audience but also provided a unique and enjoyable experience.

The beauty of interactive content is that it encourages longer email engagement. The more time your audience spends with your email, the stronger your brand connection becomes. It’s a fantastic way to leave a lasting impression.

Consider adding other interactive elements like puzzles or quizzes to your emails. Not only will this boost your click-through rate, but it will also keep your brand top of their mind.

6. Announce local partnerships and event invites

GoldBelly partnership with Masters for a golf tournament


Who doesn’t love a good community vibe? Partnering with local businesses and throwing events can jazz up your email content and attract passionate subscribers.

GoldBelly recently partnered with Masters for a golf tournament, offering home watch party kits — an innovative way to bring the party to your doorstep. This collaboration added extra excitement to their emails, generating anticipation among customers about local events.

The inclusion of a ‘Shop Now with Free Delivery’ button immediately grabs attention, making the offer even more appealing. By emphasizing that this event is a limited-time offer available only in April, readers are urged to act quickly.

Additionally, highlighting that this cuisine is enjoyed by legendary golf players adds prestige to the offer. Detailed descriptions of each kit and its serving size provide clarity, helping customers plan their home watch parties effectively.

7. Book them a private dining manager

Eddie Merlot promoting private dining experiences


Holiday seasons are the perfect excuse to celebrate and showcase your restaurant. When aligned, they create urgency, allowing you to capitalize on seasonal trends and drive sales.

Eddie Merlot takes full advantage of the holidays by promoting private dining experiences. They offer customers a gift card for booking an event, redeemable within a specific timeframe. The email strikes a perfect balance of visual appeal, feeling classy and inviting for the festive season.

The key highlight is its call-to-action that invites you to book a private dining manager — an irresistible way to create that festive vibe and draw people through your doors.

8. Rewarding loyalty is a win-win!

Keystone’s Bar & Grill loyalty focused emails


You’re at your favorite food spot, and they offer you something extra just for showing up. Pretty sweet, right? That’s why 75% of consumers surveyed prefer brands that reward them over those that don’t.

Keystone’s Bar & Grill knows the drill. Their ‘We love you too. Next one’s on us’ message feels like a personal letter from a friend. They’ve nailed their loyalty program, showering regulars with perks like free craft burgers and beverages, making them feel truly valued. By sending out such loyalty-focused emails, you could boost your annual sales by a whopping 43%.

9. Give an insider sneak peek

Apres-Ski giving an exclusive peek at upcoming menu items and seasonal specials


Who doesn’t wonder what happens behind the scenes at their favorite restaurant? Give customers early access to new menu items.

Apres-Ski spills the beans with their email subscribers, giving them an exclusive peek at upcoming menu items and seasonal specials. The food images, the color palette, and the fancy names of the menu make it even more enticing — it feels like being part of a secret club!

By offering early access and insider perks to their winter specials in the bar, they’re not just drumming up excitement; they’re turning their subscribers into VIPs and inviting them to celebrate cozy nights with friends and family.

The convenient booking button in the email makes it a breeze for customers to secure their spot at the table. The result? More bookings and more traffic to their restaurants.

10. Win their appetite back by retargeting

Patina Restaurant Group's we miss you email to subscribers who've gone MIA.


Ever noticed subscribers signing up for your email list only to go silent after a while? It happens, but fear not — retargeting emails can win them back. In fact, 48.4% of marketers swear by this approach to reconnect with current customers.

Patina Restaurant Group reignites that spark by employing a clever “we miss you” email to subscribers who’ve gone MIA. This email reminds them of what they’re missing out on, without being too pushy.

Starting the email with a promise like, “You’ll be the first to receive updates,” creates a sense of exclusivity, offering personalized content to reengage customers who’ve gone quiet. Plus, featuring a tempting food image is bound to grab attention.

The ‘Manage Your Preferences’ button shows a commitment to customization, allowing subscribers to tailor their experience. And don’t worry—placing the ‘Unsubscribe’ button at the end respects their preferences, making it easy to opt out without any hard feelings.

11. Make their birthdays special

Longhorn's birthday email


The cliche yet successful email across marketing is the ‘happy birthday’ email, and Longhorn Steakhouse gets it. They’re pulling out all the stops with their birthday emails. The cake image speaks for itself — like handing a virtual birthday cake and greeting right through the email. The restaurant makes it more special by inviting them for lunch or dinner. To add to the excitement, they’ve declared desserts on the house. Stamping a limited-time offer means more reason for them to visit, isn’t it?

With this, you’re making customers feel like part of the family. And with a heartfelt birthday wish thrown in, it’s the icing on the cake — literally! After all, who wouldn’t appreciate a free dessert on their big day?

Restaurant Email Marketing Tips For Winning Customers

In my 20+ years of marketing experience, I’ve seen what truly makes restaurant email campaigns effective. Here, I’m sharing some actionable tips to help you elevate your restaurant email marketing strategy:

  1. Divide your email list into targeted groups based on criteria like location, demographics, past purchases, and dining preferences. Then, utilize data collected from your website, POS system, or email marketing platform to tailor content for each segment to deliver personalized experiences that drive engagement and conversions.
  2. Create attention-grabbing email subject lines that include promotional offers and actionable language. Conduct A/B testing to identify the most compelling subject lines that drive traffic to your website or physical location. This has reported open rates of 46-50%.
  3. Invest in professional photography or encourage user-generated content to showcase pictures of your menu items and dining experience in the best possible light. This offers a 10% boost in open rates because emotive imagery stimulates cravings and prompts action, whether making a reservation or placing an order.
  4. Provide value beyond promotion by sharing informative content, such as cooking tips, behind-the-scenes glimpses, or profiles of your chefs and staff. Additionally, offer exclusive access to events or culinary workshops to position your restaurant as a trusted authority in the culinary space, building trust and loyalty with your audience.
  5. Since 41.9% of global email views are on mobile devices, optimizing your emails for smartphones and tablets is imperative. Use responsive design techniques to ensure your email templates adapt seamlessly to various screen sizes. Also, keep content concise, easy to read, and include clear calls to action.
  6. Make it easy for customers to take action by directly integrating online ordering and reservation capabilities into your emails. Include prominent buttons or links leading to your online platforms, streamlining the process and increasing conversions.
  7. 69% of email users from the USA have unsubscribed from business emails that are oversent. Strike a balance between staying top-of-mind and avoiding inbox fatigue by optimizing the frequency of your email marketing campaigns. When deciding how often you should send emails, there’s no one-size-fits-all. Test different cadences to determine the optimal frequency for your audience.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to email marketing for restaurants, remember that it transcends beyond metrics and conversions. The sole purpose of using email marketing is to drive authenticity and build community by delighting your guests at every opportunity.

Take what you’ve learned and approach your marketing with fresh energy. Use these restaurant email marketing examples to create emails that genuinely connect, campaigns that capture attention, and experiences that stick with your diners.

Get in touch with InboxArmy if you need help crafting compelling email campaigns.

About Author

Chris sent his first email campaign in 1995. He’s worked directly with Fortune 500 companies, retail giants, nonprofits, SMBs and government agencies in all facets of their email marketing and marketing automation programs. He’s also a BIG baseball fan, loves a good steak, and is mildly obsessed with zombie movies. For more information follow him on linkedin

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