As a restaurant owner, you probably already collect customers’ email addresses. But are you using email marketing to its full potential? That is, are you growing your list as rapidly as you could be? Are you sending the emails your customers want? And are you segmenting your readership to better serve the needs of various groups? When you employ email list management, you keep customers’ mouths watering for your services.

Here’s how to take advantage of smart list management at your restaurant.


Grow your email list

The first step in being a savvy email marketer is to grow your number of subscribers. Below are six ways to do that. During the sign-up process, don’t hesitate to ask customers what they’re more interested in hearing about (e.g., beverage specials, private events, etc.). That’ll help you segment those readers later.

  1. Ask for email addresses on your checks and receipts
  2. Put a sign-up sheet next to your cash registers and orders-to-go pickup space
  3. Add a sign-up box to the header of all your webpages, making it easy for visitors to opt in to receive offers and news
  4. Add a more robust contact form to your website, perhaps on your events page, that prompts visitors to submit their contact information and other data about themselves (many different contact form plugins work with VerticalResponse)
  5. Put a gate on your guest Wi-Fi, requiring customers to submit their email addresses (and consequently subscribe to your mailings) to access it
  6. Build a landing page designed to collect contact info, and use social media to direct followers to it

Savor these segmentation tips

Once you have an email list large enough to segment, it’s time to think about how best to divide up those customers. Email list segmentation — that is, bucketing contact lists into categories based on demographics, characteristics, buying habits and preferences — allows far more strategy in how businesses market to their readers. A 2015 study showed that proper list segmentation can increase email open rates by up to 40 percent, with a corresponding rise in clickthrough rates. That’s because segmentation allows you to craft email campaigns that are more directly relevant to each segment of readers. More relevance equals more engagement.

Here are some methods for segmenting your restaurant customers:


This is particularly useful if you have more than one restaurant location. Customers in different areas, towns or regions may have different preferences or different dining-out habits, and they may respond differently to various events. What works for one location may not be as successful in another, and vice versa. Use segmentation to separate your diners into groups based on where they patronize your business, and then create email campaigns that speak to each group.


Age, marital status, gender and other demographic factors all influence the behaviors of diners. The more information you can glean from your readership, the better. For example, some customers may be more interested in your romantic offerings for Valentine’s Day, while others may be curious about the kids’ birthday parties you host. Still others may want to hire your services for in-home catering, or prefer to take part in early-bird specials. Think about the different ways you serve your customers, and then segment your readership based on which groups may be more inclined to participate in each.

Dining habits

Perhaps you have some customers who only patronize your restaurant for breakfast, and others who only stop in for working lunches. No doubt your weekend clientele is different from your weekday customer base, with corresponding variances in the types of food and beverages ordered. You may even have customers who only order food to go, and others who exclusively dine in. Try segmenting your email list according to these preferences. This helps you target some readers, for instance, with workday lunch specials while informing others of happy hour deals or weekend live music nights.

Send the emails they’re hungry for

Now that you have a robust list that you’ve been able to divide up a few different ways, what types of emails will you send out? Here are a few options to try:

  • General newsletters
  • Special event and party invitations
  • Dine-in promotions
  • Carry-out coupons
  • Info about your catering or banquet services
  • News about special seasonal dishes available for a limited time

Check, please

It’s never too late to start managing your email list. By growing your readership, bucketing your audience into various groups and sending the emails they want, you’ll satisfy their cravings and keep your restaurant at the top of their minds. Bon appetit!

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