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Blog / August 15, 2019

10 Proven Email Marketing Tips For Restaurants & Bars That Convert into Reservations & Sales

Bianca Esmond

Email marketing is of the most cost-effective ways for restaurants, bars and nightclubs to build loyalty and drive reservations and sales, but only if your emails are actually opened and read. We all receive dozens, if not hundreds, of emails a week from companies and brands vying for our attention. So how do you ensure that your emails stand out in an overly crowded inbox? In this helpful guide, we will point out 10 easy to implement tips that can help improve your email open rates and click-through conversions, while promoting long-term loyalty and repeat sales with your best customers.

1. Use short & sweet subject lines

Your emails can’t convert if they are never opened. When up against dozens of other unread emails, it’s all about making that pivotal first impression – which means creating a great subject line and compelling preview text. So what makes a subject line work? While there are many ways to get your reader’s attention, it’s best to follow a few simple guidelines.
  • Keep it short: If your subject line is so long that it gets cut off before readers can view the entire message, you are doing something wrong. This is especially important for mobile, when the cut off can happen after only five words (~30 characters). Think about the main point and use concise, actionable language that conveys that concept.
  • Keep it accurate: Your subject line should sum up the primary message of your email. So whether you are promoting a special culinary event, a new golf package, or just wishing a guest a happy anniversary, it should be abundantly clear in the subject line. Being too clever at the expense of clarity is usually a losing proposition. Also, keep in mind that no one appreciates a bait and switch, so if your subject line is promising something specific, you have to deliver it in your email copy or risk losing subscribers.
  • Don’t forget about preview text: Preview text is the short message that appears just after your subject line. While it does vary among email providers, you usually have about 35 to 140 characters — so don’t waste them! Make sure this copy directly supports the message in your subject line and adds context. For example, if your subject line is: “Thanks For Being Loyal, Here’s 20% Off,” make sure the preview text supports that message. For example: “Come back this summer and enjoy 20% off all wine.”

2. Pick a goal and stick to it

Your readers should be able to draw a straight line of thought from your subject line to your call-to-action (CTA). Don’t complicate your email with competing ideas or numerous calls to action. Create a clear goal for each campaign, whether it’s announcing a new restaurant or promoting a special package. Once you’ve narrowed down your focus, ensure every element, including the subject line, preview text, email copy, images and CTA all support that goal. By sticking to one main theme or message, you can keep your emails short, sweet, and effective.

3. Slice your content by audience 

Instead of creating one long email and sending it to everyone in your guest database, craft a series of concise, segmented emails that are only sent to guests who are interested in that type of content. For example, an email about your latest whiskey offering being sent to only those guests who have visited and ordered a whiskey cocktail, or only sending a holiday cookie decorating event to guests who typically visit with their families. After all, our inboxes are already overcrowded, why waste time having to delete emails from a brand that doesn’t even know who you are or what services you’re interested in?

4. Personalize your content

Once you’ve chosen your main message and determined your core audience, the next step is making sure your email is personalized to the guest. This means including your recipient’s actual name at the top and not just “dear guest.” Personalization also means choosing the right tone and wording to connect to that particular audience. Think about the primary demographics of your database (age range, marital status, etc.) and plan your copy accordingly. After all, you wouldn’t promote a low-country crab boil the same way you would a 10-course tasting.

5. Keep the content brief

People love reading novels — just not inside an email. You can’t count on your audience to read through five paragraphs of copy and hope they find something they like. By crafting your email around a single goal, you can explain the main point in just a few short sentences. If you are promoting a special or package, don’t bog the email down with every single detail and rule. Highlight the main benefits and value of the promotion before ending with a single call to action that links to a landing page with more details.

6. Let your content breathe

People’s eyes instantly glaze over when presented with a giant block of text. It’s integral to approach your email as a balancing act between content and design. This includes:
  • Making use of white space
  • Creating paragraphs that don’t exceed 2-3 sentences
  • Integrating images between text blocks
If you follow these best practices, you are giving your readers the visual breathing space they need to connect with your copy.

7. Keep your enthusiasm in check

Using ALL CAPS or multiple exclamation marks in your emails is distracting at best and disconnects readers from your message. Unless you own a restaurant or club that’s closing for good and “Everything Must Go” today, stick to basic grammar rules and leave the shouting for circus barkers.

8. Stay professional, but warm

No one wants to get an email from a robot. If you want your audience to connect with your message and take action, keep the tone professional, on-brand, and most of all, human. Don’t be afraid to inject a little light-hearted humor or even a few fun emojis. It’s also important to use a warm, conversational tone that comes off as sincere, not stuffy. So skip the typical marketing speak and treat the email like a real conversation between two friends.

9. Promote engagement with active voice

A quick grammar reminder for those who haven’t been in school for a while. When a sentence is written in active voice, the subject of that sentence performs the action. When passive voice is used, the subject is acted upon by another performer. For example:
  • Active: Johnny won the chess tournament.
  • Passive: The chess tournament was won by Johnny.
While both sentences are technically correct, the active voice example is direct and engaging. Active voice also comes across as more confident and reassuring – something every brand wants to represent. Conversely, passive voice tends to use more extraneous words, which goes against the rule of keeping your content as concise as possible. Use passive voice sparingly, as it makes the reader feel further removed from the subject, which is the opposite of what you are trying to accomplish.

10. Look for inspiration that moves you 

While it’s never a bad idea to see what your local competitors are up to, there’s no rule that says you have to rely solely on hospitality-centric emails for campaign inspiration. Just look at your own inbox. What grabs your attention? Which brand emails do you always open? What is it about those emails that speaks to you? Is it the personalization? The great subject lines? The clear, focused copy? Most likely, it’s a combination of those features. See what inspires you and then determine how you can apply similar elements to your own campaigns. With these email copy tips, you’ll be well on your way to creating emails that convert time and time again, driving more guests to your restaurant and boosting revenue and loyalty. For more information on how Cendyn can help you achieve your goals, visit today.

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