Posted: Tue 24th Aug 2021
Running a food and drink business is hard anyway. But add all-important marketing into the mix and finding time to do everything is a real challenge.
One of the best ways to get customers (old and new) back through your doors is to use email marketing. According to the Data and Marketing Association, for every pound spent on email marketing, there’s an average return of £35.41.
I know lots of small businesses struggle with email marketing. They feel unprepared to start it, but it’s like any new skill you’re trying to learn. You need to spend some time learning and some time practising and if you do those things, it will become easier. As the above statistic shows, the rewards will be worth it.
So, let’s get you started with five ideas for content you can include in your emails.
Go with the basic stuff
It may seem obvious, but people need to know some basic details about your business. It’s always worth a reminder. So, tell your subscribers these things:
Your opening hours (include any outliers, like Christmas and bank holidays)
How they can book a table
Whether you’re taking deposits and how they pay
Announce menu changes
If you change your menus or take seasonal ingredients into account, let your email list know. Help your subscribers understand why the changes are happening and when they will happen. This is your time to promote your new menu and entice people to come and eat with you.
You don’t have to limit this to food. There’s a pizza place in Uxbridge which is also a bar and they have a cocktail of the week. As the name suggests, it changes weekly. This kind of thing is a great piece of content to include in your emails, especially with a lush photo of the cocktail. If that isn’t inviting, I don’t know what is!
Remember to give your readers plenty of notice, particularly if you’re using seasonal ingredients. Set their expectations so they aren’t disappointed the next time they visit.
This doesn’t have to be money off, although who doesn’t like a voucher?
Think about how to tie your menu in with awareness days and use these to promote items. For example, if you own a café, you might tie in a promotion with National Picnic Month (1–30 July). You could offer a ready-made picnic for customers to pick up and include a free bottle of, say, elderflower spritz with every order.
Or perhaps you own an Italian restaurant. On World Pasta Day (25 October) you could host a tasting evening with a menu of your most popular dishes. People would need to book ahead of time (and perhaps you’d like to take a deposit), but who wouldn’t want some warming pasta dishes in October?
Remember, promotions don’t always have to mean discounts. You can get creative without sharing one single coupon. But if you do decide to share a discount, make it exclusive to your email list. After all, they’ve subscribed and it’s a nice surprise to receive something just for doing that.
Divulge some of your secrets
I like to try and recreate dishes I’ve eaten or cocktails I’ve drunk. Doing that at home brings back good memories.
If you’re worried people won’t come to you if you “give away” your secrets, you really don’t have to. Think of how many celebrity chefs have restaurants and share recipes by email or on social media.
That’s right. Lots. But we still go out to eat at their restaurants, don’t we?
Sharing the odd recipe will work for you. It could be a much-loved item on your menu. You can even ask your readers to take photos of their efforts and tag you on social media. This type of content (called user generated content, or UGC) is golden. Maybe you could even turn it into a monthly competition.
What I’m saying here is don’t worry about giving some stuff away for free. People will love you for it, and they will still come and eat and drink with you (because sometimes we all want time off from our own kitchens!).
Tell your readers what’s happening
Do you have new team members? Have you been featured in the local press? Did you win an award?
These are all things your readers will love to know. Giving them a glimpse into what running your business is all about makes you more human.
From sharing team birthdays and anniversaries to showing what goes on behind the scenes, these things let your subscribers get to know you better. It makes them feel like they know the team and, for me, that makes me more invested in that business’s success.
If you get involved in your local community, don’t forget to share that too and tell your readers how your business gets involved in your community.
Whether you’re new to email marketing or an old hand, the biggest piece of advice I can give you is to have a plan.
Once you have that, creating and sending out regular emails will be a breeze. And your readers will love hearing from you.