Email Marketing Trends in Food & Beverage Business

Reach customers wherever they are with email marketing. Remind your audience why they should choose your restaurant.
Marketing trends come and go with the season and the year, but one trend is here to stay – email marketing.


While some people forecasted its doom, email marketing is top of the list when it comes to marketing your restaurant.

In this article, we look at restaurant email marketing trends you can use for your restaurant. Then, we look at why you should be using email marketing and why it’s here to stay.

Mobile Friendly Rules

Just like with your restaurant website, your email templates must be mobile friendly. It’s imperative that they resize well on smartphones and tablets. If they don’t, there’s no reason to send them because most customers are opening your email on their smartphone first.

A recent survey from US Consumer Device Preference Report finds that 66% of all email in the United States is now read on smartphones. And, we don’t expect that trend to stop there. Mobile email opens should continue to rise.

You want to look at the analytics your email service provider gives you. This is where you’ll see how many people are opening your emails on their smartphones, tablets or computers.

When planning your mobile friendly, responsive email designs, you want to keep the following in mind:

  • Don’t create an email with one big image. When it resizes, your smartphone users won’t be able to read the text inside the image.
  • Use buttons for calls to action and links. Make the buttons large enough for a person’s finger to click on. Don’t use text links.
  • Use large fonts that resize.
  • Balance text and images.
  • Optimize images to the smallest size so they load seamlessly.
  • Use your email service provider’s mobile friendly templates or hire someone to design one for your restaurant.
  • Test your email in multiple email clients, browsers and devices.

Personalization Counts

Another trend in restaurant email marketing is personalization. People want to feel like you are speaking only to them.

Consider the plethora of emails your customers receive every day. It can be overwhelming, so they’ll be careful when choosing which ones to open and read.

They will open the ones that mean something to them and are addressed to them specifically.

Consumers are also looking for items that pertain to them personally. Find out what your customers want in an email and provide it for them.

When it comes to personalization, you can do it implicitly or explicitly. The email trends of this year suggest you incorporate both ways. Let’s look at the options:

  • Implicit personalization means you send emails to specific groups. For example, you’ve separated your email list into people who want recipes and people who want promotions. You then send each group the emails they’ve asked for.
  • Explicit personalization means you market to a customer’s actions. For example, you know that customer A always eats at your restaurant for Sunday morning brunch. You might send them a reminder every week to do so.


Tracking Matters

While you could just send emails every week and simply note their open rate, you aren’t doing much to improve it.

By tracking each email in detail, you learn what works for your restaurant and what doesn’t.

Be data-driven when it comes to your email marketing. To improve on your strategy, you have to be able to make informed decisions and adjust as necessary.

Know who opens your emails, what device they’re using and what links they click on.

You can also append your URLs so your email marketing results show up in Google Analytics so you can gain a better understanding of your email traffic.

Automation Delivers

What exactly is email automation?

It’s one of the most effective ways for you to engage your customers and a new trend in email marketing.

Automation is setting up a system in your email service provider to send a string of individualized emails to your customers.

For example, Judy Smith signs up for your email list on your website. She ends up in your automation setup.

You’ve already created a set of emails to go out in the following manner:

  • Your system automatically sends a welcome email on day one.
  • One day two, your system sends an email with a brief overview of your restaurant and tells them what they can expect from your emails.
  • A few days later, the system sends the new customer a video of your chef making your signature dish.
  • The following week, your system sends your customer a coupon.
  • While this sounds robotic, automation makes your life easy. Each time someone signs up for your email list, this set of emails is triggered.

They address each new customer individually and offer something of value. It’s the first step in building a strong relationship with your customer and staying top of mind.

Automation should be used in addition to your regular email marketing strategy. After your customers are sent the entire string of emails, add them to your main list. They’ve earned the right to be there and shown their interest in your restaurant.

While the trend of email automation sounds tricky, it isn’t, especially if you use the built in power of your email service provider.

Now let’s look at some examples of when to use automation:

  • Use it when a subscriber signs up for your email list. They might sign up on your website, social media platforms, your app or in your restaurant.
  • Automation works when you want to send a series of emails. For example, let’s say you want to offer a series of five how-to videos for your customers. You can create the videos and the emails and set them up in your automation string to go out at set times. Be sure and let your customers know you are doing this so they know what to expect.
  • You can set up an automated system to send happy birthday greetings with a coupon for your restaurant.
  • Automation can be triggered based on an action taken on your website. For example, a customer orders from your online menu. You then funnel them into a string of automated emails based on online ordering. You can also send an initial email thanking them for their purchase with pick up details.
  • Automated surveys are also a great tool for your restaurant. They are the best way to find out what your diners want and to get valuable feedback

Modular Email Templates

The trend in email marketing design is modular templates. This adds variety to emails that tend to all look the same.

The goal of the modular email template is to make design changes quick and easy. It allows designers to create visually appealing emails while ensuring they render consistently across email accounts, devices and browsers.

Modular templates are often colorful and include multiple boxed areas that stack when rendered on mobile phones. For example, the template starts out with two columns on a regular computer, but when viewed on a phone they stack one on top of the other.

Think of modular templates as Lego building blocks that you can rearrange to suit your needs and your content.

The goal of modular email templates is to allow you to quickly edit your designs without having to start over every time. It ensures consistency in your email marketing.

In addition, other types of modern email often have edge-to-edge designs and fills up the screen no matter its size. They have big hero image banners and simplified content with large calls to action.

Interactive Emails

Another trend is the email that drives interaction. Batch and blast emails are a thing of the past.
Email is no longer created for all subscribers. They’re created for individual preference. And as such, your marketing campaign strategy should take this into consideration when developing interactive emails.

Get creative with your emails and test animated GIFs, image rollovers and animation. If any of these positively affect your click-thru rates, keep using them.

Your goal in email is to grab the reader and encourage the click. By adding interactivity, you can increase the chances they’ll click.

Social Media and Email Join Forces

With the rise of social media, many industry experts predicted the demise of email. They were wrong.

Social media proponents can no longer say email is dead. What they can do is join forces.

Social media is a good place to build your email list and link to interesting content. Email marketing benefits from the incorporation of social media content.

Look for these two platforms to work together more closely in the near future.


Gmail Gets Better

While this is a techy trend, it’s worth mentioning, because as any restaurant marketer can tell you, a great deal of their email subscribers use Gmail.

Gmail has unfortunately been slow to adopt changes when it comes to mobile responsivity and media queries. They are often cited as not being compatible.

This year, expect them to make some changes. They are working on enhancing the user’s viewing ability and revising their support for different types of email coding.

We anticipate with these changes that your customers will experience a superb user experience on their smartphones as well as their desktops.

Email Coding is Gone

Many experts think this year is the year that coding emails becomes a thing of the past. They say email design becomes much simplified making it easy for almost anyone to do.

With powerful drag-and-drop technology, sending emails should be a breeze.

Now let’s look at why you should be using email in your restaurant’s marketing strategy.

Defending Email

With its own website,, we look at a few of their statistics proving that email is worthy at the top of your restaurant marketing strategy.

  • More than 4.35 billion people have email accounts. This is expected to top 5.59 billion by 2019.
  • Nearly 75% of online adults in the United States use email on their smartphones at least weekly.
  • Email is the favorite form of communication for 72% of consumers.
  • In fact, 61% say they like receiving weekly promotions, while 28% want it more frequently.
  • Your fellow marketers rank email as the single most effective tactic for awareness, acquisition, conversion and retention.
  • If that’s not enough proof of why you should be using email for your marketing, let’s look at a few more reasons.

The Investment is Huge

Did you know that for every dollar you spend on email marketing, you earn a $44.25 return on your investment?

This is a perfect reason why the trend of email marketing is here to stay.

Why is the return on investment so high? It’s because email marketing helps you keep your restaurant top of mind for your customers. It lets you build a relationship with your guests which ultimately leads to an increase in sales.

Driver of Retention

Email is the number one tactic for increasing customer retention. This is you building a relationship and providing something of value to your restaurant customers.

This can come in the form of specials, recipes, how-to videos and other helpful information.

Enhancing the relationship with your customers not only increases customer retention, but it increases your conversion rate because people will think of you more often.

Email helps you nurture your relationship with your customers and gives you the chance to communicate in the inner sanctum of your customer’s email inbox.

People Want to Hear from You

People want to hear from your restaurant. After all, they invited you in by providing you with their email address.

It may seem surprising that your customers want more email in their inbox. But, customers are choosey, and they pick the businesses they want to hear from.

This is what makes it so valuable to you.

Email Promotions Work

One study shows that 70% of consumers want you to email them coupons, and they’ll actually use them.

An even more promising study on email shows that 44% of email recipients made a purchase based on a promotional email they received.

Email is highly effective at driving restaurant sales. It’s even more effective than social media. It’s a must-have for your restaurant.

Final Thoughts

Email marketing is a powerful tool for your restaurant. If you aren’t leveraging it to your full potential, you’re missing out on the benefits.

Of all your marketing channels, it provides the highest return on investment. It allows you access to powerful marketing campaigns and the ability to improve acquisition, conversion and retention rates for your restaurant.

It’s also generally cheap and easy to do.

By creating emails that are user-friendly, interesting, attractive and enticing, you’ll encourage your customers to stick around for a long time.

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