How to do restaurant email marketing with MailChimp

Many restaurants avoid doing email marketing. It’s a pity, as it can be a very effective marketing tool. For example, one of our early customers is making insane sales every Wednesday with a weekly email offer. A simple email with a clear offer and a button linking to the online ordering on the website. Read here his success story.

Nowadays, restaurant email marketing no longer requires super-specialised IT knowledge. Just like the website builders, there are many tools available that make the email sending very easy, with visual email editors and simple setups. One such tool is MailChimp. It’s among the market leaders, very easy to use and more importantly: it’s free for up to 2,000 email addresses and 12,000 emails per month.

How to build your restaurant email marketing list

Building / growing your email list is something that you should do continuously. Here are some of the ways you can get the email addresses of your clients:

  • Sign up forms on your website and Facebook page
  • Previous online orders (online ordering and/or POS system)
  • Signup cards and feedback paper forms that you can leave on the table or serve with the check
  • Extra line on the receipts asking for the email address.

Don’t forget that in order to be compliant with the anti­spam laws, your clients needs to voluntarily give you their email addresses, being aware of your intentions of when/why you would worry, people do subscribe for receiving special offers and promotions.

MailChimp does a nice job with helping you manage your subscribers list. In your account, in the main menu, there is an option called Lists. Simply create a list and you can easily import your existing clients. Moreover, MailChimp also gives you a hand with the online forms. You can create and customize signup forms to embed in your website and Facebook page.

restaurant email marketing ­ manage subscribers with mailchimp

How to send out an email

With the list populated, it’s now time to create a campaign. A campaign is nothing else but the actual email message that you send out to your subscribers. For your convenience, you can design your email starting from an existing template. You can drag and drop different content blocks and customize them until you reach your desired look and feel. MailChimp automatically handles the mobile version of your emails. Yup, it’s a lot easier than you have imagined.

Let’s take a practical example. Just like in the success story mentioned earlier, let’s say we want to send out a weekly Wednesday email. The email promotes a discounted offer and links to the online ordering. Here’s how to do this, step by step.

Create a new campaign

  • In your MailChimp account, click on Campaigns and then Create Campaign. Select the Regular Campaign - you need to invest a minimum effort to make your email look nice. Afterall, we’re aiming for some appetite and there is no better way to create appetite than by using images.
  • Select to whom you want to send the email. Most likely this will be your entire list.
  • In the Campaign info screen, give your campaign a name, choose the email subject and how the from should appear.

Design your email

  • Moving on, you get to select a template. You can go with one from the restaurant theme, if you wish. For our example here we will simply choose the first one from the Basic templates (1 Column)
    restaurant email marketing ­ email template with mailchimp
  • “Use this area to offer a short preview of your email’s content”. If you are wondering what this is: most email clients show in the inbox, next to the subject line, some content from the email body itself. Use this to support your subject line and convince the client to open the email. Write something short and appealing. In our example this can be the object of our promotion, like “15% discount on all burgers”.
  • Next, we need an image. Click on Edit block and then Browse to upload an image. The email page width is 600px and the width of our image content block in this layout is 560px. So that’s the size that you would be looking for. One trick though: for the image to be shown nicely on all devices, it’s ecommended that you use double the normal size. So for a header image of, for example, 560 x 200 you can upload an image that is 1120 x 400. If you do this, make sure you check the option to Constrain image dimensions by 50% for high definition displays
    restaurant email marketing ­ edit email template in mailchimp (image)
  • Now we should take care of the text. Write a compelling email, letting the customer know exactly what the promotion is about, how long it lasts and how he/she can benefit from it. Keep your text short and concise. One tip for making your email more personal: personalize it by using the name of the client (provided that you have the names in your subscribers list, not just the email ddresses). To do that, in the text editor click in Merge Tags and select First name.
  • The text is not complete without a call to action. A button that invites your customer to order. From Content, drag and drop a button content block. Personalize your button and make sure you put the correct link to your website.
  • Click on Preview and TestEnter Preview Mode to check how your email looks like.
    restaurant email marketing ­ edit email template in mailchimp (image)
  • Click on Preview and TestSend a Test Email and send an email to yourself. Make sure you check how the email looks like on desktop and mobile. Also, double check the spelling and all the links in the email.
  • Once you’re done you can send the email out.