By Colby Cavanaugh posted 04-17-2017 09:08


Though many restauranteurs might not know it, email + hospitality is a match made in marketing heaven.


If you’re communicating with potential customers, email helps you draw them into your restaurant for the first time with special offers, events, or new menu items.


If you’re communicating with returning customers, your emails help strengthen their loyalty with reward programs, VIP clubs, or stories that help them connect to your brand on a more personal level.


But it gets even better (and more powerful) when you use guest data to determine that messaging and deliver a personalized, valuable inbox experience to every subscriber. Here’s how integrating your guest data with email marketing can help you turn first-time guests into loyal brand advocates.


Start capturing customer data
Realistically, you can’t do effective email marketing without:

  1. An email address (obviously)
  2. Data to act upon

But what data do you need to capture in order to power your best email strategy?


First, map out your objectives: Do you want to get people into a loyalty program? To drive them to a certain location? To increase their amount of visits?


Once you’ve identified the data you need to collect to achieve those objectives, know your basic capture points:


  • Leverage traffic to your website to encourage email signups and collect new subscriber info (like location) on your form.



  • Think about implementing a “VIP Club.” It’s essentially an email capture form, but promising (and delivering) exclusive offers allows you to ask people for more information.


  • But keep friction to a minimum: A lot of people fall into the trap of asking for more info than they actually need, which could cause people to bounce from your site. Only ask for data you actually plan on using.


  • Collect information at your brick-and-mortar location using an iPad app or good, old-fashioned business cards.


Simply ask for more info

If done right, this can be a great option, too.


For instance, ask subscribers to provide their birthdays, then follow up with a birthday message or offer when the date arrives. It's a great way to create 1-to-1 engagement with customers. Plus, birthday emails can lift conversion rates by 60% over non-birthday emails with the same offer (ClickZ).




Most people are willing to part with personal info if it means receiving offers and content tailored to their interests – but before you make the ask, put yourself in the shoes of your consumer: Would this request be annoying to you? What would you find valuable as a subscriber?


Connect your data and target your messaging

If you’re looking to get more advanced, you can integrate your email marketing with a platform like Venga.


Venga allows you to tie point-of-sale information to your digital marketing. Then, you can segment your emails accordingly to send your most relevant messaging ever.


Some examples?


  1. Big spenders


Let’s say Valentine’s Day is coming up. You know you’re going to be completely booked up, so how do you bring in the right people (AKA people who will spend a lot of money and not just order a salad)?


Venga allows you to dive into that data and segment out only people who, for instance, generally spend more than $100. Then, you can send your Valentine’s Day promo to just them and have more control over your guest breakdown on that crucial night.



2. Consumer habits

Have a special “wine pairings" dinner coming up? Send an invite only to regular wine drinkers who have spent at least $500 in the past three months.


Recently integrated new gluten-free options into your menu? Let gluten-free diners know!


Expanded your children’s menu? Spread the word to folks with little ones.


If you’re capturing the data, you can segment and target off of it.


  1. Party size


If you run any sort of special events business, pulling party size data from a reservation platform like OpenTable (which happens to integrate with Venga) can be super helpful when it comes to targeting email promotions for holiday parties, corporate events, etc.


 Party Size

  1. Lapsed guests


Check to see which guests haven’t visited in 30, 90 days, 6 months, etc. Then, send them a re-engagement email to help bring them back into your restaurant. According to a study by Salesforce, 63% of marketers surveyed said that re-engagement campaigns are “very effective.” And a study by Return Path found that 45% of recipients who received win-back emails read subsequent messages.


See the impact of your efforts

The coolest part of all of this?


Platforms like Venga allow you to go beyond opens and clicks in your email marketing analytics, tying specific promotions to in-store revenue. Since today’s marketers are accountable for bringing in revenue and concrete results, this is a next-level feature to prove that kind of impact.




Want to learn more? Emma recently hosted a webinar with Venga to take a deeper dive into the possibilities!





 Colby Cavanaugh


Colby Cavanaugh is SVP of Marketing at Emma. Prior to joining Emma, he worked as VP of Global Channels at Return Path, where he drove customer success through their global partner ecosystem and enhanced their product offerings for digital marketers. He has over 10 years experience in the digital marketing space, including positions with Webtrends, ExactTarget, and Salesforce.