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3 Ideas: Ways to Grow Your Restaurant's Email List

August 8, 2020

I don’t give up my email address unless there’s something in it for me that I really find valuable.

(Just scroll to the bottom if you want to know the latest strategy I deployed that is working like CRAZY.)

Sorry Charlie, not worth the hassle of unsubscribing.

Grocery store just randomly asks for it? Pass.

Bank wants it for some odd reason? Pass.

I was at a church one time and they asked for it….. Again, hard pass.

Know who I eagerly gave it to tho? ....

My wife and I were on a Red Robin kick one year around Christmas time and we got to know the waitress (Gwen!) who told us we could get a free burger during our birthday month if we signed up for their rewards program... Sweet, sure thing. I already know the brand, the burgers aren't bad, always fast and friendly... And know what? Now, whenever we need to grab a quick bite to eat my wife asks me if Red Robin sent any coupons recently.

I realize the sample size in this little example is exactly TWO people but the principle is pretty clear and I don't think my wife and I are too far out of the ordinary as far as brand interaction goes: give someone something of value and ,in exchange, they give you their attention. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out what your customers want or what you can bribe them with. How can you pry that email address out of their grubby little fingers?… better yet, how can you get them excited about giving you their email? I’ve put a couple ideas together that you can steal or just skim over them to get your brain juices flowing.

1: Access to secret menu items.
Starbucks does this, and if you’re a sneakerhead, or follow sneaker culture at all, you know shoe retailers do this really well. We’re gonna just say you own a Roller Derby themed BBQ joint named RollerQ (boom, steal that idea :D), the headline over your email form on your website might read something like “Join our list and gain access to menu items no one else knows about” sub headline: “Every Monday we send out secret lunch items and the password to access them when you order!”

Of course you’d have to slightly coordinate with your team but I’ve built impressive lists using this strategy - paired with an already loyal customer base it can be unstoppable!

2 A Membership.
Small scale memberships are the best things ever. If I went to a coffee shop that had a “Cappuccino club” where, in exchange for my email address I got every 10tth cappuccino for free I’d give my email address up in a heart beat. Doesn’t take much to get business cards printed and buy a punch stamp.

I have to say one key element that needs to be mentioned is trust in your brand. Customers shouldn’t be hounded for their email address, it comes off as weird and desperate. Build trust and offer your value exchange as an aside.

3 Giveaway or Coupons.
This one is pretty straight forward and in the post-COvid coupon culture, this strategy is a great go-to. Heck, use it in tandem with 1 or 3, why not? I'm going to outline a strategy I recently implemented with one of my clients and we're quickly building a Facebook pixel audience AND an email list at a rate of 50+ a day!

The premise of this strategy is that people are looking for a convenient way to have a contactless menu while standing in line at a quick-serve restaurant. We were quickly able to design and dev an optimized online menu page on their website that was incredibly mobile friendly. On that page we also put a banner ad to get a free cup of coffee with their in person order - just enter your email address! We hooked this page up to a QR code and printed signs that we put at the beginning of the ordering line ("Looking for a contactless menu? Simply scan the code with your smartphone camera!") - Not only were they taken to a menu page with an offer for a free cup of coffee but every person who scanned the code was put into our Facebook ad audience via the pixel that was installed on the page.

Want to talk about it more? Hit me up on my Instagram or on Linkedin... I'm around. 👍

Hey, I'm Jeff

I help ambitious restaurant groups craft and grow powerful brands using creative strategies and meaningful design.

Pt 1: Brand Strategy and Positioning


Choosing the Right Platform for Your Restaurant's Website

Getting Online

What Should Be On Your Restaurant's Website? A Checklist

Getting Online

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