8 Most Effective Tactics To Build Your Customer Email List
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8 Most Effective Tactics To Build Your Customer Email List

How do you bring your customers back to your restaurant more often? Email marketing is the proven strategy for delivering your message. But first, you need a list of emails. Here's how to build your email list.
Written by Rory Bokser
Imagine being able to speak to every customer that walked through your door. Building a database of your customers has exactly this potential. Being able to message your customers lets you announce new dishes, locations, or events, wish them happy holidays, offer discounts, ask for feedback and reviews, and most importantly, stay on their minds.
Reaching your customers is a challenge. Now, less than 6.5% of your own Facebook followers see your Page's posts (source). Email marketing, on the other hand, is effective for all companies of all sizes, and restaurants are no exception. But how do you build a list of your customers' emails, phone numbers, or any contact information? Here are the 8 best ways to build a database of your customers.
1. Collect Emails in Person
This old-school tactic is the simplest example of contact information collection. Its longevity proves how important this information can be to a restaurant's success.
The setup is simple: place a nicely decorated fishbowl, vase, or box to collect the business cards of customers. You can also print out cards asking for names and emails for customers to fill out with a pen. Then, inform customers of your draw. Offer a free meal for 2, a cooking course with the chef, a catered lunch, or any other creative prize you can dream up. Finally, once a month, draw a name from the bin to pick your winner.
And of course, make sure to enter all the collected emails into your list! We recommend MailChimp for your email campaigns. Their Forever Free Plan lets you send 6 campaigns a month to up to 2000 subscribers.
2. Trade Internet for Information
Do you give your customers free WiFi? That's very kind of you! Using the principle of reciprocity, shouldn't they be giving you something in return? How about an email?
This simple tactic is the backbone of a company like ZenReach, which offers a full setup of turning your WiFi into a contact collection form. Upon connecting to your WiFi, customers will be prompted to enter their email before continuing. They will even help you send campaigns using those emails.
3. Collect Emails On Your Website
Customers visit your website to find your contact information, browse your menu, and view photos. All your visitors share something in common: they care about your restaurant. Instead of letting them wander away, you should be asking for their email.
Simply provide an incentive: to find about your events and promotions, to leave feedback with an email, or offer a recipe in return. We do this ourselves, for example, if you're enjoying this article you should subscribe for more content about boosting your restaurant business.
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Simple, right? Asking your customers to enter their information is an easy way to bring them back to your restaurant.
4. Online or Mobile Ordering
It's no secret, online and mobile ordering are on the rise and orders by phone call are decreasing. If customers are able to order from your website, then gathering their email or phone number is simple, just add it to your ordering form. If your online ordering system provider isn't giving you access to your emails, it's time to switch!
Now for a little shameless self-promotion, the best way to message your customers is through your own branded app. Unlike online ordering, customers don't even have to order for you to be able to reach them. Once your app is downloaded, you can send all your wonderful content through push notifications! That's why Restoply helps restaurants grow the largest list possible. If you're interested, read more about a custom mobile app for your restaurant here. End of self-promotion.
5. Host a Contest
Going back to reciprocity, what better way is there to reward customers for contact information than a huge prize? You can promote a contest through your Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Here's an example of a contest we helped run for Basha in Montreal. Over 320 phone numbers were collected, completely organically, with a prize value of $200. This a fun way to engage your Facebook audience, and by requiring shares for contest entry, you'll reach way more than the 6.5% average mentioned above.
6. Last Chance Grab
Going back to your website, instead of embedding an email collection element somewhere on the site (it's not going to fit in your menu or picture gallery), you can use a pretty incredible tool. Sumo offers a suite of tools that will collect your customers' emails on your website, and they're incredibly easy to set up! One of the main tools will prompt users with a pop-up right before they leave your page. While they can be marginally annoying for some, it's simply effective. In fact, for us, 50% of our email subscribers come from this pop-up. That's a 100% boost in people who want to receive more of our restaurant improvement content!
7. Text For Deals
Once again, playing on reciprocity, you can set up a texting program. This works in 3 steps:
1. Your customer texts your keyword to your number.
2. Your customer receives a special promotion by text.
3. Profit! You can send all your announcements by text to your subscribers.
We aren't the only company that can do this. EZTexting and Avochato are both great. But this is part of our growth strategy for when we build our clients custom apps. One of our clients, Le Marquis, gave the above discount, and collected 215 numbers in just 13 days!
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8. Guest Management Solution
Just like online ordering, you can improve your guest experience tremendously with an online guest management and reservation system. By taking reservations online, you can easily grow your email list and gain access to specific customer attributes. We recommend SevenRooms, a New York City startup that specializes in guest management.
No matter how you gather your customers' contact information, this low-cost, high-reward strategy is one that you should strongly consider implementing.
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