Restaurant email marketing

Even with the best restaurant email marketing platform in the world, you’ll fail to deliver optimal email marketing results if you’re not using the right images. And by “right,” I mean the images your audience is drawn to and compelled by.

You already know images are compelling because you’re human. If I were to publish this post without the picture of the busy restaurant to get your attention, you’d be less interested in reading it. The image gets your attention. In fact, the image starts telling you what this post is about before you start reading the words.

And you know the old adage about a picture is worth a thousand words.

So even if you’re all set up with a restaurant email marketing platform that lets you use your data, segment your customers, and target your message, you must still be sure the images you’re using are as impactful as can be.

Why images are so impactful in restaurant email marketing

Restaurants sell food and drink and experiences that satisfy our senses on multiple levels. But, unlike in your brick and mortar location, email can’t convey the smells, tastes or sounds of your restaurant. Sight is the only sense you can appeal to with your restaurant email marketing. That makes your email imagery even more important.

Not that the photography wasn’t already important. According to Gourmet Marketing, compelling restaurant photography has the following benefits:

  1. Creates a great first impression
  2. Leads to more conversions
  3. Helps your online presence and SEO

And in particular, when it comes to restaurant email marketing, images are key.

Images affect your Restaurant Email Marketing

What about the photos used in your restaurant email marketing? Are they visually compelling? Or falling a little flat? Are you investing the necessary time and energy into the images you use?

And before you say images don’t show up in every email so don’t really matter, I disagree. I realize image blocking is still a concern (and the rules for image blocking defaults vary). But the images used in your restaurant email marketing should be chosen wisely and used well regardless.

For those who see them, images can help your click-through and even your conversion rates. According to one source, 67% of consumers said the quality of an image was very important when choosing and buying a product. Your restaurant email marketing platform might be helping you make progress on segmentation, timing and data, but the right images are needed too.

In addition, your engagement level can increase when you use compelling images people like to see and eagerly await, even if they’re not buying yet. And better engagement means better email deliverability and (later) ROI. It could also mean more shares and email forwards, which only expand your brand reach.

Choose quality, compelling images

If you’re serving delicious meals or fancy cocktails that are visually compelling on their own, and you have professional-quality photos of that food or drink, you’re well on your way. You’ll have an easy time finding pictures that will dramatically improve the performance of your emails.

However, if you don’t yet have a stock of compelling photography to draw from and you’re starting from scratch, be sure to use pictures that are relevant to your brand and your offer. But also make sure to use attractive and appealing images that people will be drawn to. And make sure to use high-quality images as well. It’s easy to take a bad photo. And a poor-quality photo is best deleted forever.

Work your alt text

For those on your restaurant email list with images turned off, work your alt text. That alt text can make the difference between someone reading your email or deleting it. It can even prompt someone to see the images either by clicking on the web version link or by turning images on.

Alt text should be more than descriptive since it is literally taking the place of a visual image. So work on that text. Instead of alt text that tells the recipient it’s a picture of a spinach salad, use the alt text to describe the spinach salad in an appealing way, as in “Our seasonal spinach salad is tossed with herbed goat cheese, dried cranberries, candied walnuts, and our special raspberry vinaigrette.” Or use the alt text to promote a special price for the salad, or limited availability. Go beyond the basic “spinach salad” and put that alt text to work to engage your recipient.

Test to discover the right images for your restaurant

But maybe the spinach salad isn’t the right subject for your email image. Do you know which types of images appeal most to your audience? Don’t assume it’s a picture of food. It might be photos of your crowded restaurant with everyone smiling while eating. It might be close-up images of happy customers, or a picture of a to-go bag with jo-jo fries sticking out, or your restaurant lit up at night. Test, test and test again to find the images that work best with your restaurant audiences. See if you can make split A/B testing part of each send you do with your restaurant email marketing platform.

Deliver dynamic (i.e. hyper-personalized) content

Today’s email marketing technology enables one-to-one marketing when you have enough data (and you can access it). That means you can use dynamic content for images so that each recipient is served images that are more relevant to them based on the data you have on them. Do they typically order a Senior Special? Show them an image related to that, or maybe use images with older people. Are they a regular at the Friday Happy Hour? Show them images related to that.

It’s more advanced but you can also use dynamic content within an image. For example, you could have a menu with that week’s specials listed and the customer’s name at the top with wording like, “This week’s specials for Dianne.”

Closing…A picture is worth a thousand words…or at least a few more opens

No matter the restaurant you’re marketing, from a gourmet chain to a casual franchise, images are critical in your emails. It might not be that the pictures of your restaurant or food show up in every single person’s inbox due to default image settings. But that doesn’t mean no one sees your images, nor does it mean you should take a haphazard approach to choosing them.

Your email marketing images count. So choose wisely and well in order to make the most of your restaurant email marketing platform.