The Case For Restaurant Email Marketing: How 1 Email Generated $2,805 In Event Sales

email marketing for restaurants case study

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Even a cold, dead email list can be a powerful channel to drive sales for your restaurant. In this case study, we discuss how this was a failure and what success looks like.

Last month, one of our partners, Little Jumbo, approached us with a challenge:

Hi Kyle. We have an event coming up on Wednesday, November 23 that we are trying to sell advance tickets for… it’s a 5-course dinner with wine pairings featuring the wines of Anthony Buchanan. I’ve done a couple of Instagram posts, but I understand you may have some sort of mailing list. Tickets are $165 including tax and gratuity and seating is limited. Interested parties can email us for tickets or more information. Can we get your help spreading the word?

Matt, Little Jumbo’s GM

The short version of this case study:

We shared the details of this event via email to a list of 4,096 people who opted in to receive marketing from Little Jumbo either through offers we made in the past or at the point of reservation.

That email generated $2,805 in sales.

  • Of those recipients, 51.07%—2,000—opened the email.
  • For context, Little Jumbo’s Instagram posts reached a total of 1,541 people.
  • 11 people responded directly to the email to purchase tickets ($1,815 in sales)
  • 6 contacted the restaurant through other channels after receiving the email to purchase tickets ($990 in sales).

This 1 email was responsible for most of the event sales.

Okay, great. Case study over, right?

Not quite.

In fact, I view this as a failure.

Success would be 1 email to sell out the event (or series of emails to sell it out).

Let’s paint a more “complete” picture of successful email marketing for restaurants

What I actually want to make the case for is that email isn’t a marketing ‘tactic’, but an integral part of a strategy that orchestrates key activities resulting in incremental revenue and brand trust that compounds over time.

The question: If one email to a cold, dead list can generate $2,805 in sales? What’s possible if we consistently show up for our audience on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis? What if we combine email with SMS and retargeting?

In other words, what if email is a consistent and well-executed part of our marketing and not just something we do when we “need” something from our audience?

The challenge in answering this questions lies in the perennial disconnect between marketing and restaurant sales. There’s a way to close the gap, though.

To get a sense of what that looks like, check out the Scale ‘N’ Sell Restaurant Marketing Framework video below:

Answer: We show up for our audience like no one else — leading to boosted revenue and brand trust.

And don’t just take it from me. Email Marketing Gold conducted a study that shows the ROI of email marketing is higher than any other channel:

email marketing ROI and restaurants
Source: Neil Patel

Flipping the script from “spammy” to “generous”

Most restaurant owners I speak with (who aren’t clients) have a severe allergy to the idea of sending emails. They think it’s spammy.

Indeed, it often is spammy because it’s done poorly. There’s a sense of ‘neediness’.

So I want to flip the script and suggest that it’s generous.

Email is not just a sales machine. It’s a channel we can use to “show up” for our audience and surprise and delight them with:

  • Offers
  • Recipes
  • Updates
  • Invitations
  • Product releases
  • Interesting questions
  • Fun community engagement
  • Behind-the-scenes snapshots
  • And more…

Email done well – as a generous and thoughtful interaction between consenting parties – sends powerful signals to your audience:

  • You care
  • You value them
  • You respect their time
  • You’re well resourced (subtle, but foreshadows the quality of their experience)

Put another way: your content channels are for you to “give” not to “get”.


While a single email to a cold, dead list can work. The results of this study would be wildly different had it been part of a cohesive strategy executed with discipline over time. Good could have been GREAT.

If you’re on the fence about whether email marketing is worth your attention, check out this article.

Or better yet, book a Roadmapping call with us to get a tailored look at the opportunity for your restaurant.

Weekly takeaways, straight to your inbox.

🙂 Actionable tips to get more guests…

 😃 Ideas to increase per-head spend…

😍 Value-packed quotes from the podcast…

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