If you’re going to take pride in making yourself accessible to all industries, sometimes you need to do some research on what the top people in those industries are already doing. Personally, I discovered something in the process of doing so: Sometimes the companies at the top of their industries are not the top email marketers.

For the purpose of this blog, I will focus on how pizza chains use email marketing. More specifically, Domino’s Pizza, Pizza Hut, Papa John’s Pizza and California Pizza Kitchen (I think I just possibly set a world record for using “pizza” the most times in one sentence). The first are the top three in terms of number of locations while CPK has less locations, but big name recognition. I’ll discuss their sign up processes, their welcome emails, and the newsletters and offers that followed.


All four of these pizza chains have sign ups, or at least a link to a sign-up page, directly on their homepages. They all lie above the fold on the homepage, which is a good start for each chain. Pizza Hut gets credit for having the largest button to sign-up. The entire right column of their homepage is dedicated to deals, with the sign-up being at the bottom. Domino’s and Papa John’s have links to their sign-up page on the bottom and top, respectively, of their homepage in the navigation bar. With California Pizza Kitchen, you can enter your email address right into a box on their homepage.

Overall, best practices were covered by these chains. They all had sign-up options on the homepage, above the fold. Other suggestions would include telling the customer what to expect from the newsletters and how often they can expect to receive them.

Welcome Emails

Domino’s, Papa John’s and California Pizza Kitchen each sent Welcome Emails almost as soon as I finished signing up. This was over a week ago, and I still haven’t received any email from Pizza Hut. Perhaps they knew I was signing up as an email marketing spy. Domino’s won this category. Not only did they tell me what to expect from their newsletters, but they presented the first offer right there. Their newsletter even had a call to action to order. Though Papa John’s sent a welcome email telling me to expect two emails per week with new menu updates and great offers, I haven’t received an email from them since. At least they had a call to action at the bottom to order online. California Pizza Kitchen told me what to expect from their emails, but lacked a call to action at the bottom.

If the company doesn’t tell you what to expect from their emails during sign up, it should definitely happen in the Welcome Email. All the companies that sent Welcome Emails accomplished that. Pizza Hut really dropped the ball by not sending one – especially if the rest of their competition is. A call to action that brings your customer back to your site is another effective tactic.


The welcome emails hit my inbox just over a week ago. Since then, only Domino’s has revisited. That makes me feel like the Papa John’s newsletter lied to me and that Pizza Hut and California Pizza Kitchen were out of their minds when they promised me specials. Kudos to Domino’s, though, as it appears the marketing about their new product also includes good email marketing. Their emails have a new deal each time with pictures of pizza that make me salivate.

You should take the best aspects of what each of these companies are doing if you are in the restaurant business. Learn from their mistakes, and improve upon their practices. Traditional, or best, practices might not always be best for your restaurant. Sometimes it takes out of the (pizza) box thinking to get your desired results. No matter your approach, be sure to test it out.

Let us know what you’re doing. We love to hear new ideas!