30 of the Best Restaurant Marketing Ideas You Need to Know
Obtaining new customers, improving sales and increasing the bottom line. These goals form an integral part of every restaurant marketing plan.
But how do you take your creative restaurant marketing ideas and turn them into an actionable plan that benefits your business? How do you attract new customers to your venue?
What is the recipe for success?
“There is more to online advertising than putting some money into a campaign, creating a pretty picture and writing a headline. There is a whole marketing funnel to consider and a lot of customer research, defining of goals, and analysis of desired outcomes involved. If you don’t set out to do it right, you will just be throwing money away.” – Shana Haynie
The key components you need to address when putting together your restaurant marketing ideas involve:
- Email Marketing
- Social Media Advertising
- Social Media Posts – Branded, Sales and Shared
These activities will form the core of your digital marketing.
Connecting with your customers and potential visitors with email can play a significant role in marketing for restaurants.
Including content such as contests, giveaways, current specials, discounts, notifications of upcoming events, and email-only exclusives can greatly benefit your restaurant.
If you offer a loyalty program, you can encourage customers to sign up for emails and entice them with deals, special offers and exclusive promotions.
Using your website, pop-ups or a dedicated social media campaign, you can encourage customers to return to claim their reward from your promotion; this could be anything from a free drink to money off a specific meal, etc.
57% of guests who research a restaurant before visiting will view restaurant websites before selecting where to dine. Source: Upserve
Having a blog on your restaurant website gives your SEO more pages to work with, and your customers more touchpoints to engage with you. It is important that you decide on a schedule for updating your blog and stick to it. Customers will not be happy to see such pages only being updated periodically, or worse – displaying the wrong information.
When crafting blogs for your restaurant digital marketing, you could include topics such as:
- Featured meals
- Tips and tricks from your chefs
- Updates on what’s happening at the venue
- Interviews with staff members
- Discussions about the menu and possible changes that are being considered
If your content is providing your customers with value in some form, they are going to want to read it, and return to read it again when you update.
For Social Media advertising to work properly for your restaurant digital marketing, you need to have a budget set aside for it.
There are different types of campaigns across the different platforms, and you will need to monitor and maintain all of these to make the most of your budget.
Facebook Ads will help you to increase brand awareness and your genuine Facebook followers; it is one of the first steps you can take to generate awareness of your venue and increase your reach through paid advertising.
Traffic Campaigns can help you increase bookings, promote special offers and encourage more people to visit your website. This tactic is especially useful when combined with a strong Call to Action (CTA) asking potential customers to ‘Visit Our Website’ or ‘Book Your Table Now!’
Brand Awareness campaigns are designed to increase the overall reach of your brand and encourage people to remember who you are.
Customers need to see your content on a regular basis before they decide to visit your venue; traditionally it’s argued that a customer needs to see content two or three times, but some now say that it should be seven times. Regardless, if your brand isn’t posting content regularly, you are actively decreasing your chances to appeal and remain relevant in the eyes of potential customers.
Broadly speaking, your social media content can be split into three sections, and you should be dedicating equal time to each 1/3rd.
Branded Posts – These are posts which have the primary objective of encouraging engagement. From motivational quotes, thoughts of the day, contests, giveaways, reviews and testimonials, these posts aren’t trying to directly sell to the customer – they are encouraging interaction.
Sales Posts – This is where you promote yourself and call your customers to action: Book a Table, Order Now, etc. Your content needs to be interesting, visually appealing and give the customers the information they need to make their decisions. This means you need to provide them with the type of cuisine, what price it is, when and where they can find it – and how they can reach you.
Shared Posts – These posts will generally be articles, blogs or pieces of external content that you’ve provided to your audience. They must give the customers value, otherwise they’re not going to get shared. These posts will help you build a relationship with your target audience, build their trust, deliver your Brand Voice and Values and ultimately increase successful marketing for restaurants.
- Set Up, Monitor and Manage Your Google My Business Page to appear in Local Google and Branded searches.
- Create Geo-Targeted adverts on AdWords, Facebook and Twitter to attract customers in your local area.
- Set up Google Alerts and use Social Listening to keep track of who is talking about you and why so you can celebrate wins, and be aware of any concerns.
- Monitor your social media presence so you can engage with your customers, answer queries and help solve customer problems that could negatively affect your brand.
- Encourage your customers to leave positive reviews online so new customers are more positively predisposed to your venue.
- Share positive press and reviews on your website and social media letting your guests see that you’re a brand that can be trusted, and somewhere they want to visit.
- Create stunning photographs and video content that shows off your food and venue; by showing as well as telling you give your potential customers more good reasons to visit you.
- Use Instagram to promote your best visual content, food is one of the most popular topics on the channel and you can gain interest, visibility and potential customers.
- Take ownership of review site profiles and respond to all customer reviews so others can’t damage your business by masquerading as you, and your customers will see you appreciate them.
- Run features on your staff to give customers a good look at the human face of the business, people like to see the behind the scenes aspects of a business, it gives them an emotional connection.
- Create an Email Newsletter with exclusive promotions and encourage customers to sign up so you can promote directly to interested parties.
- Implement a Customer Loyalty Program with rewards and levels that customers will find enticing to increase the number of visits to your venue and sales on specific dishes.
- Promote User-Generated Content on your website and social media. Share posts from happy customers, run photo competitions or hashtag events, this allows other guests to see that what you’re saying about your products is genuine and trustworthy.
- Use your blog to share successes, funny stories, new menu ideas and other information customers will find interesting, educational and relevant to promote a better understanding of the company and a deeper emotional connection.
- Ensure that your contact details are present and correct on every necessary touchpoint so there are no barriers between a customer visiting your site and making their purchasing decision.
- Make use of analytic tools and data to identify who your target audience are what they like, what they don’t like, and what they expect from you to create a more focused marketing campaign.
- Post regularly on social media with interesting and relevant content to stay in the customer consciousness.
- Optimise your website for the best possible customer experience; think of the customer journey through the site and ensure that information, links and contact buttons are where the customer would expect them to be. The easier you make it, the better experience your customer will have.
- Keep to your brand image and colours, but ensure that your content is fresh, functional and good looking. Make sure your posts are always appropriate and speak with your Brand Voice. Staying on brand helps customers identify you.
- Consider adopting online delivery services to increase the number of customers who can purchase their meals from you.
- Make use of software such as OpenTable and offer online reservations to help increase bookings.
- Ensure that your website is responsive and use mobile AdWords to catch the attention of customers browsing your content on their phone.
- Offer coupons or online specials through your website or social media channels. Make sure to include some kind of unique code or identification to these promotions so you can gauge the success and take-up of these offers.
- Source ingredients from local vendors, farms or artisanal producers. There is a lot of interest in sustainability and supporting local business, and customers will feel more connected and that your business is ethical.
- Consider operating a food truck, creating a pop-up event or taking part in a community event. By making your brand known and seen, you’ll attract more interest.
- Partner up with local businesses to promote the area and encourage new customer engagement.
- Create engaging video content that highlights your menu, venue and local area. Video is one of the most popular forms of content and it will help you reach a wider audience.
- Connect with Influencers and run an Influencer Marketing campaign to increase your reach with potential new customers.
- Optimise your content for SEO to appear in relevant customer searches. The higher you rank, the more likely your content and pages are to be seen.
- Adopt a mix of techniques. For the best results, your marketing mix needs to combine different techniques, ideas and platforms.
Running a marketing strategy across different channels can be difficult, and some of the most common mistakes that businesses make when trying to make their strategy work are:
- Connecting Facebook and Instagram Accounts – This might seem like a great time saver, but reproducing the same content across both channels denies you the opportunity to increase your marketing mix. Facebook and Instagram are also both fundamentally different when it comes to posting expectations, content types, hashtag usage and image size. By using a one-size-fits all approach, you can actually be putting yourself at a disadvantage.
- Placing Your Social Media Feed on Your Website – Whilst it’s a great idea to share positive reviews and posts of praise, by placing the social feed on your website, you’re actively distracting customers from what you want them to do (order a delivery, book a table, leave a review, etc.) And, if for some reason your social channels have a negative exposure or crisis underway; you do not want this to be the first things customers see when they visit your site.
- Using Excessive Hashtags on Facebook – This ties into the problem of sharing content on Facebook and Instagram channels; Instagram allows you to use up to 30 Hashtags (with the recommended number ranging from between 10 and 30), but on Facebook, the best results come from having only two hashtags. It’s actually been found that posts with more than two are less engaged with and generally viewed as being spammed with hashtags.
- Not Creating New Images – It is time-consuming to continually create new content, but as a restaurant, you have plenty of opportunities to create fantastic images both out in the front of house, and in the kitchens from food preparation to the final touches. Your customers need to be engaged, and if you’re simply sharing the same images or the same types of content every single time, your visitors are going to get bored and stop looking.
- Marketing to the Wrong Areas – Digital Marketing for your restaurant needs to be undertaken in two distinct ways; aiming at a national audience (to connect with tourists and out of town visitors) and to a local audience. It’s vital that you don’t forget to create content and marketing strategies that will connect with your locals because these are the people who are likely to visit you most often.
The digital marketing strategy for your restaurant needs to drive prospective diners to your website and your venue doors. Whether they come from your restaurant social media pages, Google or direct from your website, you need to have creative restaurant marketing ideas in place on every touchpoint to gain their interest.
Your marketing mix needs to contain different ingredients and they all need to be balanced in the right proportions.
“Put together it’s a recipe for success, but like a souffle – an inexperienced chef could have a disaster on their hands if they don’t use the right ingredients and the correct techniques.” Dawn Gribble, Virtual Solutions CEO & International Speaker
It is difficult to handle all the different parts of your business and to try and be a marketing expert at the same time. If you’re new to SEO, Digital Marketing and using Social Media for your business, then it can seem overwhelming.
It is so important that you don’t give up on your marketing strategy or do it with anything less than fulltime.
“Too many restaurants care too little about retention, placing much emphasis on outbound marketing and the attraction of new customers, with comparatively little attention paid to keeping the customers they’ve already paid to get.” – Jay Baer
Making full use of opportunities, digital technologies and the advantages they give you will allow you to market your restaurant to a wider interested audience, as well as continue to appeal and stay relevant in the minds of those who are already customers.
Last Updated on 4 December 2023 by Dawn Gribble