Digital Marketing for Restaurants: A Complete Guide

Marketing 21 minute read 12th January 2024

Digital marketing for restaurants is a modern-day must. It’s an excellent tool for building brand awareness — which is half of the battle with marketing strategies for restaurants. Digital marketing is simply using your online presence to attract potential customers.

It’s a brilliant way to connect with your target audience through online marketing channels like Google, Gmail, and social media. You just use the digital realm to facilitate marketing success and drive profit. What’s not to love?

In this guide, we’ll show you how to create a killer digital marketing strategy for restaurants. There are thousands of ways you can monetize the digital realm. With a blog post or two, you could invest in influencer marketing or search engine optimization. There are tons of options. We’ll give you a solid definition to solidify your understanding.

Then, we’ll run through the leading benefits of a digital marketing strategy and details on budget and time scales. Ready to take control of your digital presence? Here’s what you need to know.

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What Is Digital Marketing for Restaurants?

First, what do you need to know about restaurant digital marketing as a definition? What are the basics? Well, digital marketing for restaurants is just using an online presence to increase your profits.

You invest in restaurant marketing strategies to catch the attention of new people and expand your existing customer base. And bringing in new customers increases your profit. It is an umbrella term for a valuable marketing tool.

Forms of digital marketing include anything related to a social media presence, like TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. You could share viral videos of your favorite dish or funny behind-the-scenes action.

It could also relate to Google My Business and the power of internet marketing through search engine optimization. This also links to the power of online reviews, including how to utilize negative reviews effectively. There are also things like email marketing, which is effective at attracting a wider audience and advertising dining experiences.

The digital world is growing, with spending on digital marketing increasing 10% each year. There are so many avenues you can go down when marketing your restaurant, digital style.

Similarly, you can digitally market your business for various prices because there are many different avenues. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to budgeting for digital marketing.

You could splash out on a $30-40,000 salary for an in-house digital marketer. Or you could manage your own social media presence for free. The choice is yours.

Examples of Digital Marketing Strategies for Restaurants

Next, we’ll take a quick look at some examples of digital marketing strategies you can use for your restaurant. Before we dive into benefits, budget, and timeframe, it’s handy to know what you can use in the first place. These are a couple of strategies you can use. Feel free to nick some of these most popular ideas.

1. Reels on Tik Tok or Instagram

Reels are the most famous example of digital marketing right now. These short videos play on stories and dances, using viral audio hooks to accelerate reach further. To engage in the most trending form of marketing, reels on Instagram and TikTok are the way to go. They are also great for boosting team morale since they help channel creativity, novelty, and fun.

2. Email Marketing Campaigns

Email marketing campaigns are another popular marketing strategy. You typically conduct email marketing through automated software, which provides email templates and mass-sending capacity. Sometimes, this also includes personalization tools. You get a dashboard, too, to analyze responses and get clear analytical feedback.

You’ll need a log of email addresses to start an email campaign. Luckily, as a restaurant, these are easy to get. You just set up a captive portal guest WiFi system, offering WiFi in exchange for email addresses.

When guests opt-in, you can then legally send them marketing material. Email marketing is known for its great opening rates. It is excellent when effectively used to connect with potential and existing customers.

3. Google

Google is a big one. This marketing strategy comes under a few different sections. Firstly, you can use Google for Google My Business, a tool allowing you to appear on maps and collect reviews. This is great for location-based searching and marketing. It also allows you to establish an online reputation.

Next, you can also use SEO - search engine optimization - for digital marketing. This is brilliant for appearing when people search for topics related to your restaurant. For instance, wine tasting experiences in London - and your restaurant offers a wine night.

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What Are the Benefits of Digital Marketing for Restaurants?

Online marketing for restaurants is precious. Digital marketing for restaurants has many benefits, from increasing profit to boosting customer loyalty. If you want to grow your business or even scale profitability, digital marketing is a fabulous avenue. It is excellent that marketing is flexible budget-wise as well. It means that no matter your restaurant size, there’ll be a marketing strategy for you.

Does this all sound good to you? Let’s look at the best benefits of digital marketing for you and your restaurant. It pays to have some motivation and inspiration to keep you on your toes and with a clear ‘why.’ These benefits of digital marketing for restaurants should do precisely that.

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1. You Reach A Wider Audience

Marketing your restaurant is a brilliant way to reach a larger audience. Social media users were nearly 4.5 billion in 2021 alone, approximately half the global population. That is a massive platform of potential customers to connect with - definitely worth your marketing budget. You are massively opening your business to a broader audience using the digital realm.

Investing in digital marketing is the perfect solution if you want to connect with more customers. You’ll get access to an audience that you could never reach through foot traffic and word-of-mouth marketing alone. The size of the digital audience is one of the leading benefits of digital marketing for your restaurant.

2. You Have Budget Flexible Marketing

Another huge benefit of digital marketing for your restaurant is that it is budget-flexible. You could invest in software for $100 a month. Or you could purchase a one-off captive portal to create a database of marketing contact details. If you have a low budget, there are free ways to market your restaurant digitally. For instance, you can set up social media accounts and create content. All this requires is a bit of time.

As digital marketing is such an umbrella strategy term, it covers many different marketing strategies. This gives you the ultimate flexibility and makes it suitable for businesses of all types and sizes. Budget is not a significant decider as there’s so much flexibility available.

Of course, another huge benefit is that you’ll be jumping on the trend wave. The digital world continues to be a leading 2023 trend in restaurant marketing. And by jumping on this trend, you are ensuring you won’t get left behind. Your competitors will likely be using these strategies - so you don’t want to miss out and let them get ahead.

Similarly, you’ll also be upskilling yourself and your business. You are investing in your business and skill set by developing the techniques and presence necessary for the digital world. This means you’ll have the skills to react quicker to trends in the future - which is always a positive.

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4. You Increase Brand Awareness

You’ll increase brand awareness through digital marketing, which is a huge positive. Brand awareness is simply how many customers and potential customers know and understand your brand. This means that they understand what you offer and understand your business values. They are familiar with everything your business brings to the table and how they can interact.

Brand awareness is a fundamental necessity for creating a successful business. If there’s no brand awareness, there’s no business. You need people to know about your business to engage with it. So, this is one of the main benefits of digital marketing for your restaurant. It puts your business on people’s plates.

5. Increase in Profit

Finally, the overall benefit of digital marketing is that it increases your profit. All of these benefits combine to create the perfect storm. You’ll find that when investing in marketing, you see a direct return on profit. Frankly, the more people see your marketing, the more likely people spend money.

Furthermore, most marketing is tax deductible - a huge win. When making intelligent investments, digital marketing is an excellent choice for you and your restaurant. It is one of the best ways to amplify what you bring in. And, of course, you can either take home the extra money or reinvest it into your business for further success.

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How To Choose the Ultimate Digital Marketing Strategy for Restaurants

So, how do you choose the ultimate digital marketing strategy for restaurants? Digital advertising for restaurants isn’t one size fits all. Some methods suit some businesses better than others.

For instance, if you already have a loyal following, you should concentrate on your social media presence. But if you have aesthetic products or dining experiences, you should equally focus on social media.

If you have a brilliant captive portal WiFi system, you should invest in email marketing. This is because you can quickly funnel email addresses into marketing software. Play to your strengths.

There is a simple process you can follow to ensure you snag the best possible strategy. These are the steps that you should follow:

  • What is your budget?

First things first, what can you afford? Get crystal clear on your budget. This will dictate what you choose and save time brainstorming out-of-budget ideas.

  • Who is your target audience?

Who are you trying to attract? Do you have a specific customer profile in mind? It’s vital to get to grips with who your target audience is so you can understand how to target them. You don’t want to use a marketing medium that your target audience simply wouldn’t use. It has to resonate with the people you want to attract.

  • What are your strengths?

Finally, what does your business already do well? Remember the aesthetic dishes or memorable service links. You should invest in social media if you have either of these things. Social media loves all things aesthetic and enticing. Know your strengths. Playing to your existing strengths is like finding compatible marketing strategies. It is cheaper in the long run and will be much more effective.

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How Quick Can You Set Up Digital Marketing

The answer is quick, but you shouldn’t necessarily rush the process. The fastest way to boost your digital marketing is if you already have a system. For instance, if you already have a collection of email addresses, you can launch an email marketing campaign in minutes.

With a social media account with a couple of thousand followers, you can easily launch a social media campaign. You get the idea. Setting up digital marketing is quicker if you’ve already taken the preparation steps beforehand.

If you don’t have these set up beforehand, you can start quickly, but things generally snowball. You can set up digital marketing but might not see the total rewards for a while. For instance, gaining traction across social media platforms takes several months adhering to a social media calendar. Or spending a month collecting email addresses through a captive portal system before sending off your first 200 promotional emails.

As a general rule, if you already have basic preparation to hand, you can set up digital marketing in minutes. You can often notice results in a day or two in these scenarios. However, if you are setting things up from scratch, it will take a day or two to set up.

Depending on your strategy, it will likely take a month or two to get results. Some plans are more passive than others, too. For instance, collecting email addresses via a captive portal is much more passive than starting an Instagram account. It will vary depending on what marketing strategy you use.

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How Much To Budget for Digital Marketing

So, how much should you budget for digital marketing? Again, it depends. As a general rule, though, we’d suggest budgeting $0 to $200 if you want to do your digital marketing. For instance, setting up an Instagram and TikTok account and running a basic social media campaign.

To invest in marketing software to automate more of the process, budget around $2,000 to $10,000 a year. For a full-time staff member to market your restaurant for you, you are looking at a $30,000 minimum. You’ll only be liaising with a staff member, outsourcing all of the marketing. This is best if you have a large budget and are low on experience.

Consider budgeting for a digital marketing campaign fitting into those three categories, and you’ll breeze through the budget process. It is pretty simple when you break it down. And digital marketing is incredibly flexible as a strategy choice. You’ll be able to find some sort of digital marketing to suit your budget.

Do you want low-cost digital marketing for restaurants? Start your Beambox free trial now. At Beambox, captive portals and WiFi marketing are our bread and butter. We can help you set up a low-cost system to harvest valuable marketing details easily at your restaurant. What more could you want? Digital marketing is great for restaurants.

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