Marketing Tips for Restaurants That Work

Marketing 20 minute read 16th December 2022

Restaurant marketing constantly evolves to adapt to changing times. Modern challenges call for modern solutions. What recent marketing tips for restaurants actually worked this year and are worthy of carrying over to 2023?

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People search online for places to satisfy their gastronomic cravings after months of lockdowns. According to research, 89% of diners search for nearby restaurants before going. Restaurant owners are quick to oblige, and now, many maintain online accounts to attract potential customers and build a loyal following among patrons.

If you are a restaurant owner, you need to look for ways to attract traffic to your doorstep. You need to practice the most effective marketing strategies to get ahead of the competition. Here, we have sourced the top online marketing tips for restaurants. These can be categorized into three: local marketing, email marketing, and social media marketing.

Local Marketing Tips for Restaurants Brands

According to research, between 87 to 89 % of prospective customers search for local restaurants online prior to dining. How can you use this to your advantage?

1. Google Marketing Tips for Restaurants

Google leads all search engines when it comes to online food searches. So, building your presence on Google is a must if you want your local marketing strategy to work.

A Google Business account will bring more revenue than any other online marketing strategy. To get the most out of it, make sure that your location, operating hours, and link to your website are accurate. Add more interest by posting and reacting with local reviews and pictures.

A “Reservations” feature on your Google Business profile makes it easier to convert guests. This seamless feature has worked wonders for many restaurants, some even reporting an increase of up to 20% in online reservations.

2. Real-Time Online Interaction Marketing Tips for Restaurants

People love it when they are attended to promptly while dining in your restaurant. Is it any different when they visit your website? How can you take care of your customer online?

One of the most effective marketing tips for restaurants is installing a live chat pop-up feature on your website. When visiting your page, your potential customer may not have time to browse through your entire website for specific queries to ask. But if they see a pop-up asking “How can I help you?” they may feel inclined to pitch their question without hesitation.

Make sure that a reservation staff is present to answer live queries. Live chats give a human touch to your website. If you train your staff correctly, they may even close reservations or take orders for home delivery. Taking home orders is one of the most enduring marketing strategies for restaurants from the pandemic lockdowns.

3. Online Booking Marketing Tips for Restaurants

Online booking platforms have been around for a while and are still as effective. Platforms such as OpenTable, EatApp, Wisely, and Resy have brought in millions of customers into diners worldwide over the years

People find online platforms so convenient. It would be a mistake for restaurant owners not to tap into one of the most enduring marketing tips for restaurants.

Granted, some online booking platforms come at a cost. Adding this to your marketing budget should help you decide on a cost that works for your business. You can also opt for a free reservation system, but these usually don’t offer value-added services.

For comparison, Table Agent is free but won’t give you table management, guest CRM, online ordering, and contactless dining services. But EatApp offers a full spectrum of services for a mere $119/month.

4. Dishes That Please the Eyes

People fall for aesthetically ‘delicious’ presentations even before tasting them. Are your food presentations worthy of sharing on Instagram, or for that matter, on any social media?

We will talk later about marketing tips for restaurants using visually enticing food presentations on social media. For now, let’s see how beautiful pictures of your plating influence your audience to decide to order online or visit your restaurant.

Since you’re already preparing the dishes anyway, why not take pictures of your plates while you’re at it? Create dishes that look good together, with bright colorful ingredients that match. Set these up on a clean, well-lit table with other decorative elements. Take high-resolution photos to make an online menu in your website.

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How can a restaurant use an online menu as a marketing tool? An online menu showcasing your food presentations will keep your viewers browsing your page longer. If your website is equipped to accept online orders and reservations, showing pictures of your plated products is a must.

Short videos of how food is presented in your restaurant even stir the curiosity of would-be guests. No wonder creative food presentations make it to the list of top marketing tips for restaurants.

5. Discount Promos and Freebies

Nothing else can bring guests to your places like the good ol’ coupons and discounts campaign. Offer ticket codes online which guests can claim upon their personal visit to your restaurant. Loyal customers usually remember the time of year you offer these—perhaps your restaurant’s anniversary, special holidays, or graduation season. But don’t overdo it, especially if you run a high-end restaurant, as this may hurt your brand.

6. Online Ads Marketing Tips for Restaurants

Major online ad platforms like Google Ads and Facebook Ads offer ‘geo-targeting’ as an advertising option. Geo-targeting is the practice of directing ads or content to target consumers based on their proximity or geographic location.

To make the most of geo-targeting as a marketing strategy, ensure that your location is accurate. Select a proximity radius with less travel time to your restaurant.

7. SEO Tips for Restaurants

If you want your restaurant to appear in online searches, you need to include search engine optimization (SEO) in the marketing tips for restaurants. There’s a lot to consider here:

  • Do you have a claimed and updated Google Business profile? If not, create one now.
  • Is the location and contact information on your website up-to-date? The name, address, and phone number (NAP) for your business must be accurate to optimize your website for local Google searches.
  • Are there enough reviews and posts on your Google profile? The number of content on your site adds to your being searchable.
  • Optimize your website pages to make them SEO-friendly. Hire the services of an SEO specialist to do this.

Hire the services of an SEO specialist to do this.

8. Collect and Use Guest Data

Information is power. The same is true when it comes to your restaurant marketing strategy.

Knowing who your customers are and how to get in touch with them opens up many marketing opportunities. Take note of specific details such as the frequency and length of their visits, and events they have celebrated in your place (such as birthdays and anniversaries). Even remembering their preferred meals gives you the ability to personalize your marketing strategy.

Email Marketing Tips for Restaurants

Here is where Tip # 8 above can prove to be useful.

1. Personalized and Automated Emails That Bring Results

Email newsletters as a marketing tool have been around for some time. We get bombarded with so many marketing emails that most are dumped into trash folders without being viewed at all. What will impact your customers more than receiving general emails?

The information you gathered through your customer relations management will help you create personalized emails. For example, your email to a regular customer would be different for one who has only recently visited your restaurant for the first time.

Are you introducing a new recipe on your menu or having an Italian night soon? Would it interest a customer who has had similar types of meals? Messages that are relevant to your customers invite appreciation and loyalty from them.

2. Leveraging User’s Birthdays as a Marketing Strategy

Customers appreciate it when a significant detail in their life is remembered by a business they patronize. Birthdays by far are the single most important celebration held by many in restaurants. Businesses cleverly focus on celebrants as birthday party guests are larger, and the revenue is higher than usual.

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Send a personalized email a few weeks in advance before their birthday. Promote your restaurant as the venue. Offer to organize the event as part of the package or a discount reward for early booking. Do you see why birthdays deserve a special section among marketing tips for restaurants?

3. Newsletters Marketing Tips for Restaurants

A strong brand identity is a powerful marketing tool that has a direct bearing on customer loyalty. You can anchor your restaurant marketing strategy on your brand, social media, and other channels.

Branding is based on a clear understanding of your restaurant’s target customer. Do you project yourself as a premier Italian or Asian-fusion restaurant in the area? Are your customers obsessed with local history and souvenirs? Do your customers prefer an intimate, private ambiance over a loose, energetic atmosphere?

Your newsletters should be designed around your target market and cater to their preferences. Consistency is the key to building a strong restaurant brand.

4. Text Blasts and SMS Marketing Tips for Restaurants

A new form of automated marketing is SMS or text blast marketing. An SMS or text blast is a single text message sent simultaneously to a large number of people, usually by the thousands. When done right, this form of marketing can be a powerful tool.

Will SMS marketing work for your restaurant?

That depends on crafting SMS messages that deliver your idea with precision to your geo-targeted audience. Campaign messages such as discount promos and local events are likely to excite people. But don’t overdo it. People are easily annoyed by repetitive unsolicited messages.

Social Media Marketing Tips for Restaurants

No modern restaurant marketing strategy will prosper without including social media. So let us consider some social media marketing tips for restaurants

1. Boost Customer Engagement Through Social Media Stories

Stories and reels have taken over social media platforms by storm since being introduced by Snapchat in 2013 and Facebook in 2017. Today, Instagram rules the #foodporn circuit with millions of pictures and video clips being shared in a day.

With Stories, people are able to share their gourmet experiences for the world to witness even for a short period of 24 hours. This way, social media content is always fresh and current. The mantra of today’s diners is “let us eat, drink, and post pictures” for tomorrow’s another day!

Restaurateurs have followed suit and used Stories to showcase their products and let viewers get a glimpse of the daily vibes in their restaurants. If you haven’t, you are missing out on today’s one of the most effective marketing tips for restaurants online.

Get customers to share their experience in your restaurant by preparing Instagrammable food presentations. Provide wifi access for live streaming or real-time sharing of pictures and videos

2. Use Exciting Visual Experiences as Marketing Tips for Restaurants

Consistently preparing dishes unique to your restaurant increases the possibility of pictures reaching a whole new social media audience for free.

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Aside from Instagrammable dishes, a visually stimulating environment is also a powerful marketing tactic. Hang pictures and display archives depicting the early days of your restaurant. Create a photo booth where guests can take souvenir pictures together, perhaps showing your restaurant’s logo prominently. It highlights your brand and boosts user-generated content.

When done right, Stories can go viral online and bring the highest return among marketing tips for restaurants.

3. Engage Social Media Influencers: New Marketing Tips for Restaurants

The presence of influencers is a game-changer in the social media arena. Influencers with a large following can either make or break your brand in any industry and location.

If you know that an influencer is in your restaurant, give them a good reason to share their dining experience. You can do this by making sure they are treated well in your restaurant, giving a special discount or even a free tab. This works even without soliciting positive reviews for your restaurant.

You can also search for local Instagram influencers with a large following who also share a similar interest with your restaurant brand. When you’ve selected some, send them a private message inviting them over to your restaurant.

Choose Marketing Tips for Restaurants That Work for Your Brand

Sure, there are a lot more marketing tips for restaurants out there. What we listed here are the ones that have worked so far in the post-pandemic period. You can choose the best practices you found that fit your restaurant brand and practice it in 2023.

Notably, digital technology has dominated marketing strategies during and after the pandemic. Traditional word of mouth has been replaced by social media posts. Mainstream TV and radio broadcasters are slowly exploring digital media not as an alternative but as the norm.

If your restaurant hasn’t gotten on board yet, you’ll struggle against the competition in the coming years. Most restaurants have already taken advantage of digital and mobile technology. Some have already mastered social media and are reaping the rewards through increased revenue. They are likely to carry the momentum and dominate in the future, but you can still catch up and benefit from the windfall.

Restaurants face about a 60% failure rate due to intense competition and consumers’ preference to dine or entertain at home. Even restaurants that cook the most palatable recipes fail without a top-notch marketing strategy. Central to this strategy is understanding your customer well.

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