9 Critical Digital Marketing Strategies for Restaurants

Written by Mitko Karshovski


You may have the best food in the world but if no one knows about it, does it really exist? In today’s day and age, the success of a restaurant is based on how well it can market itself online. In this post you will learn the marketing strategies for restaurants that every owner should practice if you want to raise your local exposure and revenue.

Social Media Marketing Matters

Imagine for a second that you are driving down the street and you see two restaurants on the opposite sides of the street.

Restaurant 1: has a huge line outside the door and the inside looks packed.

Restaurant 2: on the other hand does not have a line and through the windows you can see just a few people inside.

Based on just that information alone, which restaurant would you assume is better?

I am going to guess that you went with the first one, and most people would agree with you.

This scenario illustrates what social media could do for your restaurant. By having a large, engaged following on your social media channels, you show people who are not familiar with you that other’s are interested. In essence, it is a way to translate social proof from the real world to the digital world and vise versa.

Engage and Reward Your Social Media Followers

Having a large following on social media is great for social proof, but better yet is being able to translate that social following into dollars and cents for your business.

Your followers are people who have shown interest in your offering, this is especially true if they are engaging with your content in a meaningful way.

By engaging your followers on social media, you can actually turn them into paying customers by offering them a special offer. In a direct message over Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter you have the power to send them a coupon code that they can use when they visit your restaurant.

Next time they are trying to come up with a restaurant to go to, which one do you think they would pick? They won’t pick the one that they have never received any value from. They’ll pick the one that has offered them a coupon code or other awesome deal.

Multiply Your Reach Through Social Media Influencers

A recent study by Statista.com shows that 81 percent of Americans have a social media profile on one or more networks. What that means for you is that 81 percent of the people who walk through the door of your restaurant are potential loudspeakers for your business. Consider the last time you went to a good restaurant where the staff treated you exceptionally. Did you feel compelled to tell your friends about it? Of course you did!

People are naturally inclined to share a pleasant experience and recommend it to their friends. All they need from you is a gentle nudge to take that recommendation online and multiply it’s reach tenfold.

digital marketing strategies for restaurantsFor example, you could offer a discount or special promotion like Condado’s Tacos did pictured above, to people who share a picture on social media of their experience at your restaurant and tag your restaurant. This not only gives you a ton of exposure, but there is also a good chance that this person will be a repeat visitor in order to use their discount.

Google AdWords is a Restaurant’s Best Friend

According to the most recent statistical findings, Google owns more than 77% of online searches for the US market. Think about the last time you were looking for something, say a tailor, gym, or the nearest gas station, how did you look for it? Odds are that you searched for it on Google.

As a restaurant, Google is your best friend and you need to take advantage of it.

A well crafted Google Ads campaign can target your local area for search terms like “restaurants near me” or “mediterranean restaurants near me” and present your restaurant as the first option for people to click on. This is currently under utilized by the local food industry and an area in which you could find an easy win.

However, Google Adwords is also an easy way to waste a lot of money when it’s not done correctly by someone with the proper skill base. That is why we recommend that you hire a professional that is an expert at Google Adwords, so that you don’t have to focus on becoming an expert advertiser and instead you can keep doing what you do best – cooking awesome food.

Growing a Fanbase on Facebook

In 2016, Facebook reported that the average amount of time a US resident spent on Facebook, Facebook Messenger, or Instagram, was a whopping 50 minutes, or 1/16th of their waking time.

The craziest thing is that, that number shows no sign of decreasing. What this should tell you is that Facebook is a wonderful place to get in front of your target audience.

A great way to do that is through Facebook ads. Their platform is so sophisticated that you can target people between the ages of 21 and 40, in a 10 mile radius around your restaurant, and ask them to like your restaurant’s Facebook page. Once people like your page they are essentially telling Facebook that they like you and want to hear more from you again. So next time you have a deal or promotion going on they will see your posts.

If you use Facebook Ads wisely, you’ll be putting your restaurant’s ads where your target customer spends 1/16th of their time.

That’s something you just can’t beat!

What is SEO and Why Should You Care

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Having a website that has “good” SEO basically means that when people search for the services or products you offer, your website is properly optimized so that it shows up in Google’s search results. This is basically the same thing as paying for a Google ad, but without having to pay for it.

Knowing what you already know about the power of Google from the previous section, it should be pretty easy to understand that having a website that is properly optimized for Google searches should be high priority on your list of restaurant marketing strategies.

Imagine the possibilities if your website was the first organic search result on Google when someone typed in “best _________ restaurant in __________”, insert your type of food and location in the spaces.

Blog About Your Story

Everyone loves a good story, it’s how we connect with brands. Consider the video below:

This video was created by Procter and Gamble for the 2018 Winter Olympics. Technically speaking, this video does not say anything about P&G’s line of products, what it does do however is connect their brand and products with an emotional story.

People love a good story, especially when it’s personal.

By blogging about your story, the inception of the restaurant, and the reason why your restaurant exists; people will begin eating at your restaurant not just because the food is delicious, but because they connect with your story.

Don’t believe me?

Next time you are at the grocery store and trying to choose between brand “X” and a P&G brand, which one will you be inclined to choose? Will you choose the one that you know nothing about, or the one that supports moms and their tireless pursuit to help make their kids’ dreams come true?

Why Video Is The #1 Way To Create a Connection With Your Customer

Consider this: when you read something that someone wrote, you are reading their thoughts and story and imagining what their voice sounds like.

When you listen to someone over the radio you hear their ideas and story, and you hear their voice and get a glimpse of their personality through the way they talk.

When you watch someone on video you get to hear everything you would from text and audio, but you also get to actually see them. It is simply the best way to build an emotional connection with someone. That’s why the P&G ad from the previous section was on video, not radio.

By creating short videos that talk about the idea and story behind your restaurant and staff, you have the best chance to create a strong relationship with a potential customer. A relationship like that is absolutely priceless.

Why Every Restaurant Should Have An Email List

In 2016, email drove 25.1% of Black Friday purchases. Not only that, but a Blue Kangaroo study reports that 7 out of 10 people reported making use of a coupon or discount that they received from an email in the prior week. What this should show you is that email marketing is still one of the best ways to drive more business for your restaurant.

But how do you build an email list?

Remember all of those outreach strategies I mentioned earlier in this post? Google AdWords, Facebook ads, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter outreach? All of those can be used to create an offer in which people must sign up with an email to receive a coupon in their mailbox. And Voala! You have just taken a person from social media and converted them into an email subscriber.

Once they are an email subscriber you can now send them updates when you publish a new blog post, video, or have a new promotion at your restaurant. This is a strong and effective promotion strategy for restaurant growth.

Restaurants need a steady stream of both new and returning customers in order to be successful. By investing in digital marketing strategies you will be able to get in front of interested customers where they already are: Facebook and Google.

Just knowing these marketing strategies for restaurants however, won’t get you past the finish line. The beauty and results are in taking action. If you are interested in jumping on the phone with one of our experienced digital marketers for a free 15 minute Marketing Huddle during which we will give you personalized advice on how to improve the marketing of your restaurant, then sign up here and we will get in touch with you ASAP.