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By Jessica Elliott Updated on October 12, 2021

Restaurant Marketing Strategies: We’re Serving Up 23 of the Best

The best restaurant marketing strategies increase your revenue and expand your market. 

While some campaigns deliver quick wins, others require a long-game approach. Build a comprehensive marketing plan by personalizing the following these 23 restaurant marketing strategies. 

1. Use Your Wi-Fi to Gather Guest Data

People expect to connect to Wi-Fi when they enter a business. Instead of handing out your public Wi-Fi password, ask for something in return, such as:

  • An email address
  • A phone number
  • Social media handle

A well-designed sign-on splash page enables guests to get online quickly yet provides restaurant owners with a key piece of data.

Once someone signs onto your wireless network, set it up to automatically trigger an action, such as an email or a text message. 

Wi-Fi marketing ideas include messages that:

  • Welcome back guests who haven’t visited in the past 30-days 
  • Ask consumers to leave a review on your Facebook page
  • Thank a valued customer who visited twice in 1 week
  • Invite guests to check out an upcoming event or join your email list

2. Go Behind the Scenes With Video Marketing

All major social media channels support video, and with good reason, since the online video platform Brightcove finds “76% of consumers report they’ve purchased a product or service after viewing a video.”

Try announcing a new menu item, promotion or team member with an Instagram Reel or TikTok video. Another fun restaurant marketing strategy is to share your secrets for pulling together a dinner party using premade side dishes from your eatery. 

Don’t forget to add a call to action in your video content, telling fans how to get your latest promotion or sign up for tasty tips.

3. Add Interactive Elements to Instagram Posts

Along with crave-worthy images, Instagram offers interactive features designed to increase customer engagement

Insert Instagram Stickers into an Instagram Reel or Story to improve your social media presence and connect with Instagrammers. 

Stickers that work for restaurants include: 

  • Quiz
  • Food orders
  • Location
  • Hashtag
  • Poll
  • Questions
  • Countdown

Implementing solid restaurant marketing strategies can fill seats at your eatery.

4. Create an Insiders-Only Facebook Group

Share Facebook-only coupons, host a live food tasting event or encourage your favorite customers to post user-generated content through a public, closed or secret Facebook group. 

Facebook groups feel more personal and exclusive than business pages. Plus, groups are a great way to engage with loyal guests and test new promotions on a smaller scale.

5. Promote a Restaurant Giveaway or Contest

You can run a contest or giveaway on all social channels, including YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. They’re simple, affordable and one of the most effective restaurant marketing tactics. 

Small business giveaway ideas may:

  • Ask fans to caption an image of your team preparing for the dinner rush
  • Encourage users to share a recent photo at your restaurant with a branded hashtag
  • Tell followers to tag a friend for a chance to win a shareable appetizer
  • Award a grand prize to 1 person and give promo codes to all entrants
  • Offer bonus entries to guests who share your contest on their newsfeed

6. Showcase Recent Testimonials and Reviews

Your restaurant website is an excellent place to share social proof. Doing so can build your restaurant’s reputation and improve your ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs). 

While it’s possible to integrate reviews from specific sites, such as TripAdvisor, you also can share testimonials you’ve collected. Increase credibility by getting customer consent to share their name or photo alongside their testimonial or review.

7. Use 250 Characters to Connect on Twitter

Social media marketing for restaurants often focuses on Instagram or Facebook. But witty yet relevant tweets can help your business stand out. 

Mix up your posts by posting promotional tweets, sharing local news and retweeting guests or other community members. 

Check out Taco Bell or Five Guys to see some restaurant marketing ideas in action. 

8. Assess Your Website for Usability

Mobile-responsive websites aren’t a nice-to-have: They’re a must-have. MGH, a restaurant marketing firm, reports that 36% of U.S. diners “have been discouraged from ordering food from a restaurant because its website wasn’t mobile-friendly.”

Moreover, accessible websites ensure that people of all abilities can access and view your restaurant’s online place of business. Use the tools below to evaluate your site: 

9. Respond on Restaurant Review Sites

Consumers use reviews to make a decision. Responses from business owners show they pay attention and listen to their customers. Find out which review sites your guests frequent and develop a plan for reading and responding to reviews regularly. 

Popular restaurant review channels include TripAdvisor, Yelp, Uber Eats, Grubhub, OpenTable and Foursquare.

10. Add a Frequently-Asked-Questions Webpage

Frequently asked questions improve your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts while helping customers. Although your website likely provides answers already, a frequently-asked-questions (FAQ) page puts all the information in one spot. 

Common questions for restaurant FAQ pages include: 

  • What hours do you deliver or serve breakfast? 
  • Can I make a reservation online? 
  • Do you cater? 
  • Can I bring decorations for a birthday party? 
  • What time does happy hours start? 
  • Do you serve alcohol? 
  • Does your menu include gluten-free items?

A banner hanging on a restaurant wall reads “Wednesday Is Burger Night!” There is an image of a burger and fries next to the words.

11. Highlight Restaurant Specials With a Banner

Website banners typically display across the top or bottom of your website. This is another easy way to market your promotions or draw attention to a unique feature, such as delivery or catering. 

Additionally, creating or updating a banner doesn’t require special web developer skills, making it a great do-it-yourself restaurant marketing idea. 

12. Develop a Community Page

The best way to promote your restaurant is by endearing your business to your community. 

A community page on your restaurant website may include: 

  • Photos of your restaurant, staff or owners participating in local events
  • Write-ups about accomplishments of your student staff members
  • Thank you notes from local organizations and charities you donate to
  • Names or icons of business groups you’re involved with
  • Images or write-ups about local teams you sponsor 

13. Use Point-of-Sale Receipt Surveys

Use your point-of-sale (POS) system or a third party to survey guests about their restaurant experience. Doing so can give you an idea about how customers feel about your restaurant’s cleanliness, speed of service and food quality. 

Often, third-party survey providers will turn the data into easy-to-read reports showing your restaurant’s rating across various categories. 

If your scores are something to be proud of, highlight the statistic on your website, emails and social media channels. 

14. Optimize Your Restaurant Menu

Item placement, dish or drink names and descriptions affect what people order, making menu engineering essential to your bottom line. But they’re also your primary marketing tool. 

You may send to-go menus with new delivery orders, post your menu online and share it with third-party delivery providers. It needs to appeal to your clientele and be easy to scan.

Note that many food suppliers and vendors offer free or low-cost menu engineering services to help restaurant owners optimize their menus.

15. Update Your Restaurant’s Google My Business Profile

Your Google My Business profile is an excellent way to improve search engine rankings, answer important questions and share your latest promotions. 

According to BrightLocal, “The average local business receives 1,260 views each month – 943 on Search and 317 on Maps.” Take advantage of Google My Business (GMB) by: 

  • Talking about your cuisine and atmosphere in the restaurant description
  • Using the booking button to allow reservations via GMB
  • Inserting a link to your restaurant menu or adding a menu button
  • Attaching photos of your restaurant business location and food
  • Sharing a post about your latest promotions or corporate good deeds
  • Responding to reviews and questions

16. Try Retargeting Ads on Social Media

The best way to advertise your restaurant is by retargeting online customers on social media. When a hungry customer checks out your website or searches for the best wings near them, a retargeting campaign serves up an ad once they log into Facebook. 

Get the most from your retargeting efforts by designing ads for specific searches. For instance, users scoping out your website before noon may appreciate an ad about your 20-minute lunch specials or — depending on your audience — details about your 3 p.m. happy hour.

A digital restaurant ad is featured on a tablet. It reads “New Menu Item! Wings.”

17. Design Enticing Digital Displays

People are drawn to screens. Of course, you may already have televisions in your restaurant or use tablets at your tables. But adding a digital display is an inexpensive way to increase sales. 

Gain traction with your restaurant advertising ideas using a mix of enticing images, captions and videos to:

  • Suggest a mouthwatering (and profitable) main dish, dessert or appetizer 
  • Show user-generated content and social proof, such as a quote from a guest 
  • Upsell a side of cheese sauce, a salad topper or a specialty drink
  • Highlight an upcoming event or promotion
  • Encourage people to visit your website or use your delivery service

18. Put Quick Response Codes on Table Tents

The marketing strategy of a restaurant business extends to on-premise sales. Therefore, every marketing promotion should be tied to a landing page on your website. 

Adding a quick response (QR) code is an optional and easy way to increase the effectiveness of your restaurant marketing campaign. 

For instance, let’s say your restaurant introduces new seasonal drinks and promotes them on a table tent with a QR code. Guests scan the code with their smartphones and immediately land on your seasonal drink page. From there, high-quality photos and brief, compelling descriptions attract attention. Next, pair it with a TikTok-style video of the beverage being poured, made or served and top it off with a coupon for an upcoming marketing campaign.

Presto, you have a winning marketing plan in place.

19. Send Out a Flash Sale Email

Need to offload some chicken to make room in your cooler? Perhaps you want to attract customers during slower hours or days of the week. An occasional flash sale email with a captivating subject line, stunning photo and great deal may be just what’s needed. 

Limited time offers play on the fear of missing out (FOMO) by offering something that feels too good to pass up. 

20. Segment Restaurant Guests to Increase Your Email Open Rate

The best way to promote your restaurant is by segmenting your email list. Furthermore, it helps with your email retargeting campaigns

Start with basic information, such as age ranges or income levels. Then dive into behavioral data, which may include:

  • Responses from polls or quizzes on social media about food allergies or preferences
  • Visit frequency information gathered from Wi-Fi marketing or cell phone location services
  • Details about customers who order online through your website or mobile app
  • People who’ve used a direct mail, online or text promo code within the past 3 months

21. Train Your Crew in the Art of Upselling

One of the more nuanced restaurant marketing strategies, upselling is a skill that doesn’t come naturally to everyone. It’s putting an idea in your guests’ minds without explicitly telling them what to do. 

It can be simple, like starting the conversation by saying, “Would you like to start with an ice-cold beer or our homemade raspberry lemonade?” It also can be automatic by following up every order that comes with fries with “Do you want a side of cheese sauce?”

Along with training, consider running competitions now and then. For example, use your POS data to confirm who sold the highest number of desserts or cocktails per shift. 

22. Celebrate Birthdays With Pizazz

Many loyalty programs provide a freebie for birthdays. But this is a good time to remind guests why your restaurant is an excellent place for a birthday party. 

Consider sending a link to your event reservation page, sharing your favorite catering or delivery recommendations or using a photo of a recent celebration. 

23. Use a Text-Based Loyalty Program

If your loyalty program isn’t collecting cellphone numbers and marketing to guests on their smartphones, then you’re missing out on a valuable opportunity. 

Text-based or short message service (SMS) programs can:

  • Let loyalty members check their rewards status 
  • Send a notification when a customer enters your building
  • Coordinate with email marketing messages 
  • Send users to your website or social media page

Put Your Restaurant Marketing Strategies to Work

Get results with your restaurant marketing strategies by keeping your ideas fresh, relevant and personalized. 

A consistent, multichannel approach helps restaurateurs expand their market while delighting guests. Plus, every idea generates data used to improve your next campaign.

Jessica is a business-to-business content strategist and consultant with 24 years of experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry. She writes about technology, marketing and finance.
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