Maximize your restaurant’s reach and revenue with these 10 expert digital marketing ideas, strategies & techniques.
The restaurant industry has undergone significant changes in recent years. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the food delivery market in the United States experienced remarkable growth, more than doubling its historical growth rate of 8 percent.
In 2023, 47% of restaurant operators expect competition to be more intense than last year. In today’s fiercely competitive restaurant industry, effective marketing is crucial to stand out from the crowd.
Effective digital marketing strategies (with extra sauce)
From social media to search engine optimization (SEO), there are numerous digital marketing strategies that can help restaurants stand out and drive results. In this article, we will explore 10 powerful digital marketing strategies specifically tailored for restaurants, providing actionable tips and insights to help restaurant owners and marketers effectively promote their business online and stay ahead of the competition. Let’s dive into the deliciousness!
1. Social Media Marketing
Restaurants can leverage social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to connect with customers, share updates, post tempting food photos, and run promotions. By creating engaging content, using relevant hashtags, and encouraging user-generated content, restaurants can build a loyal following. The top social media benefits for restaurants include enhanced brand visibility, valuable customer experience insights, increased website traffic and online orders, expanded reach and visibility, and improved SEO and local SEO efforts.
For example, Aroma Latin American Cocina isn’t shy to showcase its amazing culinary talent on its social media. Just take a look at this mouthwatering dish being cooked up on Instagram!
2. Email Marketing
Email marketing is an effective way to stay in touch with existing customers and nurture relationships. Restaurants can collect email addresses from customers through their website, online orders, or loyalty programs, and send out regular newsletters, special offers, and promotions to keep customers informed and engaged.
This allows restaurants to build a loyal customer base and maintain regular contact with them, fostering customer relationships and encouraging repeat business. And you know that repeat business is good business. Especially for a local restaurant.
Retaining customers is a smart move for restaurants because it’s way cheaper than constantly chasing after new ones. In fact, around 82% of businesses agree that keeping existing customers happy is more cost-effective than trying to attract new ones. Plus, when customers come back for seconds (or thirds!), they tend to spend more money. So, it’s a no-brainer that restaurants need to focus on strategies to keep those regulars coming back through that front door.
3. Online Ordering and Delivery
In today’s fast-paced dining landscape, having an online ordering system is a game-changer for restaurants, especially with the booming popularity of food delivery services – DoorDash, Grubhub, Postmates, and Uber Eats – which dominate various large urban markets. It’s not just about keeping up with the competition, but about reaping the numerous benefits that online ordering and delivery can bring. From boosting sales and improving customer convenience to expanding reach and gaining valuable data insights, the advantages are undeniable. Restaurants can make the most of this trend by optimizing their website for online orders, teaming up with popular food delivery platforms, and offering exclusive promotions to entice customers to order online.
One of the coolest things about online ordering and delivery is how it elevates customer convenience. Busy folks who are always on the go or simply love enjoying restaurant meals in the comfort of their own space can easily place orders online, choose their preferred delivery or pickup time, and enjoy a seamless experience. It’s all about giving customers what they want, when they want it. And when customers feel like their needs are being met, they’re more likely to keep coming back for more. So, by making online ordering easy and convenient, restaurants can win over loyal customers who keep coming back for their favorite meals.
4. Content Marketing & SEO
Restaurants can boost their online visibility and engage with their audience through content marketing. Strategies like blogging, recipe videos, food photography, infographics, local SEO, and influencer collaborations can help showcase the restaurant’s unique offerings, attract potential customers, and increase engagement.
By creating and maintaining a blog, sharing recipe videos on social media, using high-quality food photography in marketing materials, creating visually appealing infographics, optimizing your website for local SEO, and collaborating with local influencers, restaurants can effectively promote their brand and attract more customers. SEO content should be valuable, engaging, and relevant to your audience while also optimized for search engines to drive organic traffic and improve your online visibility.
8 Local SEO Tips:
- Use relevant keywords in website content and meta tags
- Create high-quality, engaging content
- Incorporate visual elements (images, videos) to enhance appeal
- Share content on social media for visibility
- Optimize Google My Business listing for local SEO
- Apply on-page SEO best practices
- Encourage positive reviews for online reputation
- Collaborate with local influencers and bloggers for exposure and backlinks
For example, Gaetanos Ristorante on of my favorite local Italian restaurants in Henderson, NV. They do a great job driving traffic to their website. Almost as good as the homemade pasta they make! Take a look at the Semrush stats below and you’ll see that Gaetanos has steadily increased its organic SEO traffic over time.
Despite facing competition from the Google Map Pack and third-party food ordering apps, the restaurant is ranking in the #11 spot in Google search results. This is impressive given the popularity and link volume of these competing sites, which should come as no surprise.
However, Gaetanos seems to be missing from the map pack for several of their most sought-after search terms. In my opinion, Gaetanos should investigate why they are not appearing alongside their competitors in the map pack, as this could be impacting their online visibility in some capacity.
5. Online Reputation Management
Monitoring and managing online reviews and ratings are critical for restaurants. After all, 92% of consumers read restaurant reviews before making a decision about where to eat
Responding to both positive and negative reviews in a timely and professional manner is essential. When a restaurant acknowledges positive reviews, it shows gratitude and appreciation towards the customers, which can encourage repeat visits and positive word-of-mouth. On the opposite end, responding to negative reviews with empathy, understanding, and a solution-oriented approach demonstrates that the restaurant values feedback and is committed to addressing any concerns.
This can help to mitigate the impact of negative reviews and show potential customers that the restaurant cares about customer satisfaction and is willing to take steps to rectify any issues.
In fact, according to a recent BrightLocal study, Consumers are more than twice as likely to consider using your business if they can see you actively responding to positive and negative reviews. So make sure to invest time in creating genuine and authentic responses. Your business will thank you.
6. Loyalty Program
Implementing a well-designed and carefully crafted loyalty program can be a powerful strategy to encourage repeat business and foster customer retention. By offering attractive incentives such as discounts, freebies, or exclusive perks to customers who enroll in the loyalty program, you can create a sense of value and reward for their continued patronage. This can not only incentivize repeat purchases but also foster customer loyalty and encourage them to choose your business over competitors.
In addition to the incentives offered, leveraging email marketing and social media can play a crucial role in effectively communicating with loyalty program members. By utilizing targeted email campaigns, you can send personalized promotions, updates, and exclusive offers to program members, keeping them engaged and informed about the latest promotions and events. Social media can also be a powerful tool to engage with program members, share updates, run contests or giveaways, and create a sense of community among loyal customers.
7. Paid Advertising
Restaurants can implement a strategic paid advertising campaign using platforms such as Google Ads, Facebook Ads, and Instagram Ads to effectively increase their online visibility, drive targeted traffic to their website, and promote special offers or events.
With Google Ads, restaurants can create targeted ads that appear in search results when potential customers search for relevant keywords, such as “restaurants near me” or “type of food near me”. By bidding on these keywords and crafting compelling ad copy, restaurants can increase their visibility at the top of search results, drive traffic to their website, and potentially convert searchers into customers.
And since Google ads show above the organic results, you have a chance at better visibility in the search results for hungry people looking to eat now.
Similarly, social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram offer robust advertising options that allow restaurants to target their ads based on location, interests, demographics, and behavior. Restaurants can create visually appealing ads with enticing images, videos, or carousel formats that showcase their culinary offerings, promotions, or upcoming events, and reach their target audience where they spend significant time online.
Attracting visitors to your restaurant can be enhanced by offering enticing offers that capture their attention and entice them to dine at your establishment. Whether it’s a special promotion, limited-time offer, or exclusive deal, enticing offers can create a sense of urgency and excitement among potential customers. Funneling your efforts into paid social and paid search remains the most measurable way to generate a return.
One of the advantages of paid advertising is the ability to track and measure the performance of ads in real-time. Restaurants can monitor key metrics such as click-through rates (CTR), conversion rates, and return on ad spend (ROAS) to understand the effectiveness of their advertising efforts and make data-driven decisions for optimization.
8. Website Optimization
To attract visitors to your restaurant, it’s essential to have a user-friendly and mobile-responsive website that delivers an exceptional online experience for potential customers. A well-designed website focused on user experience design is critical for restaurants to showcase their offerings and effectively engage with customers online. Prioritizing website speed and ensuring fast loading times on both desktop and mobile devices is crucial to prevent potential visitors from bouncing off due to slow page loads.
Compelling food images of high quality can be a powerful tool in enticing visitors, as visually appealing visuals can make their mouths water and ignite a desire to try out the dishes.
Having a mobile-responsive website is increasingly vital as more and more people use mobile devices to browse the internet. Optimizing your website for mobile devices with responsive design and easy-to-use mobile navigation can provide a seamless experience for potential customers searching for restaurants on their smartphones or tablets. By offering a user-friendly and mobile-responsive website that delivers a seamless online experience, restaurants can attract and retain visitors, ultimately leading to increased bookings, orders, and revenue.
Over to You
In conclusion, implementing effective digital marketing strategies is essential for restaurants to thrive in today’s digital landscape. From leveraging social media platforms to optimizing local SEO, managing online reviews, and creating engaging content, these strategies can help restaurants attract and retain customers, boost their online presence, and ultimately drive more revenue. However, it’s important to continually monitor, evaluate, and optimize these strategies to adapt to changing consumer behavior, technology advancements, and industry trends.
By staying proactive and strategic in their digital marketing efforts, restaurants can position themselves for success in the highly competitive restaurant industry. If your website isn’t representing your restaurant to the fullest it might be time for a custom web design or redesign. We offer professional WordPress development, customized SEO, and digital marketing services that can help you achieve your restaurant’s marketing goals this year and beyond.
Meet the Author
Over the past 12 years, I've honed my digital marketing skills by working with well-known brands such as Eu Natural, Skinny Ms., and Costco, to name a few. Together with my wife Candyce, we help other businesses improve their marketing online. When I'm not helping my customers win, I'm playing/recording music, flying my drone and hanging with the family.