20 Restaurant Marketing Ideas, Tips, and Trends in 2023
Restaurant marketing is competitive and requires a single customer view of guest data, marketing automation, and the leveraging of owned and third-party channels to grow your brand.
As restaurant technology evolves and consumer preferences change, successful marketing strategies need to be tested and adjusted.
While the still tried-and-tested traditional marketing strategies remain valid, restaurant marketing strategies are consistently evolving. This evolution challenges marketers to come up with new data-driven, guest-engaging campaigns.
Restaurant Marketing Infographic
Modern restaurant marketing techniques include guest WiFi, online ordering, websites, review sites, Google My Business, email, SMS, online advertising, and much more.
With the cost of goods sold increasing, labor costs increasing, and margins being squeezed, it is more important than ever to attract new guests and retain current guests.
It is imperative to learn how to leverage third-party and owned channels to aggregate guest data into your own first-party customer data platform and marketing automation channels to reduce costs and drive revenue.
Below, you’ll find 20 smart ways to market your restaurant in 2023 and beyond.
As you branch out into various marketing channels, it is important to keep a consistent brand voice and personality.
Likewise, aim to keep your look and feel as consistent as possible, including imagery across all channels.
1. Invest in a CDP
A restaurant customer data platform (CDP) is a tool that allows restaurant operators to easily automate and aggregate the collection of guest data and behavior from multiple sources into a centralized database.
It allows restaurant operators and marketers to discover, visualize, and segment guest insights for more effective marketing.
A restaurant CDP takes in data from multiple sources and technologies, such as guest WiFi, websites, social media, POS systems, review sites, reservation systems, and online ordering platforms.
Restaurant CDPs give restaurateurs a full 360-degree view into their guests’ behaviors, orders, contact information, geographic locations, and demographics across all your channels and at your physical locations.
This is also known as a single customer view (SCV). A CDP like Bloom Intelligence will give you an SCV to make smarter, data-driven marketing and operations decisions.
All data collected becomes your own first-party data. With the elimination of cookie-based targeting, having your own first-party data is the only way to remarket to your guests and create lookalike campaigns on platforms like Google and Facebook Ads. There will soon be no way to target specific guests or groups of guests without uploading your own first-party data.
Using owned channels such as email, SMS, or push notifications to engage your guests will give you the ability to increase guest frequency, personalize your guests’ experience, win back lost guests, find new customers, and improve your online ratings at a fraction of the cost of what it would cost your organization to pay for advertising or access to other platforms.
Using a CDP, you can group your guests into various segments based on their behavior and demographic data. This allows restaurants to automate personalized marketing messages that speak individually to each separate segment. It boosts engagement and can greatly improve marketing ROI over sending out a single message to your entire database.
All of this together will allow you to increase repeat business, personalize your guest experiences, automate marketing, improve online ratings, and much more.
It not only provides a way to understand your overall (and individual) guest experience but also provides benefits to your marketing and operations decisions and procedures.
With Bloom’s restaurant marketing and customer data platform, you can gather data from many different sources, execute automated marketing campaigns, improve your ratings and reviews, increase guest lifetime values, and save time all in one platform.
You will have a true single customer view. You can create messaging that will resonate with your guests and keep them coming back.
2. Use WiFi Marketing and Analytics
One of the fastest-growing marketing strategies in the restaurant industry is WiFi marketing and analytics. We’ve mentioned WiFi marketing several times earlier in this guide.
A WiFi marketing and analytics platform like Bloom Intelligence platform can quite literally fuel every strategy on this list.
When deciding how to market a restaurant, WiFi marketing should be at the top of your mind.
Utilizing your existing WiFi access points, the platform will be able to sense every visitor who enters your place of business with a smart device. This will be a very large percentage of your guests.
You’ll have real-time (and be building historical) footfall metrics like dwell times and repeat visits. This is even if they don’t log into your WiFi.
If they do log into your WiFi, a detailed customer profile will be built containing the guest’s data and behavior.
This data includes contact information, demographic data, and all of their past behavior data.
Over time you’ll build a customer list of thousands or even millions of your actual guests. The list can be sorted, filtered, and analyzed to discover who your ideal customer is and identify your best guests.
You can then send targeted, automated marketing messages to these segmented lists, increasing ROI while decreasing costs.
3. Online Ordering Marketing
Restaurant online ordering has become very popular over the last several years, and it shows no signs of slowing down. The pandemic has only fueled this immense growth.
By integrating your online ordering system with a CRM database platform like Bloom Intelligence, you can collect and store the data you collect in individual guest profiles.
Then, you can segment your profiles into similar personas and send laser-targeted marketing messages to each group that will engage them much more effectively.
You can also automate these messages based on “triggers.” These include when they place an online order, leave your location, or make a review.
Since 2014, online food ordering has grown 300% faster than dine-in. If you’re not offering online ordering to your guests, now is the time to generate additional revenue and capture and collect guest data to supercharge your restaurant marketing.
4. Restaurant Email Marketing
If you’re not building a customer list with contact information, you’re simply leaving money on the table.
Place a form on your website that allows guests and potential guests to sign up for a newsletter and special offers. This combined with collecting emails from your online ordering, WiFi registrations, and reservations, allows you to build a large customer database quickly.
Then, send out an email newsletter, messages, or offers consistently with relevant, compelling content.
Some restaurants will include coupons or specials in the newsletter to entice readers to visit.
Newsletters are a very effective form of restaurant email marketing.
It is important to remain consistent. If you choose to send emails monthly, make sure they are sent out on the same day every month.
Try to gain as many email marketing subscribers as possible.
So, consider adding an incentive, such as a free dessert, to all new subscribers.
Also, make sure the sign-up form is displayed as prominently as possible on every website page or guest interaction point.
5. Use Social Media for Restaurant Marketing
Social media is a necessary part of running any business today.
Even if you do not have pages on any of the popular social media channels like Facebook and Instagram, you can bet that your guests are out there posting, tweeting, and Instagramming things about your restaurant.
You can also bet that potential guests are reading it.
The more engaged you are with your clientele, the more loyal they become, and the more they’ll spread the word.
A well-developed social media marketing plan can bring a large percentage of business through your door.
From making improvements to driving sales, customer engagement is imperative when you market a restaurant.
But what if you do not have a social media audience? There are many ways to engage fans over social media. Here are some tips for boosting your Facebook followers:
- If you do not have a Facebook group, consider making one. If you have a Facebook group but do not participate, start. This engagement gives you a built-in audience to respond to the content you share.
- When you need people to like your page or join your group, you could host a contest. To get 100,000 likes on their Facebook page, Qwertee gave away 1,000 free shirts in a week. This approach works when you have multiple platforms to expand your content. Create graphics, videos, blog posts, and more that people can share to spread the word. 35% of fans on Facebook will like a page so that they can enter contests.
- Videos that are less than a minute can have significant results. The best length for Facebook engagement is around 1 minute and 30 seconds. Facebook users watch 100 million hours of video each day. Your videos could be about anything from promotional content, to food and drink items, to a behind-the-scenes look at your restaurant.
- People like sharing their opinion, especially if sharing is easy and fun. Before you start innovating, you could have fun polls. You might ask people to decide between your two most popular desserts. For one option, people could like the post. For the other, they could share it.
Photos and videos are a win-win for social media, especially Instagram.
Obviously, you should use them on your networks, but try these tricks for a bonus:
- Attract guests with shareable photos and videos on your WiFi landing page. It’s the first thing they see, so make it worth the sign-in.
- Make your splash page social-friendly with like, share, pin, and tweet buttons.
- Spread the word by asking guests to check in with social sites when they sign into your WiFi.
- Engage guests with shareable deals, customized for each social media site so their friends can share, too.
All of these capabilities are native features in the Bloom Intelligence platform, and they help build positive connections between your guests and the members of their social networks.
Twitter is another great platform for restaurant marketing. It allows you to post images and text, so you can share a quick message with any image you’d like to share.
Twitter gives you the opportunity to engage with your guests using quick, simple messages.
If you’re short on time and want to get started, Twitter is a great option.
9. Restaurant Paid Advertising
This is more of an advanced strategy and one that will require an investment.
Paid advertising is most often done using Google (Google Ads) and Facebook (Facebook Ads).
These can be quite powerful, as they can be configured with unique targeting features, personalized ads, and a thorough dashboard to monitor and analyze results.
You can even tell them the type of person you want the ads to be displayed to based on their internet browsing history or their demographic information.
10. Google Ads
Google Ads is the most used and most popular online paid advertising platform to market a restaurant.
When you do a search in Google, many times, you will see advertisements at the very top and/or the very bottom of the results page. These are Google Ads, and you can advertise your restaurant in this space.
Google allows you to configure where you want your ads to be seen, meaning you can display your ads only to searchers who are within a specific distance of your restaurant(s).
Once you’ve created your ads, you can tell the system which searches you’d like your ads to appear on.
There is no limit to the number of search phrases you can enter. When someone searches for any of the phrases, your ad will appear.
Then, you set a budget cap. You’ll never pay more than the monthly cap you set, and you can adjust it or pause the campaign anytime.
Ads are displayed in order using a Google algorithm which considers the relevancy to the search term and the maximum bid per click you have set in the system.
As mentioned above, this is an advanced strategy for most restaurateurs.
It is necessary to keep a constant eye on the performance of your account. You’ll want to tailor your settings to be as high on the search page as possible without spending too much per click.
Results can be powerful using Google Ads, but if attention is not paid to the account, your monthly budget cap can be spent with very minimal ROI.
11. Facebook Ads
Facebook Ads is very similar to Google Ads. Configuration can be as simple or as complex as you’d like it to be.
With more than 2 billion people using Facebook every month, it is entirely possible to narrow down your desired audience to the specific type of guest you want the ads to appear to.
Facebook Ads are generally less expensive than Google ads. However, Google Ads can reach a much larger audience.
You Must Know Your Audience
With any type of marketing campaign, knowing your audience is crucial. The best campaigns start and end with the audience in mind.
Since paid advertising takes a bite out of your marketing budget, you obviously want to make sure you gain the highest ROI possible.
To do this, you need accurate, reliable, and comprehensive data about your ideal customer profile.
Since a restaurant CDP allows you to get a single view of your guests across all platforms that they interact with, you have the ability to use advanced segmentation to create lists of guests that meet your ideal customer profile.
Then take these lists, export them, and then import them into Google or Facebook to either retarget existing customers or create look-a-like campaigns to find new guests.
12. Restaurant Reputation Management
Bloom Intelligence is directly integrated with Google and Facebook. Anytime a guest makes a review on these platforms or through a review request, these reviews are all pulled into one platform for easy management of reviews along with detailed reporting.
The ability to respond to reviews, generate automated reports, and see guest sentiment trends using Bloom artificial intelligence will save you hours of work per location per month.
Bloom can also generate a small piece of code that you can place on your website that will display an unobtrusive pop-up to show your website visitors your aggregate rating on Google, Facebook, Bloom, or any combination of the three.
This is a great way to show social proof to your website visitors, driving more net new business and helping to improve your restaurant marketing results.
13. Restaurant Ratings and Reviews Websites
In today’s digital age, reviews on sites like Google, TripAdvisor, Yelp, and Facebook are available instantaneously to anyone with an internet connection.
In fact, when searching for a restaurant or hotel online, customer reviews on these popular sites are among the first to pop up in the search results.
Because of this, many potential guests make up their minds about the quality of an establishment as soon as they see the highlighted rating appear on their screen before they’ve seen any marketing materials, visited the location’s website, or even visited the location itself.
TripAdvisor tallies up a staggering 390 million unique visits a month, with 435 million available reviews on nearly seven million restaurants, accommodations, and attractions.
Yelp, though not at quite the same level, still attracts an impressive user total, about 174 million monthly mobile and desktop visits, with about 115 million posted reviews.
The popularity of these sites speaks clearly of their importance for your restaurant to find new guests.
Given these numbers, it is obviously important to stay on top of your ratings and reviews on these powerful websites.
14. Use Your Website
Your company website is the digital epicenter of your brand.
When considering your restaurant, most guests will look to your website to see your menu, look for testimonials (social proof), or get a feel for the overall guest experience before they even consider visiting your restaurant.
Consumers go online to see your menu, order take-out, discover upcoming specials and events, and more.
Your website should also be the source of your brand identity in terms of look, feel, and personality. This branding should then be consistent across all online and offline customer touchpoints.
15. Implement Proper SEO
You can maximize website traffic and gain new guests by focusing on website rankings.
The process of improving website rankings is known as search engine optimization (SEO).
Providing original, educational, entertaining, and compelling value focused content for your guests is crucial.
Make sure to include keyword phrases that your guests would be searching for, such as Italian Restaurant in Atlanta. Ensure the keyphrase flows naturally in a sentence and doesn’t sound forced.
Just write naturally, and you should be fine.
It is also important that other websites are linking to yours. Find local directories and other websites to link to yours.
A smart way to think about SEO link building is that if you publish entertaining, educational, compelling content, others will naturally link back to it.
16. Google My Business
Google My Business is a free and easy-to-use tool for businesses and organizations to manage their online presence across Google, including Search and Maps.
It allows you to manage your information, which will appear when someone searches for your brand name or your Google Maps location (see image).
Plus, businesses that verify their information with Google My Business are twice as likely to be considered reputable by consumers.
All you need to do is create a free Google account (if you don’t have one already), log in and claim your business.
You’ll immediately be able to enter all of your company information. You can even create events and posts that will appear in your search results.
You can also post your menu, use Google’s free online ordering for pick up or delivery, or even schedule reservations.
If you are going to market a restaurant, this is an integral part of your marketing strategy. This strategy is also great for attracting new guests.
17. Restaurant Surveys and Feedback Loops
Using Bloom Intelligence’s advanced automated marketing suite of tools, it becomes quick and easy to create a simple survey with an automated feedback loop.
Bloom users create the initial survey that is sent to their guests. This message will typically thank them for a recent visit and ask them to provide a rating of their experience – from one-half star to five stars with the ability to leave a comment.
The message can be configured to be sent after a specific amount of visits to your restaurant or after an online order so they do not get the message after every visit.
Then, a rating threshold is configured for which a follow-up message will be sent.
For instance, if the threshold is set at 2 ½ stars, then if the guest gives a rating of 2 ½ stars or less, a follow-up message can automatically be sent.
In this case, the follow-up message would offer an apology for providing anything less than stellar service. It can include an incentive to get them back through your door for that valuable second chance.
The idea is to grab the guest’s attention and offer some kind of resolution to their issue before they get to an online rating website.
If they know their issue is being addressed in a friendly and positive manner, they will most likely refrain from complaining online.
Over time, this will mitigate many negative reviews that would have been sitting online – damaging your reputation – for years to come.
Likewise, if the guest gives a good rating in the initial message, you can follow up with a message thanking your guest and ask for a positive online review or refer a friend.
Over time, this will greatly increase the number of positive ratings and reviews you have online. As a result, you’ll see more new guests coming through your doors.
Worried that raising prices will make your loyal customers leave and not come back? Set up a survey to automatically go out to your guests two hours after they leave. If they give you a negative response, incentivize your guest with an offer to bring them back.
18. Customer Loyalty Programs
Customer loyalty programs are enormously popular in restaurants all over the world.
Owners and operators know this guest-engaging marketing strategy has a potent capability to expand their customer base and extend the overall average lifetime value of their guests.
When executed properly, a loyalty program can turn your occasional guests into frequent patrons, increase your per-person average, and elevate your bottom line.
The audience may be smaller in terms of your overall marketing efforts, but that shouldn’t discourage you. These participants have opted in and can have the largest impact on your bottom line.
They expect and are ready to receive your offers, updates, coupons, and messages. These guests want to interact with your brand.
Are you currently offering a customer loyalty program? Is it truly working for your establishment? Are you seeing a positive ROI? Do you have the means to collect and measure the data that can tell you these things?
Bloom’s restaurant marketing and customer data platform can act as your loyalty program. For instance, Bloom can track your guest visits and online orders for you and can trigger an automatic message with an offer or rating based on individual guest behavior.
You can send them an automated message once they reach your predetermined visit count, for instance. You literally set it and forget it, and Bloom will handle the rest.
When a guest redeems the offer, Bloom will track that data too. This allows you to measure the tangible ROI you need to manage your loyalty program effectively.
Other Online Restaurant Marketing Ideas
If you or a member of your team have a knack for writing, try finding an online food blogger who accepts written work from other authors.
This is a great way to get exposure for your restaurant while also demonstrating your love for food and great customer service.
While you will most likely not be permitted to promote your restaurant directly, you will likely be able to provide an author bio that will be published on the page. That is where you can let the world know how great your restaurant is.
Plus, you’ll be able to add a link to your restaurant’s website. This can increase your website traffic through direct visitors from your link.
Also, it can provide a boost to your website’s search engine rankings since they will see a link from an authoritative website pointing to your website.
Finally, get your restaurant listed in local directories and on food apps. This may require some legwork.
Find apps that list local restaurants and make sure you are in their database. Also, find online directories for your area and create listings for your restaurant.
19. Local Media, Magazines, and Newspapers
By taking your marketing efforts offline, you are covering all your bases, so to speak.
Publishing in newspapers and local magazines can sometimes be pricey. So you want to make sure your advertisement gets in front of as many eyeballs as possible.
The best days to have your ad run are Sundays and Fridays.
On Sundays, coupons are the main attraction, so you might consider adding a coupon or special in the Sunday paper.
Likewise, Fridays are the days when local events and happenings are published. So, you might think about Friday as another option.
Pro-tip, targeting your ideal customer profile is important. Use your CDP to identify the demographics and behavior of your guests so that you advertise in magazines or newspapers whose readership matches your ideal customer profile.
This will save you money and increase the likelihood that these readers will patronize your restaurant.
20. Restaurant Marketing Attribution
Restaurant marketing attribution is the term used for assigning credit to individual marketing tactics and messages and then applying ROI to them.
When done correctly, it allows marketers to apply more focus on tactics and messaging that are working well.
Likewise, it will identify where less focus is warranted.
According to Gartner, the typical outcome of implementing attribution is a 20-30% gain in media efficiency and corresponding increases in ROI.
It only makes sense to apply marketing attribution to your marketing campaigns. But you’ll need accurate, reliable, and comprehensive guest data that is updated in real-time.
A WiFi restaurant marketing platform can do this for you, tracking attribution all the way down to a guest walking back through your door or online order down to actual transactions.
With your cost of doing business going up and your margins shrinking, it is smart to consolidate your guest data and marketing stacks into one platform to save time and money.
Then uses these insights and marketing automation on your owned first-party channels, such as email marketing, to build your guest loyalty and increase your guest lifetime values.
Learn how Bloom Intelligence can help you save time, money, and increase your guest lifetime values.
SAVE TIME, INCREASE CUSTOMER LIFETIME VALUES, CREATE NEW CUSTOMERS
What our happy customers
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“This is an integral part of our local store marketing program. We use the e-mails we collect to tell our existing customers about various promotions, specials and discounts, and the analytics tools are amazing at capturing and displaying smart device activity in and around our store.”
Atlanta Bread Company
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How to Market a Restaurant: FAQs
What is the best marketing strategy for restaurants?
Of all the restaurant marketing strategies, perhaps the most effective strategy is using a WiFi marketing and analytics platform. It allows you to collect customer contact information, segment your customer list, create targeted, personalized messaging, and remarket to them for maximum results.
What is restaurant remarketing?
Restaurant remarketing is a powerful way to connect with visitors to your website or customers who have logged into your WiFi. It allows you to send targeted advertising, and behavior-driven promotions to those people through online advertising or email marketing. It’s a key marketing concept that should be a primary focus of restaurant owners and marketers.
What is restaurant marketing segmentation?
Restaurant customer segmentation refers to the process of subdividing a customer base into specific groups based on similar demographics, psychographics, and/or various behavior data points. This information can guide restaurant marketing professionals when developing new marketing campaigns for each group or optimizing existing ones to personalize the customer experience online or at their physical locations.
How do you use smart coupons to market a restaurant?
The best and easiest way to implement and maintain a digital smart coupon program is to use a WiFi marketing and analytics platform like Bloom Intelligence. The platform allows you to easily create and send customers a unique, one-time-use code that they can redeem on their next visit. The coupon is stored on their mobile device.
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