The Complete Guide to Digital Marketing for Restaurants

by | Sep 14, 2022 | Restaurant Trends

Digital marketing for restaurants is essential for reaching potential customers, engaging with patrons, and responding to feedback regarding your customers’ dining experience. There are platforms you can use in conjunction with your digital marketing strategies to guarantee the most engagement. 

The best part is that these solutions are cost-effective or, in some cases, even free. Platforms like Google, Facebook, Instagram, and professional-based sites (like LinkedIn) allow you to create a business profile and listing on their sites at no charge. 

These services are just a few digital marketing strategies you should include in your advertising budget. If you own, operate, or manage one of the 1 million restaurants in America, this guide will walk you through what digital marketing strategies are proving to have the most positive impact on revenue. 

Key Takeaways:

  • Digital marketing campaigns for restaurants are essential for boosting reach, lowering acquisition and retention costs, and putting you directly in contact with patrons.
  • Creating a Google My Business listing is the first step you should take in your restaurant’s digital marketing strategy. It’s free and easy to set up.
  • Your business will need a website. Companies that do not have a dedicated website for their business struggle to remain competitive.
  • Social media channels like Facebook and TikTok each have over 1 billion users. Developing a social media marketing strategy will ensure that these users see your brand.
  • Email marketing and SMS are the two most successful direct messaging marketing strategies available for restaurant owners.  

The Value of Digital Marketing for Restaurants

Digital transformation continues to change everyone’s lives as technology brings advancements in the way people live, work, eat, and even sleep. As the internet takes over nearly every aspect of business, the restaurant industry needs to keep up with these innovations to remain competitive. 

Digital marketing for restaurants helps target online customers. Furthermore, it is one of the most cost-effective forms of marketing available. A few reasons digital marketing is so important to restaurants include:

  • Boosts reach to potential patrons
  • Lowers customer acquisition and retention costs
  • Puts you directly in touch with customers

Digital marketing for restaurants provides your establishment with critical business connections. It gives customers a way to leave a review of your business. That will help you address any questions or concerns of your (potential or existing) customers. Reviews can boost your restaurant’s reputation when satisfied patrons post about how great your establishment’s food and service are.

5 Digital Marketing Strategies for Restaurants  

When mapping out your restaurant’s digital marketing strategies, five methods for reaching your customers are proven effective for food service enterprises. Digital marketing for restaurants isn’t as straightforward as it can be for other industries. Success requires that owners use these five strategies effectively.

1. Google My Business Listing    

If your restaurant is beginning with developing a digital marketing strategy, your first step needs to be to create a Google My Business listing with the popular search engine. Google offers this service for free and allows your business to show up on Google search results and Google Maps. You can:

  • Provide customers with essential contact information
  • Help customers locate your establishment easily
  • Use this listing to enhance your local SEO   
  • Show additional images of your dishes and beverages 

2. Modern Website 

Your restaurant needs a website. Nowadays, companies that don’t have a website struggle to remain competitive. You can’t just rely on a few social media business profiles to do what your website does for your business. A few things websites do for businesses include:

  • Creates an online presence
  • Builds trust in your brand
  • Puts you on search engine results pages (SERPs)
  • Becomes a point of contact
  • Leverages social media networks

Infograph of the benefits of a business website.

Image Courtesy of Sidekick Digital Limited

The Call-to-Actions on your restaurant’s website should include images that initiate cravings for your dishes. You can integrate an online ordering widget on your site so customers can order directly from you. If you don’t offer delivery, consider partnering with a food delivery service like Uber Eats or Doordash.

3. Social Media Marketing 

There are 1.5 billion users on the most popular social media site, Facebook. TikTok, the fastest growing social media platform to date, has just over 1 billion users as well. Companies that employ social media marketing strategies have higher customer engagement, improved brand recognition, and more loyal customers. Here are a few online posting activities you should do for your restaurant’s digital marketing strategies:

  • Video marketing 
  • Paid ads
  • Direct customer engagement 
  • Contests and campaigns

4. Email Marketing   

There are over 4 billion email users worldwide, and email marketing campaigns are among the most effective digital marketing strategies for restaurants. Send mass emails about upcoming events, menu changes, monthly newsletters, or printable coupons. You can do this with the help of your digital experience platform (DXP) or CRM database. 

5. SMS Marketing

On average, the recipient reads 98% of text messages. Compare that with emails where the receiver opens only about 20% of them. SMS marketing is one of the most popular digital strategies companies use to reach customers because of its success rate in reaching the target audience.

Infograph of the most effective digital marketing strategy (SMS marketing)

Image Courtesy of Fast2SMS

You can use text messages to send updates, promo codes, or digital coupons. You should keep these messages short, under 160 characters if possible. Also, don’t forget to add an opt-out feature to remain compliant with communication regulations.

Brand Recognition Takes Exposure  

At SIAL, we understand that exposure is the only way to remain successful in the restaurant industry. As we continue to move forward in the digital age, your restaurant must focus on mastering digital marketing. Restaurant owners that deploy digital marketing campaigns benefit from brand recognition, customer engagement, and more return business. How can SIAL help you with your restaurant’s digital marketing efforts?

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