7 Must-Have Restaurant Marketing Tools in 2023

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5 min read

Oct 24, 2023

7 Must-Have Restaurant Marketing Tools in 2023

Marketing a restaurant is a juggling act. There are email newsletters to create, guest surveys to collect, social media posts to schedule and so much more. Dropping even one ball can mean lost opportunities and revenue, but handling all of these tasks is tough for any size team. 

The solution? Restaurant marketing tools that automate tasks, collect guest data, track key performance indicators (KPIs) and make it easier — and more realistic — for you to nail all marketing components. 

To streamline your efforts, we compiled a list of must-have restaurant marketing tools that will increase efficiency in every area of digital marketing. From review management to SMS marketing, here are seven essential marketing tools for restaurant owners and marketers.

1. Email Marketing

Top Pick: SevenRooms, Mailchimp

Email marketing helps turn one-time diners into repeat customers by forging lasting connections. In fact, over 90% of businesses say email marketing is at least somewhat critical to the success of their company. 

At SevenRooms, we’ve seen restaurants generate as much as $44,000 in incremental revenue with email marketing.

The key to success? 

Choosing an email marketing tool designed for the hospitality industry that integrates with your reservation and online ordering solutions

By working with an integrated email platform, you’ll be able to directly leverage your guest database to send highly personalized emails that catch your audience’s attention and encourage them to visit your restaurant. This includes sending custom offers based on dining preferences and special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries.

For example, wish a big spender happy birthday with a complimentary round of cocktails or send a beer lover a BOGO offer for their favorite IPA. These personalized touches lead to more restaurant traffic and higher customer satisfaction. 

Worried you don’t have the design skills to create effective email campaigns? Good email marketing tools have professionally designed email templates — all you have to do is update them with your own content, images and branding.

FYI: Choosing an integrated email marketing platform like SevenRooms lets you track hospitality-specific KPIs, like how many reservations, orders and the amount of revenue your emails generate per campaign — in addition to traditional metrics like open and click-through rates. In fact, our clients average a 70% open rate, more than triple the industry benchmark.

2. Marketing Automation

Top Pick: SevenRooms, Mailchimp

Take manual tasks off your team’s plate and boost customer loyalty with marketing automation. Marketing automation software improves efficiency across marketing efforts, from reservation confirmations to guest surveys, and makes for more effective campaigns.  

While automation is a crucial component of any restaurant marketing strategy, the most effective software will integrate with your reservation, online ordering, point of sale (POS) system and customer relationship management (CRM) software.

Most CRMs integrate with a restaurant’s greater tech stack and typically include marketing automation functionality. This enables seamless automation and the ability to use guest data across channels to elevate your marketing results. 

Look for marketing automation software with the following features:

Automated emails: Set up email triggers based on guest behaviors and dining history, like “we miss you” emails after 90 days of no activity or “thank you” messages after a guest’s first visit. These simple, yet powerful automations have been proven to drive guest retention and revenue. The best solutions also offer pre-built email templates to help you get started quickly.
Guest profile creation: Choose an integrated marketing automation platform with automatic guest profile creation, so your team will have access to crucial customer data, like a favorite table or preferred cocktail. Use this information to wow guests by personalizing service with custom offers and experiences.
Feedback surveys: Send automatic feedback requests to keep guest satisfaction high and identify areas of improvement. Ask guests about their experience and use this information to inform future messaging: send thank you messages, address negative experiences and send personalized discounts.
Cross-selling opportunities: Create landing pages and send targeted emails to encourage existing and new customers to make reservations, purchase event tickets or send custom group offers. 

Success Story: Marea Generates $400K of Additional Revenue in 2021 with Marketing Automation

3. SMS Marketing

Top Picks: Textedly, EZ Texting

Want to reach your target audience in a way that drives immediate results? Text them. 

Not only is the average open rate for SMS messages 98%, but nearly half of consumers enjoy receiving texts with discounts tailored to past purchases.With integrated SMS marketing, you can send personalized deals using guest data to impress guests and drive revenue. For example, text wine lovers about a new bottle special or reward loyal customers with a 10% return visit coupon. 

Having a slow day? Fill tables by sending real-time texts to subscribers, like a “today only” lunch special or a free appetizer with same-day reservations. 

If you have multiple locations, segment subscribers so they receive texts specific to their preferred location. Highly personalized and relevant texts will help minimize unsubscribes and improve your results. 

While there are countless ways to use SMS marketing, sending reservation confirmations and reminders might be the most valuable. Minimize no-shows and keep your restaurant bustling by texting guests with the time and date of their reservation, along with an easy way to cancel if needed. 

4. Review Management 

Top Pick: SevenRooms, BirdEye 

Reviews are essential to the success of any restaurant — they drive walk-ins, increase reservations and can even help improve search engine optimization (SEO) rankings. However, keeping track of feedback across review sites and dissecting the information can be a tall order for any team. 

Here’s how review management software can help restaurant owners and marketers: 

Aggregated reviews: Keep your online reviews, from Google and Facebook to GrubHub, all in one place to save time and increase efficiency. Quickly review positive and negative guest feedback, respond to reviews and track trends to improve your business’s online reputation.
Automated guest feedback surveys: Automatically send guest feedback surveys after every guest reservation or order to collect vital insights. Rectify negative experiences before guests can post online and encourage satisfied guests to leave reviews on your preferred review site.
Analytics and reporting: Uncover and analyze trends to consistently improve the customer experience and your restaurant’s reputation on owned and earned media platforms. 

Review Management in Action: Vandal, a Mexican vegan restaurant in Sydney, uses SevenRooms’ review aggregator to manage online reviews. This proactive approach increased their reviews from less than 200 to over 600 in just six months.

Even better? They take full advantage of data integration by making notes in guest profiles after receiving a review. When these guests come in to dine, restaurant staff can comp a negative reviewer’s meal or wow a positive reviewer with a free glass of champagne, increasing guest satisfaction and retention rates.  

5. Social Media Management

Top Picks: Hootsuite, SocialPilot

Twenty-nine percent of diners use social media to find new restaurants, according to SevenRooms’ Dining Discovery & Booking Report. While there’s no denying that social media is an effective way to reach customers, manually managing an omnichannel presence isn’t sustainable. 

The remedy is simple: Invest in a social media management tool that allows you to create, publish and schedule posts for all your social platforms, from TikTok to Instagram, in one central location. 

Helpful features include analyzing your social accounts to tell you the most effective times to post and content approval settings for team collaboration.

You’ll also be able to monitor mentions and respond without leaving the platform, saving valuable time and ensuring nothing goes unnoticed. 

View your analytics dashboard to find out which posts resonate the most with your audience, and use this information to refine your social media marketing strategy for more engagement and web traffic. 

Pro Tip: ChatGPT is a restaurant owner’s secret marketing weapon. This free artificial intelligence tool can whip up social media captions, hashtag suggestions and even full social media strategies in seconds. Edit the content before posting (even robots make mistakes) and tailor it to your target market for the best results.

chatgpt restaurant prompts

Learn More: 30 ChatGPT Prompts Your Restaurant Needs to Try Right Now

6. Event Marketing Software

Top Picks: SevenRooms, TripleSeat, Eventbrite

Whether you’re planning a VIP dinner, seasonal celebration, or literally anything else, event marketing software will streamline the experience for your team and attendees. 

The best event marketing software will have the following features: 

Customizable landing pages: Build branded landing pages to promote your event and highlight key details like time, date, pricing, payments and more.
Secure payments: Give guests an easy and secure way to buy event tickets with payment card industry (PCI) compliant payment options.
Guestlist management: See who’s signed up and collect guest data, like email addresses and phone numbers, for future marketing opportunities.
FOH operations integration: Look for event marketing platforms that integrate with your reservation, CRM and venue management solutions for deeper insights you can use to collect guest data and improve event performance.
Event performance insights: Measure the success of your event and use key insights to get even more attendees next time. 

restaurant event ideas

Learn More: 18 Restaurant Event Ideas That Will Leave Your Guests Hungry for More

7. Graphic Design

Top Picks: Canva, PicMonkey

Visuals are crucial to any restaurant marketing plan. Eye-catching images get your restaurant noticed, whether on your website, blog, social media profile or email newsletter. 

But not just any visual will do — professional graphics are vital to maintaining a credible online presence. Luckily, graphic design tools make creating attractive images simple regardless of your experience level. 

Look for graphic design tools that offer ready-made templates for everything from Pinterest posts to landing pages. This ensures you can make a graphic for any need by simply customizing the text to your marketing campaign and brand. 

Graphic design tools also help ensure consistent branding across channels — upload your own font and colors or choose from a vast array of options. 

Elevate Restaurant Marketing With Integration

The most effective restaurant marketing tools offer CRM and POS integration capabilities. An integrated all-in-one platform improves team efficiency and enables deeper insights by keeping everything in one central location.

Most importantly, it enables you to use guest data in marketing campaigns, improving results and impressing guests every step along the way. 

SevenRooms’ hospitality CRM and marketing tools, including email marketing, automation, review management and SMS marketing, integrate seamlessly with a wide variety of POS systems for more impactful marketing campaigns. Schedule a demo today to learn more

Restaurant Marketing Tools Frequently Asked Questions 

What Is the Most Important Marketing Tool for Restaurants?

The most important marketing tool for restaurants is a comprehensive customer relationship management software. These platforms help manage reservations, analyze customer data, personalize marketing efforts and optimize operations to enhance customer satisfaction and drive repeat business.

What Marketing Channels Do Restaurants Use? 

Restaurants use various marketing channels, including social media platforms, email marketing, SEO, paid advertising (PPC), local listings, content marketing, influencer partnerships, loyalty programs, public relations (PR), event marketing and word-of-mouth/referral programs. These channels help restaurants engage with customers, increase visibility and drive business growth.

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