Restaurant Text Marketing Guide: 10 Must-Know Best Practices

5 min read

May 15, 2024

Restaurant Text Marketing Guide: 10 Must-Know Best Practices

You text your friends and family — but what about your guests? With direct access to diners and high (really high!) engagement rates, text messaging shouldn’t be limited to personal use. In fact, the majority of customers actively want brands to text them. Ninety-one percent of consumers are interested in signing up for an SMS program. 

But not just any old text will do. 

Whether you’re already texting guests or interested in starting, learn everything you need to know about restaurant text marketing, from benefits to best practices.

Benefits of text marketing for restaurants

Every channel has its perks — but have you met text marketing? Allow us to introduce you to some of the most impactful benefits of messaging restaurant patrons. 

High engagement rates

If you want your marketing messages to be seen (and who doesn’t?), text your customers. 

Check out these impressive SMS marketing industry averages:

Average open rate: 98%
Average click-through rate: 20%–35%

Now, let’s compare that to email marketing industry averages

Average open rate: 18.5%
Average click-through rate: 1%–10% 

While both marketing channels are undeniably effective ways to reach customers, text messaging and email marketing are great for different use cases (keep reading to find out why). 

Direct communication with guests

Text marketing is almost guaranteed to reach customers. After all, your message goes right to recipients’ mobile phones, making it virtually impossible to ignore. 

This is why it’s the perfect marketing platform for the restaurant industry — it lets you send last-minute offers to fill tables on a slow day and keeps brand awareness high. 

Improves loyalty and retention

Seventy-nine percent of marketers use SMS marketing as a retention channel — and for good reason. It’s an effective way to share updates on customer loyalty programs, engage customers with interactive content and send highly targeted offers on birthdays and other occasions. 

By making your customers feel special, you can boost customer engagement, loyalty and retention.

Drives revenue

Restaurant SMS marketing can also significantly contribute to revenue growth — 53% of marketers say text marketing is a top three revenue-driving channel. 

This is because SMS text encourages immediate action. 

Sending time-sensitive offers, like happy hour specials or tastes of new menu items, creates a sense of urgency that encourages impromptu reservations and walk-ins. This can increase your restaurant’s foot traffic and boost sales.


After implementing SevenRooms’ Text Marketing across seven venues, Fabio Viviani Hospitality generated over $220,000 in revenue and brought in 3,635 guests in four months.

10 best practices for texting restaurant customers 

Ready to create — or refine — your text marketing strategy? Follow these best practices to improve your results. 

1. Ditch the sales pitch

Text messaging is intimate, so your messages should reflect that. Use a friendly, conversational voice that fosters a connection with your customers. 

Henry Kaminski, CMO of Fabio Viviani Hospitality, says keeping it casual is the key to text marketing success:  

“What we've noticed with our campaigns is if it sounds salesy, they don’t perform as well. If they sound like a friend is texting you, we get a much better response — and way better ROI. If you can communicate your restaurant's voice in a way that resonates with your customer and use a tone that feels inviting, friendly and familiar, your response rate will go through the roof.”

Fabio Viviani Hospitality uses SevenRooms’ Text Marketing to message customers about upcoming events and drive ticket sales.

Here’s an example: 

Too formal: “Dear customer, we are delighted to inform you that our new seasonal menu will be available next week.” 
Just right: "Hey there! Just a heads-up: Five Figs’ new seasonal menu drops next week. Come visit us soon 👋."

Whether you use emojis and language like “hey there” will depend on your target market and restaurant’s brand. No matter where you land on matters of formality, talking to your customers like a friend can help build long-lasting relationships. 

2. Keep it short and sweet

With text message marketing, your goal should be to say more with less. Maintain a conversational tone with a balance of concise writing in order to get your message across. Leverage emojis to break up blocks of text or draw attention to a call to action (CTA). 

Remember — no one wants to read a novel over text.

If that’s not enough to get your message across, aim for under 160 characters, the standard SMS limit. 


Most text messaging platforms have character limits, but SevenRooms’ Text Marketing offers unlimited text. While it’s a best practice to keep it concise, we don’t restrict you if you have more to say. Our platform also automatically optimizes every text for images and deliverability.

3. Get timing and frequency right 

Timing is everything in text marketing. To get the best results, carefully consider the day, time and frequency of your SMS messages. 

According to Omnisend research, 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. is the golden hour for text marketing — and Tuesdays and Saturdays have the highest conversion rates. While these dates and times could work well for texts that don’t need an immediate response, you’ll want to adjust this schedule based on your guests’ behavior and business-specific needs. 

For example, texting diners a few hours before mealtimes can help you get last-minute walk-ins and reservations. Weekends are a great time to remind diners about your brunch special or all-day Sunday happy hour. And text marketing is also perfect for helping fill tables on your slowest days. 

Base your texting schedule on these factors to determine the most effective times for your restaurant. 

As for frequency, it’s recommended to send two to four messages per month. The right cadence will depend on your restaurant’s needs, seasonality and target market. And may take some testing to determine. 

To set expectations and reduce unsubscribes, Include how often you’ll send messages on your opt-in form. For example: “We send up to four messages per month.” 

4. Make it easy on the eyes

Use these formatting tips to help improve the impact of your SMS marketing campaigns:

Use white space: Break your text into short sentences or bullet points, separating content with line breaks. This helps make your messages easier to scan and digest.
Choose simple words: Use straightforward language that your audience will understand. 
Limit exclamation marks: Excessive use of exclamation points can make your message look cluttered and may dilute its impact. 

SevenRooms’ client Reyla uses paragraph breaks, concise text and emojis to keep text messages easy to read.

5. Segment and personalize 

Personalization goes beyond calling customers by name. By using CRM software like SevenRooms that integrates with text messaging, you can send hyper-targeted messages based on customer preferences. 

By segmenting your audience, you can:

Send personalized messages to specific customer groups
Increase the effectiveness of your messages
Enhance the customer experience, making diners feel valued and appreciated

For instance, if you’re having a wine promotion, segment your subscriber list by diners’ varietal preferences. 

Here’s what that could look like: 

Red wine lovers: “Your favorite red just got better — $8 glasses of Cabernet in the bar today only 🍷.”
White wine lovers: “Your favorite white just got better — $8 glasses of Chardonnay in the bar today only 🤩.”
Pro Tip

SevenRooms CRM software integrates with text messaging, email marketing and more. With our guest tag feature, you can identify guests as “big spenders,” “beer drinkers” and “positive reviewers” to create highly targeted offers and VIP invites that boost your ROI.

6. Surprise and delight

Transactional texts aren’t your only option. Use text marketing to its full potential by sending customers messages that are a joy to receive. 

Consider these ideas for your SMS campaigns:  

Secret word: Text subscribers a secret word, like “sizzle” or “indulge,” that they must say in person to get a discount. This interactive approach can drive immediate business.
Staff highlights: Feature your staff in text messages with a picture and a short bio or fun fact. Encouraging customers to get to know team members can foster loyalty.
Recipes: Text customers your fan-favorite margarita recipe for Cinco de Mayo or tips for making your famous carbonara for National Pasta Day.
Note from the chef: To build connections and drive reservations, send personalized invites to chef’s table events and tastings written by your restaurant’s chef. 
Emojis and GIFs: Take advantage of texting’s personal nature by using emojis and GIFs in messages. This can be a fun way to show your brand’s personality. 👩‍🍳😋

SevenRooms’ client Barrio Costero uses relatable language and tempting imagery in their text campaigns.

7. Mix it up 

Don’t let your texts get stagnant. Include a mix of transactional, creative and promotional messages to keep things fresh for your customers and see what resonates best with your audience.  

This includes: 

Happy hour promotions: Announce deals on drinks and appetizers during happy hour. Use guest data to segment subscribers by preferences and tailor your messages. 
Event invitations: Invite customers to special events, such as live music nights or new menu unveilings. 
Customer loyalty programs: Keep your customers updated about their loyalty status and inform them how to earn and redeem points or rewards.
Holiday and seasonal promotions: Share festive menus or seasonal promotions, such as a summer patio dining special or new menu items for the holidays.
Birthday and anniversary offers: Make your customers feel special by sending personalized offers for their birthdays or anniversaries. 
Reservation reminders: Send a friendly reminder about their upcoming reservation to ensure they remember their booking and are excited about their visit.
Feedback requests: After a visit, encourage customers to provide feedback on their experience, showing them that their opinion matters to you.

Don’t forget to include your venue name in each text in case customers don’t have you saved in their phones.

Pro Tip

Track the ROI of your text campaigns to see what drives the most revenue and engagement. SevenRooms’ Text Marketing makes it easy for you to track reservations, revenue and covers for every text. 

8. Include a CTA

Text message marketing isn’t complete without a CTA that drives your recipients to act. Place it at the beginning or end of your message (or both).

For example: 

Book now
View our menu
Get the deal
Don’t miss out
Buy tickets now
Reserve your seat 

Include a shortened link to your reservation platform so customers can easily book a table, buy tickets or view menus. SevenRooms’ Text Marketing offers branded short links to improve readability, enhance tracking and help you maintain a consistent brand identity. 

SevenRooms’ client Laylow includes a CTA and link for customers to make reservations in its text messages.

Before you send any text messages, obtain explicit, legal consent from your customers. 

Fabio Viviani Hospitality uses SevenRooms’ booking widget to get text and email subscribers during the reservation process. 

The form includes checkboxes for SMS and email so guests can easily opt-in to receive news and exclusive offers — and a third checkbox to ensure customers know what they’re signing up for. This is an effective way to grow your subscriber list and boost retention while adhering to text marketing consent guidelines. 

It’s also crucial to provide clear instructions on how customers can opt out of the subscription. This not only ensures legal compliance but also respects your customers’ preferences.

With a simple and transparent opt-out process, you can maintain a positive relationship with existing and new customers while ensuring your text marketing efforts are ethical and respectful.

10. Combine the power of text with email marketing 

While both text and email marketing are effective strategies, they excel in different areas. 

Restaurant text messaging is ideal for limited-time offers, such as daily specials and last-minute deals. Reservation reminders are helpful to reduce no-shows. Its high open rates ensure your message is seen almost immediately, making it perfect for sending promotions that require quick action from customers. 

For example, you might send a text in the morning to promote a lunchtime offer, knowing that the message is likely to be read soon after it's received.

Email marketing is better suited for more detailed and less urgent communications. This includes newsletters, detailed event invitations and long-form content like chef interviews and food and drink announcements.

The longer format allows for richer storytelling, which can enhance the customer experience.

But why choose just one when you can have the best of both worlds? Pair these multichannel marketing strategies together for the ultimate marketing power couple. 

Build loyalty and revenue with text marketing 

An SMS marketing strategy lets you reach customers almost instantaneously, providing ample opportunities for connection, retention and revenue. 

But with great power comes great responsibility — ensure your messages adhere to best practices regarding length, frequency and opt-in policies to reduce unsubscribes. 

Schedule a demo today to learn how SevenRooms’ restaurant Text Marketing and Email Marketing can help you connect with customers, improve retention and drive revenue. 

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