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Blog / June 10, 2021

23 Restaurant Marketing Ideas to Drive Revenue and Loyalty

restaurant sign
Stephanie Schalow Headshot

Stephanie Schalow

Effective marketing is crucial to the success of any restaurant. Restaurant marketing helps drive awareness, orders and reservations, continued loyalty, and viral buzz. We’ve compiled a list of 23 restaurant marketing ideas to help your business stand out from the crowd in this increasingly competitive industry.

1. Respond to positive and negative reviews

Monitoring and responding to reviews, both positive and negative, is crucial to a healthy online presence. 86% of consumers read reviews for local businesses, and the highest percentage of reviews read are for restaurants. These reviews are powerful: a positive review can make a consumer 60% more likely to visit your business, while a negative review stops 40% of people from wanting to visit your business. Plus, 89% of people read the responses from the restaurant.

Don’t miss the chance to convert unhappy reviewers into happy ones. Use your responses to convince potential first-time customers that your business takes guest experience seriously. Platforms like SevenRooms make it easy to stay on top of reviews by aggregating Google, Yelp, Facebook, TripAdvisor, and other reviews in a daily email digest.

2. Optimize your Google presence

92% of diners use search engines to find restaurants. With numbers like that, optimizing your digital front door on Google is one of the most impactful marketing moves you can make. Small changes, like updating your hours of operation and making sure your address and restaurant description are correct, can have a big impact when a guest is searching for you online.

SevenRooms has both a comprehensive guide and informational webinar highlighting how to drive more revenue for your restaurant through Google.

3. Engage the press

Good restaurant marketing is all about driving awareness for your brand. Have an upcoming event, exciting promotion, soon-to-be opened restaurant, or a new chef? Share it with local publications and even some of the bigger players – like The Infatuation and Eater. You’d be surprised how much buzz they can generate, helping drum up excitement for your latest offering.

When reaching out, always include the following in your pitch:

  • Details on the event, promotion, new opening or chef
  • Photos for the reporter to use in the story
  • A unique angle on what makes this story special

The easier you make it for the editor to craft a story, the more likely they are to write about your business.

4. Utilize automated email marketing campaigns

The secret weapon for marketers across all industries is automated email marketing, and it can drive big results for restaurants! With a marketing automation solution like SevenRooms, you can set up targeted, timely email campaigns proven to drive results. This includes campaigns for first time orders, positive reviewers, big spenders, wine lovers, and more. You can also build campaigns to drive shoulder time orders like Orto, based in Miller Place, NY on Long Island, has created.


5. Utilize one-off email marketing campaigns

Good marketing is all about engaging the right people at the right time, and a combination of automated restaurant email marketing campaigns as well as individual emails can help you stay top of mind for customers. Raining today? A quick email promoting your delivery options can help replace a potential decrease in on-premise customers with off-premise orders. Upcoming national food holidays are another great time to utilize email marketing to drive orders and reservations.

6. Use check inserts and bag inserts to promote programs

Including a postcard as a check insert or in each takeout bag is a great way to grab attention. You can use these cards to promote a variety of programs and promotions. Here are a few examples:

  • Include a postcard in each order that came from a third-party platform. Offer diners 10 percent off  their next order when they order direct through your website.
  • Big holiday coming up? Generate buzz early by promoting your special menu now!
  • Promote your on-premise dining options to those who order takeout or delivery, and vice versa.
  • Put a QR code on the card, linking to your Google My Business listing for them to leave a review.
  • Simply thank them for their support of your restaurant with a warm note from the owner or staff.

7. Utilize outdoor signage

With warmer weather on the horizon, you don’t want to miss the opportunity to catch passersby’s eyes. Utilize prominent signage wherever you can, including window and sidewalk signage. Don’t have a good place to put signage? Consider posting around your neighborhood, or tapping into local businesses to share details on your restaurant with their customers. You can return the favor by including information about their businesses at your venue as well.

8. Repost customer pictures and posts

It’s no secret that consumers trust other consumers – just look at the stats on reviews! The more you can include the customer’s voice in your marketing communications, the better. If a customer tags your restaurant in a picture of their beautiful meal, repost it to show some love. Make sure you give proper photo credit on the post, and be sure to reach out to them via direct message to thank them personally as well. This one-to-one form of restaurant marketing can help you build loyalty with your biggest brand advocates.

9. Use pop-ups and slide-ins on your website

Pop-ups and slide-ins are a great way to promote special offerings or provide customers with a quicker way to access important information — like your online ordering or reservation links. Cote, a Korean Steakhouse based in New York City and Miami, uses theirs to show off their outdoor dining setup, and to promote additional ways to enjoy Cote however and wherever you want.

cote website

10. Run a review campaign

Studies show that 70% of consumers who are asked to leave a review will do so. If you are consistently delivering service worthy of a positive review, and you capture those positive reviews every time, the occasional bad review does not have nearly as much impact on your online ratings. We also know that recency matters, so asking for a review via email soon after the customer has received their delivery order or dined at your property can ensure a steady stream of positive reviews.

11. Team up with local venues

The hospitality industry is all about community. That means that building connections to other local businesses is always a good idea. We often see breweries partnering with local food trucks or nearby restaurants to offer food to their patrons. Great wine bar down the street? Work together on a creative campaign you can use to cross-promote one another.

12. Make your website informational and actionable

When a customer lands on your website, they are most likely looking for your menu, your location, your hours, or how to book a reservation or place an order. Always make sure your website is up to date, and make it easy for a customer to take action with prominent links or buttons to your reservation and order pages. Check out how easy Chotto Matte, a Japanese Peruvian concept with four locations across the world, makes it to book a reservation or place an order for their various locations.

chotto mate website

13. Nail your brand voice and use it on social

Part of what makes dining out so enjoyable is that a restaurant can transport you to another place, or put you in a certain mood. Brands that can deliver those same feelings through pictures and captions on social media truly deliver the 360-degree experience consumers expect. Is your restaurant quirky, feminine, simplistic or funky? Work the vibe of your restaurant into your social media presence.

14. Invest in quality photography

People eat with their eyes, so investing in high-quality photography for your food and ambience will be the gift that keeps on giving. More drool-worthy pictures on social media, in press pieces, and on your website mean more opportunities to entice hungry customers.

15. Make your food “Instagrammable”

The restaurant version of the quote “Build it and they will come” would likely be “Make it pretty and they will post.” Make your plating Instagram-worthy to drive social engagement with your guests. Extend that experience to your website and on-premise experience by denoting particularly gorgeous dishes with a special icon on the menu to indicate its ‘Instaworthiness’. Anytime a guest posts the dish online, make sure you like or comment on the post. They’ll be thrilled you engaged with their content, and you’ll reap the benefits of their future repeat business.  Anyone else suddenly craving a Black Tap milkshake?

black tap milkshake

16. Use paid advertising on Google and Facebook

Advertising to locals in your area on Google and Facebook can be a great way to drive orders and reservations. Leverage your existing guest database to create lookalike audiences for potential customers near your locations with a similar profile to your existing customers. You can also use retargeting to advertise to people who have visited your site before. This helps you take advantage of the exposure effect, where consumers are more likely to buy something they see often.

17. Start a loyalty program and promote it

Email addresses are gold for restaurant marketing purposes. Starting a loyalty program is a simple way to collect additional email addresses that you can use to run targeted marketing campaigns, while also rewarding your most loyal customers with special offers or access. Don’t forget to promote your program – in check inserts, via website pop-ups, in emails, and on social media! The more places you can promote your business and it’s rewards for repeat visitors, the more success the program will have.

18. Have an easily-accessible online menu

There is little that is more frustrating to a consumer than looking up a restaurant’s menu, only to find that it does not exist, or is a hard-to-read, out-of-date photo of a physical menu. Upload a high-quality PDF or post your menu in text on your site. Ensure it can be easily found on all of your online channels, including your website, across your social media channels, and via Google and other booking channels.

Don’t forget to ensure the PDF or text is optimized for mobile. More people than ever before are searching and booking via their mobile devices, so it’s important to make sure you’ve optimized across every online channel before posting.

19. Consider third party marketplaces, but convert customers to direct

Third-party marketplaces are a great way for new customers to discover your restaurant when scrolling through an app. Use these channels to your advantage by making some reservation inventory available on third-party booking platforms, or by offering delivery on a third-party ordering platform. Just be sure to have a strategy in place to convert those third-party orders or reservations into direct customers so you can save on commission fees and build direct relationships with your customers. A bag insert with a discount for ordering direct is a quick, easy way to make that conversion.

20. Stay on top of holidays

Holidays are great opportunities to drive orders and reservations for your restaurant. Whether it’s a major national holiday like Easter or Christmas, or a ‘food holiday’ like National Pizza Day or National Margarita Day, you have endless opportunities to leverage restaurant marketing to drive online orders and reservations.

Check out our blog post for a list of national food holidays, and creative ways to drive revenue for them.

21. Put “reserve” and “order” buttons everywhere

If someone is searching for your restaurant, remove as much friction as possible by making Reserve Now and Order Now buttons available on every online listing possible. Google, Yelp, Facebook, Instagram, TripAdvisor, and more all offer call-to-action (CTA) buttons you can use to drive orders and reservations. Just don’t forget to use them to promote your direct reservation and direct online ordering solutions so you’re not paying fees for consumers who are already looking for you.

22. Use scarcity marketing

Scarcity marketing is one of the most effective ways to drive immediate revenue. Consumers easily experience FOMO (fear of missing out), so when you offer something that is for a “Limited Time Only” or in a “Limited Quantity,” it prompts immediate action.

You can also use scarcity marketing by owning a day of the week, like Fleming’s uses with Tomahawk Tuesday. If you want that steak, you have to book your reservation or place your online order on a Tuesday. Other examples are specials for Meatless Monday, Wine Wednesday, or Sushi Saturday.

23. Include value adds

Small additions to on-premise or off-premise orders can help elevate the experience you deliver to customers through “surprise and delight” moments. Consider cards with a QR code to themed Spotify playlists for Valentine’s Day, free desserts on weekdays or shoulder times, or a complimentary cocktail on a first-time order. With so many dining options for customers to choose from, creating a memorable moment will drive long-term loyalty.

There are endless restaurant marketing ideas to implement at your restaurant today. Choose one, or several of the above and get started. You’ll reap the benefits in additional revenue and long-term loyalty with customers.

Interested in learning more about how SevenRooms’ automated marketing tools can help you achieve your marketing goals? Request a demo today.

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