A “build it and they will come” mentality can only take you so far when you’re a restaurant owner. Opening your doors will get some customers in the door, but you can’t rely only on foot traffic to run a sustainable business.
While word-of-mouth marketing is powerful, there’s only so much you can do to make it happen. You need to implement restaurant marketing strategies to get people in the door and keep them coming back for more.
Need inspiration? You’ve come to the right place. Keep reading to learn nine proven marketing strategies for restaurants, including:
- Saving time with automation
- Tracking campaign success
- Staying top of mind with social media marketing
- Emphasizing owned channels
- Converting third-party guests into direct guests
- Putting your data to work
- Taking advantage of holidays
- Focusing on loyalty
- Responding to reviews
1. Save Time With Automation
Marketing your restaurant doesn’t have to be time consuming. After all, spending more time on marketing won’t get you better results. It’s all about marketing smarter, not harder. Our first restaurant marketing strategy is automating as many of your efforts as possible. Look for tools that make this easy.
With a restaurant marketing automation tool like SevenRooms, you can set up targeted email campaigns in a few clicks. SevenRooms will reach out to the right customers, at the right time, with the right offer on your behalf. For example, you could configure the platform to send “we miss you” offers to guests one month after they last dined with you.
There are also plenty of social media automation solutions available that can help you schedule, write and reuse posts. Hootsuite, MeetEdgar and Later are just a few examples.
2. Track Campaign Success
Doing marketing is only half the battle when it comes to advertising your restaurant. Measuring your success and adjusting your restaurant marketing strategies is equally as important.
Check your analytics regularly to understand which campaigns and offers lead to the most conversions and the largest covers. After all, you’re not just marketing for the sake of marketing: you’re marketing to get results.
Take things a step further by A/B testing email subject lines. Send the one with the most opens to the remainder of your email list.
3. Stay Top of Mind With Social Media Marketing
Beyond sending emails, staying active on social media is another restaurant marketing strategy that will help keep you top of mind. Post regularly on the channels that your followers engage with the most, like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. If you’re feeling adventurous, experiment with creating content on TikTok.
Don’t forget to post updates to your Google My Business profile. Restaurant-related Google searches doubled over two years, making Google a go-to source for information about dining options.
Wherever you post, make sure to include links to your direct booking and online ordering pages, such as in your Instagram bio or Google My Business profile.
In addition to advertising your business, social media is a great tool for learning what customers want. Why not post a poll to find out which ice cream flavor or pasta shape guests want to see from you next?
4. Emphasize Owned Channels
While it’s important to be active on social media, it’s even more important to stay on top of direct marketing channels that don’t rely on algorithms or pit you against the competition.
Your email marketing platform, direct reservations and online ordering solutions and restaurant’s app are examples of direct marketing channels. Focus on growing these platforms because that’s where you’ll get access to guest data that you can use to strengthen your restaurant’s marketing strategies.
Grow your email list, for example, by collecting guests’ email addresses through your reservations page. Influence walk-ins to join your email list by placing a coupon in the bill presenter that they can redeem by giving you their email address.
5. Convert Third-Party Guests Into Direct Guests
In addition to focusing on owned marketing channels, you should also make an active effort to convert third-party guests into direct guests.
Turn social media followers into new customers by linking to your reservations page in a post. Influence guests who make reservations through third-party platforms to make reservations through your website by explaining the benefits of booking directly with you. Or, convince customers who order delivery through a third-party app to order through your website by enticing them with a deal.
6. Put Your Data to Work
The best part of having direct marketing channels is the fact that you have access to data about your guests. Put that data to work to create more effective, highly targeted marketing campaigns.
Instead of sending every person on your email list the same newsletter, customize your outreach to guests’ preferences.
For example, when you gather data about guest’s anniversaries, you can invite couples to celebrate at your restaurant. Email them a few weeks before the big day to let them know you’re thinking of them. Offer a free champagne toast upon arrival to entice them.
Or, if you’re planning a limited-time vegan menu, reach out to guests who have a vegan tag in their guest profiles to let them be the first to reserve tables.
7. Take Advantage of Holidays
Holidays big and small are an excuse for gathering and celebrating: two things that restaurants are known for. Our seventh restaurant marketing strategy is to highlight holidays in your advertising efforts.
You could do something as small as acknowledging National Doughnut Day on social media, or as elaborate as creating whole marketing campaigns around a holiday. For example, you could create a ticketed, prix-fixe meal for Mother’s Day and advertise it via email and social media.
8. Focus on Loyalty
Did you know that your most loyal customers are responsible for 80% of profits? And, according to the Harvard Business Review, just a 5% increase in loyalty can boost profits by up to 95%. When you focus your advertising efforts on creating repeat business, you’ll see major gains.
Why not send customers who typically order takeout a coupon for their first dine-in meal, or vice versa? Or, if you own multiple restaurants, why not advertise your sister properties to regulars?
Better yet, create a formal loyalty program that rewards guests for their repeat business. Look for a digital loyalty program that lets customers easily track their progress and redeem rewards.
9. Respond to Reviews
Responding to direct customer feedback and reviews on third-party review sites, like Yelp, will make customers feel heard and appreciated, which is why it’s our final restaurant marketing strategy.
Reading reviews will also help you see feedback patterns that you can use to improve your business. Don’t have time to respond to every review? Use a guest feedback solution to send guests post-meal surveys. Then, set up automated responses to buy you time before you respond to the most critical reviews.
Wrapping Up: Marketing Strategies for Restaurants
Marketing your restaurant is just as important as ensuring you provide a memorable dining experience. With the right marketing strategies, you can attract new customers and keep them coming back. Cover all of your bases by focusing on email marketing, social media and your direct marketing channels. Save time by automating your marketing efforts whenever possible.
SevenRooms’ guest experience platform can make your restaurant marketing strategies more effective. Request a demo today.
FAQs About Restaurant Marketing Strategies
1. What Is Restaurant Marketing?
Restaurant marketing is a strategy used to familiarize the public with your restaurant or foodservice business and establish your brand through websites, social media marketing, email and other channels. A solid restaurant marketing strategy will help you gain new customers, create loyalty, analyze your customer and marketing data and gain an overall better understanding of your customers.
2. How Much Should a Restaurant Spend on Marketing?
The average amount that most restaurant owners spend is about 3-10% of their total sales on their marketing budget. However, the cost of marketing your restaurant varies on many different factors and budgets. Organic social media posts and search engine optimization are low-cost options we suggest for any restaurant to add to their overall marketing strategy. However, if you can allocate money towards your marketing campaigns, using paid sources (like search ads and social ads) will significantly impact your reach. Email marketing campaigns and loyalty programs are additional options for engaging with customers and stretching your marketing dollars.