3 Must-Have Digital Marketing Channels For Restaurants

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Harry Maule
October 31, 2023
A chef at a restaurant is reviewing an order ticket from a customer acquired through digital marketing

In today’s fiercely competitive environment, savvy digital marketing ideas are essential for your restaurant business. The restaurant industry suffered greatly during the pandemic and is still fighting many challenges on its way back to full health.

Running a successful restaurant requires strength in many areas. However, you can have the best chefs, experienced staff, and the finest ingredients, but if you don’t have any customers coming through the door, what’s it all for?

Creative and effective digital marketing ideas for restaurants increase profitability by: 

  • Reaching new customers
  • Increasing brand awareness
  • Targeting specific audiences
  • Encouraging loyalty in existing customers
  • Building relationships with customers
  • Generating measurable and actionable insights on ROI

Sounds great, right? But you may be wondering exactly how to use digital marketing to help your restaurant thrive.

Well, in this blog we’ll explain 3 essential digital marketing ideas for restaurants that you can use to gain a competitive advantage in your niche. 

1. Elevate Your Online Presence with Local SEO

Local SEO uses various ranking factors, such as location, reviews, website content, and keywords, to decide which restaurants should appear at the top of search results. So, when potential customers search for “restaurants in *your area*”, your website must be configured to ensure it reaches the top of their page.

Having a strong local SEO presence helps your restaurant by: 

  • Improving its chances of ranking higher in local searches, meaning potential customers see your business.
  • Being included in Google’s “local pack”, customers view these specially highlighted businesses as more worthy of visiting.
  •  Driving foot traffic to your location, the previous two factors combine to turn potential visitors into paying customers.

But how do you do this?

Optimizing Your Website for Local SEO

To ensure your website ranks highly, implement the following tips: 

  • Optimize for local keywords, incorporate location and industry-specific terms to improve search result visibility.
  • Create individual landing pages for multiple locations to enhance SEO targeting and accessibility for potential customers.
  • Boost local visibility by listing your business in online directories dedicated to local businesses.
  •  Foster positive reviews on your site to enhance local search ranking — simplify the process with a review button on your website.
  • Optimizing your Google Business Profile.

Google Business Profile is a tool that allows you to manage your business’ official profile on Google. And as the most used search engine in the US, your Google Business Profile must be optimized. Here’s how: 

  • Claim and verify your Google Business Profile to manage your Google Search and Maps listing.
  •  Complete all profile details, including business name, address, phone number, website, opening hours, and categories for better local search visibility.
  • Enhance your profile with high-quality photos and videos to inform potential customers about your offerings.
  • Encourage positive reviews to boost your business' local search ranking.
  • Respond to reviews promptly and professionally to demonstrate your commitment to customer satisfaction.


A woman is using Google Maps to navigate to a restaurant found through local SEO.

2. Engage Diners with Effective Email Marketing

Email marketing is a powerful tool for retaining and attracting restaurant customers. It allows you to stay in touch with your customers on a regular basis and promote your restaurant's latest news, offers, and events.


Email marketing can help you retain customers by: 

  •  Informing: Use email marketing to update customers on new menu items, events, and promotions.
  • Rewarding loyalty: Offer exclusive discounts and rewards via email to show appreciation and encourage repeat business.
  • Personalizing: Send personalized messages based on purchase history and preferences to make customers feel valued.


Email marketing can also help you attract new customers. When you collect email addresses from potential customers, you can add them to your email list, giving you a direct line of communication with them. 

You can then use email marketing to send potential customers information about your restaurant's menu, atmosphere, special offers, and events. 

You may be wondering how to collect the email addresses of people who haven’t yet visited your restaurant. Here’s three easy ways to legally collect email addresses: 

  • When people visit your website, offer them a coupon or free dessert for providing their email 
  • Offer a free birthday coupon for email subscribers
  • Use your online reservation system to collect email addresses

Segmenting Your Email List

If you bombard your customers with irrelevant emails, they will unsubscribe, and you’ll lose that vital line of communication.

Instead, segment your email list into groups such as potential customers, new customers, loyal customers, and customers who haven’t visited in a while. This allows you to tailor the information or offers you send them, increasing your chances of engaging them.

Having a segmented email list will increase engagement, improve customer experience, and boost revenue.

Here are some tips for using email marketing effectively to retain and attract restaurant customers:

  • Personalize your emails: Use personalization tokens like first name and preferred location to make your emails more personal.
  • Offer exclusive discounts and rewards: This will show your customers that you appreciate their business while offering a monetary incentive to return.
  • Send regular emails: Don't spam your customers, but make sure to send them regular emails with interesting and relevant content.
  • Make it easy to unsubscribe: Don't hold your customers hostage. Make it easy for them to unsubscribe from your email list if they decide they don't want to receive your emails anymore.

Creating Compelling Email Campaigns

Your customers will receive many emails each day, so you have to stand out from the crowd. Sending long emails with no clear purpose will not grab customers’ attention.

Follow these simple rules for creating compelling email campaigns:

  1. Use a concise subject line: As the first thing people see, it’s vital to make this as clear and concise as possible. Use numbers or percentages to pique customers’ curiosity.
  2. Personalize the email: Use the customer's name and relevant details to make them feel valued.
  3. Emphasize promotion benefits: Always make it crystal clear exactly how the customer will benefit from engaging with your email, such as how much they will save.
  4. Include a clear call to action: What do you want your customer to do? Visit your website? Make a reservation? Place an order? Let them know and make it easy for them to do so.
  5. Remind, but don’t pester: For special events, use timely registration, save-the-date, and one-day-to-go reminder emails. It may be tempting to send more, but this is more than enough to remind your customers without annoying them.

When done correctly, email marketing campaigns can drive customer engagement, boost revenue, and build a unique brand image for your restaurant.

Gmail is open on a laptop from someone who receives email marketing from restaurants.

Analyzing Your Email Campaign

The beauty of email marketing is that everything is measurable, so use that to your advantage in order to figure out what works and what doesn’t.

Suppose you run a two-month email campaign promoting a discounted lunch deal on Mondays and Tuesdays. When the two months are up, how do you know if it worked?

Analyzing key data, such as open rates (% of people who open your email) and click-through rates (% of people who click the link in your email) will give you a better idea of what’s working well and what isn’t. That data can then be used to tweak your approach.

If your open rate is poor, try using more enticing subject lines. Also, ensure your email preview (the text that appears immediately after the subject line) is informative and clear.

If your click-through rate is poor, try simplifying your content and making your call to action clearer and more appealing. For example, “click here to receive a 20% off coupon now.”

When you re-run the campaign, you can use the same process to assess whether your changes were a success.


3. Boost Your Restaurant's Image Through Social Media

Put simply, social media is an absolute must-have digital marketing tool for restaurants these days. The stats speak for themselves. Over 302 million people use social media in the US — that’s 90% of the population.

Social media can help your restaurant by: 

  • Growing brand awareness
  • Boosting website traffic and sales
  • Creating a brand persona
  • Building relationships with customers
  • Gathering customer feedback

If you aren’t using social media, getting started can feel daunting. And if you are using social media, getting the results you imagined may be tougher than you first thought. 

Well, let’s take a look at how your restaurant can boost its image using social media.

Social Media Basics

At its most basic, social media is a tool for communicating your marketing campaigns to the people you want to see them. 

And of course, you want to reach as many people as possible. Social media use varies by demographics such as age and gender, so having multiple social media accounts is an easy way to increase your reach and tailor different content to your target audience.

Different sites are better suited for sharing different types of content. For example, Facebook is ideal for organizing special events which customers can RSVP and receive reminders for. 

is great for engaging with customers via comments, TikTok for sharing behind-the-scenes videos, and Instagram works best for sharing pictures of your delicious food. So be mindful of which platform is best for sharing particular content.

Social media apps are organized on a phone at a restaurant.

Creating Engaging Social Media Content

So, you have your social media accounts set up but you’re wrestling between different ideas for posts across different channels. Here are some ideas for creating content that gets your customers talking.

Share High-Quality Food Photos and Videos

Let’s not forget the ultimate goal here, getting people in the door and eating your food. So, make sure to share high-quality photos and videos of your food. This will help to whet people's appetites and get them excited about visiting your restaurant. A small investment in some equipment for photographing food, such as lighting and a reflector, can make a world of difference. 

Run Contests and Giveaways

This is a great way to engage your followers and attract new ones. Offer prizes that your target audience will be interested in, such as free meals, gift certificates, or merchandise.

Share Behind-the-Scenes Content

People love to see what goes on behind the scenes at their favorite restaurants. Share photos and videos of your chefs cooking, your front of house staff preparing for service, or a visit to your local supplier or farmer. This will help your customers build a more personal connection to your restaurant.

Promote Your Latest Menus, Specials, and Events

This will help to keep your followers informed about what's going on and encourage them to visit.

Respond to Comments and Questions Promptly

Responding to comments and questions promptly is important for customer service and engagement. By doing so, you can show your customers that you value their feedback and that you're committed to providing a premium experience. 

Make sure to respond to all comments and questions, even if they're negative. Negative reviews can cause a little panic and fear but don’t react emotionally. Simply apologize for their negative experience and offer something to rectify the situation. This can turn a negative situation into a positive for your restaurant


Final Thoughts on Digital Marketing for Restaurants

In today's competitive restaurant industry, effective digital marketing is essential. While culinary excellence, experienced staff, and quality ingredients are vital, they're nothing without paying customers. 

By implementing strategies to optimize your local SEO, email marketing campaigns, and social media marketing, your restaurant can set itself apart and thrive in a highly competitive landscape.


Table of content

October 2023


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