16 Restaurant Marketing Ideas to Include in Your 2020 Strategy

Have a restaurant that serves awesome food? Great! But guess what? That alone won’t bring more people to your doorstep. Your brand won’t get viral overnight without a well-defined approach.

Worried? Don’t be.

In this article, we will take you through the various steps you can take to structure your restaurant marketing strategy in 2020.

1. Social Media Promotions

Social Media is the voice of your brand. It is an engagement machine where you can build great content – to increase.

Did you know that as of 2017, an average global internet user spends about 135 minutes per day on social media. (Source: Statista)
Salad Company - Social
Salad Company’s Instagram feed to engage with customers

Well, most restaurants have a social media brand. But are they creating enough visual content to attract customer eyeballs? Here are a few things that may need your attention.

  • Call to Actions – For example – have an order now button that redirects people to your online ordering platform.
  • Video Marketing – Videos are viewed 5 times more than static content. Every day, around 8 billion videos get viewed on FB alone
  • Creatives and Templates – Be sure to use visually stunning social media creatives to entice your audience into action. You could make use of attractive social media templates to make your brand stand out.

So what can you show through these videos? Here are some ideas to get started:

  • Behind the scenes and recipe videos of your famous dishes.
  • Videos of how your restaurant looks on special occasions.
  • Quick mocktail and DIY videos.

Note: Do keep an eye on all the best practices as you go about making a new video. We’re sharing some right here:

  • Use memorable images – Lure your customers in with delicious dishes at the restaurant – remember mouth-watering food items help initiate that impulse to buy. Couple it up with a discount message to increase your conversion likelihood.
  • Try live video – Live video streaming is a great way to let people know all that’s cooking (literally) at your restaurant.

Social media strategy – An average internet user is present on at least 7 different social accounts. For a restaurant, here are the top 3 social sites you should leverage to increase your brand reach.

  • Instagram – Useful for pushing images and videos
  • Facebook – Needs no introduction: 78% of businesses use Facebook ads as a tool to increase business.
  • Twitter – Live tweeting, engaging with your customers.
  • TikTok – Short videos, super-popular and has grown tremendously in the last few years.

2. Restaurant Loyalty Programs

A major chunk of your business comes via your existing customers. Your restaurant marketing strategy should engage customers so that they keep coming back to your restaurant.

A restaurant loyalty program rewards your customers if they make repeat visits to your restaurant. An omnichannel strategy will make it more attractive to the customers.

So what are some ways to take your loyalty program strategy to the next level? Here are 2 ideas that you can try:

  • Offer referral incentives – Provide benefits to customers who refer your brand to their friends. Make them your affiliates. Incentivise them so that they can tell everyone about the great experience at your restaurant.
  • Provide extra points for social sharing – Social sharing is great as it amplifies your brand’s presence on the web. When customers provide you a review, encourage them to share it on their timelines so that their connections see it too. You can promote sharing by providing freebies like ‘Get 40 points for sharing your review on platforms’ Positive reviews act as a great indicator for people to check out a restaurant.

For more ideas on how to promote your loyalty program check this article. 

#Tip: Before promoting your loyalty program, answer this question  – Why should a person sign up for the program? You’re on the right track if an answer strikes right away.

[rev_slider alias=”loyalty-program”][/rev_slider]

3. CRM (SMS and Email Marketing)

We like to call these two as the vital pillars of your customer relationship management strategy.

Once you have access to customer information – SMS and email campaigns on your marketing automation tool are a great way to engage your audience.

Different mediums for sending campaigns

Here are a few ideas to get it right:

  • Time of campaign – an hour or two before meals is an excellent time to share order now messages
  • Personalisation – try to bucket your customers into a few categories (high order customers values, 20-year somethings) to increase message relevance.

Onto some tips for your campaign messaging to get more conversions:

  • Topical offers – Send messages and offers in relation to special occasions, events, festivals coming up.
  • Catch them early- Title and first 10 words should be crafted in an attractive way to get the most out of a campaign.

4. Online Listings

To be found online, your business should be listed on Google and other popular sites. The traffic on these sites goes as high as millions a day. Ask any digital marketing professional, a listing is perhaps the first step to be discovered online.

Restaurant Google listing
Biryani by Kilo’s Google listing on the right

Many sites allow you to get reviews, ratings, testimonials, pictures on their platforms. These add to positive signals that your restaurant needs. Here are some high authority websites to get listed on:

  • Google My Business
  • LinkedIn Company Directory
  • Bing
  • Yelp
  • HubSpot
  • Yellow Pages
  • Yahoo! Local
  • Facebook
  • Apple Maps

5. Online Ads

Paid digital marketing strategy is common for any restaurant looking to build its market online. Digital advertisements are excellent ways to showcase what you have to offer to a targeted audience. It helps you display your brand to your prospects and get direct traffic on your online food ordering platform. Also, special offers and discounts at your restaurant can be promoted through these advertisements.

Particularly, when you are starting out your own food ordering website, paid ads approach is effective in building a traffic base for your website.

The effectiveness of ads as a restaurant marketing channel can be measured easily. Your Google AdWords dashboards can give a neat lowdown of all the numbers that matter.

Here are a few ideas for making great ads:

  • Low content, high on visual
  • Make sure you provide value through the ad
  • Get creative to induce more action on the ad

6. Food/Restaurant Blog

Maintaining a blog on your website is always a good idea. It’s a great way to keep your customers updated.

Why is blog an important part of your overall restaurant marketing strategy? Well, there are many reasons:

  • It strengthens your authority over any given topic (increasing your visibility on the internet).
  • It allows you to tell all that’s new at your restaurant
  • It conveys the unique reasons why they should order from your restaurant.
  • It gives a platform for people to interact with you and let you know what they like or dislike about your restaurant.
  • Blogs shared on social media or promoted through other means help in keeping your brand fresh on your customer’s mind

While blogs are excellent for the above-mentioned reasons, do keep the following in mind:

  1. Make use of catchy headings to increase the CTAs on your online promotions.
  2. Use images to increase the attractiveness of the post.
  3. Do spell checks and proofreading before going live.
  4. Ensure including a useful call to action button. For example: Did you try our all-new Pepperoni Spanish Tangy Pizza – Avail 40% Discount – Use code and Order Now!

7. Influencer Marketing

Your restaurant may not be a hit right away even if you provide the customer with an amazing experience or excellent food. Amplification is important. That is where influencers and bloggers come in.

Influencers are people who review your restaurant and share the experience with their follower base. Typically in the modern-day set-up, influencers are active on social platforms where their posts get a lot of engagements. This helps increase the views and impressions of your restaurant on social media and does wonders to your reach. So do consider roping in a few influencers in 2019 as part of your strategic marketing plan.

You can follow this simple process:

  1. List out restaurant influencers and bloggers.
  2. Send out outreach mailers
  3. Ask them to come in for a visit and share their thoughts

8. Monitor Reviews

There are many review sites where customers leave opinions about their experience at the restaurant. Do keep a close eye on them as they are public and influence customer decisions as they choose their restaurant of preference online.

Fact: a one-star Yelp rating increase can lead to a 9 percent revenue increase as per A Harvard Business School study

Restaurant reviews management helps you to:

  1. Keep track of what customers are saying about you
  2. Gather public sentiment about your restaurant
  3. Get constructive feedback & Build relationships online by being responsive

Here are a few review sites that you should monitor:

  • Yelp
  • OpenTable
  • Gayot
  • Zagat
  • Zomato
  • MenuPages
  • Google My Business

9. Newsletter

Once you’ve built a list it is quite a task to keep your customers engaged with new content. If you roll out too many campaigns with aggressive CTAs, they might not resonate well with your audience.

sharing new offers example

Diverse content helps here and a newsletter is an excellent collateral. Designing a good newsletter is tricky and if done wrong, can backfire.

Here are a few tips to help you create a good newsletter:

  • Device friendly – mobile is of particular importance here. Check your collateral on all platforms
  • Highly visual – your newsletter should be extremely visual, high on images
  • Include call to actions – Include link backs to your website so that they can place an order or check out all that you have to offer
  • Include social buttons – Provide buttons to your customers for sharing your content on social

10. Build a website

A good website is a central point for all your restaurant marketing, branding, outreach, and promotional efforts. The limited space given by Swiggy and Zomato to show off your restaurant is one major drawback. Having a website helps to overcome this by giving you ample opportunity to push your messages the way you want.

As you build your website, be aware of the following guidelines:

  1. Make it attractive
  2. Use great content
  3. Put Call to Action buttons
  4. Check the website load time
  5. Check for responsiveness across devices
  6. Add blog pages

11. Build an Online Food Ordering App

Like a website, an online food ordering app is also an important part of your revenue strategy. With mobiles becoming popular among the millennials, ordering through apps is expected to grow in the coming years.

An online ordering app helps in:

  1. Getting direct orders – no commissions to be paid
  2. Branding and advertising
  3. Retaining customers
Restaurant mobile app
Restaurant Food Ordering App

Make sure your app has the following:

  1. Sign up options, login details
  2. Available on iOS, Android, Windows stores
  3. Has good content, good visuals
  4. Responsive across devices

Read about the whole list of Online Ordering App functions here

12. Engage people

Engaging people is an excellent idea to add that little ‘heart’ to your restaurant. People are moved by stories of communities, families, friend circles and so forth.

You can put photographs, use stories – anything that you feel will involve more people and build that human connection.

Here are some ideas that can help you get started:

  1. Hold giveaways for people with the coolest stories
  2. Schedule activities that require group participation
  3. Run campaigns on special occasions/days and events and put them up on your outlet, online
  4. Announce winners on social media and mailers
  5. Encourage them to invite more people

13. Use digital menus

Most users like to ‘stalk’ your restaurant online before actually visiting. That’s the way customers roll nowadays. Make sure your online accounts are updated with all the things that matter. Your online menu should be updated as often as you possibly can. Having a mismatch in what you actually serve at the restaurant and what your menu says online is a negative signal.

Menu segmentation example
Menu of bombaysalad.co

The menu should be:

  1. Well designed
  2. Up to date
  3. Auto-pushed across online platforms

Sometimes it is a pain to manually upload the menu each time you make a change. In such scenarios, an automated setup that pushes your new menu live, the moment you make a change is ideal.

Make sure your website and app also reflect the new menu – these are perhaps the first checkpoints of any customers who wish to check you out online. All your marketing and branding efforts fall flat if this isn’t in place. So do keep these pages updated.

14. Be active in social listening

Social media marketing channels like FB, Twitter, Instagram are crucial touchpoints for your restaurant. Customers are spending a high amount of time there and are likely to engage more.

As a lot of data pours into social media, the need for social media marketing analytics and social listening emerges. Social listening is an excellent way to gauge public sentiment about your restaurant. Sentiment analysis provides you details of what aspects of your business is doing well and what isn’t.

When any negative social post comes up, with effective social listening tools, you can be quick to address it.

If you do not wish to have a manual approach and man multiple social media channels by yourself (or your team), you can look into some of the tools available like:

  • Reddit Keyword Monitor Pro
  • Streamview for Instagram
  • Hootsuite Syndicator Pro
  • Brandwatch
  • ReviewInc

15. Offer freebies

Customers love freebies. A gift, a takeaway, a souvenir – a small token or gesture of appreciation can go a long way. Restaurants can offer freebies in a variety of ways.

Delight your customers with personalized messaging on inserts

Here are a few ideas.

  • Free wifi – many restaurants offer free wifi services to customers, you could ask them to login with an email ID and password that will help you further build a marketing list.
  • Discount coupons – throw in a few discount coupons at the end of the meals (SMS/Email them) – this will incentivise them to come back to the restaurant.
  • Small gifts – You must’ve seen McDonald’s give out Happy Meal toys which were the rage with kids, think of a version that works for your restaurant.

16. Get feedback

Talking to customers is of paramount importance when it comes to restaurant marketing. People who visit your restaurant provide feedback that is a great indicator of your performance. It is also an excellent opportunity for you to connect with the customers and take in their views.

You can collect feedback through digital feedback forms, push notifications on apps, and physically at the restaurant through your staff.

If you still have second thoughts, here are 7 reasons why you should be collecting feedback if you aren’t already.

Well, this concludes our list of 16 restaurant marketing tips and ideas to include in your 2019 strategy

Quickly summing up

  1. Social Media Promotions
  2. Restaurant Loyalty Programs
  3. CRM  (SMS and Email)
  4. Online Listings
  5. Online Ads
  6. Food/Restaurant Blog
  7. Monitoring Reviews
  8. Influencer Marketing
  9. Freebies
  10. Newsletter
  11. Building a Website
  12. A Branded Online Food Ordering App
  13. Engaging Local Audience
  14. Using Digital Menus
  15. Active Social Listening
  16. Getting Feedback

We hope you found the list useful. Have an amazing 2019 🙂


Aditya Sarkar

Aditya Sarkar

Aditya Sarkar is a Marketing Manager at LimeTray. When he isn't being a Marketer, he likes solo-travelling, playing all kinds of sports and chilling out with friends! He's reachable at aditya.sarkar@limetray.com