With all the day-to-day demands of running a restaurant, marketing easily gets lost in the shuffle. However, it is essential for reaching potential customers and keeping in touch with existing ones. To help you make a restaurant digital marketing plan that works for you, here are the five most popular platforms and how you can use them to grow your online presence.
Tip: Just starting your new business? Use a restaurant name generator to get ideas and inspiration for catchy titles.
Your restaurant website is your business’s primary platform for promoting your business online. It serves as your virtual storefront, establishing your credibility and solidifying your restaurant branding. Any other restaurant digital marketing strategy you use will stem from or connect to your site.
A professional restaurant website is informative and user-friendly. Your restaurant’s location is the most significant detail, so make sure to list the full address on every page. Because PDFs are hard to read, you should build an online menu right on the page. Writing an About Us section that encapsulates your mission is the most direct way to explain what makes your restaurant unique. You’ll also want to optimize your site for mobile devices, as nearly half of all internet traffic now comes from smartphones.
In order to capture customers who are searching for restaurants like yours, you need a search engine optimization (SEO) marketing strategy that will push yours to the top of the most relevant search engine results page (SERP). Because search engines only process text, you’ll want to include as much information on your website as possible.
The owner of Restaurant Marketing, Jessica Cavanaugh, recommends focusing on a few keywords that best describe what you offer. “Let's say you serve brunch, and it's a really saturated market,” said Cavanaugh. “In order for you to be competitive, you're going to have to [use] the word brunch on your website five times.” If you have the bandwidth, writing a blog post every now and then can help you embed those keywords in a natural way.
Search engines don’t process images, so it’s important to describe each one using alt text, which is an accessibility tool for customers who rely on screen readers to browse the web. It’s easy to add alt text on a Wix website: Just click on an image, hit the gear icon to open its settings, and write a short sentence in the alt text box. If it makes sense, include your keywords to signal that the image is relevant to the related SERP.
Signing up for a Google My Business (GMB) listing is essential to building your local SEO presence, as it will literally put your business on the map. When potential customers search for your restaurant or find it when browsing on Google Maps, your Business Profile can house all the information they need to know. For example, you can post your restaurant’s business hours, accessibility attributes, contact information, specialties, and available dining options. It’s also highly recommended to include a link to your reservation page. The more information you provide, the higher you’ll rank for relevant searches. After the initial setup, the only thing you have to do is monitor and respond to reviews, keep your information updated, and upload fresh photography whenever you have it.
Keep in mind that SEO is a process that takes time to get right and to see results. It doesn’t take quite as much regular investment as some of the other options, but it does require quite a bit of strategizing to get you to the first page of the relevant SERPs. Luckily, you can use Wix SEO to track your progress and get a personal SEO plan that will help you optimize your page so that more and more locals can find your business.
By proactively monitoring, addressing, and responding to online restaurant reviews, you demonstrate to existing and potential customers that you are attentive to their wants and needs. Therefore, customer review sites are an effective and efficient marketing strategy for restaurant marketing.
As with GMB, other review sites require you to first create a profile that shares your address, contact information, and other relevant details. After that, your customers will fill the page with user-generated content that future guests can trust. In fact, a 2020 survey found that 79 percent of consumers trust online customer reviews as much as recommendations from friends or family.
In addition to the promotional benefits, customer reviews also provide you with the information you need to improve customer service. Criticism can be hard to swallow, but genuine customer reviews are basically free advice for how to do a better job.
Customer reviews can also support your other restaurant marketing efforts. For one thing, having a lot of reviews and responding to them can improve your local SEO ranking, especially if those reviews are on GMB. Plus, you can feature the reviews on your restaurant website and social media accounts.
While it’s relatively easy to claim your listing on review sites, you should only use this restaurant digital marketing strategy if you can monitor and respond to reviews on a regular basis. Only 48 percent of consumers would consider patronizing a business that has fewer than four stars, so keeping a high score is essential. Still, it’s well worth the risk if you feel confident in your ability to deliver great service and great food on a consistent basis.
Restaurant social media should be an integral part of your restaurant digital marketing plan. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter offer a wealth of opportunities to reach potential customers and stay connected with those who have visited your restaurant in the past.
Instagram has over 500 million daily users, but it is especially popular among zoomers and millennials. Instagram’s highly visual nature is ideal if you have high-quality photos, an interesting restaurant design, or photogenic menu items.
Owner of Hibiscus Brew Cafe, Allison Dunn, consistently posts to Instagram two to four times a week and uses a consistent color scheme on her feed to mirror the restaurant’s jubilant aesthetic. The word-of-mouth potential of Instagram is so powerful that it can even drive press to your establishment—when a popular travel company caught wind of Hibiscus Brew Café through Instagram, they shared a video on their own account which received tens of thousands of likes and substantially boosted Dunn’s sales!
Restaurants that can execute a strong visual brand identity online are some of the best candidates for Instagram. Cavanaugh points to one of her favorite restaurants, Petit Trois, as a great example of an Instagram page done right. Each photo evokes warmth and most have the restaurant name in the shot. Cavanaugh especially appreciates that they have committed to the “no-edit edit” look, meaning that they slightly enhance photos to ensure they still look natural. “They’ve embraced their branding, and they really stick to it,” she explains.
Although Instagram is free, you would have to post multiple times a week for a few months to see substantial growth. The constantly changing algorithms make it difficult to keep up with new rules. Instagram’s ongoing competition with TikTok means Instagram Reels has taken precedence over other forms of content. “If your brand represents something specific, that needs to come out in the Reel,” said Cavanaugh. “You want the authenticity of your restaurant to seep through whatever you do.”
If you’re looking to boost your Instagram presence but don’t have the budget to hire a photographer, there are many low-cost options—such as Wix’s social media graphics builder and video maker—that can help you create engaging Instagram posts with no design experience.
Facebook has nearly a third of the world’s population on its platform with close to 2.5 billion monthly users. While Facebook is massive, for a restauranteur, it’s a goldmine for potential customers who fit your target demographic. It’s also the social media platform with the highest number of older Americans as active users, so restaurants targeting high earners should make it a priority. “If you’re advertising a Mother's Day special with a $150 gift card and a waterfront hotel room at the Hilton in Huntington Beach, you’d want it to go on Facebook,” said Cavanaugh.
Unlike Instagram or Twitter, Facebook’s feed doesn’t function in chronological order; instead, the multifaceted algorithm ranks content and pushes the best of the best to the top of the page. It’s probably best to post around two to five times a week to give each post the best chance of climbing to the top, but if you only have time to do so a few times a month, just do your best to make them really engaging.
If that still sounds like too much work, you can always try creating an ad campaign that basically runs itself. Facebook’s advanced ad capabilities allow you to target future customers by geography, age range, and preferences in order to maximize your ad reach and sales. It will cost you some money, but because you get to decide how much you can spend each day, you’ll never have to worry about going over budget. To make things even easier, you can handle your Facebook ads right on your Wix dashboard. The powerful AI will continuously optimize the post so that every penny you spend will be well worth it.
Facebook is useful for more than connecting with customers; this platform has advanced ad capabilities that allow you to target future customers by geography, age range, and preferences with tools to help you maximize your ad reach and sales. Facebook is also free, and unlike Instagram or Twitter, you don’t have to post daily to reach customers—two to five times a week is ideal. However, if you’re using Facebook ads, you have to set your bid which varies in cost, depending on your targeting criteria and geographical reach.
Twitter is a great place for restaurants to show off their distinct personalities. “If you really want to place a lot of focus on that channel, specifically, then you need to come up with a theme and decide what the tone is,” said Cavanaugh. The platform attracts a substantial chunk of 18- to 29-year-olds, so it’s a great restaurant digital marketing channel for those with a younger clientele. It’s an especially useful tool for food trucks and pop-ups that need to regularly update their diners about their whereabouts. She noted that people frequently use Twitter to broach customer service concerns, so it is helpful to check in a few times a week to stay on top of tagged tweets and direct messages.
Because Twitter doesn’t rely on imagery as much as other social media platforms, there is a lower bar to entry. That being said, you’ll have to dedicate a few hours a week or two to make a substantial impact. “While Twitter seems simple, a good strategy has a lot of moving parts,” said Cavanaugh. Digital marketing tools such as Hootsuite and Buffer can help you spread your reach without taking you away from the floor for too long—you can use them to schedule posts, spot trends for you to participate in, manage your ad campaigns, and get insights that can help you improve your accounts.
Email marketing is a valuable tool for promoting your restaurant and turning your customers into regulars. With a well-executed strategy, your newsletter can provide value to customers through promotions, discounts, event notifications, loyalty programs, and reminders to make reservations for big holidays.
Quality matters way more than quantity when it comes to marketing emails, so aim to send customers around one or two really solid emails per month. Writing emails can be time-consuming, but you can make it easy with the right email marketing provider. For example, with Wix’s email marketing services, you can customize pre-designed templates, schedule emails to send at the perfect time, and personalize emails with each customer’s names to increase open rates.
You’ll need a database of email addresses to start. The best way to do so is to provide opt-in incentives—you can offer a discount on their next bill, promise them a treat on their birthday, or create a guest Wi-Fi network customers can use for free when they share their email addresses.
Most importantly, make sure your customers know that you have a newsletter. Set up a subscription form on your website, mention it on your receipts, display a QR code in your advertisements, and post about it on your social media accounts every now and then.