The Ultimate Marketing Checklist for Restaurants (free tips, ideas, & best practices)
April 22, 2022
Did you know that 90% of customers research a restaurant online before dining—more than any other business type? In today’s digital age, it’s never been more important for restaurants to prioritise their online presence to attract new customers, build community, and get more sales. But with the endless to-dos of running a restaurant, it can sometimes feel like there’s not enough time in the day to focus on marketing.
What is restaurant marketing?
The goal of restaurant marketing is to attract and retain customers. We now know that customers spend a large portion of their lives online—and even rely on reviews to make purchase decisions.
We usually think about promotions, food photography, and social media when we think about marketing. And while coming up with a branding strategy is essential for staying competitive, don’t overlook the easy changes you can make to ensure your online presence is up to date and complete. Good restaurant marketing starts with ensuring your restaurant is easily discoverable online with accurate resources (updated menu, times, links, and info) to get the most out of your marketing efforts.
We’ve compiled the ultimate checklist for restaurants looking to bulk up their digital presence in the following blog. Before getting into our free template, ideas, and best practices, let’s look at some stats.
When it comes to restaurant marketing, the numbers don’t lie:
- 57% of guests view restaurant websites before selecting where to dine.
- 92% of consumers read restaurant reviews.
- 77% prefer peer reviews versus critic reviews.
- 92% of restaurants are using Facebook for social media branding and marketing.
- Nearly half of diners say they’ve tried a restaurant for the first time because of a social media post.
Enhancing your restaurant’s digital presence
These stats highlight that your customers’ opinions are primarily shaped online, and even more—savvy competitors are taking advantage of social media to increase their reach. But wherever your restaurant is with its digital presence, there’s always room to improve and start getting more sales.
Our checklist gives you free tools, ideas, and best practices to enhance your marketing plan with ease. Let's dig in!
Marketing Checklist for Restaurants
☐ Build out and optimise your Google my Business profile
Did you know that the average optimised Google Business Profile listing gets 5x more views than a listing that has not been optimised? Google is essentially the modern-day phonebook and will automatically fill out the information on your page with what it finds—so first things first, make sure to edit the info on your page for accuracy.
Make sure to list the correct hours, contact info, and address and upload your complete, current menu.
Dropping in FAQ is another strategic way to set the customer’s expectations, capture new business, and reduce the time staff spends on the phone in the pre-arrival stage. Examples of questions include: Is there parking? Do you offer gluten-free, dairy-free, or plant-based options? Can I bring my dog with me?
☐ Follow more people
Who is your restaurant following on social media? Expand the list to customers and restaurant peers in the space. Engage on food or your specific cuisine posts to increase visibility and get more followers.
☐ Cross-promote your restaurant
Make sure your website is linked on your socials, and your socials are listed on your website! Every restaurant account should be listed (in all places) to offer your customers multiple avenues to reach you.
☐ Use Hashtags
Using hashtags is an effective hack to gain traction on social media. Include around three hashtags per post related to your food, city, and content.
☐ Post User-Generated Content (UGC)
Spend at least ten minutes a day looking through location tags. If a customer posted from your restaurant, make sure to repost it! Encourage your customers to tag your restaurant when posting with your @. Making the most UGC is a free way to promote your business.
☐ Create a social calendar with holidays
The easiest way to perfect your restaurant marketing strategy is to plan. Spend thirty minutes on the first day of every month to note down what holidays or occasions are coming up that month. Maybe it’s the first day of summer, pride week, or even national hot dog day! Whether the event is big or small, identifying moments to post about timely promotions or encourage customers to celebrate at your restaurant is a surefire way to get more business.
☐ Partner with local food influencers
Partner with local food influencers: Influencer marketing is all the hype right now because it allows businesses to engage with their large following immediately. Partnering with influencers is also more straightforward than you might think. Many micro-influencers are looking for earned work, i.e., giving them a free meal or experience to post about it.
You can work with influencers within your budget range. Go to the contact button on the IG profile of a foodie influencer in your area and press email. Send them a quick note asking about their rate and expressing interest in their time. Cast a wide net by reaching out to more people.
Go one step further and invite local food critics/bloggers to your restaurant. Influencers can help you build that online presence, and food critics can give your restaurant an even more excellent standing with their loyal following.
☐ List your menu online
93% of customers look for online menus before dining out or ordering in, so ensure your menu is fully up-to-date and listed on your website, Google Business Profile, Facebook, and IG highlights. Providing your customer with the exact items available will reduce the time it takes for your staff to relay info on the phone.
☐ Engage in timely trends on IG reels and TikTok
As you know, it’s critical to create a digital presence in this day and age to reach customers, both new and existing. Videos are all the hype right now, and they’re here to stay. Not only will Instagram Reels/ TikTok help you build your following and keep you top of mind with current customers, but creating this content could even be fun! Here are some ideas to get the ball rolling:
1. Introduce yourself and tell your story: Since Instagram Reels are designed for quick consumption, distill your role and restaurant with a captivating introduction. Aim to include a) your name, restaurant name, and location, b) your favorite dish on the menu, and c) a CTA calling your viewer to visit your restaurant or place an order.
2. Introduce your team: Humanise your restaurant by introducing your team. Consider using sitcom theme songs (example: Full House) as background music and having each team member do a funny movement. Or play into timely, humorous trends by introducing each team member to their astrological sign or “red flag.”
3. Offer cooking tips & tricks: Post educational Reels using your chef’s expertise with their best cooking hacks. Examples may include “How to chop veggies” or “Unexpected secret ingredients for making the best mac n cheese.”
4. Test a trending song: Be shameless about timely trends! Jump on the viral bandwagon by using trending songs as background music for your foodie content.
5. Create an ASMR video showing how a delivery order is packaged: We’re not sure if ASMR will ever go out of style! Simply watch a few ASMR videos to get inspired, and use the soft sounds of packaging to create sensory Reels for your audience.
☐ Post at the correct times for your restaurant and your customers
The best time to post is on Mondays between 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM (local time). Avoid posting on Saturdays. Pay attention to your top-performing posts, when you receive DMS, and track engagement to capitalise on the best time to post for your following.
☐ Stick to consistent photography, colour palette, and branding style
Check out our last blog post for a deep dive into branding and photography tips.
☐ Post promotions
Including promotions on third-party apps is an excellent incentive for more customers to order from your restaurant. Running promotions on food delivery apps can help boost your chances of showing up on the front page of each app. And in 2021, when 80% of delivery orders happen from the home page of an app like Uber Eats, finding ways to boost your ranking in the algorithm could significantly impact your sales.
☐ Offer deals or Giveaways
Share discounts, secret menus, reduced delivery fees, or gift cards by hosting a Giveaway. Require your followers to tag a friend and post to their story to enter to get more engagement.
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