Top 10 Digital Marketing Ideas for Restaurants [updated]

Did you know that there are more than 1 million restaurant locations in the U.S. (source)?

The competitiveness among restaurants is one of the most challenging in marketing. We know that food will always be a constant in our lives.

Have you ever wondered what could be the difference that makes you choose between one of two restaurants that offer the same thing?

Note: If you have a restaurant and would like to contact us about doing the marketing for you, click here.

Thanks to things like social media, restaurants are now forced to consider digital marketing.

Most restaurants have invested in social media promotions and search engine ads.

So, we want to share the best digital marketing ideas and strategies to get the attention of hungry people everywhere!

1. Don’t resist the Social Media advertising:

Are you one of those business owners who think that developing a social media marketing campaign is a waste of time and money?

If so, let me warn you that your restaurant is vulnerable to lose competitiveness.

Sometimes, people in the hospitality industry underestimate digital marketing. They believe they must only focus on the service and the traditional advertising. This is not true when 63% of all restaurants advertise on social media.

The popularity of social media advertising has declined in 2018. Yet, it’s still the most used method for restaurant professionals, including:

  • Direct Mail.
  • Community/Event Sponsorship.
  • Collaborating with a PR agency.

A recent Modern Restaurant Management report shows that only 8% of Generation Z customers learned about new restaurant promotion through the TV advertising.

As of right now, social media marketing is the best option for restaurants looking to make the most of their ad investment.

Yet, this popularity could change because the use of social media is decreasing after 9 years of constant growth.

In this manner, don’t surprise if you have to find a new top ad choice anytime soon!

Let’s talk about the current situation of the social media platforms:


For a long time, it was the number one platform used by restaurants to display their advertisements.

As of recently, its usage has declined in 2018, dropping from 74% in 2017 to 69% this year.

It seems like the future of this activity is not with Facebook but rather visual-first social media marketing for restaurants.


Unlike Facebook, Instagram has experienced an increase in the use, from an 18% in 2017, to a 24% in 2018.

New restaurants don’t doubt a second to have a business Instagram account.

Snapchat and Pinterest are social media platforms that also grew in popularity in 2018.

Use this platform to promote the best visual content of your restaurant, playing around with your brand’s identity.

Associate the type of product you offer, with a compatible lifestyle.

For example, if your restaurant is an all-natural health food place, you can upload pictures of people playing sports, cooking, farming, etc.

Activities related to the tastes of your fan base.

Explore the benefits of using hashtags, whether they are popular like #ValentinesDay #Summer2018 or #ThrowBackThursday or create your own!


If the restaurant marketing is currently focusing on visuals, it seems logical that Twitter is the platform less likely to use. Successful restaurants are starting to leave Twitter. Reports show its use went from 59% of the restaurants in 2017 to 41% in 2018.

2. Google must remain between your ads strategies!

Behind social media ads, we are finding search engines high in popularity.

Creating a “Google My Business” profile is definitely the best cost less solution to rank higher.

Google will be more likely to display your restaurant in the results of “restaurants near me” if you register in this profile.

It’s as simple as providing basic contact information of your business such as hours, phone number and address.

Also be sure to check out Local Business Citation NAP Report

3. Visuals are the key:

We are very sure you have seen before the typical hashtag #Foodporn, in Instagram right?

It only teaches us that high-quality, drool-inducing photos are an excellent way to promote your online restaurant.

Hungry eyes are on social media all the time. You need to include delicious looking photos on your website and across your social media accounts.

Visual content is in high demand online these days, so you need to focus your efforts on it. Hiring a professional photographer will always be our recommendation.

Taking top-notch photographs is not as easy as it seems, especially because the lighting is a key factor.

You need to have a deep knowledge of the topic if you want to get the best pictures of the delicious meals you offer.

Additionally, you can try a service like Lumen5, which is a video maker designed for brands and businesses to produce engaging video content for social posts, stories, and ads. Their goal is to enable anyone without training or experience to easily create amazing videos in minutes.

4. Create bonds with digital platforms:

As part of your marketing strategy, you need to consider collaborating up with online food apps.

The Gamification in this process will encourage visitors to check out your restaurant. Customer loyalty programs are also excellent for this purpose.

These options offer the visitors different things like discounts or free offers, just for visiting a certain number of times.

If you don’t know any of these apps, consider checking:

Punch cards, they aren’t an old-fashioned idea. In fact, many restaurants sill use them.

They are effective because they still show that you value costumers and show appreciation for their loyalty.

5. Are you already part of Yelp?

Yelp is a crowd-sourced review forum that develops, host and markets and Yelp mobile app.

What Yelp does is it publishes crowd-sourced reviews about local businesses. It also offers online reservations through Yelp reservations.

This tool is important in the restaurant industry because of its strong backing of Yelp reviews and active community.

Even if your business doesn’t have an account in this platform, people can and will review you. In this manner, as a restaurant owner, pay attention and dress up your Yelp account.

In this manner, it will be an advantage, if it works for you, rather than against you.

It’s like working in your “Google My Business Account” but in Yelp, you need to add information such as:

  • Many photos.
  • Store Hours.
  • Location
  • Menu
  • Price Range
  • Wi-Fi/ Outdoor seating/ Parking.

How to handle feedback in Yelp

When we receive positive comments, it helps to build your restaurants reputation. What happens with negative ones? Should we ignore them or answer?

Many businesses don’t know how to handle feedback properly. This should be seen as a way to boost your customer service. It will help you to build reliability among your potential and current customers.

It’s always a good idea to thank users of Yelp for their reviews, whether they be positive or negative.

If you receive a critic, always answer in a polite and professional manner. Don’t forget to:

  • Thank the reviewer for the feedback.
  • Apologize for the incident.
  • Promise to improve in the future.

Consider contacting your customers privately to provide personalized support. This will definitely be more beneficial for your company.

It gives you the opportunity to solve the problem with a most sensible approach to the client. They will appreciate these behaviors!

Some restaurant’s owner offers apologizes in the way of gift cards to Yelpers who didn’t have a good experience.

In this way, they hope to get their customers back and receive a second chance to offer a better service or product.

Some reviewers are more considerate and generous in their comments. When they know that the restaurant owner values their opinion they tend to leave better reviews.

Related: Ranking Your Business with Local SEO

6. Don’t forget your Google+ account: 

*Google + is no longer available

Having a Google+ account for your restaurant might be even more important than being on Yelp.

When you type for a business into Google, the Google Knowledge Graph provides details of your restaurant in the sidebar.

This tool grabs the majority of this info from your Google+ account. In this manner, the presence of your restaurant on this platform will be a bonus! You need to encourage your customers to review you on this platform too.

7. Local is the name of the game:

Restaurants need to focus their efforts to be visible for folks who look for good places to eat close to home.

Geo-targeted ads are the best investment you could do to get the most value out of your marketing efforts.

You can access Geo-targeting ad options through services like Google AdWords, Facebook and Twitter.

Take advantage of these features to get the most of the ads you will present to your potential customers.

8. Keep your clients updated through an email Newsletter:

Sometimes restaurant owners think a newsletter is necessary to put out weekly. But also consider that your clients might appreciate a few less emails in their inbox.

Instead, consider sending them a newsletter once a month. This can be a great way to share new menu items, discounts and recipes.

9. Your clients will be your best marketers:

The User Generated Content (UGC), is a great way to develop an intimate engagement with users.

Come up with a photo contest by asking your clients to upload their favorite meal at your restaurant.

Share these entries on a page dedicated to only this purpose.

Keep your clients motivated by offering rewards or free appetizers for the best pictures!

If you host and promote this type of content, your customers will feel appreciated.

It will make the difference between your occasional visitors and die-hard devotees.

10. Your staff tells a lot about your brand:

Finally, in a time where customer service tends to be more robotic, think about the human element.

Share with your clients how valuable is your staff and how they help and serve customers with a great attitude.

Let your employees do what they do best, by promoting happiness and improving the reputation of your restaurant!

It’s definitely a win-win thing!

At Finepoint Design, we help restaurants develop a personalized strategy to boost your reach.

We work together with our clients to promote the personality of your business and get the most out of the digital media. This helps to increase your sales and improve your user’s experience.