Restaurant Marketing Strategies: 8 Online Examples You’ll Want to Steal From

Restaurant marketing program bringing in customers

Everyone eats out. In fact, more and more consumers are going to their local restaurant for a bite to eat or a drink after work. Consumers spent $55 billion every month in 2016 eating out, that’s up from $51 billion in 2015.

Download our free restaurant customer loyalty success guide to learn how to drive customers back 2x more.

To capitalize on this growing trend, owners need effective restaurant marketing strategies. In today’s digital age, the focus has become restaurant email marketing and restaurant social media marketing. To make sure you’re attracting and maintain customers through these channels, here are eight examples of social media and email marketing that you can borrow from:

Social media ideas to complement your restaurant marketing strategies

1. Highlight your customers on social media

Social media is all about engaging your customers. You want to start a conversation and create posts that encourage customers to visit your page.

As part of its restaurant marketing strategies, FiveGuys engages its customers by featuring satisfied dinners on its Facebook page. It’s a great way to show your customers that you care. The well-known burger joint features a “FiveGuys Fanatic” every Friday. The company even asks customers to join the fun by sharing their own burger-eating photos on social.

By sharing a photo every Friday, it creates a reoccurring post that not only populates the Facebook page, but its repetitive nature gives customers something to look forward to.

2. Showcase seasonal menu items

When something new is on the menu, tell your customers about it on social media. Take some pictures of the tasty new dessert or frothy beverage and share them on your Facebook page. Give customers a good description of the new item, and be sure to tell customers that the new dish will only be around for a limited time.

The Cheesecake Factory did just that when it rolled out its Peppermint Bark Cheesecake for the holiday season.

You could even turn new menu items into a contest. Introduce two new items and ask customers to vote on social media for their favorite. The winner can be added to your menu permanently. It’s an inventive way to get customers excited about your menu and engaged on social at the same time.

3. Feature menu items on bizarre holidays

Did you know there’s a national Corn Chip Day? There’s also a Margarita Day and Fried Chicken Day? It’s true. There are a ton of obscure holidays that you can use to promote your food and drink. Use this list of odd holidays as a reference to inspire great posts on social.

Applebee’s, for example, shared this post on Facebook during National Margarita Day.

4. Generate some buzz and engagement on traditional holidays

When a traditional holiday rolls around, tell customers about upcoming specials to generate some buzz. As the holiday gets closer, ask customers with reservations to tag themselves on a Facebook post to give engagement a boost too.

Texas Roadhouse created this cool, “Nuts About You,” graphic for Valentine’s Day. The graphic represents the restaurant’s signature shelled peanuts and asks customers to tag themselves if they’re stopping in for a date night.

Download our free restaurant customer loyalty success guide to learn how to drive customers back 2x more.

Email marketing ideas to complement your restaurant marketing strategies

5. Focus on the chef

Who’s in the kitchen? Consider creating an email that focuses on your chef and his or her signature dishes.

When Applebee’s teamed up with Tyler Florence, a well-known chef and Food Network personality, they sent an email to customers with his picture, a dish that’s he’s made especially for the restaurant and a link to tour the kitchen with Florence.

You don’t need a Food Network chef to create this kind of email. Focus on what your chef does best and create something similar.

6. Send a birthday discount

Everyone wants a little birthday love, so consider sending customers a coupon on their birthday. It’s a great way to show customers that you appreciate their business, all while providing an incentive to eat at your restaurant.

Birthday emails generate 342% more revenue per email than promotional emails, according to Experian.

Here’s an example from Jersey Mike’s Sub Shop:

You can automate this process so the emails are automatically sent to customers, rather than sending each one manually.

7. Remind customers to take advantage of your loyalty program

A loyalty program is a valuable marketing tool that can attract and retain customers. Research shows seventy-six percent of women and seventy-three percent of men are more likely to frequent a business that has a loyalty program.

You should set up a rewards structure that gives customers freebies based on their buying habits. Of course, the more frequent a customer comes in the more points (and rewards) he or she will earn.

Rather than letting customers rack up points quietly, remind them about the cool things they can get with the points they have. It not only adds some excitement to the act of collecting and redeeming points, but it also shows customers the added value they get by eating at your restaurant.

Here’s a great email from Panera, reminding the customer to redeem rewards through the restaurant’s loyalty program:

8. Provide incentives to stop in for meal

Ninety percent of dinners have searched for a restaurant coupon at least once, according to RetailMeNot. It’s not uncommon for consumers to search for coupons or deals on their mobile phones, which is why emailing a special offer to customers should be part of your restaurant marketing strategies.

The email keeps your restaurant top of mind and provides customers an incentive to stop by. Here’s a simple coupon from Denny’s:

You don’t have to send 20 percent off to all of your customers; you can segment your email list and send it to a select group. For example, you could send a coupon to your most loyal customers as a thank you, or to your newest customers as a way to show your appreciation early in the relationship.

Tips to make email and social media marketing effective

To make sure your email and social messages are part of successful restaurant marketing strategies, use these tips: 

  • Be a picture snob

Don’t share any photos of your restaurant, food or customers that aren’t top-notch. Quality images shared on Facebook get 179 percent more interaction than posts without a picture.

  • Get customers involved in social

Use a variety of social media tactics to keep customers engaged. Ask questions, run contests and respond to comments to boost the activity level on your social channels.

  • Market your loyalty program

Your loyalty program gives you a reason to reach out to customers and promote your product or service. Talk about the program, its benefits and the cool rewards that are available through both email and social.

  • Communicate regularly

Don’t let your social or email communication go silent. It’s important to maintain a steady flow of communication. You can use scheduling tools to ensure your social channels are active and many email marketing service providers (like MailChimp) offer automation tools so you can create emails in advance and schedule them to send.

Lisa Furgison
About the Author
Lisa Furgison

Lisa is a writer at Fivestars, a freelance journalist, and co-owner of a media company, McEwen's Media.

Leave a Comment