Restaurant marketing is more important than ever in 2022. And as more restaurants recover from a global pandemic, it’s best to keep up to date with proven restaurant marketing ideas. I’ve had the honor of working with a number of restaurants of all shapes and sizes both before and during the pandemic and one thing that stood out the most was these restaurant owners’ level of resiliency and determination. They weren’t about to get rid of their lifelong dreams. Who could blame them?
TOP 20 Restaurant Marketing Tips for 2022
I asked several restaurant owners what they did know about restaurant marketing. Next, I asked them what they wish they knew about restaurant marketing, especially during crises like the covid-19 pandemic. First, the average restaurant marketing tips were about keeping up with the “market” or trends. The second answer? This one really surprised me. Effective online marketing. In short, most how to effectively use traditional marketing methods but accept the fact it is becoming almost obsolete going into 2022.
It’s no wonder each restaurant owner is always on the lookout for the best (and proven) restaurant marketing tips.
1. Have A Beautiful, User, and Mobile-Friendly Website
Like reviews, a restaurant website is your “make-or-break” point for your restaurant’s brand. And now that more people are ordering online, getting delivery, or take-out, it’s more important than ever to have an eye-catching, easy-to-navigate website.
Let’s break down everything you need on your restaurant website:
- A sleek, functional online menu that is up-to-date and accurate
- Your best food items, a short description, and nutrition information (if applicable)
- Information about your restaurant and how to contact you
- Where you’re located
- Online ordering button
- Reservation button (if applicable)
- Social media icons linked to your most used social media pages
- Testimonials and a review button
- Newsletter sign up (if applicable)
- Rewards, gift cards, giveaways, etc.
- And Careers information
This is just a small list of what should be included on your restaurant website. Your website should also have the right SEO keywords throughout the content on each page, including your online menu. Keep in mind that all graphics must also have the proper filenames plus alternative and title text.
2. Use The Right Keywords
When someone is searching for a restaurant nearby, THIS is how they’re doing it:
- “[your city] restaurant”
- “[food type] restaurant near me”
- “restaurants in [your city]”
More importantly, they’re likely using their desired search engine, most commonly used being Google, in their smartphone to search for your restaurant. But if your restaurant isn’t pulling up, that’s an untold amount of lost revenue.
With more restaurants opening back up or opening up their capacity, it is now more imperative than ever to make sure your restaurant website comes up on the first page of Google and other search engines.
3. High-Quality Food Photography
Have you ever logged on to Instagram and browsed through all the “food porn”? High-quality foodie photos are arguably the best way to promote your restaurant online.
Visual content is in high demand in 2022!
Post mouth-watering photos on your website and across all social media channels for drawing in the hungriest of customers.
You don’t need to hire a professional photographer to pull this off.
Thankfully, the latest smartphones are nearly just as good.
Keep in mind that lighting is a key factor. Use the popular top-down for certain dishes or get close to filling the entire frame. The trick here is to see all the mouth-watering, little details.
Learn more about how to make a perfect food photo in this Gizmodo article.
4. Use Instagram for Restaurant Marketing
Did you know that pizza is the most popular Instagrammed food, with sushi and chicken taking 2nd and 3rd place?
One of the most powerful methods for attracting attention to your restaurant is connecting with other food bloggers on Instagram. Food bloggers on Instagram are skillful in boosting business for restaurants.
Use food bloggers to your advantage by taking high-quality photos of your most popular dishes and tag them in the photo. The rule of thumb here is to connect with food bloggers with around 20,000 to 50,000 followers.
Sadly, many restaurants do not allow customers to take photos, which, frankly, doesn’t make sense. Allowing your customers to take photos of your food, the decor, and other elements is practically free marketing. One of the greatest benefits of this is they “geo-tag” your business location, letting a wider audience know where you’re located.
Many restaurants conduct photo contests for their customers, which we will get into in a bit.
Take advantage of hashtags. Hashtags will increase your search results on Instagram which then, in turn, increases visibility for your business. Use the most frequently used hashtags in addition to location-based tags for greater visibility.
Some popular food related hashtags on Instagram include:
- #Foodie (47 million)
- #Foodporn (104 million)
- #Foodgasm (21 million)
- #Food (195 million)
“Regramming” is a good practice, too. It is the concept of reposting an image or video on your account. Best practice includes tagging the original author of that post. This is an amazing strategy for restaurant owners.
You can use reposting software like “Repost for Instagram”, “Video Saver for Instagram” and others to accomplish this.
An additional benefit to reposting is that all their Instagram followers will see the repost. This means their friends will be more likely to check out your brand.
Another great restaurant marketing with Instagram method is to interact with your customers. Always interact with them because they are more likely to return to your restaurant if you’re lively and engaging. The same is true for both online and offline. Interacting with your customers or audience shows your dedication towards valued customer service, creating a positive image for your restaurant.
Lastly, use the “business tools” for your Instagram account to better understand what content receives the most engagement, when to post, and more.
5. Using The Power of Facebook Marketing for Restaurants
Social media marketing strategies are an undeniable force in today’s world. Slipping pamphlets and delivery menus under doorways just don’t cut it anymore.
Any restaurant with a strong social media presence as part of its restaurant marketing plan often fares the best. So, ignoring social media in 2022 is like a death sentence.
Rule Of Thumb: Create a Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat account. That many accounts may seem excessive but diversity is key here. Setting up accounts is only half the battle. Consider a consistent posting schedule to build trust, “buzz” and interest in your restaurant.
Share special discounts, exclusive coupons, information about events, photos of your latest dishes, and more. You can take this a step further by using “User-Generated Content”. Think of it like “free advertising”: your customers are sharing photos of your food, drinks, atmosphere, etc.
Utilize the power of both free and paid social media management tools.
Here are a couple of free options:
Hootsuite: A one-stop dashboard for keeping tabs on all your social media networks. You can create custom streams, schedule posts, and more.
Buffer: Buffer makes it easy to find, schedule, and share articles across your networks. Staying active and posting valuable articles (that your fan base will enjoy) is key for social success.
If you want to manually manage when you post content on Facebook and want to use a free content tool, I highly recommend using Canva. Canva is a great tool for creating a personal brand. You can create content for email headers, newsletters, social media profiles, blogs, and so much more.
Rule of thumb for all social media profiles: make sure all sections are thoroughly filled out and all images are crisp, clean, describing who you are. Just like your Google My Business listing, include your business name, phone number, and address. If you have a website, include that as well.
The more information your customers have to find and know you by, the better.
Twitter has a similar process to Instagram as well. Share the right content with the appropriate hashtags and more to increase visibility. Use Twitter’s business tools to learn more about your audience.
Create geo-targeted restaurant ads, too. You can use almost all social media platforms you’re on to create geo-targeted restaurant ads for various purposes. Additionally, you can use Google AdWords.
6. Run Photo Contests to Increase Engagement & Personal Branding
Photo contests are a popular medium among restaurant owners and food bloggers across various social media platforms.
You can start by asking customers to share a photo of their favorite meal at your restaurant.
Share these photos as entries on a dedicated contest page on your website. Then, share the content to all of your social media channels to increase engagement and visibility.
Award the lucky contestants with a free appetizer or other prizes!
Running photo contests shows customers you appreciate them, turning them from casual visitors to brand-loyal customers.
7. Food Blogger Outreach
It’s tough as it is running a restaurant, but it’s tougher when you’re a new restaurant with not a lot of reviews if any at all. You might be finding it difficult to generate reviews, getting enough press.
That is where food bloggers come in.
Invite food bloggers to your restaurant to give you a try.
Offer a free meal or appetizer or maybe a discount to get them in the door. Politely ask them to leave a review and share their experience online.
Keep in mind you can not directly ask for a positive review. It is okay however to ask for an objective restaurant review. This tactic may not always work but the more you ask, the greater your chances.
Some food bloggers have large followings on social media, so getting their attention can positively influence your restaurant.
8. Customer Loyalty Program & Apps
Doesn’t matter if you’re new or have been around for 10 years, partnering with an online food app should always be a consideration for your restaurant marketing plan. Partnering with online apps encourages visitors to check out your restaurant via customer loyalty programs. These loyalty programs should offer visitors a free drink or appetizer or discount for visiting a certain amount of times.
Think of it like that stamp card.
Here are a few popular loyalty program apps you can use today:
- Loyal Blocks (Now Flok)
- And Perka
If you want to keep your loyalty program nice and simple, just opt-in for old-school hand-out punch cards. Not as awesome as apps, but they’re just as valuable, showing your customers how much you appreciate their loyalty.
9. Business Card Giveaways
More commonly known as “Fish Bowl Business Card Giveaways”, lets customers drop their business cards into a bowl for a raffle. Rewards can vary i.e. lunch for the winner and 5 friends, discounted drinks or food, whatever you’d like!
Here’s the kicker: you can use the email addresses from the business cards to email those who didn’t win to sign up for your newsletter. This way they can be notified of upcoming events, contests, learn more about discounts, and more.
You now have valuable newsletter subscribers!
10. Email Newsletter
Let’s turn those business cards and loyalty programs into valuable email newsletter subscribers!
A quick tip: Never flood your subscribers’ inbox.
Your email newsletter can be weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, whenever you choose. Use email newsletters to celebrate your success, promote new menu items, events, and more.
We use MailChimp for our email newsletter but go with one that best suits your needs. Here is a list of the top 10 most popular email newsletter software:
- Constant Contact
- Campaign Monitor
We use Canva to create custom images for our email newsletters and more.
11. Have a Sleek, Functional Online Menu
When people search online for a business, they’re just doing research first. Your visitors will do the same before ordering from or visiting your restaurant.
If your visitors can’t find a menu, it’s low-quality, or out of date and not accurate, you just lost precious business.
Make sure your online menu is:
- Easy to read
- Up to date & Accurate
We recommend using Open Menu to help build and publish your online menu for FREE. Open Menu does have affordable, paid monthly options as well that’s worth looking into. Additionally, Open Menu comes with the ability to publish your menu on social media no matter your plan, free or paid.
From our experience and data alike, visitors view your online menu FIRST before looking at other pages or content. Next, they’re looking at when you’re open, where you’re located, and contact information.
Don’t have or want an online menu? Well, without it, the majority of these other tips will render useless.
Customers need an online menu. Otherwise, they’ll take their business elsewhere.
Now you have an online menu and your visitors want to make a reservation. What now?
12. Use An Online Reservation Tool
Alright, so your visitors have checked out your menu, they’re hungry, and your business requires reservations first. What now?
Consider signing up for OpenTable.
OpenTable is an online reservation tool allowing customers to book reservations through your restaurant website or blog.
Customers want something simple so give it to them by signing up for OpenTable.
Pro Tip: Include a link to your online reservation tool in your Google My Business listing as well!
13. Partner Up With Delivery Services
As I said, customers want you to make their lives easier. So, ease-of-use is the name of the game! Consider partnering up with an online delivery service to streamline the ordering process. This is a largely untapped market despite the number of available delivery apps today.
Just a few examples of online delivery services:
- And More!
Each has its own benefits, costs, etc. so do your research to determine what’s going to be the best fit for your business.
DoorDash Partner fees can range from 10-25% depending on the restaurant and market they’re operating in. The delivery fee charged to the customer is on average between $5-$8. The average fee goes to the driver.
UberEats and Postmates charge 15-30% per order.
One added benefit is some customers may discover your restaurant through any one of these listed apps.
14. Show Off Your Restaurant Staff
Despite automated phone calls, reps, and self-driving cars, the vast majority of us still want that special human element. Show off your staff doing what they do best: serving your customers an exceptional experience.
People want to see happy, smiling employees. And it does wonders for your restaurant’s reputation.
Happy workers say A LOT about a restaurant. Your fans will surely take notice.
15. Get A Food Truck
Starting a food truck is a wonderful way to expand your restaurant’s reach to people you may normally never considering reaching out to.
Getting a food truck helps build more press, build a community, get some new fans, and more.
Something to keep in mind though: a food truck isn’t for the faint of heart.
A food truck can be an extremely expensive endeavor but can still work out for your restaurant in the long term also.
16. Join Your Local Chamber of Commerce
A city’s local chamber of commerce is an invaluable resource for any business, really. Restaurants are often at the forefront of event organizers’ minds there so it makes more than enough sense for yours to be added to their list as well.
One benefit of joining your local chamber of commerce is having a link on their website directly linking back to yours. This not only helps with search engine rankings but also builds reputability and more.
Join your local chamber of commerce if you haven’t already and take benefit of their resources exclusive to small businesses impacted by COVID-19.
17. Create & Optimize A Google My Business (now Google Business Profile) Listing
I can not stress enough how important having a Google My Business (now Google Business Profile) listing is.
A GBP listing is a free business profile on Google which helps you reach and engage with visitors through Google Search, Google Images, and Google Maps.
Your optimized restaurant website/blog and business directories must all have the same information, without fail.
Each site will work hand-in-hand with each other for better Local SEO results.
Similar to Yelp, visitors can and will post reviews in your Google Business Profile listing. We highly recommend responding to each review, no matter if it’s positive or negative. It is imperative to respond to every single negative review.
18. Video Marketing For Restaurants
Video marketing on its own is a phenomenal way for visually connecting with your customers, especially new customers. And restaurants are almost experts at using video marketing in boosting foot traffic.
Some popular video marketing methods for restaurants:
- Live music events
- Crowds/Dance Floors
- Customers Lining Up Outside
- And more!
19. Create Offers and User-Generated Content for Monthly Observances
Did you know there’s actually a “National Nothing Day”? I didn’t know that either until I started writing this guide. Every day of the year is some kind of observance somewhere in the world. Some examples are “National Pizza Day” in February, “International Beer Day” in August, and even a National Hot Dog Day. If you name it, I’m sure there’s an observance for it.
A wonderful restaurant marketing tip for 2022 is creating offers, user-generated content, and more based on monthly observances.
20. SMS Marketing For Restaurants
SMS marketing (or text message marketing) is a fantastic way to advertise your restaurant. The best part about SMS marketing is that none of your customers have anything extra to install. If you’re a restaurant mostly catering to 55+ demographic, often considered “less tech-savvy”, this is still great.
It’s wild to think that 6 billion text messages get sent every day! That same study showed 75% of customers want to receive offers via text messages. What’s better is that SMS has a 9% higher click-through rate (CTR) compared to other popular marketing channels. With that said, here are a few of the top benefits of SMS marketing for restaurants:
- Every restaurant owner can afford it
- It reaches more people
- You can see the results almost immediately
- Boosts customer loyalty
Rule of Thumb for SMS Marketing for Restaurants: Use it sparingly. No one wants to get more notifications from brands than they get from their friends. Because there’s that personal connection of being treated like a friend, ask for permission to send customers text messages. Next, keep your messages short and personalize each one. Even if you’re sending out 200 messages at the same time, a little personalization can go a long way. Last but not least, always give them an option to opt-out. There’s nothing more annoying from a brand than to have to jump through many hoops to unsubscribe.
Get Ready To Make A Difference
Each of the tips I’ve outlined above are tried and true methods restaurant marketing tips I personally have used in growing restaurants even during the COVID-19 pandemic. But always take these guides with a grain of salt, too. Like this guide, your restaurant is meant to be as unique as possible from the next. And that requires unique spins on the restaurant marketing tips above. Also, don’t be afraid to mix up a few of these tips. You’d be surprised at the positive results you may receive from it.
If you’re looking for a dedicated marketing company with proven experience growing restaurants, please register for a consultation with us today!