The Complete Guide To Restaurant Marketing In 2022

Intro

Who Should Read This?

This guide is written specifically for restaurant owners and managers who are looking for a tangible, proven process to grow revenue and increase net profit at an existing restaurant.

The marketing techniques and strategies in this guide were created by our team of restaurant industry veterans and perfected in the field through active participation with thousands of our restaurant partners. Their hard work, persistence, and willingness to experiment through a very tumultuous period in this industry is the only reason we’ve been able to put together such an effective restaurant marketing process at Owner.com.

Take back control of your margins, customer data, and online reputation.

Our all-in-one-platform helps you take back control of your online presence, drive direct sales, save money on fees, and manage everything in one place. Schedule a demo to see the platform in action and discover why our new restaurant partners increase online sales by an average of 270% in their first three months using Owner.com.

Schedule A Demo

Restaurant Marketing Plan Overview

Restaurant marketing can be broken into two objectives:

  1. Earn more from your existing customers.
  2. Get in front of new customers.

Growth depends on both. You need to consistently get your restaurant brand in front of new customers, AND you need to consistently turn those customers into regulars.

For established restaurants, getting your existing customers to come back to your restaurant website or dining room and spend more money is the low-hanging fruit in the marketing equation.

It’s a lot easier, a lot faster, and a lot more straightforward than sourcing new customers.

When you follow the re-engagement strategies I’ll teach you in this guide, you’ll see a fairly large bump in revenue over the next 3-6 months, and you’ll make more money per customer for as long as you continue running your restaurant.

Getting in front of new customers is the harder side of the marketing equation. It requires a lot of hard work, it takes longer, and it requires more creativity.

It’s also the only way to sustainably grow your restaurant 3-4% per month, year after year after year, while your competitors struggle just to keep up with inflation.

I’m going to show you how we do both for our restaurant partners in this guide — how we help them see large short term growth with customer re-engagement marketing AND experience sustainable long term growth with new customer marketing.

But let’s start with the low-hanging fruit.

Part A: Turn Customers Into Regulars

If you want to grow, always start with your current customers.

They know you. They like you. They are already giving you money.

Being more intentional about how you market your restaurant to them is the fastest, easiest, and most effective way to increase your bottom line.

Here’s the customer marketing process we take new Owner.com partners through that results in an average of 50% growth within 90 days.

vA0NIidaKVtoVo3RX9LuytKaz0FBgsGsE8rxUb0F Tuo14FJMkT53QCebZ1HBadqQNAqFew3QmFA q60fRHLAcRPGesBzvlbQnU

1. Leverage Your Customer Database

Everything starts with data.

The first step in our marketing journey is to locate and access your customer database.

For most restaurants, you can find this information directly though your POS system (ex. Clover, Square, Toast, etc.). Click the “Export” button to grab a file of your customer data.

TPLAcYUDf4VoVyfth N jtNTrhvswxGQ5RgZ 2pw5R7hSrze2RX3ICTgtRk9SVUat D49rUeTBNgyo6YbHuBvTYomTRg80nKgr2W7T6HdKmgy7kc4ARuSqOUppgTZiaFMs5Yw utVHTrt16yQw

If you are using Owner.com, you can find your customer database via the Customers tab in your dashboard.

N7QvLruXMzCedDTJ d qmYRucYRTRHYsK RnDJG04QFpYErzlf4

Our long term goal is to make this list as big as possible.

Email and text marketing convert incredibly well for restaurants, so the more people you have on your lists, the more money you will make every single month.

Once you have your list of customers ready to go, it’s time to send out an initial email blast.

The goal of this initial email is to re-engage your customers, instruct them to use your direct-order system, and motivate them to place a new order.

If you use Owner.com, we do this automatically for you as part of our onboarding process. Here’s an example of the initial email we send to your customer list:

There’s a few specific things you’ll want to include in this email:

  • Thank the recipient for being a loyal patron.
  • Let them know they can now order directly from you.
  • Offer an incentive for ordering directly from you.
  • Provide a clickable link to immediately order from you.

If you don’t use Owner.com, you’ll need an email service provider. Some good, low-cost options include:

You’ll just need to upload your email list into the software and set up a broadcast email to your list. This looks a little different for any given software you might use, but it’s a relatively easy process to learn, and all the options above will include great customer support if you need an extra hand figuring it out.

Next, it’s time to send out a text blast.

Again, if you’re using Owner.com, this happens automatically. Here’s an example of the initial text blast:

H5GHBpt2RLRbXDnm63ioVYyq BZqTNMJYjwjiFB59gzpukbeOzWkaZ PY1jtO098 zPsJMaWNY8z5Xduimrb62M

Notice that we include a lot of the same core content:

  • Make it immediately obvious who is texting them.
  • Let them know they can now order directly from you.
  • Offer an incentive for ordering directly from you.
  • Provide a clickable link to immediately order from you.

If you don’t use Owner.com, you can send out a text blast using one of the follower software suits:

A couple days after the initial email blast, follow-up with a second email that explains why they should use your direct order system.

This email will educate customers on how using 3rd party apps hurts your business AND more importantly, outline all the benefits that they will personally receive when they order through your direct-order system instead of a 3rd party app.

d dGrEQxmOvVd65PnwwK rzNGqc9FuxD0KDjBgwHsqlnv0mD4oVkVbIL2y1SDwGbseoQWw vamoO4LAXBFBfSbI1seT 1jDSExbWUW

I say “more importantly” here, because people are more motivated by personal incentives than by the idea of being helpful to someone else.

This isn’t pessimism. It’s just reality.

There will be patrons who go out of their way to support you just for the sake of supporting you, but the vast majority will need strong personal incentives.

This is why it’s so important to LOUDLY tell customers that ordering directly through you website will give them:

  • Faster delivery
  • Lower prices
  • Loyalty points
  • Special offers

… in addition to ALSO helping support your business.

This way, they get to personally benefit AND feel generous at the same time.

Win-win!

That might seem like a lot of work just to reach out to your customers twice… and it is.

The goal here isn’t to reach out once or twice. This is the FIRST step in an ongoing system of re-engagement that we want to put into place.

2. Build a Strategic Restaurant Loyalty Program

You know what a loyalty program is, and you probably have one in place already.

But don’t skip this section.

Helping our restaurant partners build a strategic, intentional loyalty program, supported through technology with automated offers and updates is the single biggest reason our partners grow an average of 50% in their first 90 days with us.

Many loyalty programs are ineffective, because they make some of the following mistakes:

  • The incentive to join isn’t strong enough.
  • In-program rewards aren’t appealing enough.
  • Customers aren’t updated on progress towards their rewards.
  • Customers aren’t regularly engaged with new offers.

Fortunately, these things are all very simple to fix.

Here’s how we structure our rewards programs for our restaurant partners:

  • 15% off coupon to join
  • Monthly member coupon
  • Point system with great rewards
  • Automatic point updates and prompts via email and in-checkout

Don’t worry, I’m going to break that down step by step.

First, we offer a 15% OFF coupon to join the loyalty program. Here’s an example from Fresh on Sunset.

28SjfQMXGvzWQUazG90xFjnYNsmDBjN5E4 7E0yNK6AoSX kjcL80DSZkE hshPv Xpt9L2Fl5dd1OwBDeXbcO4AxhfO4vq6Hx3 IZZYivAXz5O7O8JeT QiDdDQDlAiYQKe l7IZazHFcMyLw

We’ve experimented with many different types of offers over the years, and this offer has proven to be most effective across restaurants, locations, and cuisines.

Why?

To be honest… I’m not sure. It’s simple. It’s easy for customers to understand. It provides an immediate value regardless of what they want to order from you.

That’s all I got.

The point is… it just works.

In addition to offering a coupon to join, it’s also important to offer a new coupon every month the member stays in the loyalty program. In practice, this just means sending the coupon out to your subscriber list once per month, and everyone who hasn’t unsubscribed will receive it.

I recommend taking the coupon you offer at signup and offering that same coupon once per month.

In other words, if you offer a “15% OFF your order” coupon to join the loyalty program, you would then send out a new 15% OFF coupon to subscribers once per month.

As you’ll see in this guide, members/subscribers are going to be receiving new emails from you at least once per week, so it’s important that you are making that inbox traffic worth their time by offering them a simple, monthly reward.

Next, we use a point system with appealing rewards.

When I say “appealing rewards” I’m talking about something that is going to feel valuable to the customer. A free menu item works really well here.

At the same time, we need to keep your costs in mind, both in terms of food and labor.

We want the rewards program to give away items that cost barely anything and are fast and easy for your kitchen staff to prepare, like these loaded nachos from Talkin’ Tacos.

AErpzYpay61vVo2HcCvDR1gwZ06HzDlKy48tKbeoPPk5JX3MddqF grxBRMXgY8jRP3L

The best items to give away in loyalty programs are usually appetizers, beverages, and desserts, including:

  • Nearly anything made with onions
  • Queso or other specialty dips
  • Chips, nachos, or fries
  • Large-batch baked-goods
  • Spring rolls or potstickers

Extra points if the items you give away as rewards pair well with bestsellers and high-margin entrée dishes.

As I mentioned earlier, we’re going to give these rewards out as part of a point system.

A point system is effective for the same reason a 15% coupon works so well. It’s simple. The value offered is straightforward. And it’s easy for customers to understand.

But just because it’s easy to understand doesn’t mean we can just show customers the rules and expect them to keep track of their points or understand how to use them.

This is where most restaurants fail.

A great loyalty program constantly holds the customer’s hand and reminds them of where they are in their progression towards rewards.

We do this in a few different ways.

First off, we send two immediate emails to new loyalty program members.

The first email welcomes new members to the loyalty program and gives them a summary of the benefits — stuff like discounts, faster delivery, rewards points, etc.

d dGrEQxmOvVd65PnwwK rzNGqc9FuxD0KDjBgwHsqlnv0mD4oVkVbIL2y1SDwGbseoQWw vamoO4LAXBFBfSbI1seT 1jDSExbWUW

The second email rewards them with 20 free loyalty points, explains how loyalty points work, and prompts the member to place a new order.

Additionally, every time a member makes an order, they receive an email and a text telling them how many points they’ve earned and how many points away they are from a free item.

Here’s what one of these emails looks like:

qBf ihgZgx

And here’s what one of these texts looks like:

ASSFJFZLQJfeJ4MfdKf3rXWonO SIA2

These updates keep rewards progression fresh in customers minds. They have a much more tangible sense of where they are in the process and how close they are to enjoying their rewards.

Everything I’ve shown you so far can be completed on your own using any of the email and text service providers listed in the previous section. There’s quite a bit of legwork involved, and setting up the automated emails is pretty technical, but if you don’t want us to do it automatically for you through Owner.com, you can absolutely set this up yourself.

Now that we’ve covered the online portion, it’s important that we don’t forget about the offline side of things as well.

Include messaging about your loyalty program at every touch point in your business.

When customers are on your website, they should see prompts to join your loyalty program or prompts to hit points milestones, depending on whether or not they’ve joined yet. They shouldn’t be able to visit your website without seeing something about your loyalty program.

The same is true when they visit your restaurant.

Whether it’s signage within the store or prompts from your staff, customers should be made aware of your loyalty program whenever possible. We have our restaurant partners educate their staff on the following talking points:

  • Inviting guests to join the loyalty program in-store
  • Telling customers how many points they’d win from their current order if they join the program
  • In-store marketing collateral like posters and table tents

This is the type of comprehensive effort that results in restaurants going from 80-90% order dependence on DoorDash and GrubHub to bringing 80-90% of their orders directly through their website.

It’s not really about a loyalty program at all.

It’s about taking back control of your direct-to-customer relationship, creating regulars, and training your customers to place commission-free orders.

3. Email & Text Marketing for Restaurants

The emails we’ve covered thus far have all been triggered by actions taken by your customers.

  • If the customer signs up for the membership program, they get an email.
  • If the customer places an order, they get an email.
  • If the customer reaches a points milestone, they get an email.

These emails are important, but they leave a gap in your marketing. Customers who don’t take any actions aren’t receiving any messages from you.

Working with thousands of restaurants over the last few years, I’ve found that two emails per week is the ideal frequency for the average subscriber. That means I want every single customer on your email list to hear from your restaurant at least twice per week, even if they don’t order anything from you.

So in addition to the activity-based emails, you should also be sending out two weekly emails to all subscribers.

We have our restaurant partners rotate through a few different types of emails.

There’s a basic prompt email.

DawO3wxwH orJCEbpPL0BLGrfl rIaGFKoDwyaemu6ZvtpV52baYjVoiC0yEubX2OIdMOl3vT1OpZR326kXh yG6VIaP maDjTshyDs7H5H6tkY1Yiyvga8lOqm C2BteMQZ RcVoyO5gDpmRA

This type of email is a simple invitation to order, and it puts your brand back in front of your subscribers.

The next type of email is the loyalty points reminder email.

iW CRReDtE1CyEbxsWvPZ wFVuppMhbW 6X1XP S NffCxMCJOX9uMWLOfh gqz93 0FoKRcvVmYdk2kOqOOrir NYtL6

This type of email simply reminds subscribers of how many points they’ve accumulated and invites them to redeem those points on a new order.

The next type of email is the popular items email.

GaHXi98p8OCEf4 ivUXjcgm d3l2 D8yOVduE66nqo8dbu4U1eCpCOf0tkQX3PTPBUOFK 0oZUg8DA4DeisYufn01MVUUThiAkvJ4HEgqft9Taud6eMMLJPYgveb bnuEUIez144MYOn BV FQ

This type of email uses social proof to encourage a new order. People don’t want to miss out on something everyone else is enjoying, and letting subscribers know about your popular items is a great way to drive some new orders.

I recommend setting up a rotation of these emails to go out to your subscribers each month.

Here’s what a 1-month email marketing calendar looks like for one of our restaurant partners:

  • Tuesday, Week #1: Basic prompt email, version #A
  • Friday, Week #1: Loyalty points reminder email
  • Tuesday, Week #2: Popular items email, version #A
  • Friday, Week #2: Basic prompt email, version #B
  • Tuesday, Week #3: Loyalty points reminder email
  • Friday, Week #3: Popular items email, version #B
  • Tuesday, Week #4: Basic prompt email, version #C
  • Friday, Week #4: Monthly 15%-off coupon email

Email marketing like this is incredibly effective for restaurants, because it’s fairly easy to get email signups, and you can expect around 30% of your email subscribers to open any given email that you send out.

Even more importantly, email subscribers consistently click on these emails and place orders, putting more money in your pocket.

In terms of performance, text marketing is like email marketing on steroids.

Customers will open over 85% of the texts you send them and click on text offers significantly more often than email based on offers.

The downside is that fewer people are willing to receive marketing texts, and those who do won’t want to be sent texts very frequently.

I recommend only texting your customers twice per MONTH.

Send a text around halfway through the month, letting your customers know how many loyalty points they have available.

CWreUa3L4N4aBgBxEr54lrdOcm6xfY2g8EEw ER403soKsWXFlfR8S7repN2f9jkIAMbM8J1cBcByIM9I4zPdLI zT3l11jYhIUvpVgcYFggiAYgkr6xu7RNilY3 kJBQpfwVEym2YtZPAPsw

And then send a text at the end of the month, letting them know they’ve earned a VIP discount for being in the loyalty program. This text will include the same discount offer and code that you send them via email.

hlUtGNbzBZQzHE7LTnTBvv65hhjt8h00H5OaR4yfqvbpRAPJ RbIgjeIhwE4K645O5pYp9PBySMWGo8r2Sb5GL4DQbQkoeKrJ0mQ6r0nE

We send out all of these texts and emails automatically for restaurant partners using Owner.com. Our platform is designed to be the ultimate marketing tool for independent restaurant owners. But you can send these yourself using any of the email service and text marketing providers I listed in the previous section.

It takes some time to get everything written and set up, but out of everything in this guide, email and text marketing are probably the simplest to set up yourself.

4. Physical Marketing Collateral

Everything we’ve covered so far has leaned heavily towards the digital side of your business, and that’s not by accident.

For established restaurants, your online presence, marketing, and direct-order system will be the heart of future growth. If you can’t attract people through the internet and get them ordering from you directly online, growth will be a struggle.

But non-digital marketing efforts still have a large role to play in your growth.

Our team has found some MASSIVE wins for our partners using physical marketing collateral.

The most successful collateral we use is delivery fliers.

For each of our restaurant partners, we design, print out, and send 1,000 fliers for them to place in delivery orders from 3rd party apps. Here’s an example we created for Talkin’ Tacos in Miami.

JvXn2qSdneUfaJmXiebi6nXjwpFhyLWcXufTuTqqkZPTf7e

Every time a customer orders through DoorDash, UberEats, or GrubHub, losing you 30% to commissions in the process, you throw one of these fliers into the bag, seal the bag so the delivery driver can’t see it, and give that customer a great reason to order commission-free through your website the next time around.

This is a very simple step, but it can have some shocking results.

When Talkin’ Tacos started using Owner.com, they were booking 90% of their orders through UberEats. Within three months, they had reduced that amount to just 45% using this flier strategy and booked $41,000 worth of orders through our platform, saving nearly $12,000 in fees.

QoGiMp2pdmgecqah 4NNTOv1mUnDolsoZNj7pG8WjrCVSDikqDJqt7leJ WqZLbJhjt 3qCGN0n1ifkUaZbaoPSrCilj0AY29GmfMvfoeldGq0VuTrUNCMMgSfbY63OF8bERo27JrVa u7V92Q

If you aren’t using Owner.com, the easiest way to implement this flier strategy yourself is to head over to Vistaprint, use one of their flier templates, add the information I showed you above, and then print them yourself for around $70 per 1,000 fliers.

Fliers have been universally successful for every restaurant we’ve worked with over the last two year.

This next strategy doesn’t have quite as proven of a track record yet, but we’ve had a ton of early success with two additional types of physical marketing collateral.

Wall posters, as pictured here:

xGqci0fNVfS1gv1v6XauHEOHTbU6WVxJvuSrXqTlcrR6TVelWSp4JInVGnOKNwIjDKN48eQGdBNm4qhgWK1LKGkpA25QjSf1BXHK4lqPZ JQyG1djkmz9KmS1EhsJsdbxdl NWFCrUiTvY eEA

And table tents, as seen here:

hDP0upHC4YgqkfMNoH9MsFNR8fFSYn2tmwYvqr1oJfVh7zijlmDBf2MOA 45b6aEsG46hJicltkVBTrfEvWrhRaW7kRP32T1 Ff O2hvjLH54ujzak2a6CGrGWCwOUMT9st 7zoaP8rfEaLhfg

Here’s a quick video explaining how these work from our Director of Customer Marketing Kyle Bergthold.

Initial results for these have been very promising. Partners using both the posters and table tents have been growing their subscribers — aka loyalty program members — 2-3 times faster than they were previously.

And while we’d love to send you these for free as one of our restaurant partners at Owner.com, you can roll out a similar campaign yourself without too much hassle. Just head back over to Vistaprint. High quality, glossy 18×24 posters will run you about $50 for three, and you can get 25 table tents for $50 as well.

Physical collateral isn’t going to do much if the digital infrastructure isn’t there, but if you are already doing all the digital customer marketing steps we covered in this section, adding that physical component is going to take all that hard work and give you 3-5 times the return.

Take back control of your margins, customer data, and online reputation.

Our all-in-one-platform helps you take back control of your online presence, drive direct sales, save money on fees, and manage everything in one place. Schedule a demo to see the platform in action and discover why our new restaurant partners increase online sales by an average of 270% in their first three months using Owner.com.

Schedule A Demo

Part B: Get In Front Of New Customers

Okay… the simple, relatively easy part is done. Now comes the more challenging, more creative side of the equation.

You need ways to consistently get your restaurant in front of new customers.

In this section, I’m going to break down the four primary marketing channels that we prioritize for our restaurant partners in attracting new business to their restaurants. These are the ongoing restaurant marketing strategies that allow our partners to sustainably grow 3-4% month after month over the long haul.

SS6mrfjz0PV2rKGGtvPxH39q63YXRIipviUu V1 kvHX6yASgulAkmodRelP

5. Social Media Marketing For Restaurants

There are a lot of social media platforms out there, but if you aren’t running paid marketing campaigns, the only platform that truly matters for restaurants is Instagram.

You know this already, but in my experience, most restaurant owners don’t really understand just how close they are to making significant money through their Instagram accounts.

Restaurant customers respond overwhelmingly to visual marketing, and Instagram makes it very easy to get visuals of your food, setting, brand, events, etc. directly in front of local customers.

“Local” is the key word here.

When you are active on Instagram as a local business and follow a few easy steps that I’ll outline in this section, you will be getting in front of real, local customers. That means you won’t need 100k followers to make $100k extra revenue through Instagram.

Talkin’ Tacos has done $262,000 in online sales over the last 11 months with just 24,000 Instagram followers.

yQ7mUHW l1P1Uoac04whTfs4vZMkKTGwHAX4Epb4AzuWGOJ6 sDmjjl1NepHwI5eQ7OnbxCju0PK2L2Gcu3kEfHBN2n3TSepPVFEw2nOJQVHySkjbDvGAr4rp3jW88 ySw0 7v5aj8LWoCiTIg

Their Instagram strategy is even simpler than what I’m going to teach you today. They literally just post pictures of their food over and over and over.

bm jf NglRGw5tR633I7xkG19kehRTsz

That’s it.

There’s no sneaky marketing tricks being used here. Every post is a single picture or brief iPhone video of a menu item with a short description, their location addresses, and a collection of relevant hashtags.

They post 4-5 times per week, every week.

68QZrgTjLHGehaXY Bu8b2JeqQFRsMno1LIZS6X9b4d7o9EZ5tf7ggOcvmzkFjWAFwxKqPVQrPzkVgvXXMtCQWSTieJikjtB AJlIzZ3hknlol53nqDs3PJ nOrIm3X3Z rw8fr4hEUJCeSyhQ

I am going to show you a few tricks in just a second, but I wanted to start with this example to demonstrate that consistency is the only thing that really matters.

If you can post simple, high-resolution iPhone pictures of your food 4 times per week, you can drive real revenue growth through Instagram.

Here’s the basic Instagram playbook for restaurants:

  1. Post food photos several times per week.
  2. Post Stories and pin Story Highlights.
  3. Repost customer posts that feature you.
  4. Follow your competitors’ followers.
  5. Create a simple selfie-station to drive UGC.
  6. Coordinate promotions with social media posts.

We already covered number one, so let’s break down the rest of the steps as simply as possible.

Post Stories and pin strategic Stories as Story Highlights.

Stories are a different style of post that last for 24 hours and show up at the top of your followers feeds via a separate Story Feed. If you have the time and interest (or someone on your team does) to take quick, casual videos and post them as Stories throughout the day, you will get your restaurant business in front of your followers more frequently.

These Stories can be anything:

  • Quick clip of your restaurant
  • Quick clip of one of your staff members saying hi
  • Quick clip of a menu item as it heads out to a customer
  • Quick clip showing some humor or fun in the kitchen

A great way to handle this is to find someone on your staff who enjoys social media and pay them an extra $100 per week to post pictures of your food items and post quick little stories throughout the day as well — just make sure to have them do this through your restaurant account (not their personal account), and make sure to monitor it occasionally to ensure the employee is keeping things appropriate.

The next step is to pin some of these Stories, as well as stories from your customers that feature you, to your Story Highlights.

Story Highlights show up right underneath your profile and stay there permanently:

m37u6cWvIYry4PN KH F1QbfMGTJcfnuCNGndyFfFOV0mvPP3vgnsStXeM7XNS0dxd mHcJP3pQoFVv5ZEZXPIIIo0GkxRYDyLZjr8XbWcF

You can use these pinned Stories to highlight customer reviews, celebrity appearances, and brand shoutouts, as well as drawing attention to useful information like your store hours, location, and menu.

Even if you don’t post Stories of your own, you want to frequently repost both Stories and normal posts from your customers.

If a customer tags you or highlights you in a positive way, share that with your followers and on your page!

That’s free advertising!

Well, actually… it’s not free. You worked really hard for those positive reviews and mentions, so take advantage of them when they come!

Once you’ve gotten the previous steps down, your publishing is taken care of.

The next trick will fast-track your local visibility.

Go around to all your competitors and follow the people who follow them.

These accounts are going to be predominantly followed by local consumers who enjoy your cuisine, and following them sends a notification to them that takes them straight to your account!

Again… free advertising!

You can use Instagram software to do this quickly and automatically, but you also run the risk of getting your account banned this way. If you manually follow 50 new people per day, you’ll only need to spend about five minutes per day on this task, and you’ll keep your account in good standing.

The next item in our playbook is a lot easier than most people realize.

Build a simple selfie station inside or outside your restaurant.

This is one of those restaurant marketing ideas that most owners avoid, but look how simple this example from Café La Jefa is, look how little space it takes up, and LOOK HOW MANY PEOPLE ADVERTISE THE CAFE WITH THEIR SELFIES!!!

yzA0ds25Sh64jECOofKTYc Me7H7rKo4DhpfYLVEAvOEMq8h8wU FrxQ3bt8rpUooEpI89FAXjpeY1X0O9H3dXLhf0CAR4ss

The pictures that customers, influencers, and food bloggers take of themselves at your restaurant and post online is called user generated content, and it can have a massive impact on your brand awareness.

If you can find a spare $200 and a small indoor OR outdoor corner of your restaurant to set something like this up, you are going to encourage more word-of-mouth and turn your customer base into influencers for your restaurant brand.

The final step in your Instagram playbook is to create posts in coordination with any promotions you decide to run.

We’ll cover restaurant promotions in-depth in a bit, but promotions are a great source of content for additional posts beyond the stuff we’ve already covered.

6. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) For Restaurants

Every day, thousands of potential customers in your area are hopping on Google and looking for the right place to order food.

  • “Indian food near me”
  • “Indian restaurants near me”
  • “Indian food delivery“
  • “Order butter chicken”
  • “Best garlic naan near me”

People search for terms like this millions of times per month, and Google directs these searches straight to local restaurants.

WHICH restaurants does Google send these people to?

The answer to that comes down to one thing: search engine optimization (SEO).

SEO is the process of setting up your online brand, website, and individual website pages to show up in Google when people search for anything relevant to your business: your cuisine, food items on your menu, or even just a list of great restaurants in your area.

yDVF2uT4e eBSoITDm w RD3v8Ycv4jjTc75VQycKAkSqMkV4hpUAwLU9n

Mastering SEO is a complex, time-consuming process, but you don’t need to master it in order to benefit from SEO and even earn hundreds of thousands of dollars from customers who find you in Google Search.

I’m going to take you through a simple SEO playbook that will give you everything you need to start showing up in search when potential customers are looking for your cuisine.

Here’s the basic local SEO playbook for restaurants:

  1. Optimize your Google Business listing (also called “Google My Business”).
  2. Optimize your website and online menu
  3. Get more reviews.

If you are wondering what “optimize” means here, it’s the steps I’m going to walk you through that give you a better chance of showing up in search. Making these changes to help your Google Business listing, website, and even specific menu items show up higher in search is the process of “optimization”.

The first step is optimizing your Google Business listing.

Your Google Business listing is the module that shows up in local search when people look for your business.

q3D1YWw6oDJQPMQlwjnXMV8ZycSk556Z606V10gGmkY1lKnKrNXL43qpBeY8dzTKKi51jfuAssd vq470oBe WlOsok5ZOx9Hc1p7EV64 K2mxiQUHiVAZ7iVlhV6pHjP H2mhplAKgJia7n2Q

It’s also what shows up when people search for your restaurant’s cuisine.

En6OoOTy1WNseYg8JToRHwd5nVdtWQIs6xQYUifh6N nO91AUELcIx5stZG IR86tkrxL37S9QDh56ptXFMAoOVV RWs4dFOoMchyvuaWUOhAffOg CC1t5AcoMhqZHXWi1swZ1MNHhch6o jw

Your Google Business listing is incredibly important for two simple reasons:

  1. It’s the first thing people see from your brand in Google search results.
  2. When optimized, it will let you skip ahead of your competitors and be the first search result.

The first thing you’ll want to do to optimize your Google Business listing is to fill in as much information as possible AND make sure that all that information is accurate and up-to-date.

ahhQx5M1Pwhg M47eZE4 TYaMIejy5 bAND43g lMUJTYE2bdvbYJezM7jEUB4zfUp1IUGTuC4DbKHVFu CsPRalE4tZI3RJth1jBoRugDGfdwPJHVGRjwzyQTHOAS3YbRd2f4hyNbqIBDI w

This part is pretty straightforward.

  1. Access your Google Business listing (if you haven’t claimed yours yet, here’s how)
  2. Fill out every field with as much information as possible.
  3. Update fields that are out of date.
  4. Add lots of pictures.

The second step to optimizing your listing is to add keywords relevant to your cuisine.

In your headlines, descriptions, and other form fields, include words that people would search in trying to find the type of food that you serve. These are called “keywords”, and I’d recommend picking the following three keywords to include in your listing:

  • [cuisine type] food in [location]
  • Best [cuisine type] restaurant
  • [popular menu item]

For example, an Indian restaurant in San Diego would turn the template above into the following three keywords:

  • Indian food in San Diego
  • Best Indian restaurant
  • Chicken tikka masala

Then you would include something like this as your Google Business listing description:

Bombay House serves a delicious variety of Indian food in San Diego, including our award-winning chicken tikka masala, and has been consistently voted one of the best Indian restaurants in the area over the last 10 years.

You’ll include these keywords throughout your listing when possible, and this will help Google know that you want to show up when people search for these types of terms.

It’s that simple!

The next step is to optimize your website and menu.

Setting up your website and menu correctly is incredibly important, not just for SEO, but for your entire business.

These are both pieces of your direct online ordering system, which is the hub and heart of any restaurant’s growth in the post-COVID era.

If you haven’t read it yet, we cover all of this in-depth on page two of this handbook: Direct Online Ordering For Restaurants.

There are some unique things we do to make individual menu items show up in Google Search for our Owner.com restaurant partners, so make sure you check out Page #2!

The final step is to get as many reviews as possible.

When making a purchase, people trust the recommendations of their friends and families more than anything else. And for lower cost purchases like placing an order at a restaurant, the recommendations of strangers via online reviews are nearly as powerful.

Additionally, the number and quality of reviews on your restaurant’s Google Business listing play a large, direct role in how high you show up in Google Search.

In other words, the more positive reviews you get for your listing:

  • The higher you will show up in Google Search,
  • And the more likely new customers will be to place an order at your restaurant.

So how can you get more reviews?

The simplest answer here is, “Ask for them.”

You can reach out to people individually and ask for reviews, but the best and easiest way to get lots of reviews is to include your request automatically inside your checkout and marketing processes.

For Owner.com restaurant partners, we ask your loyal customers to leave a review in a few different places.

Immediately after checkout:

LckVKPnel1RV6gPehTlctct247fsm5ZZLx8S4RH3HJwsb7F EXrmZxyO7ER7gxtzjgs VBXgFdG6wbV mG3cEoe20hF7b0q5CwC3MoB9R6 ylfwVlpcB86LNCkVvxZRJ7raQmG O4PNaGJ8i3w

Inside the order confirmation email:

jbPcd1gI8qlWPm sjMhbbJrdfPN1bloORfRmdHbKEsrSYv y8pIVOokCC6Uw6nfW lvJEcYA5YHvrS68h7j Py7wfv0ZJ62dGC9xKV XX3KZgt27pnpRxTOqK8cQlwjV5zklVPRWupo2pUzm A

And via a follow-up email sent a few hours after order:

vAa gNBSlB6JbsBulhEjCw97Slwa3moJIBlDYIuENv0Q4KJPwKz2HtQyiAJXtIjZx863hsc6t3E2e1AN3ZhFtqeUAEtZGjVDAvAqU9W9zUwC NWT QowUZBY8vTkWRm5C mFJSVsH6tBKVr YQ

Making these requests an automated part of your ordering experience will result in your Google Business Listing getting stronger and stronger in Google Search, as new reviews are added every week.

Additionally, if you use Owner.com to power your successful restaurant, we collect these reviews natively so that you can catch negative reviews before they get to locations like Google, Yelp, or TripAdvisor,

In other words, we help you get more reviews to fuel your marketing while catching the negative reviews at the source, so you can catch customer complaints about your food or dining experience, and turn them into customer loyalty.

7. Paid Advertising For Restaurants

For the last 10 years, Facebook advertising has been the single best way to create demand for virtually any product or service.

And while Facebook has experienced all sorts of changes over the last couple years, it’s still BY FAR the best option if you want to invest money in advertising your restaurant.

Facebook lets you do two things exceptionally well:

  1. Retarget anyone who has visited your website.
  2. Get in front of people in your local area.

Every restaurant owner in the US should be taking advantage of both of these strategies, but the first one is so easy, so effective, and so cost-efficient, that I’m going to teach you how to do it right now, from start to finish.

“Retargeting” means that you are sending Facebook ads to people who have visited your site.

When a Facebook user visits your website, a piece of code called a “pixel” will activate and tag that person, and then the next time they are on Facebook, they will be shown an ad for your restaurant like the one below.

Restaurant marketing

You can even get more sophisticated than this and set things up so that if someone was looking at the pecan pie on your website, Facebook would then show them ads offering a dessert discount or giveaway.

There are a lot of reasons that people can land on your website and then leave without ordering and forget about your brand.

Retargeting makes it easy and cost-efficient to get back in front of these customers and motivate them to complete their order.

Here’s how to set up a basic Facebook ads retargeting campaign.

First, log in to Facebook Ads Manager.

Go to Facebook Ads Manager, and after you’ve logged in, click on the top left menu that says “Ads Manager”. From there, under “Assets”, click “Audiences”.

Facebook ads screenshot to create your audience

Next, create your Audience.

At the top left of your screen, there will be a blue “Create Audience” button. Click on that, and then “Custom Audience”. From here you’ll be able to set up a campaign for people that have visited your website.

Facebook ads for restaurant marketing

Okay, now click the first option, which is “Website Traffic”.

A screen will come up with boxes to name your “Pixel”, Your pixel is the tiny bit of code that you’ll put in your website. It’s called a pixel because it puts the code into an invisible pixel that sits on your screen.

Then enter your website domain name, and then click on “Create”.

The next step requires you to pick an audience.

You can play around with different options down the road, but for now, just select “All website visitors.”

Restaurant promotion

Name your audience, and click “Create Audience”.

After that, Facebook will find your target audience, and you can choose to make a custom ad for that audience.

Here’s where the magic starts! Assuming you’ve gone through the other four steps, go into the “Audiences” Section of Ads Manager, where you’ll find your new targeted campaign. To the right of the screen, you’ll see your “Pixel ID”.

Click on that Pixel ID, and you’ll be sent to the “Events Manager”.

Click on “Manually install pixel code yourself”. All you have to do now is go to your website’s editor, and edit in HTML mode.

It sounds hard, but it’s not – Facebook will talk you through exactly how to do this.

Done! You’ve now created an ultra-targeted audience that you can follow for as long as you like, using whatever budget you like.

We’ll be publishing a free guide to running Facebook ads for restaurants in the near future, so if you’d like us to send that to you when it’s ready, scroll down and enter your email in the newsletter signup box.

Next Page: Restaurant Promotion

restaurant2

The final step in Part B is such a big deal, I felt it deserved its own page.

The promotions your restaurant chooses to run will play a massive role in your marketing, branding, and place in the community.

On the next page, we’ll look at what makes promotions successful and why many promotions, then we’ll break down 60 proven promotion strategies that have worked for restaurants around the country.

Click below to head over to page four: Restaurant Promotion

Go To Page Four