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  • Writer's picturePhilip Marchant

Online marketing for your restaurant

Your restaurant will die without a dedicated marketing strategy.

In the 2020's online marketing especially on social media are vital.

So here are a few tips to help you develop a great marketing strategy and push your restaurant out there!


Search Engine Optimisation. Have you typed in “Restaurant (your cuisine) (your area)” into Google and seen what comes up?

Remember most people will not go past the first page (i.e. the first ten results). Therefore, think about Search Engine Optimisation. Ensure your restaurant name, type of cuisine and location are mentioned throughout your website.

Keep your website updated. We don’t want to see last year’s menu! Ensure the menu and prices are up to date. Have an events/offers page update it regularly and a testimonials page. Up to date photos in a gallery page.

Give your website a personal touch. Include a message from the chef or manager, a team photograph, and a background/history of your restaurant? What’s your restaurant’s unique dishes? What dishes does your chef enjoy the most and is there a story behind his or her creations? What’s the managers or staffs’ favourites?

Have an email newsletter that your customers can subscribe to. It’s a great way of keeping in touch and sending them special offers, as well as reminders about key calendar dates. Email marketing is an extremely cost effective and quick way of targeting your customers and, if designed the right way, can have a high percentage of people opening and reading your message. Designed wrongly and your email may end up in the spam folder, never to be seen!

Promote your email newsletter. Why not add details on your receipts telling people how they can subscribe to your email newsletter? Even better, include a small flyer with the bill for the customer to fill in before they leave your restaurant. Explain to them the benefits of subscribing (after all, people aren’t going to sign-up just to be spammed!) and, if possible, offer them an incentive such as a discount or freebie on their next visit?

Birthdays. Several of the big chain restaurants ask subscribers for their birthday. Then, hey presto, a couple of weeks before the customer’s birthday, they get sent a special offer such as a free bottle of fizzy! Remember if it’s their birthday, they’ll probably splash out on a good meal and might bring a large group along, so a token gift is likely to pay itself back in the extra trade it brings you!

Broaden your reach. Allow your customers to recommend your restaurant to their friends by having a “suggest us” box on your website. Give them both an incentive by offering them each a special voucher.

Why not try video marketing? You can use this to entice people in by showing your best dishes, interviewing your chef or providing some basic recipes. Digital cameras now take good quality footage and you can host videos for free via YouTube or Tik Tok (and embed these videos into your own website and social media profiles), so it doesn’t have to be expensive!

Reach out to influential bloggers in the area, especially ones that write about dining out. Ask them to sample your menu (on the house of course!).

Many areas have dedicated social media accounts, especially on Twitter. The owners may allow promoted posts (i.e. you pay them to send out a sponsored tweet)

Social Media

Don’t just be a one-way bore on social networks – interact with your audience!

People are less likely to follow you if you’re taking up their news stream with promotional messages, so don’t be afraid to inject some humour into your posts and off-topic messages. Do a few retweets when you get mentions. The key is knowing your audience and the kind of things they’ll like.

Be topical. Make sure you remind people of the key calendar dates coming up. Know your audience well and even use things like the weather as a marketing opportunity!

Ensure you are in charge of your social media profiles. Make sure you have an “official” account and If giving access to others, ensure guidelines are drawn up to so they are clear on what’s acceptable and what’s not.

this is a typical social media study of a restaurant.

Instagram – 32 followers


Only 10 pots

No pictures of restaurant open

No pictures of food as served just glossy images!


Solved by:

staff encouraging customers to follow your page and like and post their own photos with your hashtag.

Update daily with authentic pics of food and drink, customers, events, weather, outside, related topics, quotes and inspiration messages or pictures at least 10 a day

Like other related posts and comment on them with #yourresturant name

Facebook – 42 followers


Only 3 updates in a week all glossy adverts

Solved by:

Daily updates and links, liking other pages and posts

Posting your daily specials and any special offers

Staff encouraging customers to follow your page and like, comment and post on there.

Twitter – 35 followers – only 4 likes


Only 2 posts in the last week

Solved by:

Quad daily posts

1. First thing in the morning with that days offer.

2. About 11am with daily lunch special.

3. About 5pm with evening special.

4. During the evening with picture of restaurant or food/drink, customers etc.

Liking other tweets with #yourrestaurant comments

All staff should be liking and reposting every social media post and commenting on them too.

All posts and comments should be answered within 24 hours.


Trip advisor – an account should be created and monitored and all reviews should be answered within 12 hours. Pictures should be uploaded of food, drinks, inside and outside of restaurant.

Restaurant should be promoted on the many free sites online with description, photos, location- including accurate map, links to website and social media.

Online Restaurant Reviews

Keep your eye on restaurant review websites. Restaurants can live or die on their reputation. More and more people are using online review sites when exploring new places to go, including services such as UrbanSpoon, TripAdvisor and Google. Respond to any negative feedback quickly and in a respectful way.

Register and claim your business profiles on these review sites. It’s important that you’re in control of your restaurant’s online presence and reputation, rather than having no control over what your customers may read after searching for your business. By claiming your listing, you’ll get notifications when new comments are left.

Solicit good reviews. Include links to third-party services on your website, on receipts, or by producing a special handout. Maybe you could offer people a free drink or dessert on their next visit if they leave you a review (and email you the link). Obviously you must only encourage honest reviews, but hopefully they’ll be positive!

Using your own website for reviews. Your own website should hopefully rank above the review websites in search engine results, so include some reviews from your customers directly on your own site too and have a feedback box. It’s a way of getting feedback on your business and, hopefully, will help sell your restaurant further to potential customers.

Use the best (and worst with a spin) reviews on twitter and Instagram with hashtags and links.

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