15 Tasty Restaurant Marketing Ideas to Increase Bookings

The menu is ready, the chefs are cooking, and now it's time to open your doors, and like any business that wants to thrive, you need customers to keep the lights on.

But with 88% of restaurants increasing advertising budget each year, competition in the food industry is fierce.

With new social media tools, email tips, and online marketing hacks popping up every day, you might find it hard to keep up. That's why we compiled the best restaurant marketing ideas you'll need to increase your restaurant's awareness and drive new customers to your door.

No marketing expertise needed, just the desire to put in the work.

Ready to increase your restaurant bookings?

Let's begin.

1.Create a Google My Business Profile

A Google My Business Page is the most underrated and effective ways for a business to get found on Google.

A Google My Business account allows you to create a profile where you can add your contact details, reviews, images, and directions to your website. When people search for your restaurant by name, they can easily access information below on the right-hand side like the images below:

Upserve found that 90% of customers take the time to research a restaurant before dining. And the first place they start is Google.

Google creates an online directory of businesses that sign up with a Google My Business account, allowing people to see reviews, locations, and contact details of each business effortlessly without searching.

For example, if someone is searching for an Italian restaurant in L.A, they'll see a list of restaurants listed on Google My Business.

Bright Local has an easy to follow guide showing you how to set up a Google My Business account.

2. Create a Restaurant Website or Landing Page

A website is a marketing staple for any industry. 75% of people decide on a brand's credibility using its website.

Your restaurant's website can provide more details than Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter combined.

Think of your website as an online brochure, giving your visitor a look at your menu, restaurant's story, a look at your food blog, and the chance to book a reservation.

Here are three guides you can use to get your website off the ground:

3. Host Events for Influencers

Never underestimate the power of influencer marketing, especially when it comes to food. New York restaurants have been known to use influencers to drive customers into restaurants to try new menus, event launches, and for exclusive discounts.

Food Influencer NY Foodie, an Instagram account run by a couple, gets paid to promote and endorse restaurants. Take a look at their sandwich BOGO post for JoJu Modern Viet. Sandwiches.

If you take a look at the Instagram post's high-engagement (likes and comments), most are from food lovers who are sincerely inquiring about their food.

Instead of creating an influencer campaign, host an exclusive event where only food bloggers and influencers of your choosing are invited to try your restaurant's food at a discounted price or from a special menu.

You can also ask influencers to post pictures with their honest review in exchange for an invite or a free meal.

You can also use apps like Node to find influencers and agencies to work with your restaurant.

Start by using this Essential Guide to Getting Started with Influencer Marketing.

4. Create a Tasty Email Newsletter

You might be wondering how emails can help you to increase reservations and bookings…

Well you're in for a surprise.

Did you know that emails are 40x more effective at acquiring customers than Facebook and Twitter combined?

Email marketing is a useful strategy that allows restaurants to generate more bookings even during slow seasons.

If you already have a website created, be sure to have a website pop-up installed so you can promote specials and capture online reservations either as they land on your site or as their about to exit.

Try to find ways to incentivize people to leave their emails while at your restaurant as well via feedback surveys, in store contests, and more.

42.3% of Americans subscribe to email lists to receive savings and discounts.

Newsletters that have discounts or give customers a feeling of exclusivity can be a great way of attracting more bookings and reservations on your website.

Here are 19 free email marketing templates designed to nurture, sell, onboard, and reach out.

5. Partner with Local Businesses

Step out of the kitchen and visit the surrounding business that can partner with your business. Partnering with a local company is a win-win for you both to increase sales.

Here are four local business collaboration marketing ideas to start with:

  1. You can partner with a spa and host a special "Massage and Mimosa" session or a relaxing food tasting event at the spa treatments.

  2. Reach out to B2B businesses in your area and offer catering at an affordable price for events, meetings, or corporate gatherings.

  3. If your restaurant is specialized, like in vegan or vegetarian meals, you can partner with a fitness center or gym and help each other gain customers.

  4. Create the ultimate giveaway or contest prize by pooling together services and products with local businesses. For example, a Mother's Day giveaway could be a shopping spree from a local fashion brand, free massage from the spa, and end the night with a delicious dinner for mom.

6. Offer Incentives in Exchange for an Instagram Post

Use Instagram to get more bookings and grow your following. Offer customers free dessert or special treats in exchange for Instagram posts of your food as long as they tag you in the post.

This is called UGC, user-generated content, content created by a fan or customer for or including a brand.

About 85% of consumers find visual UGC more influential than brand photos or videos. And 84% of millennials report that user-generated content has some influence on what they buy.

So as you can see, UGC isn't just for the "gram," it's also helping you to get more bookings by reaching a wider audience and building trust.

Take a look at what one customer's UGC had to say about Le Grand Restaurant.

Get started with Instagram by taking these 8 steps to master Instagram restaurant marketing like a pro.

7. Get Listed on Food Apps

Expand your restaurant's customer base by joining popular food apps. About 45% of consumers agree that mobile ordering and loyalty programs make them more likely to return to a restaurant again.

That opens up a new market where can meet your customers halfway in the digital space without much effort. Just ensure that when you sign up to use professional images and mouth-watering descriptions to get people clicking on your restaurant.

Here are the six best food apps your restaurant should join:

Seamless

Grubhub

Doordash

UberEats

Postmates

Delivery.com

Want more details on why offering food delivery is so important for your business? Here are 21 Tasty Online Ordering and Food Delivery Statistics.

8. Collaborate with Food Bloggers

Upserve found that
77% of restaurant-goers trust peer reviews rather than critic reviews. A food blogger is just as influential as a social media influencers, most are the same.

About 77% of internet users regularly read blog posts, a more in-depth look, and we can find that serious food lovers have already established a trusting relationship with popular and well-known food bloggers.

Reach out to food bloggers to review or highlight your restaurant on their blog. If you'd like to take it a step further, you can pay to have your restaurant advertised on their blog with Google ad banners and website mentions.

Gayot Restaurant Review Blog

Blogs can be a great channel to gain exposure for your brand. In fact, Demand Metric found that 60% of people cite purchasing a product after initially reading a blog post about it.

You can start by making a list of popular food bloggers or restaurant review websites you'd like to be featured in and then write an outreach email inviting them for a free meal.

How to Write the Perfect Influencer Outreach Email Template.

9. Set Up Geo-targeted Ads with Google Ads

Attract local customers to your restaurants by running some local geo-targeted ads with Google. Geo-targeting is the practice of delivering content or advertisements to customers based on their geographic location. Also known as PPC, but we won't get too technical with this one.

One of the best tools for geo-targeting is Google Ads (formerly known as AdWords). This tool allows you to set specific locations you want your ads to show.

This type of ad technique can be helpful if your restaurant relies heavily on foot traffic, deliveries, or bookings during peak hours for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Here are some helpful guides to help you get started:

10. Join Local Food Festivals & Events

It's a question that most restaurants ask themselves during holiday periods: "are food festivals worth it?"

The answer is yes!

Popular festivals attract large crowds who are open to experimenting with new restaurants.

When your restaurant presents at a food festival, you'll be able to exposure your food and brand to new and potential customers in a pop-up shop kind of manner.

Festivals also allow you to test out new items you might want to add to your menu, allowing people to give you live feedback on their thoughts, or you can see through purchases if this item was a hit or a miss with the crowd.

Festivals are also known to send people into a content frenzy on social media when they love your food, not to mention that food festivals create networking opportunities for you with other local companies.

Here are more tips on how your restaurant can leverage food festivals.

11. Host a Food Inspired Giveaway

At Wishpond, we know first hand better than anyone how powerful giveaways can be for your business.

It's not about giving away free food. A giveaway can drive people to your restaurant and increase your awareness in the local area. Not to mention, it can help boost your social media following and capture the attention of potential customers.

The key to a successful giveaway is planning, poor planning means poor results.

So how do you plan the perfect food giveaway?

Here are three key things to consider before, during, and after you start:

  • 1. Define your giveaway goals: When you set a goal, you allow yourself to see the bigger picture and create a giveaway prize or rules that align with it to maximize your success.

  • 2. Choose a delicious prize: Pick a combo or meal that customers have marked as their go-to treat whenever they stop by your restaurant. If it's popular with your current customers, it's most likely going to draw attention and engagement when compared to a lesser-known item.

  • 3. Write Clear Guidelines and Rules: The easier your rules are to follow, the more people will enter. Be sure to add a start and end date when you'll be announcing the winner, so contestants stay informed.

Use Wishpond’s Free Contest Rules Generator to do all the work for you! Get detailed contest rules in minutes.

Take a look and try one of these 29 restaurant giveaway ideas & examples you can use today.

12. Offer Delivery

63% of consumers agree that it's more convenient to get delivery than to dine out with a family.

Not everyone wants to sit down and dine, some are too busy working or want to stay home and relax.

Funny enough, as great as food apps are, Hospitality Tech found that 70% of consumers say they'd rather order directly from a restaurant, preferring that their money goes straight to the restaurant and not a third-party app.

Try offering delivery services during specific hours like lunch or dinner. Restaurant Business Online found that 60% of restaurants that offer delivery services saw a steady increase in sales during slow and peak seasons.

Your restaurant can hire a delivery person, or you can partner with a company to deliver your orders door-to-door. If you offer delivery, be sure to let customers know on your website, social media accounts, and on printed materials.

13. Monitor & Respond to Online Reviews

We may not have control over what people think about your brand, but reviews carry more weight about your restaurant than you might think.

Toasttab found that 35% of diners say that online reviews help influence their decision when choosing a place to dine. 86% of people will hesitate to purchase from a business that has negative online reviews.

You might not be able to control what people say about you, but you can monitor, respond, and make an effort to make it better.

Don't make the mistake of ignoring bad reviews about your restaurant, and they aren't going to disappear.

A bad review can lose you customers and future bookings, Upserve found that 33% of consumers refuse to go to restaurants that have fewer than four stars on their reviews.

If you see a bad review, reach out to the customer and try to offer a discount or gift certificate and an apology. Sometimes angry customers want to be head and felt like their concerns matter.

Here are ways to monitor comments about your restaurant:

  1. Set up Google alerts to know when content, reviews, or comments online are made about your restaurant.
  2. Answer comments and questions made on your social media post or direct message. Ignored customers turn into bad reviews.
  3. Review online food sites like Yelp to see what customers have to say and try to rectify the problem in return for an updated review.

Here are the 4 best ways brands can respond to haters on instagram.

14. Show off Your Awards!

Now and then, it's good to show off your restaurant's accomplishment. Awards can help to increase bookings; awards are a way to prove your restaurant's credibility.

You can also highlight when an employee that represents your restaurant wins an award, for example, "Top Bartender in the State," this can attract crowds to flock at your bar to experience your bartender's drinks.

Botanist

15. Host a Customer Appreciation Day!

Host a customer appreciation day for your customers at your restaurant. Customer Appreciation Day is an excuse to celebrate your customers and show them what they mean to you.

It's also a good way to show potential customers how well you treat your current customers, and why they should join your team!

You can choose a day, maybe the day your restaurant was founded or during a specialized holiday like "National Ice Cream Day."

Promote your customer appreciation day on social media, tasty emails, flyers, and ads leading up to the date. During the day you can offer discounts, reveal new food items you'll be adding to your menu, giveaways, gift certificates, games and more.

Remember that day is all about the customer, so make it extra special.

Summary

Here's a summary of the 15 tasty restaurant marketing ideas to increase bookings and sales:

  1. Create a Google My Business Profile
  2. Create a Restaurant Website or Landing Page
  3. Host Events for Influencers
  4. Create an Interesting Email Newsletter
  5. Partner with Local Business
  6. Offer Dessert in Exchange for an Instagram Post
  7. Get Listed on Food Apps
  8. Collaborate with Food Bloggers
  9. Set Up Geo-targeted Ads With Google
  10. Join Local Food Festivals & Events
  11. Host a Food Inspired Giveaway
  12. Offer Delivery
  13. Monitor & Respond to Online Reviews
  14. Show off Your Awards!
  15. Host a Customer Appreciation Day!

Marketing your restaurant doesn't have to be a hassle, with Wishpond's features like; marketing automation, email marketing, social media contest, and more.

Ready to Increase Sales with Social Media

Click here to learn how Wishpond can provide you with the best tools to increase sales along with these 15 marketing tips.

Written by Victoria Taylor

Victoria is a Marketing Generalist at Wishpond specializing in all things digital marketing and social media marketing. In love with blogging and Taco Tuesdays. Follow her on Twitter @vicknwsbest.