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Guide For Digital Marketing For Restaurants

Digital marketing for restaurants is a perfect combination to get more exposure for your new restaurant, cafe, or fast food outlet. Find out how. Restaurants are one of the businesses that can take great advantage of digital marketing and social media marketing. Being in the service industry requires restaurants to maintain impeccable customer service and go the extra mile to fulfill it. Many restaurants are doing the job of digital marketing for restaurants perfectly. They are getting huge exposure and enhancing their brand.

Guide For Digital Marketing For Restaurants

The strategy for digital marketing for restaurants is very cost-effective and generates great results. A good social media marketing strategy for a restaurant can work wonders.

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There are also restaurant listings and food delivery apps. Restaurants can create a compelling listing with the help of professionals to make the most of it. With the help of these apps, people can either order online or make reservations.

These apps have become a big chunk of business for restaurants and eateries. Some of these apps are Zomato, Swiggy, and FoodPanda. Most customers look for restaurants over these apps today.

Managing a restaurant is a complicated task. Running a successful restaurant takes a lot of effort and the right business and marketing decisions. Places to eat are popping up everywhere. People in India are starting to eat out more often and there are many choices for them.

There are more than 30,000 restaurants in Mumbai alone. This means you can eat out at different restaurants every evening for your whole life without visiting the same restaurant again. And there more restaurants opening up every day.

When asked about how do restaurants differentiate themselves under so much competition, they simply respond -by the taste of their food. But they fail to understand one thing. How do they attract a customer who has never been there before?

That’s where marketing comes into play. Your great food is a prerequisite to a successful food business, but it is not enough. To attract customers to try your food, you need an effective marketing plan.

But there are tried and tested ways through which restaurants can do digital marketing and increase their sales. Digital marketing is important because the internet has become the channel that influences the purchasing decisions of a majority of people these days.

Many people look online before deciding where to eat out or get food delivery. Through apps, they can know the location, reviews of food and service, price, and so on. During this stage, restaurants need to grab the opportunity.

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What is digital marketing for restaurants?

Digital marketing is simply a part of the overall marketing efforts. The marketing is done with the help of digital channels like search engines, social media platforms, e-mail, and others.

The most popular search engine is Google. Some important social media platforms especially beneficial to restaurants are Facebook and Instagram and to some extent Twitter.

We can either attract customers through organic marketing as well as paid marketing. Organic marketing is when we market by producing helpful content for the audience and attract customers naturally. Paid marketing or sponsored marketing is when we pay an ad mediation network to display our ads.

Both types of digital marketing have their own merits and both are necessary.

Digital marketing helps restaurants build their identity. A powerful online presence is important to build this identity. You can promote your food and experiences through online marketing. You can also tell a brand story to differentiate yourself from other restaurants.

Digital marketing also helps build customer loyalty. Social media is essentially helpful in this aspect as it helps engage with the customers online. Social media is one of the most important tools for brand engagement today.

You can share appealing and engaging content that is shared. This will help you tell stories and get likes and comments on your posts. A large following will also help gain visibility on social media platforms.

Fortunately, food is a thing that is visually appealing too, in addition to tasting good. Visual appeal can be very successfully marketed with the help of professionally taken photographs. You can also promote the limited edition menu and recipes for delicious food to make at home.

New and engaging content will make more users attracted to your posts and your restaurant will start developing its own identity. You can also let users submit content that can be promoted through your page, which will generate more buzz.

You can also list your restaurant or food outlet on restaurant listing and food delivery apps. The listing must contain all the updated information like your location, opening hours, menu items, prices, and contact information.

You can also think about investing in developing a website for your restaurant that can further have more detailed information as well as lots of other relevant content for users. You can also use the website to tell a story about the brand and make your website a valuable asset of your strategy for digital marketing for restaurants.

Through your website, you can also handle feedback and customer communication. Reviews are a big influence on people’s decisions. they are a crucial factor when deciding between many choices.

Now let us look at some major ways through which restaurants can formulate a strategy for digital marketing.

Social media

One of the common posts that can increase engagement over social media is brand posts. These posts have only one purpose-engagement. Brand posts can be anything from written content, reviews, contests, quotes, photos of food items, etc.

Brand posts almost always include a ‘call to action’ like ‘tag a friend’, ‘comment on what you think’ or ‘best comments will get a chance to feature’.

Contests and giveaways are a popular way of engaging the audience, especially the youth. You can also share blog posts from your website. This will ultimately draw users to your website. These blog articles can be anything from recipes, food buying tips, how to prepare spices, etc.

Drawing users to your website and increasing traffic will also lead to search engines ranking your website higher in the search results.

Success on social media requires regular posting. On Instagram, you need to post daily engaging content. This will increase your visibility to users who are not yet your followers.

Another tip is to optimize your post for hashtags. Hashtags are a quick way to gain increased and relevant exposure for individual posts. This is a great way to increase followers.

There is a great tip for photo posts for restaurant pages. Hire a professional photographer to take pictures. Instagram is a visual medium. You can take full advantage of the platform only if the photograph is visually appealing.

You can also repost content from your customers. When customers have a great experience, they want to tell other people about it. And one of the best ways to do that is a social media post.

You can follow the hashtag of your restaurant and comment on these posts from the users. This does not even require too much effort as you can simply sort by hashtags. You can also repost those photos and tag the customer who posted them.

To promote customers to use your hashtag, you have to notify them. Put placards on the table or any sign inside the restaurant to tell them the hashtag to use if they post a photo.

You can also organize a contest where lucky winners, who post great photos by using the unique hashtag of your restaurant, would get a free dessert or something like that. This is a great strategy in digital marketing for restaurants.

Reposting content from other users has a great benefit. Most people trust communication from other people rather than a brand ad. When others promote a brand, that is evidence of its quality. It builds trust in the brand and increases reliability.

You can also optimize your listing on google my business, Facebook, and food delivery apps. Customers provide reviews on these platforms so it is important to moderate and manage your presence on these platforms.

Social media accounts of your restaurant can also be used to post aesthetically pleasing photos that are shared. You must hire a professional photographer. Do not use amateur self-clicked photographs.

Instagram is a great platform for this. You can post regular high-quality photos of dishes from your menu. You can also promote special menu items by this method. The posts must be appealing and generate engagement. This will eventually increase brand exposure.

Some tips for taking great pictures are:

  • Use ample and natural lighting
  • Incorporate white space. With the help of plates or the table, etc.
  • Aim for contrast in the photos
  • The focus must be on a single item
  • Photos must be of high quality
  • Hire a professional photographer who specializes in restaurant branding

There are some other ways of using social media for digital marketing for restaurants too.

  • When you post content on social media, use proper unique hashtags.
  • The posts must include a call-to-action such as ‘order now’, or ‘try today’, ‘follow us on Facebook, etc.
  • You can also ask fun questions, provide tips, or quizzes to generate more engagement in the form of comments. People would love to comment or share funny and interesting content.
  • Promote small contests weekly or regularly. Reward the followers for posting the best comment or sharing the posts. This will help you gain followers. More followers mean more brand value.
  • Tag customers and ask them to tag their friends. This will increase exposure.

Advertising on social media

Social media following takes time to increase. If your social media strategy in digital marketing for restaurants only consists of bringing traffic organically, it will take a lot of time to bear any fruit.

But there is a great alternative. All social media platforms have inbuilt tools for paid advertising. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, also provide various web analytic tools. These tools can help the advertiser manage their advertising campaign.

Social media ads provide instantaneous results. You can promote posts or directly post ads. You can choose various demographics based on age, location, likes, buying profile, etc. This way you can design ads for different kinds of customers and target them separately.

For example, you can promote fast food to the youth, promote health fruit juices or salads to the fitness conscious, and foods with medicinal properties to the older demographic.

For the restaurants that have newly started a social media account, paid ads are the best way to increase exposure. There are different types of ads with their own merits.

Facebook ads are a great way to advertise on Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger from the same tools. You can learn how to use Facebook ads here.

With social media ads, you can also do retargeting advertising. This is a cost-effective way of converting users into customers who are already on the fence about buying your product.

Through Facebook ads, you can promote online orders or call-in reservations at your restaurant. You can also promote your special menu for a limited time. This is a tried and tested strategy for digital marketing for restaurants.

E-mail marketing

E-mail marketing should not be considered less important.  It is one of the most effective ways of digital marketing for restaurants. E-mails can also be specifically customized for different audiences.

E-mails can be used to communicate the summary of the order if the customer has ordered online. It can be used to send the invoice. It can also be used to ask for reviews and feedback.

With the help of e-mail, restaurants can notify customers of new items on their menu or new promotional offers.

If the customer has booked a reservation, e-mail can be used as correspondence to deliver details about the reservations or other important information that the customer should know. They may also be notified of the specials beforehand.

E-mails can also be used to send past customers greetings on festivals and inform them about offers during various seasons. This must only be done after the customer has approved for receiving promotional emails from the restaurant.

Many businesses consider e-mail marketing a waste of time and resources. They believe most of the emails go to the spam folder and most emails are not even opened by customers.

But this is a misconception. E-mail marketing gives the highest return on investment (ROI) out of all digital marketing methods. The ROI of e-mail subscriptions and newsletters is at least 3-4 times that of traditional marketing channels like print and banner ads.

Besides TV is not great media for marketing for restaurants that operate locally. And print is of no use for restaurants because there is a possibility that more guests may arrive than the capacity of the restaurant.

They will have to return and this would also mean a loss in reputation and a waste of marketing budget. Print ads may work for online orders. But digital advertising for restaurants works for all kinds of business.

However, e-mails must be written by an expert copywriter. It is important to optimize the various sections of the e-mail like the subject, structure, and writing style so the reader feels compelled to read them and encourage to take action.

E-mail marketing can be done on a very low budget. All you need is an e-mail list. You may also need a writer that understands the marketing goals of the hotel and can write promotional content that aligns with those goals.

There are a few points to remember when writing a promotional e-mail:

  • Write a catchy subject that generates curiosity.
  • Write to the target audience you have specified.
  • Present the most important information early on.
  • Use appealing images and graphics inside the mail.
  • Use short sentences and provide information in points.
  • Provide value to the reader.
  • Always optimize your e-mails for mobile browsing.
  • You can use various tools to design and send your e-mail at regular intervals.

Influencer marketing

The people who have a huge following on social media are called influencers. This is because many people listen to their opinions in their purchasing behavior and are ‘influenced’ by the expertise of the influencer.

Restaurants can leverage the popularity of social media influencers to generate exposure and promotion.

Influencer’s abilities in creating engaging and valuable content can be utilized to influence the buying behavior of their followers. The restaurants can make use of this fact as part of their digital marketing strategy.

An influencer with a food niche is trusted among their followers for restaurant and food advice. They have a good reputation owing to their experience and knowledge in the field.

There is another reason for the popularity and the power of influencers. This is because ads are everywhere today, and most people have become immune to the claims of any advertisement because people know it’s a promotion.

On the other hand, an influencer is accountable to their followers. If they give bad advice they may face backlash.

If your marketing budget is small, and you cannot afford big influencers, you can hire micro-influencers. Micro-influencers are people with a smaller following than big influencers. This is why they charge less. You can hire various micro-influencers over time as part of your long-term digital marketing for restaurant strategy.

Content marketing

This is a good way of getting organic traffic via search engines. You can use your restaurant website to create a blog to write interesting content.

This content must be in demand and be helpful to the readers. It is important to do keyword research first as writing bout just any topic would be useless and waste time.

The good principle is to find the common space between what you are an expert at and what people want. This is a good strategy for not just blogs but any product you offer.

You can write regular blogs on topics related to food and restaurants. Some of the ideas for topics are:

  • New and improved recipes
  • Special dishes from the menu
  • Kitchen tips
  • News about your restaurant
  • Interesting customer stories
  • Employee stories
  • Events in your restaurant
  • Awards or recognition for your restaurant
  • New developments in the food industry

You can promote these blog posts on your social media platforms. This will also create content for your social media and also bring customers to your blog and website.

Writing informative and expert content makes the customers trust you more. Especially in the service industry, where you need to walk a step more to satisfy the customer.

Good and helpful content will help increase the ranking of your website on the search engine. This will help you get more organic traffic and increase your brand strength.


Digital marketing for restaurants is a great fit for their marketing needs and requirements. Restaurants neither have a huge marketing budget nor have the capacity to sit too many guests who come as a result of widespread marketing.

Digital marketing has great benefits:

  • It is cost-effective
  • It has a high return on investment
  • It can be done creatively
  • It can be done with a small team
  • It helps take advantage of the expanding online market

The way people look for new restaurants has changed dramatically since the popularity of high-speed internet. More people look for new places to eat online on various apps like Zomato and Swiggy. These services have also become popular in small towns in India. People are also getting more food delivery and food takeout.

Smartphones are getting popular everywhere in India. More and more people are becoming tech-savvy.

Smartphones are already being used for many activities like shopping, banking, learning, entertainment, etc. that were not thought possible a decade ago.

Restaurants should be proactive and make the right move now by building an effective online presence with the help of these digital marketing techniques for hotels.

If you are an owner of a restaurant, you can also perform digital marketing by learning from a digital marketing course from IIM SKILLS.

For more information, visit our digital marketing blog.

Gaurav is a Content Writer at IIM Skills. He has a B.Tech. degree but then he switched to the creative side by doing his master's in advertising and public relations. Gaurav is also a part-time blogger and graphic designer currently living in Mumbai

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