How to Create an Online Marketing Strategy for your Restaurant

Restaurant meals have always been discretionary purchases, so marketing has always been a crucial part of restaurant management. Fortunately, you can create and implement an effective restaurant marketing plan on a small budget.

Square For Restaurants

All-in-one restaurant POS system

What is marketing?

Marketing is the process of building a relationship with your customers. Advertising will be a key component of an effective marketing plan, along with branding, competitor analysis and customer relationship management.

The mechanics of marketing campaigns

Marketing activities are often described in terms of campaigns – a set of activities intended to reach a strategic objective. Marketing campaigns fall into one of three main categories: customer acquisition, customer retention and target conversion.

Each category can then be split into sub-categories. Widely-used marketing campaigns include brand awareness/rebranding campaigns, search engine marketing campaigns, social media marketing campaigns, referral marketing campaigns and influencer marketing campaigns.

All successful marketing campaigns have four key elements in common: objective, value proposition, target audience and clear message. For them to succeed and work well together, each element must be clearly defined and work cohesively with the other elements.

Measuring the success of a marketing plan for restaurant

Whenever you create a marketing plan for a restaurant, you need to define ways to measure its success. You may like to look at industry benchmarks, but it can be hard to get relevant comparable data. It can be better to measure your own metrics, which will allow you to build up a picture of your marketing performance over time.

What is email marketing?

Email marketing is about using emails to reach customers and targets. Thanks to solutions like email marketing software, marketers can generate bulk emails that appear personalised for the individual customer.

Why invest in email marketing for a restaurant business?

Post-GDPR, restaurants (and all businesses, in fact) should only be sending marketing emails to customers who’ve given consent to receive them. If customers have given their consent to receive marketing emails, they are highly engaged with your business. This makes them hugely valuable and definitely worth cultivating.

When it comes to email marketing, restaurants have a huge opportunity to make their (potentially) best customers feel special. You can reach out to them with exclusive content and offers. What’s more, you can make these time-limited to create a sense of urgency.

Best practices in email marketing for your restaurant business

The three key best practices for email marketing are: respect GDPR, respect technology and respect your customers’ time.

Respect GDPR

Make sure you have consent to send emails and always include an unsubscribe option.

Respect technology

Ask your customers to safelist your domain and check their spam folders if they don’t see your messages. Keep your mailing lists as compact as possible, to reduce the likelihood of messages being flagged as spam. Be careful with your subject lines and content – make sure there’s nothing that might trigger a content flag.

Respect your customers’ time

Keep subject lines and content succinct and engaging. Keep subject lines to 40 characters or less, and remember that most emails will be viewed on mobile devices so keep paragraphs short.

The better you segment your marketing emails, the more relevant and engaging you can make them. We’d advise partnering your email marketing software with Square Customer Directory to make your customer experience more personalised and streamlined.

What is online marketing?

Online marketing is any form of marketing undertaken over the internet rather than by email or in the real world. It covers a huge range of options including social media marketing, guest posting and influencer outreach.

Why invest in online marketing for your restaurant business?

You cannot afford to ignore online marketing. Restaurants must realise that the internet is now the food and beverage sector’s main channel for acquiring new customers. It can also play a key role in retaining existing ones.

Best practices in online marketing for your restaurant business

With online marketing, GDPR is unlikely to be an issue, nor is technology, but you still need to understand the rules (and etiquette) of any platform or service you use. The golden rule of effective online marketing is to respect your customers’ time.

How to create engaging online marketing campaigns

The way to create engaging online marketing campaigns is to focus on a small number of channels and work on becoming an expert at using them. For most restaurant marketing campaigns, this will mean search engine marketing, plus social media marketing, and influencer marketing.

In each case, look for options that fit your restaurant perfectly. For example, your search engine marketing should generally target longer-tail keywords – these are more descriptive and more likely to result in your adverts seen by relevant customers in buying mode.

Similarly, for social media marketing, focus on one or two platforms. Produce your best content for them and make a point of engaging with other users. If you’re in a hurry to promote your brand, work with influencers, but be careful to choose influencers who are a good fit for your business. Look at their content, attitude and engagement. These are far more important than their follower/subscriber count.

The importance of the call to action

Make sure any marketing communication has an effective call to action. To encourage customers to make a booking or purchase, use Square Online for Restaurants. It’s a simple, frictionless way for customers to make online food orders for delivery, pickup or contactless in-person dining.

Square For Restaurants

All-in-one restaurant POS system