Digital Marketing for Restaurants: A Complete Guide

Digital Marketing for Restaurants: A Complete Guide

In an increasingly competitive industry dealing with cost-of-living pressures, digital marketing has never been more important for restaurants. With customers tightening their wallets and being more selective about where they dine, your digital marketing strategies can be the factor that distinguishes you from the crowd. 

With the help of various digital marketing strategies, you can improve the way you: 

  • Build your brand 
  • Enhance your business’ visibility
  • Connect with your customers 
  • Develop long-lasting relationships  

Read on for all the information you need for successful restaurant digital marketing.

Close up of person scrolling restaurant social media profile

5 types of digital marketing for restaurants

With the world changing at pace, the types of marketing available for restaurants have followed suit. We know time is precious for restauranteurs. That’s why we’ve hand-picked five excellent types of digital marketing for restaurants below to help you attract diners and grow your table bookings.

  • Social media marketing

Customers rely heavily on social media platforms to research, share recommendations and connect with restaurants before they visit. With social media and mobile usage becoming increasingly prevalent, restaurants need to understand how to harness these tools to connect with their diners, grow their following and maximise reach.

Having a social media presence across apps like Facebook, Instagram and TikTok is necessary. This can be achieved through paid advertising and creating your own content (which you can also pay to promote).

It’s important to engage your audience meaningfully. Think about tailoring your message based on demographic details like age, occupation, income and stage of life. Social media analytics can help you learn this information about your audience.

Mixing up the types of content you post allows you to A/B test and see what resonates most with your audience. Is it behind-the-scenes videos they’re after? Or profiles on the staff? Do they want recipe content to recreate at home? Understanding this will help you stay focused in your marketing efforts. 

Here are some additional best practices when it comes to creating engaging content: 

    • Video: Video is considered the most engaging social media format. It gives you the perfect opportunity to give diners a feel for the interiors, menu and ambience before visiting. They’re also a great way to convey your brand’s tone and personality.
    • Timing: When you post your content is almost as important as what you post. A lot of social media management platforms offer analytics that help you determine your audience’s highest engagement periods across different platforms. Typically, mid-morning, lunchtime and early evening are high-traffic times when people commute or kill time on their phones. 
    • Reshare User-Generated Content: If diners post about their positive experience at your venue, resharing can help build trust and credibility.
    • Paid advertising: Paid advertising is a great shortcut to getting your restaurant in front of potential customers. Tailor your ad to appear to your target customer by employing location-based, interest-based or demographic-based targeting - or a combination of all three. 

Engagements in the form of likes and shares can easily translate into bookings for your restaurant - particularly if your social media accounts are integrated with booking systems like ResDiary.

  • Email marketing

Email marketing can produce an ROI of over $36 for every $1 spent in Australia and around £38 for every £1 spent in the UK. While this isn’t specific to the hospitality industry, it shows the effectiveness of EDMs as a digital marketing strategy. Start by building up your email database. Some simple ways restaurants can do this are by:

  • Including an opt-in box when customers place a reservation, order online or follow your socials.

  • Promoting your newsletter in-venue or on social media, making sure you highlight incentives like exclusive deals or recipe content.

  • Reminding diners of your newsletter through follow-up emails like reservation confirmations and order receipts. Include a clear call-to-action (CTA) and link to sign-up.

  • Host giveaways and competitions to create a value exchange.

While you have complete creative freedom with your email newsletters, there are some best practices to ensure what you’re putting out there is received well and engaged with. These strategies include:

  • Subject: Make your subject noteworthy by keeping it short and sweet.

  • Personalise your content: Use segmentation strategies to deliver highly targeted content. For example, you can tell former diners that you miss them, and offer them a discount if they return.

  • Timing: Open rates for emails are generally higher on Tuesdays and Fridays between 2pm, 5pm and 8pm.

  • Take advantage of integrations: ResDiary offers email marketing integrations that allow you to manage your customer database, create promotions and campaigns, and send marketing emails with ease. You can also track your performance in our analytics suite or partner your table booking system with a CRM system. Plus, our table management system helps you manage all the new reservations in one place when they arrive.

Discover how easy it is to create, promote, and sell special offers with ResDiary!


  • Search engine optimisation

You’ve likely made a website or a Google Business Profile for your restaurant. Now you need to make sure it’s discoverable on Search Engines like Google. 

According to Forbes, there are over one billion searches for restaurants per month. In light of this, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a vital digital marketing strategy that can increase your restaurant’s brand presence on Google. It’s the perfect way to attract local clientele.

External links pointing to your website are an important ranking factor in Google. It demonstrates that your website is reputable and trustworthy. A quick way you can secure these links for your website is through online business directories. In many cases, you can manually submit your own business’ information to these directories.

Research suggests that the average person’s attention span online is 8 seconds. If your website is hard to navigate and customers can’t find the information they’re searching for, you’ll lose the chance to secure a booking. Ensure your website is user-friendly, with easily accessible and well-organised information.

For example, keep load times low and utilise technology like booking widgets to allow the diner to book your restaurant directly from Search or Maps.

With ResDiary, you can capture bookings from multiple channels, like Facebook, Instagram, and Reserve with Google!

  • SMS marketing

SMS marketing can help increase engagement and loyalty and ultimately drive sales for a restaurant. But reaching diners in a sea of competition is a major challenge for business owners. Here are some top tips for SMS marketing:

    • Segment your subscribers: Segmenting your audience pool by demographic, frequency of visit, or general preferences will help you speak to them in a more personal way. This helps to boost engagement with more relevant messaging.
    • Personalise your messages: If you can, go one step further by addressing them by name to make them feel valued.
    • Keep your messages short: SMS messages should be brief and clear. You want to drive home a particular outcome and make it easy for your customer to convert.
    • Timing: Try to send your SMS messages during trading hours, not early in the morning or late at night. Don’t bombard your diners with messaging too frequently either.
    • Invest in integrations: Silverstreet and Resdiary combine SMS messaging with restaurant booking systems to automate your SMS messaging process.

  • Customer loyalty programs

Deloitte found that 47% of restaurant loyalty members used their membership several times a month while 32% did so several times a week. With the cost of living on the rise, customers are looking for loyalty programs that deliver great value. A good customer loyalty program has the power to help you protect your existing customer base and enhance your market share.

You can build your customer loyalty programs by offering incentives like: 

  • Members-only promotions 
  • Priority service
  • Tiered loyalty programs 
  • Birthday offers 

These can help you with getting the word out and driving retention and loyalty. 

Underlying all these tactics, you want to make things as easy and convenient for your diner as possible. Minimise barriers to entry and streamline processes for your customers.

Additionally, digitising your loyalty programs helps you collect data on customers. This makes it easier for your customers to cash in their regards. They can also be easily integrated with other digital functions of your business like online ordering. 

Grow your restaurant with ResDiary

With so many restaurants fragmenting the market these days, your digital marketing strategy will help to put your restaurant on the map. While there are countless options to choose from, there are ways to simplify the decision-making process and streamline your operations so that you have more time to focus on the customer experience. 

ResDiary’s restaurant booking system, email marketing tools and customer relationship management integrations not only allow you to manage your reservations but also enhance your digital marketing strategies. Book a demo today to learn more about how we can bolster your venue.