Digital Marketing for Restaurants: A Recipe for Success

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If you plan on utilizing digital marketing for restaurants, you’ll definitely need to stay updated on the best practices and strategies. We have just that for you today!

Our experts at LYFE Marketing have worked with many restaurant owners and managers as clients. And we have developed a solid strategy over time for digital marketing for restaurants.

So what is the recipe for success when it comes to digital marketing for restaurants? Most cooks don’t like to share their recipes, but this one is too good not share!

Social Media Management

What types of content should I post?

At LYFE Marketing, we’ve found the best practice for posting content comes in threes.

  • 1/3 brand posts
  • 1/3 sell posts
  • 1/3 share posts

What exactly does this entail?

Brand posts are pieces of content that have a primary objective of engagement. These posts can be anything from motivational quotes to contests and giveaways to reviews and testimonials.

Brand posts commonly ask a question or seek to interact with the audience in some way. They are relevant to your business and generally include a call to action. Such as “tag a friend,” “comment and let us know below,” or other calls for engagement.

brand post

With digital marketing for restaurants, incorporating giveaways, contests, and other interactive posts is one of the best ways to quickly increase engagement and followers on your social media pages via brand posts.

Share posts are usually blogs, articles, or pieces of external content that provide value to your audience. If you have a food blog on your restaurant’s website, we highly recommend linking your own blogs throughout your posts!

This will increase traffic to your site and help increase your rankings with Google in the long-term. Share posts help you build a relationship with your audience and build their trust, which is the ultimate goal of a successful strategy for digital marketing for restaurants.

A fantastic way to create repeat business and loyal customers is to repost content from your customers, which also encourages further brand growth.

Reposting photos your customers have taken of your food or the atmosphere in your restaurant makes for excellent share posts.

And you can tag them in the post to give back for sharing your restaurant with their followers!

Be sure to put up a sign inside your restaurant, encouraging visitors to take photos of their plates. It’s important to include your business’s Instagram username and a unique hashtag that they can use to tag the photo.

customer content

When you’re ready to repost some content, search for that unique hashtag on Instagram, and you should find any images taken in and around your restaurant by customers!

92% of people trust recommendations from other people over branded content. People trust their peers. It’s a fact. So take advantage of content that regular customers post to promote your brand.

User-generated content is typically an indicator of a trustworthy or reliable brand. If a customer is promoting your restaurant, this is equivalent to them giving you a great review!

Speaking of which, a great way to bring in new customers and entice people to visit your restaurant is by sharing positive reviews from previous customers. These also make for wonderful share posts. And they can go a long way in establishing credibility.

88% of people trust what friends,and even strangers, say on Facebook about businesses. 70% of purchases at local businesses can be tracked back to social media.

When you receive a 5-star review on Google, Facebook, Yelp, or any other place online, be sure to share that review on your social media pages!

Sharing positive reviews creates trust with potential new customers. Sharing a review that mentions a specific menu item can even lead to someone new coming into your restaurant just to try this menu item that others were raving about!

Lastly, sell posts are a hard sell to your audience, promoting your restaurant. These posts direct people to your website, landing page, or direct them to contact you via email or phone.

They usually describe some of the menu items you offer and include a call to action such as “visit our site to view our full menu,” “click here to reserve your table now,” or “call us today to book an event.”

digital marketing for restaurants

Sell posts are an excellent opportunity to show off new specials and always-available items from your menu with beautiful product photography.

How do I craft an aesthetic on my social media pages to bring in new customers?

The best way to entice new customers into your restaurant is through beautiful product photography.

When creating your strategy for digital marketing for restaurants, you’ll need to prioritize high quality photography of your menu items. Having appealing, high quality photography of your food is a must.

digital marketing for restaurants

Keep in mind that 93% of people consider an image one of the most important factors in a purchase decision! So if you want to bring in new customers, you’d better have stunning photos of your food.

People expect social media for restaurants to be updated daily. They want something new to eat every day. So they like to see new visuals from you every day as well.

Since it’s all about the creative representation of your restaurant and how you engage your audience, we’ve provided some basic techniques to apply when taking striking photos of your food:

  1. Use natural lighting
  2. Look for strong contrast
  3. Embrace white space
  4. Incorporate a background
  5. Have a single point of interest in the photo
  6. Play around with and learn your camera settings (even when using a smartphone)

high quality imagery

Check out this article to learn more about taking high-quality photos of your food when using digital marketing for restaurants.

How do I build and engage with my audience on social media? 

Your restaurant should be posting engaging content in order to build a long-term relationship with your audience.

Posts that include a call to action, such as telling the audience to tag a friend or asking the audience an open-ended question are excellent for increased engagement!

People love interacting with their favorite brands and businesses. So be sure to post a healthy variety of questions, tips, tricks, and quizzes.

engaged posts

Engaging content is most often brand posts. But more importantly, the most engaging content consists of posts such as giveaways, contests, and posts where the audience gets to interact and participate!

When building a lasting relationship with your customers, it is key that you provide value to them. This incentivizes people to follow you and stay interested in what you have to offer.

A great way to provide value is by hosting giveaways and contests! Reward your followers, while also giving them the opportunity to grow your following for you. As your followers grow online, so will orders at your restaurant.

By giving away something like a gift card to your restaurant, you can require your followers to “qualify” and enter the giveaway by completing a few quick tasks.

A typical set of rules we advise our clients to use is:

  1. Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. (This is another great way to cross-promote your other social media accounts.)
  2. “Like” this post. (This increases engagement.)
  3. Tag three friends in the comments section of this post. (This also increases the engagement & creates the opportunity for those friends to follow your page.)

Try running a giveaway for one month, and see how much your social media engagement and followers increase!

A fantastic way to further build your audience and engagement on Facebook and Instagram is to boost posts. Boosting posts increases reach and brand awareness. Which allows for greater participation with your engaging content.

digital marketing for restaurants

The best posts to boost would be giveaways and contests, so you can increase the visibility and participation of these posts, which in turn increases your engagement and follower growth!

Sell posts are also great to boost because you’re directing your audience to give you a call to make a reservation, visit your website to see the full menu, or book an event online.

Boosting these posts increases those actions, which ultimately drives more traffic to your restaurant!

Social Media Advertising

The key difference between social media management and social media advertising is that social media management and its strategies for digital marketing for restaurants primarily deal with organic growth.

Organic meaning you aren’t paying out of pocket and dipping into your marketing budget – it’s completely free!

However, with social media advertising and other strategies for digital marketing for restaurants, you will have to set aside a designated budget in order to run ads on Facebook, Instagram, or another platform.

The different types of ad campaign objectives can be overwhelming at first. However, by expanding your knowledge below, you can start utilizing ads like a pro!

Increase brand awareness and Facebook followers with Facebook page like ads.

Running a Facebook page like ad campaign is the first step in generating awareness and reach for your restaurant through paid advertising.

With page like ads, you can get your restaurant’s logo, Facebook business page, and website in front of thousands of potential customers with a brief message incentivizing them to “like” your page.

Page like ads do have specific dimensions for the graphics. They must be 1200 pixels wide by 444 pixels tall. This short landscape format is unusual, but it can allow for that high quality food photography we mentioned earlier to be put to good use!

Facebook restaurant page like ad

Page like ads also have a limit of 90 characters in the text copy. So be sure to keep the message short and sweet!

Increase reach and engagement by boosting posts

We briefly mentioned boosting posts above. Let’s review those a little more. A best practice is to always boost brand or sell posts – not share posts. This will help increase your engagement and followers, getting you the most bang for your buck.

Boosting posts does require a designated ad budget as well.

If you’re running a contest or giveaway and want to reach as many people as possible, we recommend allocating a larger budget and running the campaign for a longer period of time.

We might boost this type of post for one month with a $50-$100 budget.

On the other hand, if you’re really wanting to get people in the door with a new special or limited-time promotion, boosting this type of post is also very beneficial and will increase your reach significantly!

For these shorter promotions, we recommend boosting for 5-7 days with a $10-$20 budget.

Increase online reservations, event bookings, and website traffic with a traffic campaign

  • Are you having trouble filling seats each week?
  • Is your restaurant available for private events? 
  • Do you want more people to visit your website to view your menu and weekly specials?

If you answered “yes” to any of these, you should incorporate traffic ads into your digital marketing for restaurants strategy.

Running traffic ads on Facebook and Instagram can direct people to your website with a strong call to action of “Visit our website to see our full menu and weekly specials” or “Visit our website to book your next event today!”

We do recommend a minimum budget of $150 per month to run your traffic ads because we’ve seen this as the basis for a successful traffic campaign.

However, it does work as a good-better-best model, where:

  • $150/month is good
  • $300/month is better
  • $500/month is best

This strategy has worked very well for our clients!

Increase call-in reservations, menu views, and overall brand awareness with a reach or brand awareness campaign

Another type of paid promotion to increase overall reach or brand awareness for your restaurant is, simply put, a reach or brand awareness campaign.

As easily assumed, a reach campaign simply shows your ad to the maximum number of people.

digital marketing for restaurants

Around 61% of people need to see something 2 to 3 times on social media before they choose to make a purchase or visit the restaurant.

Reach ads are best for calls to action such as:

  • “Get Directions” to your location
  • “Call Now” to get in contact with your restaurant, for questions or reservations
  • “View Menu” to see what food items and drinks your restaurant has to offer

Brand awareness ads are very similar. But they take it one step further in intent by reaching people more likely to pay attention to your ads thus increasing awareness for your brand.

Where reach ads are solely about the highest numbers and focus on quantity. Brand awareness ads hone in on the quality prospects who would truly be interested in visiting your restaurant.

Use retargeting to tie all your advertising efforts together

When you initially launch any Facebook advertising campaign, Facebook’s Ads Manager will ask you to install the Facebook tracking pixel onto your website. This is crucial to tracking your website visitors and eventually retargeting them.

Listen to this short video that explains the Facebook pixel.

Retargeting is sending ads to people who may have visited your website and were tracked with that tracking pixel. So Facebook can take that data and build a custom audience to show your retargeting ads to.

digital marketing for restaurants

Facebook can also create a custom audience of people who have engaged with any of your posts, ads, or business page in general. This includes people who have liked, commented, or shared your posts, ads, or page.

The purpose of retargeting is to show these previous visitors a new, fresh ad they haven’t seen before. Although they are now familiar with your brand, retargeting helps to convert them into customers.


Another important portion of our digital marketing for restaurants strategy breakdown is blogging. When it comes to blogging, it’s best practice to create weekly or bi-monthly blogs on your website that provide value to your audience.

You see, creating a blog for your website is a great way to entice new customers. And you shouldn’t worry about the topics that you can tackle. You can go from an exclusive peek at your kitchen, money saving tips on their next visit at your restaurant, great new food combos to try or even some simple recipes.

For your restaurant’s website, here are some more blog topics could include:

  • a healthy variety of recipes
  • featured dishes from your menu
  • tips & tricks in the kitchen
  • updates on recent happenings in your restaurant
  • customer stories when they visited your restaurant
  • frequently asked questions of your customers
  • employee feature stories
  • top (number) lists of anything related to restaurant/food industry

Your audience will be interested in any of these topics. And you’ll increase your time on site by writing these blogs.

When people take time to stop and read your blog, they are spending more time than they typically would on your website. This tells search engines that your website is relevant and useful. Which leads to your restaurant ranking higher in search results!

Email Marketing

Last but certainly not least, email marketing also plays a significant role in our strategy for digital marketing for restaurants. Sending email subscribers weekly emails such as contests, giveaways, weekly specials, discounts, upcoming events, and exclusive updates can greatly benefit your restaurant!

digital marketing for restaurants

Having a loyalty or rewards program is a great way to increase your restaurant’s revenue and repeat sales. One way to get customers into your loyalty program is to obtain customer emails by incentivizing them with deals and special offers.

You can easily do this through a website pop-up or your social media campaign. Loyalty programs encourage customers to keep coming back to get that free dessert or coupon. Once you build up your email list, you can begin crafting an email marketing campaign to include:

  • Current specials – whether these change daily or weekly, let your customers know of a different special in each email you send, so you can capture their attention and draw them back in!
  • Upcoming events – if you’re planning on doing a special menu or open event for a holiday or your restaurant’s anniversary, let your most loyal customers know first!
  • Important updates – if you plan on launching a seasonal menu item or having a special guest in the restaurant, tell the customers who signed up for your email list first.
  • Exclusive discounts and rewards – let these loyal customers know how much you appreciate them by offering a discount here and there, such as 10% off your next bill or a free dessert/appetizer with their next purchase of an entrée.
  • Latest blog posts – send email subscribers a snippet of your latest blog posts that provides value to them, such as recipes, tips & tricks in the kitchen, and more.

Promoting your restaurant through email marketing is the best way to increase customer loyalty and keep their business for years to come.

By implementing the ideas above, you can grow your email list and draw your customers back in on a weekly basis, if you craft your campaign just right!


Although building a successful strategy for digital marketing for restaurants can seem daunting at first, your restaurant will thank you for the new customers and increased awareness!

If you simply don’t have the time to implement the tactics we listed above, reach out to us!

LYFE Marketing has worked with many restaurant clients, and we have gained the experience needed through trial and error to perfect your restaurant’s digital marketing campaign. Take the weight off your shoulders, and focus on what you do best: satisfying hungry customers with delicious food!

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