Digital marketing for restaurants has never been more important. Every industry today needs digital marketing but it’s especially vital in the hospitality sector. As technology has evolved and consumer habits have changed, digital marketing has changed too, with new platforms and techniques emerging all the time. In this article, you’ll discover the secrets of digital marketing and how it can work for your restaurant business.

Quick Menu

What Is the Restaurant Industry?

The restaurant industry is part of the wider hospitality industry. It’s one of the largest sectors. The restaurant industry consists of businesses concerned with offering food services, specifically for consumers eating on the premises. The industry covers various businesses, from fast food restaurants and diners to fine dining and gourmet restaurants. No matter what type of food a restaurant serves or the clientele it hopes to attract, digital marketing is increasingly important.

Even small pop-up cafés need to stay on top of the restaurant digital marketing trend. A restaurant, meaning any business that serves food to customers for consumption on-site, relies to a great extent on its reputation and on potential customers knowing where to find it. With digital marketing, restaurant businesses can reach more customers and manage their reputations more effectively. To learn more, read “Restaurant Industry: Overview, Types, Examples and More”.

Why Is It Important to Follow Restaurant Marketing Trends?

Digital marketing for restaurants has never been more critical. After the dark days of the pandemic, the demand for in-person services is on the rise again. On the other hand, new challenges have emerged: staffing shortages are affecting the hospitality industry, while supply chain disruption and rising costs are hitting the restaurant industry especially hard. In this dynamic landscape, restaurateurs are finding new and innovative ways to market their services.

More and more businesses are choosing to go online in response to growing consumer confidence in, and demand for, mobile and web-based services. As well as making it easier for customers to discover restaurants they’ll love, this also means that restaurant businesses can garner essential data about their customers and the industry at large. Staying on top of current restaurant marketing trends is more vital than ever. It’s also much easier. Social media marketing, video marketing, and other new approaches can boost revenue and grow your business fast.

Digital Marketing for Restaurants Trends in 2023

This section will uncover some of today’s restaurant business’s most important digital marketing trends.

Social Media Marketing

Social media has transformed the marketing landscape. Digital marketing for restaurants and social media are the perfect match. By developing a positive and responsive relationship with your customer base, you can win many more customers than a business that doesn’t. According to Forbes magazine, 71 per cent of those polled would recommend a restaurant with an active and engaged social media presence. Ideally, you should set up pages for all of your locations on the biggest social media platforms: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube, etc.

That way, you can provide information, show your restaurant off to its best advantage, and give your customers a space to leave feedback. Customers will certainly be discussing your restaurant, the food, the service and every detail of their experience on their own social media accounts. Potential future customers will be looking at the images they post and reading their comments. Maintaining an active social media presence allows you to control your restaurant’s reputation.

Video: How restaurants can create content for TIK TOK

Your Website & SEO

Digital marketing for restaurants requires a good grasp of the principles of search engine optimisation (SEO). When your guests search for restaurants like yours in the area, you must ensure that your business is on the front page. As well as ensuring that your main webpage is engaging and provides value in the form of helpful information about your restaurant, it would help if you also made sure that it is evident to search engines and will show up near the top of the search results as possible.

While populating your website with valuable menus, times, and booking details and ensuring a cohesive brand identity, you must also make your website content search-friendly. Research the keyword phrases your guests will be looking for and include these in your site’s text and image identification. Provide content that’s fresh, original, entertaining and compelling for visitors. Local directories that can link to your page will also boost rankings.

Google Business Presence

Google is still the king of search engines. Digital marketing for restaurants means harnessing the power of Google to develop your visibility online. This is particularly important for local businesses that don’t have the kind of brand recognition that national chains enjoy. Google offers a free tool called My Business that can help with this. You’ll need to register your business website with Google, then use My Business to add your restaurant’s location, hours of operation and other details that customers will need.

You can also add photos and images. Crucially, your restaurant will also appear on Google Maps when customers look at your area. Google My Business also lets customers leave reviews and comments, allowing you to receive feedback and engage with your guests. Optimising Google My Business is a fast and simple way to ensure that as many potential guests know about it as possible.

Video: How To Optimize Your Restaurant’s Google Business Profile

Email Marketing

Don’t underestimate the power of old-school email in restaurant digital marketing. Email marketing can effectively reach new customers and retain existing ones. The key is personalising your marketing emails so they’re relevant to the recipient. Nobody likes to receive generic bulk emails that aren’t relevant to their interests or needs. Conversely, most people are happy to get news and offers that are useful to them. If a customer has previously ordered pizza at your restaurant, they might be interested in special deals on pizza.

You can also set up your system to send messages to individual customers on their birthdays, anniversaries or other important dates. A CRM (customer relationship management) system enables you to collect information about your guests — names, contact details, what they’ve ordered in the past, their preferences, etc. This lets you analyse and classify customer segments to fine-tune your email campaigns.

Customer Loyalty Programmes

In the restaurant industry, it’s not enough to attract new customers. You need to retain existing customers as well. If you can encourage customers to keep coming back for more, you won’t need to reach as many new customers to attain the same value over time. Because they target participants who have already opted in by dining at your restaurant, customer loyalty programmes are powerful tools in digital marketing for restaurants.

You can convert one-time visitors into repeat customers, occasional visitors to frequent visitors, and boost your per-person average spend. Using information provided by the customer, you can reach them with offers, coupons and updates on your menu. By engaging with your guests and encouraging them to come back, you can improve your bottom line and ensure a more stable revenue stream. In place of old-school loyalty cards, you can use a loyalty app or even integrate your loyalty programme into restaurant POS systems.

Online Ordering

Digital restaurant marketing can fail if you don’t give your customers a quick and easy way to act on the information they receive about your restaurant. Online ordering is increasingly vital in this digital age. Even if you don’t deliver food, online ordering lets customers select food for pick-up or plan their orders before they arrive at your premises. Letting customers order food through their phones from their tables saves time and reduces errors and disappointment.

Today’s customers want a seamless experience with an easy-to-use interface. There should be a detailed breakdown of your restaurant’s delivery service and an order button that’s easy to see. Customers will appreciate it if you have a simple order page where they can add selected items to an online cart, apply coupon codes or other discounts, and check out with their preferred payment method.

Video: Online Ordering Demo

QR Menus

QR codes are black-and-white squares that encode digital information. While they’re less popular than they once were, QR codes remain an essential tool in digital marketing for restaurants. An entire menu and other information can be encoded into a QR code. Alternatively, they can encode a URL to read a menu online. Diners can scan these codes with their mobile phones, immediately open up a menu, and see what’s on offer.

They’re a great option for marketing as they can be displayed anywhere. QR codes can also be ideal for restaurants that get busy and need to provide speedy service without overworking employees. QR menus also make ideal tools for upselling since they can be used to automate menus and suggestions. QR code menus make it very easy to amend menus, add new items or refresh the branding without the need to pay for printing a whole batch of replacement menus every time.

Video: QR Menu and Quick Ordering System

Review Impact

Reviews are tremendously critical in digital marketing for restaurants. While word-of-mouth retains a significant impact, more and more people trust online reviews as much as they trust recommendations from friends or family. According to recent data, 84 per cent of people express trust in online reviews. People increasingly look for reviews online before trying a new service or product. Because restaurant dining is primarily a leisure activity, people are more selective and will seek out the businesses with the most positive feedback.

Good reviews also improve your restaurant’s search engine ranking, meaning that more people are likely to find your website when they look for dining options in your area. Customers use Google, social media, and review sites like Yelp to find reviews. It’s essential to engage with reviews, both good and bad. Customers like to receive thanks for a good review, while the negative impact of a bad one can be offset by a polite and respectful response.

Restaurant Chatbots

Without a section on restaurant chatbots, no restaurant digital marketing discussion would be complete. AI chatbots have become highly sophisticated in recent years and their use has increased across all hospitality industry sectors. A restaurant chatbot is a software application that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to replicate a human operator. They can answer common questions, provide information and direct customers to the services they need.

Chatbots can handle reservations, take food orders and provide live customer support when staff are unavailable. They can promote special offers, suggest items and upsell as guests place orders. Chatbots can also ask questions and be used as part of a reputation management strategy. Restaurant chatbots have a significant role to play in the industry, saving businesses and customers money and time while allowing restaurants to offer customer service around the clock. To find out more, read “Restaurant Chatbots: What Are They, Their Use and Benefits”.

Video: A 2 Minute Look at a Restaurant Chatbot


One of the top digital marketing trends is personalisation. As you have seen in the context of email marketing, personalisation can make a big difference in how a customer feels about a business. The hospitality industry as a whole relies on providing a positive customer experience. This is especially true for restaurants, meaning personalisation has an important role. Whether the customer is dining out in person or ordering food for delivery online, it’s always a better experience if there’s some attention to detail.

Even something as simple as a friendly greeting by name when a customer logs on to their restaurant account can leave them with a more favourable impression. In person, it’s always nice for customers to be remembered from a previous visit and have their preferences noted. Online personalisation can include more finely targeted marketing, recommendations based on previous choices, and the kinds of loyalty programmes discussed earlier.

Performance Analysis

Successful digital marketing for restaurants requires regular and thorough analysis and development. You can follow every restaurant’s digital marketing trend, set up a presence on all the most popular social media platforms, and create viral video marketing and email campaigns, but unless you keep a close eye on what works and what doesn’t you could be wasting your money and time.

This means learning to make good use of analytics tools so that you can fine-tune your campaigns and focus on the most effective elements. Luckily, there are plenty of tools available. As well as Google Analytics and Google Search Console, you should also use the many performance tools offered by social media platforms. These will let you see how well your various campaigns perform, which platforms are the best for you, and which content your customers prefer.

Restaurant Technology Influencing Digital Marketing Trends

Technology for the restaurant industry is constantly evolving. New concepts, systems and devices come on the market all the time. Running a restaurant business successfully means making effective use of the right technology. It can be difficult to decide which technology to adopt, however.

In “Latest Restaurant Technology Trends You Need to Know About”, you’ll learn about all the most recent developments in restaurant technology and what they mean for you. Discover how virtual reality can help market your business, how QR codes and contactless payments can make life easier, and more.

Staffing Shortages: How Technology Can Help

The hospitality industry has been hit hard by staffing shortages in recent years. A short-staffed hotel or restaurant faces challenges; low staffing levels can impair the quality of service that a business can provide. Intelligent investment in technological solutions can take the pressure off your staff and make the customer’s experience more pleasant.

Technology like contactless check-in, restaurant e-commerce, AI chatbots and cleaning robots can help to resolve short-staffing and make life easier for your existing employees. To find out more, read “How to Solve Staffing Shortages in the Hospitality Industry with Technology”.

Restaurant Management Software

Restaurant management software can offer major improvements in efficiency and customer satisfaction, as well as streamlining the overall operation of your restaurant. With a large and ever-growing range of software on the market, it can be tough to determine exactly which systems are right for your business.

In “Restaurant Management Software: A Complete Overview”, you’ll find out about the kinds of software that’s available, what essential operations it can help with, and how to choose the best software for your needs. You’ll discover how software can improve customer service, reduce costs, increase revenue, and more.

Digital marketing for restaurants is increasingly important, especially for smaller local businesses that don’t have national brand recognition. Digital marketing needs to be effectively targeted and personalised to your customer base. Analysis and review of marketing strategies is important to ensure success.

More Tips to Grow Your Business is a knowledge platform for the hospitality & travel industry. Professionals use our insights, strategies and actionable tips to get inspired, optimise revenue, innovate processes and improve customer experience. You can find all hotel & hospitality tips in the categories Revenue Management, Marketing & Distribution, Hotel Operations, Staffing & Career, Technology and Software.

Submit an Article