12 Marketing Strategies to Attract Customers to Your Restaurant
9 Minute Read
To attract customers to your restaurant, you need more than just mouth-watering dishes and a cozy ambiance. Local foot traffic is the lifeblood of your eatery, and that’s where digital marketing mastery comes into play. While word of mouth is invaluable, a robust local marketing strategy reaches further, luring in food lovers and turning them into regulars.
We tapped the wisdom of the pros at Twelve Three Media to uncover strategies for boosting local traffic to your restaurant. Our SEO, Social Media, and Paid Advertising teams have devised a 12-step plan to fill those tables. Once the guests are in, it’s your turn to dazzle them with your culinary magic.
How To Attract Customers to Your Restaurant
First, think positively and proactively about your restaurant. Understand the gaps in your knowledge and approach them assuredly. Equipped with the right strategies, your restaurant will be buzzing with happy diners. It all starts with a foundation of confidence and belief in your product!
Then, you’ve got to remember digital marketing isn’t just about website traffic—it’s about getting living, breathing, hungry people through your doors. A solid plan includes SEO, social media, paid advertising, and more.
Start with the Secret Sauce—SEO
Search engine optimization (SEO) is crucial in any digital marketing strategy. Quite frankly, it’s how we get new customers—and not just regulars—through the doors and their butts in those seats. For a full house every night, our very own SEO expert, Cary Haun, recommends taking these steps:
1. Did You Take Care of Your NAP?
The first step in the recipe of how to attract customers to your restaurant: Ensure your restaurant’s Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP) data are accurate and consistent across all online platforms and directories. Inaccuracies or inconsistencies in these details can leave a bad taste for the bots crawling the web and potential customers, leading them both to your competitors instead!
Google, the master chef of search engines, values this consistency highly. Uniformity in your restaurant’s online presence solidifies its legitimacy and improves local search rankings, ensuring when a patron searches for the best eats in town, your restaurant isn’t just on the menu—it’s a featured special.
Regularly updating your NAP on platforms like Google Business Profile (GBP), OpenTable, Yelp, Facebook, Zomato, and TripAdvisor, as well as your own website, sets the table for a full house every night.
2. Yum, Yum—Structured Data
In the digital dining experience of attracting customers, structured data is like the amuse-bouche that tempts Google’s taste buds. Structured data is a standardized format to provide information about a webpage, enhancing search engine understanding and visibility in search results. It’s a behind-the-scenes secret that makes your restaurant’s website more appetizing to search engines.
By embedding this data, you’re effectively plating up key information—like your menu, hours, special events, and reviews—in a way that search engines can easily digest and serve to customers online.
Think of structured data as enhancing your website with rich snippets that could appear in search results. This not only makes your site more clickable but also more informative at a glance.
For a restaurant striving to stand out in a crowded market, using tools like Schema.org and Rich Results Test to create and validate your website’s structured data is a no-brainer that brings your business from “mmm” to “that’s amazing!”
3. Get Those Reviews!
Encouraging customer reviews adds the necessary flavor to your restaurant’s reputation. They’re the word-of-mouth in today’s digital age, essential for elevating your online presence. Positive reviews are not just testimonials—they’re powerful social proof that can significantly influence potential diners’ decisions.
Invite your guests to share their dining experiences on platforms like Google, OpenTable, Yelp, Zomato, and TripAdvisor. Whether it’s through table tents, a gentle reminder at the end of their meal, or follow-up SMS messages and emails, make the process as effortless as possible.
Remember, each review is an ingredient in the recipe for your restaurant’s success, adding flavor to your brand and helping to attract new customers. Respond to these reviews, too—both the savory and the sour—as this shows you value customer feedback and are committed to continual culinary excellence.
You Gotta Get Social
Social media is a component of restaurant marketing that cannot be overlooked when planning how to attract customers to your restaurant. Let’s call social media the main course! It’s where tantalizing visuals meet engaging stories, creating a virtual feast that attracts and retains customers.
An active social presence is essential to connect, entice, and convert followers into diners. Our in-house social media mavens, Megan Thielen and Dan Brophy, shared these insights:
4. Tag, Reshare, Repeat
In the bustling online world of food, having a consistent social media identity is like having your restaurant’s sign visible from every digital street corner.
Align your restaurant’s name and @ handle across all platforms, from TikTok to Facebook, to make it a piece of cake for foodies to find and mention you.
Sprinkle your social IDs on menus, coasters, table tents, and signs. Invite your guests to tag your eatery, but it doesn’t stop there. Engagement is key! Respond to their posts, reshare their stories, maybe surprise them with a small perk on their next visit, or simply drop a heartfelt “Thanks for dining with us!” This isn’t just social media savvy—it’s about fostering a community around your restaurant, making every patron feel part of your story.
5. Plate Up Memorable Moments
In the age of Instagram, your restaurant isn’t just serving dishes. It’s dishing out photo ops. Creating an Instagrammable ambiance is setting the stage for a viral sensation. Think about it—every artfully plated dish, each uniquely designed corner, and the ambient lighting are not just parts of your restaurant’s decor. They’re potential stars in your customers’ social media posts.
When diners can’t resist snapping and sharing their experience and tagging your location, they’re not just eating—they’re advertising! This social sharing becomes a domino effect, inspiring a chain of visits. It’s about making your restaurant not just a place to eat but a place to be seen and shared. After all, in today’s digital culture, a picture is worth a thousand reservations.
6. Consistency Is Key
When it comes to restaurant success, consistency extends far beyond the kitchen. It’s crucial in your digital presence too. Your social media platforms should be like a well-orchestrated menu —each element complementing the other, presenting a cohesive brand story.
Invest in high-quality design and content creation that mirrors the standard of your cuisine. Hiring a professional can transform your social media from a basic necessity into a compelling visual narrative, capturing the essence of your restaurant.
Right now, vertical videos are king, offering an authentic glimpse into your world. But striking the right balance between professional and personable, between brand consistency and engaging content, can be as delicate as balancing flavors in a dish.
Regularly post about your special promotions, events, and daily specials—these are the ingredients that keep your audience engaged and hungry for more. Remember, with social media, it’s not just about showing up—it’s about standing out with a flavor that’s unmistakably yours.
Dish Out for Paid Ads
Leveraging paid advertising can seem daunting, but fear not! Paid ads are a vital element in how to attract customers to your restaurant. Consider them your culinary compass, leading food enthusiasts directly to your restaurant’s doorstep.
Jason Marvin is one of our paid media pros, and he suggests proceeding as follows:
7. Right On Target
Attract culinary enthusiasts using the fine-tuned art of geo-targeting. Use geo-fencing to establish a digital boundary encircling your restaurant, honing in on locals and anyone who steps into this zone with a mobile device. Those within this virtual circle are greeted with customized ads on their devices.
Entice prospective diners with vivid visuals of your signature dishes, engaging videos showcasing your restaurant’s atmosphere, smoothly integrated native ads, or even compelling audio ads. This method ensures you’re directly connecting with the local community, transforming casual passersby into loyal patrons.
8. Cookin’ Up Some Social Media Ads
Utilize local geography to develop targeted social ads, zeroing in on the area surrounding your eatery. This approach ensures that your tailored promotional content reaches both the local community and visitors across popular platforms like TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat.
These carefully curated ads, designed to resonate with the local flavor and flair, increase your restaurant’s visibility and ignite intrigue. They’re the perfect recipe for transforming online interactions into real-life noshing, inviting social media enthusiasts to swap their screen time for a seat at your table. These strategically placed ads are key to packing your place with patrons and amplifying the excitement around your eatery.
9. PPC for Foodies
If a local foodie types “best restaurant near me” into their search bar, your eatery should be the star of the search engine results page (SERP). This is where a well-executed pay-per-click (PPC) campaign shines. Tailor your campaign to include terms relevant to your local area, and voilà—your restaurant becomes the go-to suggestion for diners nearby.
PPC isn’t just about being seen—it’s about meeting intent head-on. When someone’s looking to dine out, your PPC ad can make your restaurant the top pick.
This strategy turns casual online searches into actual visits, ensuring your establishment is not just an option but the choice for local gourmands. Every click on your paid search ad holds the promise of a new customer walking through your doors, ready to indulge.
10. Make the Most of Review & Reservation Apps
In the culinary world, visibility is critical, and review and reservation apps are your spotlight. Embracing platforms like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and OpenTable amplifies your restaurant’s online presence and simplifies the dining experience for your guests. A strong presence on these sites can significantly increase bookings.
Review and reservation apps serve as digital maître d’s, offering customers a hassle-free way to secure a table and providing invaluable feedback through reviews. An easily navigable reservation system reflects your commitment to customer convenience, making the journey from app browsing to actual dining seamless and delightful.
Moreover, each positive review you receive is like a personal recommendation, enhancing your reputation and drawing new patrons. By integrating these tools, you’re not just feeding stomachs—you’re feeding your business’s growth.
Classically Good Cooking
11. Whipping Up Appetizing Email/Text Campaigns
Whenever possible, get your guests’ contact information. Collecting customers’ email addresses and phone numbers turns a meal out into a continuing relationship. Craft a tasteful email or text campaign and send it every week or two to maintain customer engagement without overwhelming them.
Use these brief communications to showcase your latest specials, offer exclusive discounts, or share a sneak peek at upcoming events. This approach isn’t just about promotion—it’s about adding value to your patrons’ inboxes, keeping your restaurant top-of-mind, and enticing them to revisit. It’s a subtle yet effective way to turn occasional diners into regulars.
12. Keep Stirring
Launching your restaurant’s marketing efforts is just the first course. The key to lasting success is in the continuous tasting and tweaking of your strategies. Regularly monitor the results, savoring the successes and learning from the missteps.
In the dynamic world of digital marketing, adaptability is your main ingredient. Always be ready to adjust your recipes based on customer feedback, market trends, and your brand goals. Remember, the learning never stops. Keep your marketing as fresh and appealing as your daily specials.
Why Settle for Good When Greatness Is an Option?
Creating a perfect dish is just one part of the culinary journey when determining how to attract customers to your restaurant. Equally crucial is concocting a robust digital marketing plan that will fill those tables. A well-seasoned strategy is key to drawing crowds to savor your culinary delights.
Your restaurant is more than a mere business—it’s the embodiment of your passion and commitment to your art. At Twelve Three Media, we blend our expertise with your unique brand, crafting a digital marketing strategy as distinctive as your concept.