Restaurant Marketing

The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Digital Marketing for Restaurants

Looking to get started marketing your restaurant? We've got your beginner's guide here with easy-to-implement tips! Grab a sneak peek or download the entire guide.

You have delicious food, a buzzing atmosphere, and support from your local community—that’s all you need to keep your restaurant business thriving, right?!

Well, not entirely.  

In the modern era of restaurants, your commitment to the best guest experience must extend beyond the four walls of your restaurant and into the digital space.

Guests make the decision to dine with you for the first time (and the next time) long before they step through your front door. Nearly 80% of people look at the restaurant’s website before deciding to dine in or order online; 73% are more likely to visit a restaurant if they see a special promotion on social media.  

So, how do you create and execute a great marketing strategy? Popmenu covers all the basics in The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Digital Marketing for Restaurants, filled with best practices, quick tips and real-life examples. Here’s a sneak peek at some highlights:

Discover your brand

Before running a campaign of the “i’m lovin’ it” variety, it’s important to take some time to think about your brand. We do a deeper dive in the guide, but a good way to start is by answering the following questions:

  • What is your restaurant’s mission?
  • How do you differentiate from competitors?
  • What is your restaurant NOT?
  • How would you describe your restaurant’s personality?
  • How do you want customer to feel about your restaurant?
  • What does your restaurant look like, sound like, smell like, taste like?
  • Are there other brand you admire and why?

Set S.M.A.R.T. goals

Now that you’ve identified your brand, it’s time to set some goals. What outcomes do you want your marketing plan to achieve? Increase dine-in traffic (I.e., get more butts in seats)? Drive more online orders from your own website vs. third-party sites? Turn more guests into regulars?  

Keep in mind that each goal should be quantifiable and with a relatively short timeline. Start with three and keep iterating. Make sure the goals are SMART (that is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound) so you can check progress, shift strategies as needed. Example: Increase online orders on the slowest days of the week by 15% within 2 months.

Execute your strategy

There are several channels you can use to market your restaurant—from your website, emails, SMS/texts and social media to special promotions and word of mouth. In an ideal world, you’d be making good use of all of them, but don’t try to do everything at once. Start with which ones feel like they’ll have a high impact and require a low amount of investment.

And remember to automate outreach whenever, wherever you can.  

Check out our guide for delicious real-life examples for the following:

Your website  

Your website is your prime real estate for customer acquisition—and THE most important marketing asset on your website, or quite frankly anywhere else, is the menu. Make sure your menu is optimized for search engines and that each dish features a photo (dishes with photos get twice as many orders!). And give guests an opportunity to like, review and share dishes for social validation.

It’s also important to keep your menu/website consistently updated. Guests who are not yet followers will land on your website looking for more information about why they should engage with you and keep coming back for more. Don’t make it hard for them to find the information they’re looking for. A few different ways you can engage them include:

  • Promote Happy Hour specials with a popup on your website
  • Display an announcement above your online menu inviting guests to join you for Sunday brunch
  • Keep an events calendar on your website and update it with live music, trivia nights, wine tasting or anything else you’re cooking up!


Every engagement by a new or existing follower creates an opportunity to send a message that encourages an action (e.g., place an online ordering or make a reservation). Instead of doing this manually, you can use technology to send emails or SMS/texts automatically after a guest performs an action on your website:

  • Welcome new followers
  • Gift a special Happy Birthday offer
  • Alert guests that a favorite seasonal dish is back on the menu

Remember, outreach is best received when it generates immediate value for guests!

Social media marketing  

Social posts can help to bring in new business, keep your brand top-of-mind and cultivate community engagement. Channels being used and frequency of social outreach often comes down to resources, but most restaurants choose to post on Instagram and/or Facebook every week, if not every day.

When Popmenu asked consumers to identify what they wanted to see on social channels, they pointed to:

  • Photos of featured dishes/drinks – 61%
  • Special events – 47%
  • Discounts – 64%
  • Picture shared by guests – 38%
  • Staff highlights – 28%
  • Reviews – 52%
  • Quotes from the chef – 22%

Measure your success

Now for the million-dollar question: are your marketing efforts paying off?  

One key practice to keep in mind when measuring: context. Be sure to capture the “before” picture so you can accurately measure the impact of your efforts. Depending on your goals, you want to monitor things such as website traffic and behavior, email open rates and click-through rates, social followers and engagement, online ordering trends and dine-in purchasing patterns.  

As you review different metrics, look at worked, what didn’t and why. Continue to iterate and tailor your approach and messaging. Marketing is a constant learning process and every interaction with guests will help you find the right strategy to drive desired outcomes.


And, if you ever need an extra hand, Popmenu’s team of restaurant marketers is ready to help you build your strategy, create assets and execute across channels. Learn more about our Boost team at  

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