Restaurant Marketing Plan: 12 Essential Digital Marketing Strategies in 2019

Restaurant Marketing Plan: 12 Essential Digital Marketing Strategies in 2019

Karl Latkovic

Standing out from the competition is a constant objective for any business. For niche businesses, there may only be a few competitors in your area; the opposite goes for a crowded space such as the restaurant industry. Let's face it, there are a lot of restaurants in most cities - especially metropolitans such as Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.

I know what you're thinking: how do I attract customers to my restaurant?

To be frankly honest, there are various techniques your restaurant can be doing to attract customers. Each one of those items should be a part of a greater restaurant marketing plan and followed through daily.

Kickstarting Your Restaurant Digital Marketing Plan

To start things off, it's a good idea to take a step back and analyze what methods your restaurant is currently doing to bring in customers via the digital realm. How much time is spent on these efforts? Do you, or someone on your team have time to strategize and execute a marketing plan? Depending on your budget, partnering with a marketing agency may be the right choice. A marketing agency is a team of marketing experts you can put your trust in. Through research and analysis, a marketing agency will be able to audit your business and know which gaps need filling.

Don't have a marketing budget and want to take things in your own hand? Keep reading!

Are you asking yourself what the current marketing trends are in the restaurant industry? Not sure what the digital marketing benefits are for your restaurant? Looking for restaurant marketing ideas and trends for 2019? You're in the right place!

Below, we outline a variety of digital marketing initiatives that are guaranteed to bring more customers through your doors.

Local SEO

As a restaurant, you will want to focus your energy in the area you operate in. Local SEO is just that, optimizing your business across the web for your local presence through directory and citation building, reputation management, and more. To get started with Local SEO, try the following.

Google My Business

The first online business listing you want to sign-up with as soon as possible is Google My Business. Google's 100% free online directory is highly credible and used by billions every day to search for business hours of operation, phone numbers, directories, and online reviews. To learn more about the benefits of Google My Business, click here

Online Reviews

Online reviews are becoming increasingly important for restaurants in the digital age. The fact is, 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business and most of your customers will only leave online reviews when they really loved, or more commonly, really hated the food and/or service they received at your restaurant. Break that cycle. By simply asking your customers to leave a review will greatly increase the rate of your online reviews and push your business in the forefront online. You can even take things one step further by creating minor incentives for leaving a review. Learn more about the importance of online customer reviews here

Food Delivery Services

For a restaurant, there are other gold mines you can verify your business online besides online directories and citations. Food delivery services are increasing in popularity and a great channel to drive sales to your restaurant and further increase your online presence. Popular food delivery services in Canada are UberEats, DoorDash, and SkipTheDishes.

Digital Marketing Essentials for Restaurants


Ever wonder how to skyrocket restaurant sales and website traffic without advertising? SEO is the answer. SEO stands for "search engine optimization". It is the process of getting traffic from the 'free', 'organic', 'editorial', or 'natural' search results on search engines. Unfortunately, advanced SEO is extremely complex and even the basics can be hard for newcomers to grasp. Not sure what the hype is all about? Start with this quick and easy to understand video about search engine optimization by Search Engine Land. It'll quickly cover the basics:

Online Menu

Not as intricate as SEO, but an important addition to your restaurant's online success. Customers today like to be informed and an up to date online menu will give them that extra push to your doorstep. To take things one step further, including prices on your online menu will win you some extra points from the hungry online crowd.


Having a blog section on your restaurants website is a great opportunity to further expand your online reach and educate your audience on your restaurant, promotions, and events.

Digital Advertising

Advertising is usually the first thing people think of when you mention marketing. For restaurants, digital advertising is an extremely useful tool as you are able to very finely define your audience with modern digital advertising platforms such as Google Ads and Facebook. Most digital advertising platforms use a pay-per-click (PPC) model. PPC advertising simply means you pay $X per website visit via the advertisement. While this is an easy way to get users to your site, your ad-spend can easily be drained if ads are not built optimally. If you partner with a digital advertising agency such as Transpera, we make your ads are only displaying to potential customers of your restaurant so you can maximize your ad-spend. Learn more about how digital advertising platforms work and the costs you should expect here.

Unique Promotions

Having creative promotions at your restaurant every month will give your customers an incentive to show up to your door. Leveraging public holidays and local events is a great way to get started with brainstorming unique promotions for your restaurant. Learn more about unique restaurant promotion ideas that will increase loyalty in 2019 here.

Building Your Restaurant Email List & Email Marketing

Building your restaurant email list as soon as possible and sending newsletters to your past customers is crucial in building customer loyalty and having steady traffic at your restaurant. Sending promotions, coupons, and restaurant events in the form of a newsletter will keep your restaurant in the minds of recent customers on a routinely basis, even if they're routinely visiting. Giving your customers an extra incentive to visit will not only bring in more sales in the short term but build a connection with your restaurant and that customer after a few visits and re-visit rates will increase. If you need ideas to rapidly build your email list, click here.

Creative Marketing

Social Media

As a restaurant, you're constantly looking for ways to pack your joint. Social media marketing for restaurant does not have to be complex right off the bat. By simply engaging with your online audience and posting relevant content, the impact of social media can only be positive for your restaurant.

Most restaurants have a local target audience - focus on the people around you and create content that revolves around your area. Restaurant social media trends involve posting quality photos of your food and putting in an extra effort to make your space look "hip" to entice user-generated content. To learn more about social media, read our article 7 Social Media Marketing Tips for Small Businesses.

In addition to using social media to draw store traffic, social media will also be a hub for your restaurant's customer support. Learn more about social media customer service and how they can give your business a unique pull towards your preferred audience by reading our article, Social Media Customer: 5 Best Practices for 2019.

User-Generated Content

User-generated content is when your audience posts about your restaurant on social media. This is content about your brand that is gaining traction and something you can re-post without spending a dime. Sometimes, user-generated content will happen naturally if your restaurant and/or food is lucky enough to be considered "hip" amongst your local audience. Other times, you will need to influence your audience to share content related to your restaurant.

A few ideas to spark user-generated content:

1. Social Media Contests

2. Influencer Agreements

3. Restaurant Hashtag Incentives

Influencer Outreach

Why would your restaurant want influencers relationships? Well, we already mentioned it; user-generated content. Influencer outreach is not rocket science, simply hopping on Instagram and doing a quick search for popular accounts in your area will showcase influencer potentials. As for what to offer, anything from coupons and/or free meals at your restaurant to an actual monthly budget for ongoing influencer relationships will suffice. [influencer metric jpg]

Karl Latkovic
Karl Latkovic
Transpera Technologies Inc.