Effective Digital Marketing for Restaurants in 2021

It’s no secret that online marketing is critical for restaurant success in today’s age.

Has marketing for restaurants changed at all?

You bet. The digital landscape is always growing which inevitably brings many changes.

Increased competition and frequent updates of services like Google My Business or Yelp require all businesses to constantly revisit their strategy.

Continue reading to help plan out your marketing strategy for 2021!

Social Media

Social media is still an incredible free marketing tool for restaurants to utilize for 2021. Can you name a better way to get in front of new potential customers for free?

The Instagram trend of foodies posting photos of their food is still going strong. Continue providing meals that look as good as they taste and watch them get in front of a fresh new pair of eyes.

You don’t always have to wait for customers to post however. You can do it yourself too! Invest time into presentation such as lighting, color, and the surrounding environment because restaurants are heavily judged by the quality of their pictures more than ever.

Content is key. By posting more frequently, you increase your chances of getting discovered. Here are some ideas for content:

  • Pictures of aesthetic dishes
  • Seasonal specials
  • Promotional campaigns
  • Pictures of employees
  • “Behind the scenes” cooking photos (promotes transparency)
  • Holiday posts (A burger joint may post something on National Hamburger Day and use the hashtag #Nationalhamburgerday. View daily holidays here)
  • Restaurant theme posts (ex. A Greek restaurant that posts random facts about Ancient Greece)

Add hashtags to each post to get discovered by new users. Hashtags have been shown to increase engagement by 12.6%! The max hashtags that can be used on Instagram are 30 for posts and 10 for stories. Some recommend using less while some say to use more. Experiment with the number of hashtags to see which amount gives the best results.

Finally, free up your time to focus on the important things by automating posts. Spending a few hours within 1 or 2 days to plan and schedule social posts for the next 2 weeks or month can save you from the headache of coming up with last-minute ideas.

There is an abundance of services for this such as Buffer and Hootsuite.

Google My Business

Yelp has become less relevant today due to the popularity of Google My Business listings. With Google My Business, restaurants can easily showcase their hours, photos, services, contact information, website link, and more.

With recent updates, diners can now make online reservations from a Google My Business listing. Restaurants can also show whether they are available for takeout, dine-in, delivery, or all.

Spend quality time adding and updating information on your Google My Business listing to keep customers informed.

Email Marketing

Email is not dead! In fact, it is still one of the most cost-effective methods for increasing restaurant sales and building customer loyalty.

Today, many CRM (customer relationship management) software enable businesses to send out automated emails. Some CRMs can automatically send custom promos to customers based on the frequency of visits. This makes it seamless to reward your most loyal customers with the best rewards.

You can also touch base with customers by sending regular holiday emails, birthday greetings, and newsletters.

Local Google Search (SEO)

How would you feel if a new local diner found your restaurant on Google? Getting new business without being the one to reach out first is every business’ dream.

An estimated 6.2 million people search for “restaurants near me” on Google each month.

Organically ranking on Google takes time and is competitive. Google’s search algorithm however is always changing so if you consistently work to optimize for it, you will get rewarded in the long-run.

This topic is too deep to mention here briefly. If you want to learn how to boost your chances of being found on Google, read this.

Online Advertisments

Online ads can be expensive but returns can be well worth it. To run successful ad campaigns, restaurants will need to have 3 things in check: targeting, ad creative, and the offer.

Businesses that run online ads (via Google, Facebook, or Instagram) can create custom demographics to show their ad to. For example, a restaurant can create an ad for parents aged 40-60 who are interested in healthy eating.

Along with creating the ideal target demographic, the ad should captivate attention and have an enticing offer. That being said, ads require constant testing to find what yields the best results.


Ah…the dreaded customer review. Nothing can quite make or break a business like a customer’s personal experience visible for everyone to read.

93% of customers will read local business reviews to determine it’s quality which makes receiving positive feedback a priority.

Be intentional about asking loyal customers to leave a review to help out your restaurant. If they love your restaurant, they will be more than happy to show their support.

Did you know that reviews can even help with organic google searches? Restaurants with 5-star ratings receive higher rankings and written reviews can associate your restaurant with relevant keywords. For example, a customer can mention your extensive vegan-friendly options and help you get discovered by vegans.

Bad reviews are bound to appear every now and then. You can request removal for reviews if they go against policy. If they don’t violate policy, the best thing to do is respond. Apologize and offer to rectify the problem by providing a customer support number. Never blame the customer. Others will see how you handled the bad review and it may alter their final judgement.


The influencer marketing industry was expected to reach $10 billion by 2020 from $2 billion in 2017. Many businesses and marketers have recognized the trust that consumers have in influencers and jumped on the bandwagon.

In the restaurant scene, there are many Instagram food influencers with thousands upon thousands of followers. Restaurants frequently offer them a free meal and in return, the influencer will usually share photos on their profile. This introduces the restaurant to thousands of new people.


Finally, restaurants should focus on improving their branding. Reinforce your restaurant in people’s minds with strong consistent branding.

Invest the time to create a theme around your social media posts with consistent brand colors, fonts, and messaging (ex. slogans).

Effective marketing for restaurants occurs offline too. You can launch restaurant merch with your logo to spread brand awareness. Some examples include: t-shirts, hats, aprons, cook books, and cups.

Looking for a fun way to get more dine-in customers? ChowEasy is a platform dedicated to helping restaurants get new, quality customers from the local area. Attract passionate foodies with promos that run on your schedule and on your terms with your restaurant name revealed only to committed diners. No upfront costs or commitments! Learn more now

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