As a small business owner, you’re already busy enough just trying to run your restaurant. It can be difficult to find the time to come up with restaurant advertising ideas to boost your online presence. But, by now, you probably know that you need to because nowadays, “word of mouth” advertising is mostly done online.

People are constantly sharing content about what they like and don’t like. This means it’s important to have both an active website and engaging social media accounts to not only keep your loyal regulars up to date but to reach new potential customers on a daily basis.

Growing your business online involves a multitude of platforms, including Google, Yelp, Facebook, Instagram, and more. Keep reading to learn about effective resources and restaurant advertising ideas to grow your business online. With the right tools, you’ll be able to see a direct impact in real life.

Get the tools and guidance you need to find new customers and keep your regulars coming back for more.

Create an engaging and mobile-responsive website

Your website is the center for all of your online activities and any social media accounts should link directly here. The mass majority of diners — around 77% — check restaurant websites before deciding to visit. Keep in mind that most of these people are likely using their mobile phones to search for restaurants or takeout and delivery options, so it’s important that your website is mobile-responsive.

Play around on your entire website using various computers and mobile devices to make sure every design feature and function works correctly. There are also website builders available to help make sure your site works well on a mobile phone.

Your restaurant website should have at least four pages. These include:

Homepage

This is your first impression, so you want to make it good. Make your homepage easy to navigate and invite the visitor to join your email list. If you don’t have a logo yet, consider checking out Constant Contact’s LogoMaker, which generates hundreds of options in seconds. You can also add call to action buttons, such as ” order online” and “make a reservation.” 

About Page 

Here’s where you want to share your story, passion, and purpose. Let people know who you are and what makes your restaurant stand apart.

Contact Page

This page has all of your important details, so make sure they’re all up to date. Give easy access directions, a phone number, and email (or include a contact form). Don’t forget to share your social media links on this page as well.

Menu Page

This is the info that most potential diners will be looking for. Include menu items, descriptions, and prices. You can customize your online menu and include both a web-based menu and a downloadable PDF. Don’t forget to update your menus whenever you make changes (especially in prices!).

Of course, you can have more than these four pages. Some other restaurant advertising ideas for your website include pages for online ordering, an online store, or a dedicated blog, where you can draw in more people with relevant content about your restaurant and food offerings.

Also, use high-quality images throughout your website. Consider hiring a professional photographer to make sure your food is shown the best way possible.

Build your email list with a sign-up form

Make use of all of the different ways to collect email addresses. On average, 61% of consumers enjoy receiving promotional emails weekly, while 38% say they would like emails to come more frequently.

On your website, consider adding a sign-up form to build your email list and encourage people to return to your website. One effective restaurant advertising idea is to use an incentive to get people to sign up. For example, entice the visitor with a free appetizer, entree, or dessert for their birthday.

You want to connect with people when they first provide their email since they’re the most engaged with your business at this point. Do this by sending a few different automated emails to keep the conversation going:

  • Start with a welcome email. Send the email immediately after someone signs up.
  • Next, send an invitation to connect. Send this email a few days after the welcome email and ask the user to connect with your social media profiles so they can follow you and keep up to date on events and new foods you have available.

Then, on a monthly basis, send invitations to come enjoy your restaurant. Take advantage of holidays or specific events to invite people to come celebrate at your restaurant.

Keep your social media accounts fresh and modify content depending on the platform

There are many restaurant advertising ideas you can take advantage of via social media. Just keep in mind that people use each platform differently. This means you don’t want to use the same content on every single one of your profiles.

Here are some tips for how to shape your content on the most popular social media sites:

Instagram

Post high-quality pictures of your dishes, share lists of daily specials or show viewers an inside look at your restaurant. You should only post to your Instagram account once per day, but you can also take advantage of Instagram Stories, Instagram Reels, and IGTV to connect with your audience in various different ways on a more regular basis. Another way to engage with your Instagram followers is to run contests. Set up a contest with a comment picker and offer something your followers would love, like free dessert, gift cards, etc.

Facebook

Use photos or videos to engage with your Facebook audience. Post to your feed, respond to customer questions, and promote upcoming offers. You can also update regularly via Facebook Stories.

Twitter

Tweet announcements like “now accepting reservations,” respond to customer questions and comments, and share special offers and coupons.

Snapchat

Let people know about upcoming events, engage with those who message you, and let people know about special offers.

YouTube

Provide customer service and show behind-the-scenes footage of your restaurant or food prep. Make your videos both educational and fun. Don’t forget to respond to any comments from your viewers.

Social media is a great way to easily connect with your customers, grow brand awareness, and provide quick customer service.

Update your business listings on Facebook, Google, and Yelp

Make sure you claim your pages — on Facebook, Google, and Yelp — so that you have the power to edit your restaurant’s information and review and comment on your customer reviews.

That last part is key: Put special attention on your customer reviews, no matter the platform. Learn from what your customers are saying, take their suggestions, and comment on their reviews as often as you can — whether they’re positive or negative.

Facebook Business Page

On Facebook, complete all the elements of your page, including contact information, directions, menus, and hours of operation. You can also provide your own logo, photos, and videos to offer a more comprehensive experience. People want to get a sense of what your restaurant looks and feels like.

Google My Business Listing

Edit all contact information so that you show up in the right place in Google search results. This listing is one of the most popular tools that people use when searching for a restaurant. They rely on the information in your Google Business Listing, so it should include as much information as possible like photos, contact information, directions, menus, and hours of operation.

Yelp

Not only does Yelp work as a local search site, but it’s also a place where customers can share reviews and comment on each other’s reviews. This site paints a picture of your business, so you’ll want to make sure it does so accurately. Share all important features, such as if your business is kid-friendly, offers outdoor seating, is open late, etc. You don’t want to ignore your Yelp page since users can share and comment on your restaurant. Many people look over those reviews before making the decision to patronize your business.

One thing to remember when it comes to listing sites: for SEO (search engine optimization) purposes, make sure that your restaurant’s information is identical on every listing site it’s on. Meaning, if your address is 2932 Main Street, make sure it’s written that same way on every site — don’t shorten it to 2932 Main St.

Get more traffic to your website with a blog

Good content can drive a lot of business to your website. If you have the time and resources, a blog connected to your website can help increase your likelihood of being found on search engines like Google. This creates free traffic to your website, meaning you won’t have to pay for any ads.

Start off creating one post a week or month, depending on the time you can commit, then post on a regular and consistent basis. Provide information that’s educational or answers a common question in your niche. Deliver meaningful and relevant content to your audience.

For example, if you’re a farm-to-table restaurant, you may want to include information about when certain foods are in season, what types of dishes you can make with them, and how this reflects on your ever-changing menu. This blog post can then be shared on your social media and used in your email marketing to get people excited about an upcoming dish that you’re preparing with a seasonal ingredient.

You may also want to consider inviting a local blogger to guest post on your blog or asking a local foodie to review or spotlight your restaurant on their own blog or social media accounts.

Create a customer loyalty program

While you’re looking to bring in new customers, you also want to keep your most loyal customers happy and returning to your restaurant frequently. To do this, think about creating a customer loyalty program, either in-person or through your website.

On your website, create a form that allows customers to provide information like their email address, birthday, the town they live in, their favorite food that you offer, and any suggestions they may have for your restaurant. Let them know that, in exchange for this information, they will receive emails with coupons and discounts only available to VIP members.

Offer discounts for takeout and delivery options.

A good online presence is necessary when you’re offering curbside pickup, delivery, and takeout options. It may be worth setting aside some extra money for paid digital ads that send potential customers looking for these options directly to your website in just one click.

It’s also a good idea to link up your menu and website to various food delivery apps, including GrubHub, UberEats, and OpenTable.

Create effective ads on Facebook, Instagram, and Google.

You can create ads on Facebook, Instagram, and Google and target them based on location, demographics, interests, behaviors, and connections. These ads will help drive traffic to your website, Facebook, and Instagram.

You can pay Google Ads to display daily text ads via search engine optimization (SEO). To start, set aside $100 to test your ads. Learn what works and what doesn’t — including audience features and key terms — by checking the amount of traffic you receive to your website. You will pay per click (PPC), meaning that you’ll only have to pay when people click on your ad.

Get online now to bring more traffic to your website — and your restaurant

There are various restaurant advertising ideas you can take advantage of to grow your business online. Assess what you can do now to grow your online following. You’ve already put in the hard work to build up your restaurant. All that effort should also reflect online, where most people will discover you for the first time.

To help you get started, check out Constant Contact’s The Download, a free marketing guide for restaurants. You’ll find that once you’ve implemented some of these ideas, it will only get easier to maintain a strong online presence, keep your customers happy, and bring in more people every day.