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10 delicious restaurant mobile marketing strategies to drive growth

Here are ten of the best mobile marketing ideas to separate your restaurant from the competition.

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Whether you run a large restaurant or a small cafe, you’ve got a lot on your plate (pun intended). 

But in the end, your success comes down to two things: bringing in customers, and making sure they keep coming back. 

These days, your customers turn to their phones when they’re hungry, and your top priority is making sure they can find you there. 

Simply put, restaurant owners and managers need to have a smart, effective mobile marketing strategy if they want to compete.

I promise it’s not as difficult as it sounds, and I’ll share some of the best tips and strategies I’ve picked up from my research here.


What is mobile marketing?

Mobile marketing is the practice of targeting your marketing efforts toward people on mobile devices. There are many different types of mobile marketing, including banners, videos, email, search ads, and texting. 

For a long time, mobile marketing was talked about as the “next big thing.” That’s no longer true, chiefly because it is currently the thing. Over 60% of all web traffic comes from mobile now.

The numbers are clear: Mobile marketing is essential to your restaurant. Let’s discuss how you can get started.

Top 10 restaurant mobile marketing strategies

The key to restaurant mobile marketing is to boost your visibility and let customers know that you’re here to make their lives easier. Here are ten ways you can do just that.

1. Target local keywords using SEO

SEO stands for search engine optimization. It’s the process of improving the design, content, and usability of your website so that it ranks higher in Google searches for relevant keywords.

I don’t need to tell you how popular Google is, but it may be worth noting that in 2020, over 1 billion searches for restaurants were made on Google every month, with “food near me” as a fast-growing term.

As a restaurant owner or manager, your goal should be to rank for local searches featuring terms like “Burger restaurant Denver.” Let’s take a quick look at the results for this search:

A local SEO Google page for restaurants

Notice that there are three results at the top. This is where you want to be. Do a similar search for your restaurant to see where you stand.

Are you in the top three results? If not, here’s how you can put SEO to work in your marketing strategy:

  • Make your website easy to navigate on mobile and make your menu front and center.
  • Add a contact page to your website with your name, address, and number.
  • Add a Click to Call or Click to Text button (or both) to your site.
  • If you have multiple locations, add a map with all of them.
  • Include reviews from customers on your website.
  • Claim your restaurant on TripAdvisor, Google My Business, Yelp, Facebook, etc.

SEO is a long game, but with these quick tactics, you could see a boost in your rankings.

2. Request reviews from diners

I’ve already touched on the idea that it’s important to feature reviews from customers for your local SEO rankings. I say that because, frequently, review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor appear on the first page of search results.

If your restaurant’s profiles on Google, Yelp, and TripAdvisor are looking empty, it’s time to start asking for reviews from customers. 

This will be easy, given that happy customers are usually excited to share their experiences with others. Try this:

  • Post a review request on your table tents, menus, receipts, etc. Include a QR code that goes directly to your favorite review site.
  • If you have a text message list, send review requests through SMS.
  • If a customer made an online reservation, send a follow-up email with a link to your review sites.
  • Ask your servers to remind diners to leave a review after they’ve finished their meal.
A review request posted on a restuarant

While good reviews are what every restaurant strives for, negative reviews can happen, even with an amazing back-of-house and wait staff. Don’t panic if you get a negative review. 

The best thing you can do is respond to it sincerely and offer to make things right. Incentivize them to come back with a discount or perk and show them how great your restaurant really is.

3. Make your meals selfie-worthy

We’ve known for years that we eat with our eyes. People are currently gravitating to visually appealing social media platforms like Snapchat and Instagram while moving away from Facebook and Twitter.

Think about your restaurant’s design. Does it make someone want to take a photo? Yes, the taste of your food is still the most important thing. But, as a savvy marketer, you need to think about your tabletops, wall decor, and lighting, too. 

You should also work with your chefs to make sure every dish is being plated in an appealing way.

An example of restaurant mobile marketing

Even well-established brands are changing the presentation of their food to take advantage of the free advertising that snap-happy customers can provide. 

Casual restaurant chain Chili’s started serving fries in stainless steel dishes and changed the buns on their burgers to be more aesthetically pleasing.

Go through your entire dining experience and try to identify opportunities to create Kodak moments.

4. Upgrade your online ordering

COVID-19 has reshaped how restaurants handle orders, with online ordering becoming more important than ever. And while online ordering isn’t exactly new, that doesn’t mean you can’t improve your own system.

Consider adding features like:

  • Easy login so customers can access their past orders and pay with a saved card
  • Card payment capabilities (it sounds obvious, but some systems still don’t allow customers to pay with a card).
  • Your branding on all menus and ordering pages to keep customers connected to your business while they order
  • Gift cards as an alternate payment method

5. Create a contactless dining or pickup experience

In the wake of the pandemic, a restaurant’s mobile operations are more important now than ever. 

With the increase in restaurant delivery orders, curbside pick-up, and contact-free handoffs, dining relies increasingly on mobile devices. (If you’re wondering how this relates to marketing, an investment in customer experience can grow revenue by 4-8%.)

This doesn’t need to be a big deal, either. Our customer, Estrella Tacos Y Mas automates its curbside pickup process using text messages and finds that “customers appreciate how smooth the process is from start to finish.”

Instead of investing in expensive curbside pickup software and mobile apps, customers just text the keyword “pickup” and receive an automated message asking them for their parking spot, car model, and the order’s name.

6. Use third-party delivery apps (better yet, offer delivery yourself)

Online ordering is great, but delivery makes it even better. We’re sure you’ve heard of Uber Eats, GrubHub, Postmates, and DoorDash.

Now, anyone with a smartphone can have pretty much any food they want delivered to them in an instant.

Customers want to be able to quickly order from their phones. If you don’t offer delivery, your customers may seek out another restaurant. 

A third-party app also means you don’t have to deal with the headaches of hiring delivery drivers and finding a PoS system equipped to take both online and delivery orders.

A third-party food delivery driver

Depending on the size of your team, though, you may want to take an even bigger step and bring your delivery in-house. This will help you create an even more consistent customer experience.

7. Regularly engage with customers using text messages

All of the strategies I’ve talked about so far can help you find new customers and make your restaurant more appealing to them. 

But wait a minute, what about your current customers? We can’t forget about them.

Use texts to get in touch with these customers and motivate them to visit or order from you again. 

Here’s how it works: First, a customer signs up for your messages. They can do this using a web form or by texting a keyword to your number. 

For example, a sushi restaurant could make their keyword “LetsRoll.” All a customer has to do to sign up for their messages is text “LetsRoll” to their number.

Restaurants across the country are adopting SMS marketing. Here are three reasons why.

  1. Texts are effective: 98% of texts are opened.
  2. Texts are immediate: It only takes a minute to send a message to thousands of people at once, which is ideal if you need to make up for a slower-than-usual day. 
  3. Texts are interactive: Customers can respond to your messages, which makes them great for asking for feedback or conducting polls.

Restaurants have lots of options for using SMS marketing, including:

Want more ideas for your restaurant? We wrote an entire guide to walk restaurant owners through everything they need to know about using restaurant text message marketing

8. Send limited-time sale announcements to create a sense of urgency 

FOMO is an undeniable driving force for your customers, so leverage it by putting a time limit on your deals and offers.

Be clear about when the offer is active, how to take advantage, and give contacts a heads up a couple of days before it happens to build up a little anticipation.

Heads up Chef’s Table family! We’ll be hosting a 25% off two lunches event from 3/7-3/12. Stop by and see us!

9. Be present on social media

21% of people report that they have chosen a restaurant based on their social media posts or pictures, so it pays to be visible on social media.

Post your most delicious-looking dishes, pictures of your staff, and your menu, and tease upcoming specials or deals on your social channels.

A social-media worthy restaurant dish presentation

10. Create a mobile-friendly website

The data says that over 80% of customers have browsed for a restaurant on their smartphones, so you’ll need to make sure your website is set up to give those users a great experience. 

That means you’ll need to:

  • Use responsive text and themes.
  • Keep your content concise.
  • Cut down on pop-ups.
  • Size down buttons and be mindful of where you place them.

Serve up restaurant mobile marketing

Smartphones and other mobile devices have changed the way people look for restaurants and order food. 

If that’s where they are, that’s where you need to be, too. Restaurants have lots of mobile marketing tools at their disposal including the ones I’ve listed here. 

Whether you have one location or hundreds, adding even just a few of these to your marketing mix can boost your bottom line.

Alfredo Salkeld
Alfredo Salkeld

Alfredo is SimpleTexting's brand manager. He's passionate about using his 10+ years of marketing experience to help small businesses grow.

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