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Restaurant marketing ideas and trends for 2020

Monika Kamińska

Marketing and communication enthusiast with 20+ years of experience, a psychologist by education.

Table of contents

There are over 1 million restaurants in the USA. Well-planned marketing is the key to success. Looking for restaurant marketing ideas? Properly planned restaurant online marketing will make your restaurant visible on the Internet. You’ll get more orders, you’ll have more customers, and you’ll increase your profits.

However, the positioning of a restaurant on internet search engines is not enough. In the era of social media, it is very important to build a community around the brand.

Social media and Google Ads campaigns are the foundation of marketing activities. Add to this the option of ordering online from your website, and you will earn more.

Americans spend almost 10% of their disposable income on food in restaurants. Let’s check the best restaurant marketing tips to win customers. Check our ultimate guide for restaurant marketing.

2 men working on restaurant marketing.

Restaurant marketing ideas – where to start?

Currently, conducting proper communication with customers is important in building a brand. However, how do you create content so that the customers of your restaurant will pay attention and order?

See what others are doing

Before you start creating content and advertising yourself on the internet, first check how businesses with the best restaurant marketing are advertising. Regularly browse the Internet for inspiration.

If you want to communicate with customers on Facebook – search for new ideas on Facebook. If you’re looking for inspiration for photos on Instagram – browse Instagram. Check how your competition is advertised and what effects it has.

It is only when you see what other people are doing, that you can consciously choose something for your restaurant.

Create the perfect guest persona

Think about what your ideal customer should be like and describe them as accurately as you can. This is very important because it will lead them to all your content in your restaurant marketing ideas.

Give this person a name, imagine what they look like and how old they are. Specify how much they earn, what they are interested in, what they expect from the restaurant and the food they order.

For example, let’s say you’re the owner of a sushi restaurant. Your ideal customer may be Jessica, a 30-year-old corporate employee who likes to order sushi for lunch at the office. She earns a lot of money, is interested in photography and modern art. She regularly goes to Pilates and likes to take care of herself.

Think about what you want to show and how

If you know that the customer you want to reach is Jessica, think about what content will be the most popular. Online marketing for restaurants has great opportunities to promote restaurants on social media. Find out more about what kind of posts you can create for your restaurant.

Plan what you want to show Jessica. Choose photos of your products that will be best for her. Prepare videos and trivia that may interest her.

Also, adjust the communication language. Jessica probably won’t want to talk to someone who is not intellectual or does not know about modern trends. When writing a short post, remember to whom it is addressed.

Divide the content into categories

All the content that you have chosen for advertising your restaurant while searching the Internet will most likely be contained in several categories. They will mainly concern your menu, the appearance of your establishment, your team, the products you use in the kitchen, etc.

Content categories will help you systematize written posts and other content to promote your restaurant.

Planning and scheduling

Planning specific content cycles and entering them in the publication schedule will make your work easier. It’s a great restaurant marketing idea. Determine, for example, that on Mondays you will always plan what content you will publish on specific channels.

You can also schedule them on Facebook right away! It is very easy. With this option, you won’t have to remember to add specific posts during the week.

Restaurant marketing ideas and trends for advertisement

Restaurant online marketing is currently a very important aspect of managing a restaurant. Great food and good customer service are no longer enough. Proper promotion of your restaurant is very important.

There are several online places where you should definitely be present, so that your customers can find your restaurant on the Internet and you can build a strong brand, while making sure that the number of orders will increase!

A website with an online food ordering system

If you’d like to start building your brand online, you should begin with a good website, adjusted for browsing on mobile devices. This is the basis of successful restaurant online marketing.

The website will be your property. You will decide what is posted on it and how you will promote it. Nobody has the right to remove your website, as opposed to your Facebook profile for instance.

Including an online ordering system on your restaurant’s website will be a major additional advantage. By having this, it will no longer just be a visiting card generating costs, it will start earning you money!

Restestaurant marketing tips for Facebook.

Restaurant Facebook page

Everyone who plans a visit to your establishment wants to know what they can eat there, and at what price, what the atmosphere is like in the restaurant, how the interior and the service look. The profile of your restaurant should answer all these questions.

Look into restaurant marketing ideas. Social media is the perfect place to show your visitors what is happening outside of the seating area. Publish photos and videos from the kitchen; show how the most popular dishes are made. Introduce your waiters and show what they are doing before opening time.

It will also be a great idea to place online ordering on your Facebook page if you are also delivering food. With the UpMenu system it’s very easy! In this way, your customers will be able to order without leaving Facebook, and you will increase your profits!

A useful tool will also be events on Facebook. If you’re planning a special day in your restaurant or a promotion at a specific time, create an event and invite guests. Thanks to this, you will reach a larger audience, because participation in the event is also shown to the person’s acquaintances. 

Google and Facebook Ads

In order for your website to be much more visible in search results, you need to use AdWords. The higher your position in Google, the more customer visits you receive, and the more orders will be placed!

Active management of a Facebook profile for your restaurant is one of the best methods for building a loyal community around your brand. 67% of restaurant owners invested in social media ads in 2019. This is where you can learn about their opinions and talk to your customers online.

However, organic reach on Facebook is currently very limited. If you want to ensure highly effective restaurant online marketing, prepare Facebook Ads. With these in place, you will reach many more people!

Restaurant marketing tips for Instagram.

Restaurant Instagram profile

78% of restaurants have their own Instagram profiles. Food looks great in photos and Instagram users love all that! Share fantastic photos of your products and advertise your restaurant the Instagram way! Read more about taking photos for Instagram in our article Professional photos of your dishes without a photographer – is it possible?

When planning restaurant online marketing, do not forget about Instagram. On this website, more so than on Facebook, the recipient’s attention focuses on the pictures. So, add some appetizing photos of your meals during meal hours to attract hungry observers.

Instagram provides big possibilities for editing added photos and tagging them with hashtags. Tag your photos to reach more people. It’s a good idea to use a hashtag with the name of the restaurant. Guests will surely like it, and they will then hashtag photos of their visits to your restaurant.

Restaurant marketing trend – automated email campaigns

Newsletter campaigns are a great tool that you can use in restaurant marketing to advertise your restaurant. Keep in mind that using this great tool depends on whether you have your own database of customers with consents for marketing communication.

The UpMenu system will generate your database automatically when customers place orders online! All you need to do is create an email campaign in the administrative panel which is provided along with the system.

Restaurant location – a propeller or a brake in a restaurant marketing strategy?

Choosing a good location for your diner is one of the most important and difficult decisions a future owner has to make. There are many reasons to open up in the city center, as well as many reasons not to. Weigh up the pros and cons of both these options and consider that there’s more to all good restaurant marketing ideas.

The closer, the better?

Almost everyone assumes that the best restaurant marketing strategy is about finding a place to rent that is as close to the city center as possible. In fact, it’s just one of the restaurant strategies that you can take up, but it’s not the only way to go. Just think about it: if restaurant marketing was based mainly on location, there would be no restaurants on the outskirts. Meanwhile, they do exist, and their owners are doing well. Once you realize this, you are fully aware of the fact that renting a place in the city center is not a guarantee to success.

Restaurant in the city center

Sure, it gives you some advantages: more people pass by your place, more people know of its existence. But there are also disadvantages: the rent for the premises is higher and there’s a lot of competition either side. As you see, locating your diner in the city center is not necessarily the perfect restaurant marketing strategy.

Far is not bad at all

You might be a restaurant owner, or a future owner, but certainly you are also a customer. Now think about it: is there a restaurant outside the city center that you love so much, you would rather spend half an hour driving there than eating somewhere else? I bet there is, and even the thought of this place makes your mouth water.

If your restaurant marketing strategy is right, there are people out there who would love your food so much that they don’t really care if your diner is nearby or far away. They wouldn’t mind your restaurant’s location, especially if you take care of your restaurant online marketing.

Restaurant marketing idea for physical location - pavement signs.

Get closer to your customers – let them find you online

It doesn’t really matter where your restaurant is if your restaurant marketing strategy includes restaurant online marketing. Everything can be sold online. And everything is sold online if the marketing is good enough. In fact, you shouldn’t base your restaurant’s success only on the location – open up to restaurant marketing to increase your sales. Not only sales per se, but also your popularity in the market – which also drives you towards more sales.

Avoid simple mistakes

Many restaurant owners who don’t want to develop their restaurant strategies and don’t use social media, special online ordering systems, etc., close their businesses sooner or later. For 17% of them, it’s sooner rather than later – they usually shut down within a year.

Sure, there are many reasons to close your restaurant, but not being popular enough (as happens when your diner is far from the city center) or paying rent that is too high (a common situation when your restaurant is in the city center) are common examples.

Another good example is bad targeting – you cannot expect that senior citizens will appreciate your funky-fancy restaurant, with its youthful design. And if you dream about opening up a quiet cozy restaurant that the more mature person might enjoy, don’t put it near student dorms or on a street that is best known for clubbing and wild parties.

The best restaurant marketing ideas to make customers love your restaurant

You do not have to be a restaurant marketing specialist to know that a food business cannot survive without customers. The most valuable ones are obviously those who simply love your eatery and visit it regularly. How can you gain the loyalty of the many hungry customers? The restaurant marketing tips described below will help you with this important question.

Remember to say “hi”

Make sure every customer feels nice and special in your restaurant. Staff should welcome guests with a smile and a warm and sincere “Hi, how are you?”. It’s such a simple restaurant marketing idea, but a very important one.

Everyone deserves to be treated with respect and honest care and attention. Positive energy and a homely atmosphere really do have the power to attract customers.

Small talk plays a big role

Your restaurant is a place where people want to enjoy their meal and relax for a while.

It is a good idea to start a conversation with your customers. Just remember to be kind and not to overwhelm anyone with long stories from your personal life. You can talk about simple things like the current weather or upcoming holidays.

Try and remember the names of loyal customers – they will appreciate it. Treat people as friends and not just as clients in order to build stronger relationships.

Reward loyalty with free gifts

The third restaurant marketing tip is to prepare small yet thoughtful presents for your customers. A free chocolate chip cookie or a tasty coffee will make them feel special and grateful.

Yes, you have to give away some products at no cost in order to go for this tip. However, you need to realize that you win something much more valuable in return – the loyalty of your customers. The rewarded individual will most likely visit your place again in the close future. Moreover, there is a good chance that this person will recommend your restaurant to some of their friends.

Happy people in restaurant. thanks to proper restaurant marketing.

Take care of your online customers

Certainly, you should appreciate the people who regularly step into your restaurant, but there is also another loyal group who should not be forgotten – online customers. It could be difficult to make small talk about the weather with them, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t show them that they are important.

Regardless, you can take care of online customers by using an online food ordering system. For example, give a free cup of coffee or a free hamburger to every person who makes three orders online.

Special discounts for special occasions

Successful restaurant online marketing needs to be focused on showing customers that they matter to you. In order to do that, you should remember these people during meaningful events in their lives.

Christmas, birthday, Valentine’s Day? Send your loyal customers extra discounts to make their celebration even happier. You can use the UpMenu system to create nice discount codes, such as ‘Tasty Birthday’ or ‘Merry Christmas’.

Best restaurant marketing idea – be kind to the end

Now, it is time for the last but by no means least of our restaurant marketing tips. When customers are about to leave your eatery, don’t forget about a positive final impression.

You could send a waiter to ask whether the meal met your customer’s expectations or hand them a free cup of tea to drink at home. The possibilities are endless – choose something which will best fit the style of your restaurant.

Recommend food

The food you give customers must be really good. Even the best advertisement will not repair poor quality products. This is the foundation on which you must base the promotion of your restaurant.

With an online ordering website, you can recommend dishes and earn more!

Provide great service

Along a similar line – even the best food, if served by unfriendly or inexperienced servers, will taste bad. Make sure that your team consists of professionals who are satisfied with their work!

Be on social media – another great restaurant marketing idea

We have, to a large extent, moved our lives onto social media. 57% of all food mentions on social media relate to restaurants. (source) Show customers what’s going on with your establishment on social media and share your thoughts with them. You can also share the news with your restaurant customers!

In this way, you create a community around your restaurant brand. Committed and loyal customers are of much higher value than the profit from any advertising campaign.

Listen to customer opinions and word-of-mouth marketing

92% of customers look for restaurant reviews before ordering food. (source) The opinions that your customers share are a treasure trove of knowledge! Listen to them and you will find out what works best in your establishment and what does not, what customers expect from you, and what they do not want to see anymore.

If you satisfy their needs, you can be sure that they will recommend your establishment to their friends. Word-of-mouth marketing (that is, a process running outside the planned restaurant online marketing, meaning mutual recommendation by customers of products and services to each other), strengthened by these social media times, will provide you with subsequent orders.

Online orders from your own website

If you want to further increase the amount of traffic to your restaurant, open a new sales channel – online orders from your website. Customers will definitely appreciate the new way of placing orders and you’ll save time and soon overtake your competition!

Newest restaurant marketing trend – run a mobile application

To further enhance the effect of launching online orders, give customers their own mobile application! Just imagine – they will always have your restaurant close by, in their beloved smartphone! Each time they turn it on, they will be reminded of the taste of your products!

Loyalty program

45% of customers say a loyalty program encourages them to order more often. Setting up a loyalty program in the UpMenu system is a very easy restaurant marketing idea. It can really have a positive effect on the loyalty you build with your customers! It’s simple and cheaper than advertising, and will make them order more often at your place!

Promotions for your customers

Create offers that your customers simply won’t be able to resist! Adding them to the above-described restaurant online marketing strategies means you will not be able to get away from customers!

Key to evaluating restaurant marketing ideas and trends – Analytics

Analytics plays a key role in the planning of restaurant marketing. It will help you evaluate the effectiveness of the activities you undertake and enable you to modify them if they do not achieve the intended results. Check out the three most important groups of indicators for making a restaurant more profitable.

Website analytics and indicators

The most basic indicator, and the starting point for every website analysis, is the number of views and the number of conversions.

Knowing the number of people that visit your restaurant’s website allows you to assess the effectiveness of your restaurant marketing campaign. This will help you make subsequent decisions – whether it pays you to continue with what you are doing or whether you should change something in your restaurant online marketing strategy. Remember, however, that some forms of marketing (e.g. those focused on content marketing) take time to show results, so do not make hasty decisions.

Another indicator is the bounce rate. This will show you exactly how many people visited your website but did not do anything further – didn’t click on any menu links, didn’t convert, etc. A high bounce rate indicates that the website is perhaps not intuitive to use, or that the graphic design doesn’t encourage conversions.

Websites created in UpMenu save all the information about visits in their administration panel. This means that all the data for analysis is collected in one place. In addition, the UpMenu system designs websites with search engine optimization in mind.

Online food ordering system and the number of online orders

Measuring the number of online orders is a restaurant marketing idea for any restaurant, as it helps you to prepare for periods of high demand. It allows you to see on what days and at what exact times demand for meals is highest. In this way, you can instruct your chefs to be ready with a larger number of meals at specific times.

Analysis of the number of orders should be combined with an analysis of specific menu items, in order to establish which are the most popular and which ones you should eliminate from the menu as unprofitable.

Analyzing orders also allows you to easily find out which products are most often ordered together. How can you take advantage of this information? Introduce cross selling; offer your customers attractive discounts and promotions so as to further exploit the potential of your menu.

In UpMenu, all the data needed for analyzing your restaurant marketing can be found in the intuitive administration panel.

Analytics of restaurant marketing and customer feedback

Analyzing your marketing activities is a key factor in assessing their effectiveness, as well as the return on investment on expensive advertising. Even the best restaurant marketing ideas can fail, but you can learn from every failure thanks to advanced analytics tools. You can use the results of such analyzes to improve the planning of your subsequent restaurant marketing activities.

Analyzing the number of customers redirected to your restaurant’s website from banners and other ads will tell you exactly which of them are most effective and at what times they generate the most traffic.

You should also analyze customer feedback, especially negative reviews, and comments. Criticism should not be taken as something to cut you down, but rather as constructive comments on how you can improve your restaurant marketing. Feedback will help you to eliminate problems and shortcomings effectively and to continue to improve the quality of the services you offer.

Restaurant marketing idea- make beautiful photos of your dishes.

Good marketing idea for a restaurant – refresh your brand’s image

A restaurant’s brand is more than just the name and logo. In these times of growing competition in the marketplace, leaving a trace of your brand in the customers’ awareness is an important factor in restaurant marketing ideas. Use the best UpMenu food ordering website templates and refresh your brand image.

Elements of a brand visual identity

As already mentioned, a good method for retaining recognition of a restaurant is to supplement your restaurant marketing with a well-thought-out strategy for building its image. What elements is this strategy composed of?

  1. Logo – how should it be designed? It should be catchy. The graphical elements should remain in a customer’s memory equally as fast as marketing slogans. Minimalist is the answer – a logo cannot be composed of an excessive number of elements and colors.
  2. Color and letter styles – if your logo contains the name, be consistent and use the same font in all marketing materials. But that’s not all. The colors must also be consistent. Choose two or three, maximum.

When you already know what your key assumptions are in terms of the visual identity of your restaurant, apply them to the other elements: the restaurant interior, marketing materials, packaging, and company gadgets (mugs, shirts, caps, lanyards, pens, flyers, and stickers), the best food ordering website, and your social media profiles.

Start your restaurant marketing by refreshing the image of your restaurant

It is a great restaurant marketing idea to reach your customers effectively with a new image. For many of them, your website will be the first point of contact. What do you need to remember when creating a website?

  • Consistency – be sure that it features elements that correspond to the visual elements of the company.
  • Content – appearance isn’t everything. It is also important in restaurant online marketing to ensure descriptive and attractive content. Start running a blog, create social media profiles, inform your customers about special deals and all the latest news.
  • Photos – you know that people eat with their eyes. Include photos of delicious meals on your website.
  • Mobility – be sure that the website is adjusted to browsing on smartphones and tablets.
  • UpMenu system – you will not always tempt your customers to visit your restaurant, but this doesn’t have to mean that you won’t sell them food. Thanks to the online food ordering system, your customers will order food to be delivered to their homes quickly and easily, and you won’t lose customers. All you have to do is set up an UpMenu account and choose your subscription plan.

Restaurant marketing ideas and trends for Viral marketing

Do you think that all good restaurant marketing ideas have already been used? Do you think that you are unable to face the competition who spend huge amounts of money on advertising? Have you heard of viral marketing? See what viral marketing is and how to introduce it into promoting your restaurant in 3 steps.

New restaurant marketing ideas: what is viral marketing?

The name is no coincidence. The message in this advertising format is popularised similarly to a virus – incidentally and often not intentionally. All you need is to come into contact with the information briefly to become “infected”.

The speed of spreading the message is simplified additionally by means of the platform which is used to pass the information on. The Internet enables us to send data around the globe in an instant, while the growth of social media has made it even easier. Currently, portals such as Facebook or Instagram are no longer just pages intended for consumers. Today, they are very important tools for executing restaurant marketing ideas.

Viral marketing is one of the restaurant marketing strategies consisting of introducing certain information into the awareness of an audience, which is immediately popularised through the Internet and other media. This information may be hidden in infographics, photographs, videos, podcasts, and many others. Creativity and a catchy message are important here.

How to conduct a successful campaign with the use of viral marketing? Start with the following 3 steps.

viral marketing idea - attract more customers by going viral

1. Prepare contagious material

There are no specific rules on how a viral message should look. Nevertheless, we can list several characteristics. We all remember such actions as the Ice Bucket Challenge or the Polish Neostrada campaign where Heart and Mind where the main characters? What was so special about them?

The Ice Bucket Challenge aimed at collecting money for research on multiple sclerosis. However, the entire campaign was driven by the humoristic idea of this challenge and not just the aim. In just a short period, accounts of users on social media were flooded with short videos of people pouring ice-cold water on themselves.

The Neostrada advertising campaign won the attention of recipients through appearances by charismatic characters: the reasonable Mind and the emotional Heart. The structure of the characters was based on the notion that opposites supplement one another. It featured many funny scenes and became very popular very quickly, lasting for several years.

The common denominator of those two campaigns was a funny idea. Thanks to this, both were very popular and willingly spread. In the case of the Ice Bucket Challenge, the users being its target audience became closely involved.

In order for viral material in your restaurant online marketing to be willingly spread, you have to give your target group a reason to do so. It can be for charity or it may just be very attractive. Choose humor. Refer to current events and try to do a parody. Wink at your competition or even shock your audience a little.

People using mobile devices while eating- utilizing customer feedback is a great restaurant marketing idea.

2. Choose the appropriate platform for promotion

Despite the fact that viral marketing is best spread online, this is not a reason to simply forget other media, especially if you have a significant budget for the campaign.

Viral marketing on the radio or TV will effectively reinforce activities conducted online. In some cases, it may even surpass them! As an example, take the above-mentioned Neostrada campaign or the Pepsi challenge.

Making a beautiful Instagram grid - excellent restaurant marketing trend.

3. Ensure proper distribution

Someone has to take the first step. When your viral promotional material is ready, focus on its distribution. If you start your promotion online, post it on your website and in your social media, but don’t stop here.

Send it to your family and friends. Ask your employees (especially people who work on the campaign), to do the same. Think about paid forms of promoting the material, e.g. Facebook advertising. Catchy viral material that will be displayed on a user’s wall several times will not be ignored. And that’s exactly what you’re aiming for.

Screenshot of ordering through Facebook page - exceptional restaurant marketing idea to boost sales.

Viral marketing is a relatively new concept among restaurant marketing ideas, especially online. It seems, however, that so far (except for large fast-food networks), it hasn’t been used on a large scale in the restaurant industry. Perhaps, this is an opportunity for your restaurant management. Take advantage of it!

Restaurant marketing ideas for rebranding

How to perform restaurant rebranding correctly

  1. Choose one of the best food ordering websites themes

    The UpMenu system will make it possible to easily develop a website by choosing a ready-made template for the best food ordering websites. You can then adjust it to the brand image of your restaurant and that’s how you can start building your restaurant’s brand online effectively.

  2. Launch online ordering

    When the UpMenu system is available on the best food ordering websites, the restaurant will increase the number of food deliveries. This makes it possible to increase your profit and become independent of food ordering portals.

  3. Launch restaurant mobile app adjusted to the best food ordering websites

    Do you want more orders? Launch a restaurant mobile app that will be fully adjusted to the best food ordering websites. This way, you will generate more customer loyalty and be able to complete more food deliveries and takeout orders.

  4. Consistent restaurant marketing activities

    With one of the best food ordering websites, that also features the UpMenu system, you can benefit from completely new marketing tools that will help you develop a stronger brand. A restaurant loyalty program, SMS campaigns, and all the other elements of restaurant marketing can be adjusted to the best food ordering websites thanks to UpMenu.

Photo of delivered pizza, ordered through online ordering system


How to start your marketing campaign?

– Investigate your competition’s marketing actions
– Create an anticipated customer persona
– Prepare engaging content that will appeal to your envisioned persona
– Split your content into categories for easier handling
– Create a content publication schedule
– Start growing your customer base

How should you promote your restaurant?

– Create a responsive website with an integrated ordering system
– Promote through engaging Facebook posts and events. Don’t forget to include an ordering option on Facebook.
– Prepare marketing campaigns on Facebook and Google advertisement platforms
– Run an Instagram profile for your eatery with enticing content
– Initiate captivating e-mail campaign
– Award your customers with discount coupons and vouchers for activity on your social media pages.

What are the latest restaurant marketing ideas and trends?

Utilize wide social media coverage to reach new customers and promote your brand. Create an attractive online presence and maintain communication with clients.
Use e-mail campaigns to inform customers about promotional campaigns and grow loyalty.
Implement an online ordering system to enhance customer experience with a brand. Develop a mobile app to reach even more potential customers.
Create a business profile on Google for your restaurant to improve visibility in search engines.
Establish cooperation with the food industry’s influencers to boost your online presence.


The best restaurant marketing ideas will help you get new clients, earn more, and realize more deliveries and takeout orders. Our restaurant marketing tips will also help you accomplish your next important task.

Building brand awareness is a long-term process that requires a well-thought-out strategy and regular activities. It is definitely worth the effort because people love brands.

Choose one of the best food ordering website themes and develop an outstanding website for your restaurant. Start building your image consciously.

These few tips will certainly allow you to better plan your next campaigns online! Today’s marketing has very clearly moved onto the Internet. Do the same with your restaurant! Run great restaurant online marketing with UpMenu system and enjoy the profits from online orders!

Monika Kamińska

Marketing and communication enthusiast with 20+ years of experience, a psychologist by education.

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