Digital Marketing for Restaurants & Cafes

Imagine these scenarios:

1- Matilde has just finished her meeting and she’s starving. she’s standing in the middle of the street and trying to find a place to eat. She takes out her mobile phone and types “nice Italian restaurant near me”. She takes a look at the results, checks out some reviews, and chooses one.

2- Emir has set up a get-together with his old friends. They’ve got the time and date, now they need a place. In his break time at work, he searches on his computer “cozy cafes for gatherings”. He scrolls through the results, checks out some of their profiles and websites, looks through the menus and offers, and ultimately chooses one.

These 2 scenarios and hundreds similar to them happen every day. People search for cafes and restaurants online every day.

Now imagine that every time you’re not there online, you’re losing customers to your competitors who have an online presence or a stronger presence than you.

Now not to worry, if you don’t want to be the loser in similar scenarios, read this post to learn about digital marketing for restaurants. We’re going to tell you all the possible ways internet marketing can help your food & beverage business gain more customers.

Why you must consider digital marketing for restaurants & cafes

Any answer we give might lead you to think we say so because we’re a digital marketing agency and want to sell! While that is true, we firmly believe that in a world where users spend more time online than even with their families, it is crucial to have an internet marketing strategy for your restaurant.

But don’t just take our word for it, read the stats below:

The phrase “restaurants near me” is searched about 50.000 times per month in Dubai.

86% of youngsters will try a new restaurant after seeing food-related content online.

90% of guests research a restaurant online before dining—more than any other business type.

57% of those guests viewed restaurant websites before selecting where to dine.

Digital marketing tips for restaurants & cafes

These statistics and many more like them actually prove that if you own a restaurant, café, or diner and you are not considering digital marketing for restaurants, you are making a huge mistake.

If you’re not still convinced on why you should take internet restaurant marketing seriously, just consider these points:


  • Most of your potential customers are online
  • Digital marketing for restaurants costs less than traditional marketing
  • Digital marketing for restaurants is more trackable and optimizable in contrast to traditional restaurant marketing methods
  • People post pictures of their food and drinks online literally before they eat it
Cafe and restaurant marketing tips & food photography

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How does internet marketing for restaurants or cafes work?

Internet marketing for restaurants and cafes works basically like traditional marketing:

You design a strategy first. And by strategy we don’t mean anything complex and intimidating, it just needs to be a plan with minimum clarity to light your way. Then you use tools and tactics to promote your business to your potential target customers.

The only difference is that the tools and channels you use here are online ones.

So for instance, if you used to advertise in magazines for your restaurant, now you choose the online alternatives, for example, Google Ads.

Cafe & restaurant social media marketing

How should you start digital marketing for restaurants & cafes?

Follow these steps to digital marketing for restaurants and cafes.

Just remember before you go ahead with any of these steps, have a clear picture of your ideal customers in mind. Their features and demographics will help practically every step of the way.

Do not ignore this tip, because it could waste all your restaurant marketing efforts and money.

1- Get a restaurant Website design

Websites are online alternatives for physical spaces. If you want people to find you online, you need to have a website.

Professional websites also make your brand and business look more credible and trustworthy. Many restaurants make the mistake of going online on other platforms like delivery systems and think that’s enough, but the moment people type in your name on Google and see you don’t have a website, they will lose part of their trust.

Don’t forget to make your restaurant website responsive and mobile-friendly and also be sure to include a menu on your website.

For more tips on a great restaurant website design, read this post.

House listing for real estate website

2- Be present on Social media

As a restaurant or café owner, you must have seen people capturing images of their food even before they touch it. It’s no exaggeration to say that some people even go to restaurants just to post on Instagram! This makes it super important to be present on social media.

Social media is also the perfect place to create conversations with your current and potential customers, answer their questions, announce offers and promotions and just keep connected to them.

If people see engaging posts from your restaurant on social media regularly, your restaurant will be the first to pop in their mind the next time they’re out with friends trying to find a place to eat.

As a restaurant or café, we recommend choosing Instagram as your main social media as it is a place best used for sharing photos and videos.

Best social media strategies for restaurant & cafe

3- Run PPC online ads for your restaurant

After your website is live and your social media accounts are set, run some online ads for your business.

We recommend starting with Google Ads. Google Ads are affordable and you only pay when somebody clicks on your ad. The click prices are usually reasonable as well, for instance about 1 dirham or 0.3 dollars. (Of course, the prices differ based on the competition and other factors, but they are usually reasonable)

Google Ads also have many options for your business:

  • You can run local ads, which show your restaurant when somebody searches near you.
  • You can run search ads, which will show people your ads when they search related phrases such as “best Indian restaurants in Dubai”.
  • You can run display ads that will show your banners across hundreds of websites to a targeted audience to increase your brand awareness.

You just have to remember that with all these methods, you have complete control:

  • You can set a daily budget
  • You can choose how much you’re willing to spend for each click
  • You can choose who sees your ads and where
  • You can choose your ads images and texts as well
  • You can choose your ads timings

As you can see, the possibilities are endless with Google Ads for restaurants. And what’s more, is that it takes less than a day to get your ads up & running. So it’s perfect for small and new restaurants that are in a hurry to be seen.

Google Ads for restaurants and cafes

4- Get registered in online restaurant directories and platforms

This is a must for any business in the food and beverage industry. Find online directories and platforms which are popular in your area, like Zomato, Deliveroo, or … and register your business there.

You probably have to pay fixed fees or commissions to these platforms and listings, but it’s only fair since they will be bringing you, customers.

Best online platforms for restaurant promotion

5- Register your restaurant or café in Google My Business

The next step is to register your restaurant or café on Google My Business. It’s basically a free listing (premium options are also available). And it is a huge must.

Have you seen results like these when you search on Google? Well, these are all Google My Business results being shown for local searches.

Register your restaurant or cafe in Google My Business

6- Do local SEO for your restaurant

While you’re getting seen instantly and regularly with Google Ads, you can start working on your website’s SEO as well.

SEO stands for search engine optimization. It refers to optimizing your website in a way, that will appear in Google’s top results when somebody searches for something related to your business.

Now SEO takes time to show results. This is why we recommend restaurant owners to use other online marketing methods along it to create some instant cash flow while your SEO efforts kick in.

Now don’t get us wrong, the things we said don’t mean that Google Ads is better than SEO or vise versa. Both of these tools are extremely powerful digital marketing tools that must be used.

Local SEO organic search results for restaurants

Extra tips for internet marketing for restaurants

If you have applied the steps above for restaurant internet marketing, you now have a solid online presence, congratulations!

Now you can also apply the following tips to further strengthen your online presence. The stronger you’re business is online, the easier it becomes for people to find you, try you, and recommend you to others.

A. Consider social media marketing

Having a social media account is not enough for your restaurant or café. You have to actually work on it, especially on Instagram.
As soon as you get some extra budget, spend it on social media marketing.

Hire an Instagram admin (or give the responsibility to one of your employees) to post regular images, stories, and videos of your restaurant or café.

You can also use social media ads to promote your posts and gain new followers.

Also make sure to socialize and have conversations with your followers, answer their comments, their feedbacks, comment on their posts, or like their posts.

B. Get listed on popular review websites

Reviews are everything for the food and drink industry. People are more likely to choose your place or order from you if they see positive reviews of you.

Register your business on Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato, and other local review websites. Then ask your customers to leave you reviews. You can even offer something in return to make it more possible for them to actually take the time and leave reviews.

For instance, you can offer them a coupon that will be activated after leaving a review.

C. Do email marketing/SMS marketing

Ask your customers for their email or phone number, save them in a CRM system, send occasional promotions, and voila!

This digital marketing for restaurants tip is super useful. Many successful marketers tell you to just leverage what you already have. And you should take this seriously.

Your current customers, especially the ones that come in regularly, already like you. So you can get them to come more or even introduce you to others by sending them SMS or emails containing offers for their weekends, birthdays, or new years.

D. Use influencer marketing

You’re probably already familiar with influencer marketing. You basically pay famous people on social media to promote your restaurant.

Now if you’re just starting out and have a limited budget, you must stay away from very famous influencers who charge higher. You can go to influencers who have fewer followers but are within your price range.

The trick is to find influencers whose followers are mostly your ideal customer type.

Also, some influencers work up arrangements instead of cash payments. For instance, some of them might agree to come into your café free of charge for the next 6 months and promote it instead.

Start internet marketing for your restaurant

As you read above, when it comes to digital marketing for restaurants, there are so many possibilities.
The point is to establish the minimum online presence necessary and then gradually try various internet marketing tools to see which works best for your restaurant or café.

If you own a restaurant or café and are considering restaurant marketing online, you can give us a call. We can suggest the most efficient ways for your restaurant promotion.

Ready to Promote Your Restaurant?