8 web marketing techniques for restaurants (with examples)
By helloDarwin
December 18, 2018

8 Web Marketing Techniques for restaurants (with examples)

Are you a restaurant owner or responsible for promoting your restaurant on the Internet? In this vast world where every business is trying to develop its brand image and attract the attention of its target audience, it's not always easy to find original strategies!
In the past, restaurants relied heavily on newspaper reviews and word-of-mouth to promote themselves. Nowadays, it's a lot of fashion and social networking that attracts people to a restaurant. So what tactics should you adopt to showcase your restaurant and build a loyal clientele?
In this article, we'll introduce you to 8 tried-and-tested techniques that are suitable for different target audiences. Then, we'll share examples of restaurants with stand-out marketing strategies, so you can fuel your own brainstorming.

1) Find your target audience

First and foremost, if you haven't already done so, you'll need to figure out who you're targeting and what kind of customers you want to attract to your restaurant. Most restaurants will say they want to attract as many people as possible, but realistically, there are certain segments of the population that are more relevant than others.
Finding your audience is the key to success in restaurant web marketing. Understanding who your potential customers are allows you to tailor your marketing strategies to specifically address their needs and preferences. Start by defining your audience's demographics, such as age, location and culinary interests. Next, dive into online behaviors by analyzing preferred social platforms, search habits, and online reviews consulted. By deeply understanding your audience, you can fine-tune your online presence, from social media to your website, to create meaningful impact. Ultimately, connecting with your audience is the cornerstone of a successful web marketing strategy, paving the way for lasting customer loyalty and continued growth.
For example, a brewery will target young professionals between the ages of 25 and 40, who have a certain salary and more free time. Marketing strategies will be adapted according to target audiences, including vocabulary, target demographics for advertising, color palettes, image content and so on.
For further food for thought, see our article : How and why to identify your target audience.

2) Define your objectives

Once you've decided who you want to talk to, you need to try and define your goals. You can create several tiers of goals-realistic, optimistic, your dream goals, etc. As an objective, for example, you might aim to reach 10,000 followers on Instagram by the end of the year. Or you might want your restaurant to appear on the first page when people type in "vegetarian restaurant in Bromont". These are just a few examples of goals you could set yourself to further develop your restaurant's online presence.
Make sure your objectives are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound (SMART). Once your objectives are clearly defined, you can tailor your marketing efforts accordingly, choosing the platforms and tactics that will optimize your results. Keeping a clear vision of your objectives throughout your digital journey will ensure efficient use of your resources and bring you closer to the success you're aiming for.

3) Optimize local referencing

Local SEO is an optimization technique that emerged when Google decided to take geolocation into account in its search results. For example, when someone writes "bathroom renovation", the search engine wants to present the person with renovation contractors or stores located in their area. So, if the person writes a very simple query like "bathroom renovation", even without specifying their city, Google will want to present them with suitable results. In order to show relevant information, the algorithms will use the user's data and that of pages that have taken the time to optimize their websites, profiles and social network accounts.
Here are a few techniques for optimizing your local SEO:
  • Optimize your profile on Google My Business (which appears when people type in your name);
  • List your restaurant in online directories (Yelp, Yellow Pages, RestoMontreal, etc.);
  • Optimize your website to specify where you are located and what you offer;
  • Encourage user reviews (especially on your Google My Business page).
Find out more in our article 10 tips to improve your local SEO

4) Social networks

These days, it's almost unthinkable not to develop a presence on social networks.After all, it's not necessary to create accounts on every social media channel, but at least put some effort into where your audience is.Since you've already determined who you want to talk to, you can choose the social network where that audience is.In Canada, the biggest networks are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and TikTok. For a restaurant, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok offer the most potential.

How do you use them?

Instagram is a social network that's heavily focused on images and less on the written word (description). This is the time to show off mouth-watering photos of your dishes and pretty pictures of your decor and employees. Create a certain aesthetic that corresponds to the brand image you want to put forward, for example, by choosing a sepia tone for the photos, or by putting forward a color that corresponds to the logo. Another idea is to include text in the images.
Encourage people to comment on your images, and make sure you use the right hashtags to reach more people. You can also encourage people to share their own photos taken in your restaurant, and then share them on your account (by tagging them). This will create a sense of belonging.
On Facebook, you can rely more on text, talking about your dishes, your special offers and even a few jokes. The aim on Facebook is to create a dialogue between the company and those who follow it on the social network.So it's a good idea to create posts that provoke discussion (but not controversy, unless that works with your target audience).
TikTok, a dynamic, creativity-driven platform, offers a unique opportunity for restaurants.Take advantage of TikTok's visual and playful aspect by sharing creative videos highlighting your star dishes, the talent of your kitchen team, and the unique ambiance of your establishment.Create entertaining and engaging content that reflects your brand identity. Use special effects, captivating music and trends to increase the visibility of your videos. Encourage interaction by encouraging users to like, comment and share. The clever use of popular hashtags will broaden your audience. What's more, encourage customers to create and share their own videos, reinforcing the sense of belonging to your community on TikTok.
What about advertising?
The importance of advertising on social networks to promote your restaurant cannot be underestimated in today's digital age. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter offer direct access to millions of potential users. Using these channels to promote your menu, share special offers and highlight your restaurant's unique experience can significantly increase your visibility and attract new customers.
Here are a few tips for successful advertising on social networks:
  1. Target your audience: Identify your audience based on criteria such as location, age and interests to maximize the effectiveness of your ads.
  2. Attractive visual content: Use high-quality images of your food, your team and your restaurant's ambience to capture attention.
  3. Special offers and promotions: Attract attention with exclusive offers to social media users, enticing them to take the plunge.
  4. Interactive engagement: Encourage participation by asking questions, encouraging comments and running contests, reinforcing interaction with your audience.
  5. Track and adjust: Use built-in analytics to evaluate the performance of your ads, and adjust your strategy accordingly.
By intelligently exploiting advertising on social networks, your restaurant can not only expand its customer base, but also significantly strengthen its online presence.
Online advertising on food delivery apps such as UberEats or Skip The Dishes is proving to be an essential strategy for modern restaurants. These platforms offer increased visibility for your establishment, directly reaching a customer base already interested in dining out. By investing in targeted advertising within these delivery apps, you can increase awareness of your restaurant, promote special offers and encourage users to choose your establishment from the many options available. The effectiveness of this approach lies in the ability to reach customers when they're ready to place their order, maximizing the chances of conversion and strengthening your presence in the meal delivery sector.
For more information on social networks, here are two articles you might find useful:
Looking for web marketing experts to promote your restaurant?
Contact us to be put in touch with specialists!

5) Creating a website for a restaurant

Creating a website can be a very useful part of a web marketing strategy. For a restaurant, it's an excellent way of highlighting the atmosphere, menu and personality of the establishment. In most cases, it's not necessary to design a very complex site containing several pages.
A showcase site will be more than enough to get your message across, unless you want to launch a major content strategy, with a blog, photos, recipes, videos and so on. This type of strategy may be relevant for large restaurants with a family audience, or for chains.
You'll find relevant information on website creation in these articles:

6) Online reservations

Offering online reservations has practically become a must for mid-range and high-end restaurants. Most people prefer to book in 30 seconds from their computer or cell phone, rather than taking the time to call. Therefore, it's highly advisable to integrate a tool to take reservations from your website and social network accounts.
Several tools are available in Quebec, including Bookenda, OpenTable and RestoMontreal. Study each option before choosing the one that best suits your needs. On Facebook, you can use a plugin installed directly on your page.

7) Fast-food restaurant promotions

As mentioned earlier in the article, some strategies are better suited to fast-food restaurants and wouldn't necessarily suit the tone associated with other types of restaurants. One example is the strategy of asking people to report their presence in the restaurant to win a free meal or other such prize.
It's a very effective and interesting technique for fast-food restaurants, as it attracts likes and visibility on social networks. On the other hand, for more upscale restaurants, this type of practice doesn't really fit in with the brand's image.

8) Work with a marketing agency to promote your restaurant

As a restaurateur, you may be creative, but you won't necessarily have the time or knowledge to launch and carry out marketing strategies. Therefore, it's highly advisable to call on the services of an agency specialized in web marketing.
Here's a useful article on working with a marketing agency:

Here are 7 examples of restaurants with interesting web marketing strategies

Instead of going on and on about theory and abstract examples, we've decided to tell you about real-life examples. In doing so, you'll see effective, often daring, strategies employed by restaurants around the world. We've also chosen to showcase a number of local restaurants to see what works with a Quebec audience:
Instead of going on and on about theory and abstract examples, we've decided to tell you about real-life examples. In doing so, you'll see effective, often daring, strategies employed by restaurants around the world. We've also chosen to focus on a number of local restaurants to see what works with a Quebec audience:

1) Foodchain and Montréal Plaza

Why start with two restaurants that count as a single example? Because both share many of the same team members. What the two very different establishments have in common is that they're the fruit of the creativity of several great Montreal chefs and artists: Charles-Antoine Crête, Cheryl Johnson, Zébulon Perron and Jean-François Saine.
Although the restaurants have two completely different models (one is a vegetable-focused fast food chain while the other is a rather upscale restaurant), their marketing strategies both employ the same touch of originality and craziness that helps them stand out from the crowd. For example, if you check out Foodchain's Instagram profile, you'll see the bit of craziness that drives them. While so many establishments take themselves too seriously for fear of coming across as too strange or too daring, the people responsible for Foodchain's account don't let these conventions get in the way.
The same goes for the accounts associated with Montréal Plaza. Don't expect to see photos of their (otherwise) magnificent dishes. Instead, you'll be exposed to the creative process that drives the team, their sense of humor, their explorations and so on.
So, despite what we've said above, even in fine dining, there's room for bold communication techniques!

2) Pieology Pizzeria

Pielogy prides itself on being the "Chipotle of Pizza", Chipotle being an American restaurant chain where people are invited to create their own burritos by choosing the ingredients. Here, we're talking about a dish loved by all: pizza. Even if pizza is an easy dish to sell, it's not easy to be original and stand out from the big chains like Papa John's or Pizza Hut. That's why Pieology called in experts in social network strategy.
You can read more about the strategy adopted by Magnetic Creative in their brand story.
In short, they focused on the company's values, sharing funny and inspiring messages on social networks and through the restaurant's décor. What's more, unlike the previous example, the company's website and social networks share lots of images of food, with the aim of attracting people through the belly!
In short, they focused on the company's values, sharing funny and inspiring messages on social networks and throughout the restaurant's décor. What's more, unlike the previous example, the company's website and social networks share lots of images of food, with the aim of attracting people by the belly!

3) Cheesecake factory

Here's another example of a major American chain that's little known on this side of the border. In fact, ask any Canadian if they've heard of the Cheesecake Factory and if they say yes, chances are they've only heard of this restaurant through the sitcom The Big Bang Theory (Penny's character works there).
So why pay attention to this company? Because their web marketing strategy is really interesting. At the Cheesecake Factory, the whole concept revolves around abundance. The menu is voluminous, the portions are gargantuan, and the restaurants themselves can accommodate hundreds of guests.
In addition to banking on this abundance, the brand image is also centered on the accessible, welcoming aspect of the company. They also do a lot of cross-marketing with websites like Buzzfeed, as well as influencers who help rejuvenate the company's image.

4) Nando's

Portuguese chicken chain Nando's is present in over 30 countries worldwide. As a result, they have to be very creative and versatile when it comes to marketing strategies. With over 4.5 million fans on Facebook and 250,000 on Instagram, Nando's is able to reach a lot of people by employing different tactics. In the past, they've used well-known singers (including Ed Sheeran), created funny characters (the Peri Boyz) and offered a secret menu.

5) Le Mousso

A complete change of style and category! Le Mousso is a Montreal restaurant that often earns a place on lists of the city's best establishments. Chef Antonin Mousseau-Rivard wows diners with his creativity and dishes that are as beautiful as they are delectable. The restaurant offers a formula that, at first glance, is not accessible to everyone: a fixed-price menu at $120.
An adjacent address, Petit Mousso, has recently taken up the same style of cuisine, but allows diners to order à la carte. That said, despite the rather high price range, often associated with a more affluent class, the target audience for restaurants under the Mousso banner is rather eclectic. Diners are young, old, hip, gourmets, artists, business people and more.
In terms of marketing strategy, it's mainly through word-of-mouth and enticing images on social networks that the restaurant has made a name for itself. As with Montréal Plaza, Le Mousso's social media management aims to reflect the personality of the restaurant and, by extension, that of the chef.
The result is a mix of photos of dishes, often resembling abstract works of art, alternating with hip-hop videos and photos of the dynamic team. This creates a close relationship with customers.

6) Antidote vegan food

We've chosen to present an example on a human scale, for a company that doesn't have an astronomical number of followers on social networks, but makes good use of this medium to reflect its values and objectives. Antidote bouffe végane is a restaurant serving an entirely vegan menu.
On Instagram, they focus on photos of mouth-watering dishes and customers, while Facebook is used to share the various events taking place in the restaurant, including comedy nights or exhibitions. It's a simple and highly effective strategy for building a loyal customer base organically. They also have a beautiful, impeccably designed website. It's well worth a visit and can serve as inspiration.

7) Valentine

A final example, but one of our favorites, is the strategy adopted by fast-food chain Valentine. The brand has been around since 1979, so it's a challenge to keep it relevant. Lg2 was given the task, and they rose to the challenge with flying colors! Humor, color and creativity are the order of the day. Valentine's Facebook page is particularly active and gets a lot of engagement from its users, who respond very positively to publications that are totally off the beaten track.
What's more, the page manager responds with aplomb and humor to those who comment, further fuelling the sense of belonging and, by extension, the conversion rate of publications. Valentine has also collaborated with other Quebec business Facebook pages to reach a wider audience.
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