Keeping Your Restaurant Top of Mind: A Guide to Digital Marketing and Budgeting

December 18, 2023

When developing your restaurant's budget, it is important to strike a balance between cost-effective strategies and impactful marketing channels. Consider your restaurant's size, location, and annual sales when making budgetary decisions.

When launching a restaurant, there are various aspects that business owners must take into account. These include expenses such as rent, staff, equipment, and food. But, it's crucial not to overlook the marketing costs that come along with it. Upon opening, it's vital to attract customers, and if there isn't enough money allocated towards marketing, it may lead to potential problems. Ultimately, even if the food, ambiance, and guest experience are five stars, any business will face difficulties without a sufficient number of customers. Therefore, creating a marketing plan and allocating funds from the start is essential to increase the chances of success. 

A solid online presence can make a significant difference in the present-day restaurant industry. Engaging with customers through digital marketing channels can help maintain top-of-mind awareness, which is critical for success.  Generally, restaurants allocate around 3-6% of their overall revenue towards their marketing efforts. However, analyzing and distributing this budget is crucial to ensure maximum efficiency. By doing so, restaurants can attract new customers, retain existing ones, and increase their revenue. Effective marketing budget utilization also helps restaurants differentiate themselves from the competition and establish a strong brand identity. Here's a comprehensive guide to building an effective restaurant marketing strategy while being mindful of your budget.

Breakdown of the Marketing Budget for Restaurants

1. Social Media Channels: Social media has become an integral part of our lives, with approximately 70% of Americans actively using it. This provides businesses with a significant opportunity to advertise their products or services. Platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Threads, TikTok, LinkedIn and Twitter offer a vast audience base to connect with potential customers. To enhance your visibility, consider setting aside a portion of your marketing budget for sponsored posts. Additionally, user-generated content can help create an authentic brand image and foster a stronger connection with your audience.

2. SEO Ads: Digital marketing should be the cornerstone of your marketing plan if it isn't already. 57% of Americans prefer takeout to dine-in restaurants, so it's crucial to establish a solid online presence and local SEO strategy. You can capture potential customers actively looking for dining options by investing in targeted Google Ads. Optimizing keywords is another way to ensure your restaurant is visible on search engine results pages. 

3. Newsletters: Free email marketing platforms are an option, but there are also paid options that could cost around $25 monthly for smaller restaurant mailing lists. The pricing could increase depending on your list's number of contacts. To get started, make a subscriber list for customized promotions and updates. Email campaigns can also be utilized for announcing new menu items, special events, and promotions.

4. Influencers and Collaborations: To increase your restaurant’s exposure, consider participating in community events or sponsoring local activities. Join forces with influencers or local ambassadors for mutually beneficial partnerships. Remember that the cost of influencer marketing can vary greatly, depending on factors like the influencer's reach, engagement rate, and preferred platform. Some influencers may charge a high fee, which typically corresponds to their number of followers, engagement rate, and platform popularity. Partnering with these influencers could give your restaurant a significant boost in visibility. Alternatively, teaming up with local food bloggers or micro-influencers could be a more cost-effective option that still yields positive outcomes. In fact, micro-influencers often generate up to 60% more engagement than macro-influencers.

5. Video Content: Attracting customers by sharing a behind-the-scenes glimpse can help engage potential guests. Videos can exhibit the entire dining experience, communicate transparency, and provide a sneak peek into the atmosphere, menu, and team of your restaurant. Optimized videos with pertinent tags and explanations can substantially improve SEO. Moreover, videos tend to retain website visitors for longer, signaling to search engines that the content is valuable, resulting in higher rankings.

Effective restaurant marketing goes beyond the visible expenses; there are hidden costs that can catch you off guard. Understanding these aspects is crucial for building a successful marketing strategy.

1. Website and App Development: Needless to say, the rise of food delivery services and shifting consumer demands have made branded digital platforms essential for the restaurant industry. In fact, when consumers across the US were asked whether they preferred using a restaurant's own app or website for food delivery, 67% stated that they preferred using a restaurant's own app or website for food delivery. However, as businesses increasingly digitize their operations, they face the challenge of maintaining a direct line of communication with customers, differentiating their brand, and fostering customer loyalty, that’s where branded mobile apps come in. Moreover, investing in a user-friendly website and app is essential for restaurants. However, development costs vary significantly, ranging from $5,000 to $250,000 for a full-featured web app. Ensure your budget accounts for potential hidden fees and impeccable support.

2. Loyalty Programs and Discounts: Although loyalty programs can effectively retain customers, they can also be expensive. In addition, offering discounts to new customers also comes at a cost. A majority of diners are more likely to try a new restaurant if they are offered coupons or other special deals. However, it is essential to carefully plan and budget for these initiatives since discounts and rewards affect revenue. Ensuring that they ultimately contribute positively to your bottom line is crucial.

Building Your Restaurant Marketing Budget - Tips to Consider

1. Leverage User Data-Driven Insights for Targeted Marketing Campaigns: Data analytics is critical to understanding customer behavior. Restaurants need to focus on using the data they already have from their customers. This data can include demographics from loyalty programs (birthdays, location preferences, anniversary dates), email/SMS/MMS lists, and restaurant management systems like POS data, inventory management (upselling data and menu metrics), CRM (coupon redemptions), or reservation systems. By analyzing this data, restaurants can improve their marketing costs and branding while personalizing the customer experience

2. Take Seasonability Into Account: Consider seasonal variations when planning your marketing budget. Adjustments based on peak times and special occasions can optimize your spending.

3. Constantly Update, Tweak, and Refresh: It is essential to keep up with the latest marketing trends and strategies. What worked yesterday might not work today, and certainly not tomorrow. Therefore, it is crucial to regularly review and update your marketing strategies to ensure that you remain relevant and competitive. Restaurant owners should conduct market research, analyze industry trends, and keep an eye on competitors to stay ahead of the curve. By consistently assessing and updating your marketing approach, you can attract new customers, retain existing ones, and ultimately increase your revenue and grow your business.

When constructing your budget, consider the size of your restaurant, location, and annual sales. Strive to strike a balance between cost-effective strategies and impactful marketing channels. Regularly evaluate the performance of each channel to optimize your budget allocation. By strategically investing in digital marketing and being conscious of your budget, you can keep your restaurant on top of your mind and foster lasting connections with your customers.

At Appfront, we understand that investing in a comprehensive marketing solution can be both costly and time-consuming for small and medium-sized businesses. To address this challenge, we have developed a CRM, Loyalty, Online Ordering, and Mobile App solution that provides affordable options for businesses. If you're looking to take control of your restaurant's marketing strategy in 2024, contact us today. 

Contact Us

By submitting this form, you agree to be contacted regarding your request, and receive future email regarding news and products. We will never share or sell your information to any third party.
Your Order was Received.

Our chefs are cooking a specials deal for you.
Check your email - One of reps will get back to you asap to schedule a demo.
Or click HERE to schedule a time

Schedule now

Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Posts You May Like