Vivid Insights & Marketing

Online Marketing Ideas For Small Restaurants


The ability to market your small restaurant online has never been more important than it is today. 90% of guests do research online before visiting a restaurant. No other business type comes close to that number. The proliferation of smartphones and social media has made it easier than ever to reach customers, but only if you understand online marketing. Figuring it out is critical since your restaurant’s website and digital presence are your online storefront. Customers want to learn about your business and decide whether or not they should visit in person. If you don’t have a good online presence, chances are people will simply go somewhere else.  To help you with this challenge, here are some great online marketing ideas for small restaurants.

Making Sure Your Website is Mobile Friendly

The majority of searches for restaurants occur on mobile devices. In fact, smartphones, tablets, and other devices have become so influential that mobile compatibility was added as a ranking factor by search engines. A website that is hard to navigate on multiple devices is not only frustrating for the user, but it will also be penalized and pushed down in the rankings by Google, Bing, and other search engines. 

Most website builder platforms allow you to see a tablet or cell phone view of your website so you can make it look like it’s supposed to for customers. If you are looking at your website and it looks like a zoomed-out version of your desktop version, that means your website is not mobile-friendly.  Optimizing for mobile devices is much easier if you do it during the initial build process. If you can’t figure it out, hire a professional to do it. A mobile-friendly website is one of the most important parts of marketing your business online.

Optimizing Your Website For Search

Having an optimized website for your small restaurant is the most powerful thing you can do to get more customers. When you optimize your website’s content to rank highly in search results, people will be able to find you easily. Optimizing your site can take some time, but the rewards of increasing website visits and more foot traffic are well worth it. Focus on creating quality content that answers your customers’ questions and prompts them to call you or order online. Be sure to use descriptive text and include keywords that are relevant to the types of food you serve in.

Analyzing what your competitors are doing with their sites can be powerful for your small restaurant. Online marketing can be expensive, so knowing what the competition is doing will allow you to make the most of your budget. If you notice a competitor is ranking better than you on Google, increasing your SEO budget might be a good idea.

Building An Email List

Another way to get your name out there digitally is by way of email marketing.  It is one of the simplest and most cost-effective online marketing strategies if your budget is limited. To be run a successful email campaign, you will need to build an email list. Email lists are great because they allow you to create a long-term relationship with your customers; when customers choose to opt into your email list, they’re telling you that they trust and value what you have to say. 

As a small restaurant, people in the community already likely trust you. Sending customers an email to let them know when you have a new item on the menu or business hours are changing is a good stay in the front of their mind. You can send emails as much as you like as long as they aren’t spammy. Sending out a friendly email for daily specials would be a great way to market online. 

A good way to build a list could be as simple as asking your customers if they would like to subscribe to email updates when they check out in person. Customers miss out on specials all the time because they simply don’t know about them until days later so email updates would probably be one of the absolute best marketing ideas for small restaurants.

Need Help With Online Marketing For Your Small Restaurant?

Vivid Insights & Marketing has worked with many businesses in the food and drink industry including restaurants, to help with online marketing. We can help you drive more customers to your doors.

Local SEO With Google My Business

One of the easiest ways to market your small restaurant online is to claim your free Google My Business account. This lets you add a business profile to Google Maps and create listings that show up on search results pages. It’s also a great way to collect reviews and respond to feedback, so new customers can learn more about your restaurant before they arrive.

Make sure that your business is clearly listed under its primary name, including that it’s a restaurant (and not something else), and fill out as much of your business information as possible. You can add photos, make posts, or give updates about specials or new menu items.

Google My Business will be one of the strongest avenues of foot traffic that come from an online source. These listings are what shows up at the top of search results when someone makes a search locally. Who shows up has a lot to do with the location of the user when the search is made, but actively building your reviews and sharing posts and updates regularly will help you outrank competing restaurants in your area.

Create And Share Pinterest Content

On Pinterest, photos are king—and they’re not just pretty. Photos are links and shares; they draw in users with their eye-catching beauty and ultimately build traffic to your website. More than anything else, posts on Pinterest drive people to click through. Make sure you’re using all available tools: You can upload images, add descriptions, and pin a post on top of other boards, but that’s just scratching the surface of what you can do on Pinterest. Uploading full-size images is one way to attract more visitors, but adding clickable elements such as buttons or phone numbers will make it even easier for people to interact with your content online. Don’t miss out on these opportunities!

Using a platform that doesn’t seem like it necessarily translates to direct sales or foot traffic causes a lot of hesitation for restaurant owners. Seeing the bigger picture, however, is a big part of online marketing. Pinterest helps you attract backlinks to your website and new users to your social media channels, which benefits you in the long run. It may seem like a lot of work, but it is probably one of the most affordable marketing ideas for small restaurants.

Marketing Ideas for Small Restaurants

Using Social Media Channels

Small restaurants can use social media to stay in touch with customers and find new ones. As a small restaurant, you probably have a loyal customer base—but how many of them are using Instagram or Facebook? Establish yourself on these platforms as a way to let current customers know about special deals, like free appetizers and discounts. And, it’s a great way to reach out to potential customers by showing off your food, drinks, and atmosphere. For example, someone traveling in town might stumble upon your restaurant’s Instagram profile—and be sold before even stepping through your door.

Not only can social media help increase traffic to your restaurant, but it can also serve as a valuable customer relationship management tool by allowing you to listen in on customer conversations about your restaurant. And don’t forget about Yelp—according to recent statistics from BrightLocal, 46% of all Yelp searches are related to location. This means that by optimizing your Yelp page, you will be improving visibility for your business.

Best of Luck To You!

If you have any further questions about online marketing ideas for small restaurants, we are happy to help! Additionally, if marketing your small restaurant just seems like too much work and you would rather have someone take care of it for you, we have you covered. Feel free to give us a call or send us an email with any questions.

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