With so many competing priorities—from building brand awareness to acquisition and retention—it can be challenging for restaurant marketers to determine where to start—let alone come up with campaign ideas.
To help alleviate that burden and ensure you get the most bang for your buck, we’ve compiled a list of campaign ideas that leverage data to personalize the guest experience, drive profit, and maximize guest lifetime value (LTV).
As you build out your restaurant marketing plan for 2024, consider testing some of these campaigns to see what resonates with your guests.
1. Encourage Dine-in-Only Guests To Order Online
When guests engage with your brand in multiple ways, they become more valuable. You can meet dine-in-only guests where they are by marketing your takeout/delivery program in-restaurant. Offer to-go-only specials, off-menu items, or discounts when guests order online during a specific timeframe. Consider incorporating a promo code (e.g., 10% off your first online order) on signage, receipts, and online campaigns targeting dine-in guests who haven’t ordered online before.
2. Use Social Media To Boost Slow Dayparts
If evenings are slow, promote weeknight specials on Instagram and Facebook with share-worthy photos in your feed and behind-the-scenes content in your stories. Expand your brand’s reach by including a prompt to “tag a friend in the comments who deserves a weeknight out.”
3. Drive Social Engagement in Restaurant
Add a menu insert offering free dessert (“Monday Sundae”?) to any guest who posts their dinner on Instagram and tags your brand. Then, repost user-generated content to your feed to drive engagement.
4. Attract New Guests With Targeted Advertising
Maximize the ROI of your acquisition campaigns by leveraging your current guest segments to target prospective guests who share interests and behaviors with your regulars. For example, you could create a “weeknight dinner lookalike audience” for paid search and social ads.
5. Partner With Local Businesses and Influencers
Team up with a local movie theater for a “dinner and movie” promotion. Then, incentivize local social media influencers to get the word out by offering a free meal in exchange for sharing the news with their fanbase.
6. Personalize Follow-Up Messages
Studies have shown 91% of people are more likely to shop with brands that recognize, remember, and provide relevant offers and recommendations. Boost retention by using triggered campaigns and feedback surveys to reengage guests with content that feels personal (“Thanks for coming in, Mark! How’d we do?”)
7. Drive Frequency by Staying Top-of-Mind
A guest returning for a second visit exponentially increases the likelihood of building brand loyalty. Target an audience of “Recent Email Opt-Ins” or “Haven’t Visited in Last 30 Days” with an email campaign and special offer.
8. Retarget Across Channels
Remarket to WiFi sign-ups, marketing subscribers, website visitors, and social followers by uploading the audiences for targeted social and search campaigns. Since these people have already expressed interest in your brand, it’s easier and more cost-effective to advertise to them than to a non-retargeting audience.
9. Create a Feeling of Exclusivity
Build urgency and FOMO through limited-time offers, specials only available on certain days, and secret off-menu items shared on social media and with email or SMS subscribers.
10. Increase Visits by Promoting Your Purpose
Research shows 62% of consumers prefer purpose-driven brands that take a stand on issues like sustainability, transparency, and fair employment practices. Use your marketing channels to share your brand values and empower guests to support your philanthropy (e.g., offer a portion of proceeds from lunch to a charity fighting childhood hunger). Whether you support local farmers or employees’ continuing education, you can tell their stories with a “Spotlight” series on your website, email newsletter, and social media.
11. Reengage Lapsed Guests
Extend the guest life cycle by re-attracting churn risks. Send a triggered email to an audience of “Last Visit Longer Than 60 Days” with personalized copy that shows you’ve noticed they haven’t been in lately.
12. Appeal to the Crowd-Conscious
When weekday regulars avoid crowded Saturdays, build a campaign prompting them to join the waitlist from home using your website, app, or Google listing. Emphasize the convenience and speed of service.
13. Convert Weekend Regulars to Weekday
Remind your weekend regulars they can enjoy their favorite menu items any time by launching a midweek business lunch campaign. Sliders for the office, anyone?
14. Boost Awareness of Catering
Do all your guests know you offer catering? Use your marketing channels to share your offerings, especially leading up to holidays, game days, and wedding season. Showcase your packages, emphasize the benefits of ordering through your brand, and consider adding a special offer, such as free dessert if they order by a certain date.
15. Leverage Guest Lifetime Value
Target a lookalike audience of your top 5% of visitors by LTV with a social media campaign that includes a lead magnet. For example, offer a $10 bonus certificate for every $50 gift card purchased during the holidays.
Get Started in Four Steps
The beauty of this list is that it’s evergreen—any of these campaigns could be turned on throughout the year depending on your brand’s objectives. To get started, follow these steps:
- Define and build your target guest segment
- Create and launch the campaign
- Measure results and engagement
- Optimize and automate what works
Keep in mind your segment, marketing channel(s), and results will change by campaign. And if at first you don’t succeed, try again.
To find more winning strategies—from leveraging guest data to optimizing for engagement and maximizing LTV—download our “Guide to Restaurant Marketing Success.”