Dec 7, 2023
 min read

Tips for Increasing Restaurant App Downloads

This article outlines:

Why restaurants need mobile apps

11 tips for driving app downloads for your restaurant

The next challenge for sustained success


Restaurant mobile apps have quickly evolved from nice-to-have to essential for meeting the needs of digital-first guests. Recent studies have shown 40% of guests prefer to order directly through a restaurant’s website or app.


For one, they’re convenient. A well-designed restaurant app will enable guests to quickly find and reorder their favorite menu items, use the credit card on file or their digital wallet, redeem loyalty rewards, select their preferred handoff mode, and be on their way to a delicious meal in no time.

Second, restaurant apps can tailor the guest experience to each individual. Personalized greetings and recommendations or offers based on order history can make guests feel understood, appreciated, and loyal to the brand.

Additionally, 45% of consumers now compare the cost of using third-party apps with a restaurant’s direct ordering channels.

But it’s not enough to have a restaurant app. Brands, and especially marketers, are tasked with continuously driving downloads and app engagement. To help you grow your app user base, we’ve compiled a list of proven strategies.

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11 Tips for Driving Restaurant App Downloads

People now manage their lives with smartphones, using 10 apps daily on average. You can help more of your guests find, understand the value of, and download your app by taking the following steps.

Prioritize the User Experience

If you want guests to download your app, you must put their needs first. A frictionless user experience is critical for driving downloads, prolonged app usage, and positive reviews. Make sure your app is user-friendly, branded, and convenient. Guests should be able to find their favorite menu items, order, and pay quickly and easily. Conduct regular user testing to identify and address any pain points before they impact your reviews and revenue.

Optimize for App Stores

Boost your restaurant app’s discoverability within the App Store and Google Play by incorporating relevant keywords in the title, description, and keyword fields. Include compelling descriptions that emphasize the perks of downloading—speed of service, ability to save favorite items, loyalty incentives, etc.—plus mouthwatering imagery to make your brand stand out from the competition. 

Del Taco showcases its user experience and perks in the App Store

Make Regular App Updates

A mobile app isn’t something you can set and forget. To provide the best guest experience and attract new users, regularly update your app with small improvements each month, such as bug fixes, new features, UX enhancements, device compatibility, etc. 

Unsure if your brand can deliver? Read Build vs. Buy Restaurant Software Debate: Top 5 Considerations.

Promote Your App on Your Website

One of the best ways to let current and prospective guests know about your restaurant app is to make the download call-to-action prominent on your website. Include a visual of the in-app experience, some information about the benefits of downloading, and offer an incentive, like free fries on your first app order.

How Auntie Anne’s promotes its mobile app on its website

Leverage Social Media

Utilize your restaurant’s social media accounts to promote your restaurant app. Use imagery and video to showcase the user experience, advantages, features, and exclusive perks for app users. To extend your brand’s reach and drive more app downloads, consider teaming up with influencers and other local businesses.

Advertise Your Restaurant App

Launch data-driven digital marketing campaigns across social media and Google to boost app awareness and downloads among current and prospective guests. To maximize your marketing ROI and lower acquisition costs, leverage your guest segments and create lookalike audiences that share their interests and behaviors. To ensure your ad breaks through the noise, use concise messaging, consistent branding, and an eye-catching visual.

Incorporate QR Codes

Make it easy for guests to download your restaurant app by incorporating QR codes into your menus, promotional materials, in-store signage, ads, and more. The fewer steps, the better!

Offer Exclusive In-App Deals

Encourage guests to download and use your restaurant app by offering promotions only available to users. Perks can include LTOs, special discounts, early access to new menu items, insider swag, etc. Be sure to tease these benefits in your marketing campaigns—the fear of missing out can be a powerful motivator.

MOOYAH incentivizes guests to download its app with exclusive perks

Use Email and SMS Marketing

Promote your restaurant app to your existing guests via email and SMS messages. Highlight key features, benefits, and exclusive promotions available to users. Personalize the content to appeal to guests’ interests and purchase history (e.g., happy hour regulars get $5 off their next purchase when they download the app).

Set Up a Referral Program

Implement a referral program to incentivize existing app users to refer people they know. Offer perks to the referrer and the new user to boost guest satisfaction, foster loyalty, and gain more users.

Solicit and Respond to App Reviews

Use in-app notifications to encourage satisfied users to leave a review. Positive app reviews will increase your brand’s visibility and downloads. Be sure to publicly respond to all feedback—positive and negative—to build trust and credibility. Timely responses signal to restaurant regulars their opinions matter and demonstrate to prospective guests your brand values the guest experience.


Next Up: User Retention

Of course, getting guests to download your restaurant app is only step one. The real challenge is retaining users over time. After all, 25% of mobile apps are abandoned after only one use.

Stay tuned for strategies to keep your app users engaged—the key to sustained growth and profit.

Want to drive more direct digital sales? On average, Olo customers see a 108% higher conversion rate with our online ordering app. Learn more and talk to our team of experts about Olo Ordering today.

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