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The Top Trends in Digital Marketing for Restaurants in 2023

Is your restaurant everything you envisioned? Are you filled-to-overflowing with brand-loyal customers who join the many on your never-ending reservation list? While getting to this level of success requires staying power and keen business acumen, there are restauranteurs that make the grade. To get there, you’ll need a restaurant model that makes you stand out from the crowd, whether your unique and delicious offerings or an unrivaled experience available nowhere else.

Of course, even if you have both of these remarkable characteristics, you still need to get those first guests in the door to start the reviews and digital word-of-mouth spiraling. To help you get there, we thought we’d share some of the top restaurant marketing trends in our digital era.

Social Media

While digital marketing is important for nearly every industry, it’s critical for those in hospitality. Word-of-mouth was, at one time, the key to month-long waiting lists. Today, it’s the shared written word. According to Forbes, one study found that 71% of those surveyed would recommend a restaurant with an active social media presence.

The best-performing platforms for restaurants include Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to include YouTube videos and Twitter tweets. One of the most important aspects of social media marketing, and a sure way to gain recognition, is engaging with customers. Additionally, you can share recipes, highlight employees, and post seasonal or daily specials. One of the most important considerations is your brand’s voice. Make sure it’s memorable and that it’s evident across all platforms.

Then, look around your restaurant and offerings. Are they “Instagrammable”? Today, restaurants are creating picture-worth plates and drinks as well as eye-catching décor to receive their share of free and incredibly beneficial marketing. According to SocialMediaToday, 69% of millennials take a photo of their food, and 30% avoid restaurants with a weak Instagram presence.

What makes for a viral Instagram sensation? A few proven strategies include unique and eye-catching wall art, beautiful lighting, colorful murals, unique dishes that look like works of art, neon signs, and your story. Some restaurants even give out “Instagram Kits” containing LED lights and miniature tripods.

SEO & Website

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) gets your brand into the top rankings on Google. For instance, when people are looking for the best steaks in Chicago, that’s what they’ll type into Google. Currently, the three that pop up front and center are Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse, Chicago Cut Steakhouse, and Smith & Wollensky. You can be sure they get their fair share of customers from this highly aspired rank.

The other important marketing strategy is ensuring your website content is search-friendly. Research, or have a knowledgeable SEO strategist do it for you, the keywords people use when looking for your restaurant type, and make sure to include them in your image identification and site’s text. Your online menu is also vital for today’s growing online ordering. Make sure your online ordering is a seamless, user-friendly experience.

All Important Reviews

According to Lunchbox, an incredible 94% of U.S. diners base their dining decisions on online reviews. Common restaurant review platforms include Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and social media platforms. As with social media, it’s important to engage and respond to both good and bad reviews. Good reviews also improve your search engine ranking.

Going Old-School with Email

Email might be considered old-school, but it’s the stuff that dreams are made of. A study by McKinsey & Company found that email marketing was 40 times more effective and resulted in three times more sales than social media marketing. The key is to steer clear of bulk emails and focus on the personalization aspect. This is an example of where the all-important restaurant data comes in. Knowing your customers’ favorite dishes and drinks enables you to market effectively based on their preferences. 

When targeted and personalized, digital marketing is a highly effective strategy. If you don’t have the time or inclination to become a digital aficionado, chances are good that someone on your staff has the digital chops to set you on your way and would welcome the opportunity.

At EMERGING, we work with today’s leading restaurant and entertainment concepts, executing real estate, supply chain, data science, labor, and finance strategies. To learn more about our strategic approach to helping restaurants grow and scale or to schedule a consultation, contact EMERGING.


What do digital marketing experts recommend restaurants should do?

A good digital marketing strategy includes social media, email marketing, and an SEO website. Some of the top social media platforms for restaurants are Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok. 

How much should a restaurant post on Instagram?

Generally, restaurants should consider posting at least once a day. A few important tips include using hashtags, establishing relationships with followers, and making sure to post during active times of the day.

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