15 Must-Have Restaurant Marketing Tools in 2024

15 Must-Have Restaurant Marketing Tools in 2024
Vahag Aydinyan

By Vahag Aydinyan

Let’s be honest - you’re a restaurant operator, not a marketing expert. You got into this business because of your passion for food and hospitality.

But the revenue restaurants get from digital channels like their mobile apps and websites surpasses the 32% of revenue they generate onsite and 26% over the phone.

However, with so much software on the market today, how do you know what to use and where to start? To help you out, we've listed some of the most used tools that even beginners in digital marketing can easily navigate.

Best restaurant marketing tools, software, and platforms for your business

We rounded up and categorized various restaurant marketing tools by type, including email marketing, SEO, SMS, and social media tools. Let’s go over each category.

Email marketing tools

Email marketing is one of the best ways to connect with your diners, welcome your new guests, and spread the word about exclusive promotions and discounts as a reward to your loyal customers. 

42% of restaurant goers aged 18 to 29 say they check their emails for the latest updates about their favorite restaurants, and 56% say personalization is essential to the communication experience. 

This strategy is known for its high return on investment (ROI): for every $1 you spend, an average return of $42 can be expected.

Many businesses also underutilize email marketing (only 26% use it for sales), which means you can tap into an even wider market that your competitors have yet to reach. 

To get started, here are some of the e-mail marketing tools you can use:

Popmenu

Popmenu automates your email marketing and targets customers so you can send them custom promotions based on their past visits and orders at your restaurant. This tool can help maximize your marketing efforts by saving you time crafting emails and managing guest segments. 

The best thing about this restaurant marketing tool is that it is built specifically for restaurateurs. In addition to managing your emails, you can also use it to automate phone answering and waitlisting.

Price: Contact them for a custom quote

Mailchimp

If you're new to email marketing, Mailchimp is your best choice. This restaurant marketing tool lets you easily automate your campaigns by simply uploading your restaurant's email list.

With just a few clicks, you can start targeting guests and send them your special promotions or reward your recurring customers for their loyalty.

This tool can also help you send your welcome emails easily, which you shouldn’t underestimate, as this determines whether your customers will remain on your email list or unsubscribed. 

If you didn’t know: welcome emails have an open rate of 91.43% and, if coupled with exclusive offers, can boost your revenue by 30%. 

If you take advantage of Mailchimp’s 12-month subscription plan, you can enjoy their 100 email templates with personalization for each guest segment and save 50% on the total price.

Price: Free (1,000 monthly emails), Essentials - $6.50/month (5,000 monthly emails), Standards - $10 (6,00 monthly emails), Premium - $175 (150,000 monthly emails)

Hubspot

Hubspot is a platform that offers not only email marketing tools but also the chance to stay on brand with its 45 customizable templates. This allows your e-mails to be personalized and match your brand at the same time. 

Alexandra Leung Gibb, the founder of F&B Marketing, reiterates the importance of proper branding in restaurants: “Without branding, a food or drink business loses the opportunity to emotionally connect with its target audience on a deeper level.”

Branding is often overlooked by food and beverage businesses, but establishing a strong brand identity is key to standing out in today's crowded marketplace.

Aside from gaining access to customizable email templates, Hubspot also offers customer relationship management, inbound marketing, service, and help desks for clients who may have questions about their software and analytics tools.

Price: Starter Customer Platform (1,000 marketing contacts) - $15/month, Marketing Hub Professional (comprehensive marketing software for automation, reporting, and campaigns with 2,000 marketing contacts) - $800/month, Marketing Hub Enterprise (everything in Professional + 10,000 marketing contacts) - $3,600/month

SEO marketing software

Did you know that 62% of customers use Google to search for restaurants to dine in? This is why Jim McCormick, Toast's SEO Lead, emphasizes how “SEO is one of the most effective marketing channels restaurants can use.”

SEO, which is short for search engine optimization, is the process of making your website more appealing to search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. 

Let’s say a potential customer searches for “American diners near me.” With proper SEO strategies in place, a diner can appear higher in search rankings and increase its customer reach. 

According to McCormick, their own SEO strategy even brings in a whopping 250,000 users to their website monthly.

Just remember that applying this strategy to your restaurant's website would require knowledge of using the proper keywords and researching what topics you can rank (or appear on search results) for. 

If you're having difficulties understanding how SEO can be applied to your marketing strategy, you can find a free restaurant marketing course that offers the basics of this process. You can also outsource this service to professionals in this niche. 

In case you decide to tackle this task yourself, here are some of the software, platforms, and tools you can use:

SEMRush

For your overall SEO needs, SEMRush is the tool for you. This SEO strategy platform will help you decide which keywords are perfectly tailored to your business needs. It’ll also analyze your search engine rankings and recommend ways to improve them.

In case you're contemplating whether this is the perfect marketing platform for your restaurant business, they offer a 7-day free trial with access to over 55 tools that can help you do keyword research, audit local listings, and perform competitor analysis, to name a few.

Price: Free (7-day trial), Pro - $129.95/month, Guru - $249.95/month, Business - $499.95/month

Ahrefs

Ahrefs is one of the leading digital marketing tools today, and for good reason. This SEO tool helps you audit and optimize your website, analyze your competitors, and track your search engine ranking. 

These features can be especially useful if you’re just starting a website for your restaurant or if you’re looking to reach a wider audience by ranking higher on Google’s Search Engine Results Page (SERP). 

The best thing is that they provide flexible and comprehensive plans regardless of your business standing, whether you're a budding restaurateur or an experienced restaurant manager.

Price: Lite - $129/month, Standard - $249/month, Advanced - $449/month, Enterprise - $14,990/month

KWFinder

If you're just getting started with SEO and looking for a more affordable option, then KWFinder is a great tool. 

This is especially helpful if your restaurant changes its menu during the holidays since this tool can provide the necessary keywords depending on the season and your business location.

KWFinder can also help you examine how your competitors are doing and give you recommendations on how to keep up. The best thing is that its ultra-low price gets even more affordable as they slash 35% off the prices if you buy annual subscriptions instead of monthly.

Price: Entry - $29/month, Basic - $49/month, Premium - $69/month, Agency - $129/month

Yoast

If your restaurant's website is built on WordPress, using YoastSEO is the easiest and fastest way to improve your SEO performance seamlessly. It’ll help you create an optimized blog, including headings, meta descriptions, and URLs (for when your blog goes live). 

Since this is a WordPress plug-in, you only have to download it from the plug-ins page, and it will be automatically integrated into your WordPress account.

This restaurant marketing tool is very beginner-friendly. They offer a free version that you can use for as long as you like (no limited 7-day trials and no credit card details needed). 

Price: Free (with limited features), Premium - $99/year

SMS marketing tools for restaurants

SMS marketing is one of the most overlooked restaurant marketing strategies. In fact, the highest percentage of SMS marketing users come from the healthcare industry at 55%, followed by banking and finance at 46% and e-commerce and retail at 45.9%. 

The restaurant industry has yet to tap into this strategy, meaning it won’t be too late for you to take advantage of it to reach a wider audience.

Mobile phone users spend an average of 6 hours and 58 minutes on their phones daily, with Gen Z averaging over 9 hours of screen time daily. 

This means that if you send your target customers a text message offering them discounts about your new product offerings, the chance that they will read it is extremely high.

To be specific, 95% of marketing texts are read by users 3 minutes after it’s received, and 85% of consumers say they prefer to receive a text from businesses rather than an e-mail or a phone call.

You don't have to choose one over the other, as an SMS marketing strategy works great alongside an email strategy.

To get started with SMS marketing, here are some of the tools you can use:

Twilio

Used by huge names like Lyft and Yelp, Twilio is one of the top SMS marketing tools today. It is beginner-friendly and affordable, even for restaurants that are just starting out. 

The best thing about this platform is that no credit card is needed to get started, and you will only be paying for the exact number of messages you have sent. You can send SMS and MMS to your customers, and they will even give you bigger discounts as you scale your business.

Price: SMS - starts at $0.0079 per text, MMS - starts at $0.0200 per text

Sakari

Sakari is one of the best options for restaurant owners who want to send outbound messages to their customers, informing them about ongoing deals and food and beverage offerings.

This SMS platform is very easy to use. All you have to do is log in, and you can start sending messages right away. 

However, we must note that only those who have opted in to receive your messages can receive them. 

To do this, all your target customers must send a text message to your Sakari number that says "start." Sakari also offers a rollover credits option to use any leftover messaging credits for up to 90 days more. 

Price: Free - 14/day trial, Standard - $16/month - 500 message segments for unlimited users and contacts

Salesmsg

If you’re a U.S. or Canada-based restaurateur, Salesmsg is a good option to try, especially if you manage a small to medium-sized business. 

The sidebar has only six tabs: contacts, conversations, broadcasts, triggers, analytics, and keywords. This makes it easy to understand and navigate, even if you’re not very techy.

The best thing about this tool is that you can assign a separate number for each team member. 

You can enable call forwarding so your customers' calls are forwarded to your business or personal phone, and you can address their queries immediately. For example, if a certain customer has to make last-minute reservations for tomorrow.

Salesmsg can also be easily integrated into CRM platforms like Zoho, HubSpot, and Pipedrive.

Price: 500 messages - $25/month, 1,000 messages - $49/month, 2,500 messages - $99/month, 5,000 messages - $179/month, 7,500 messages - $249/month, 10,000 messages+ - contact them for a quote

Social media marketing tools

Social media's visual nature makes restaurant Instagram marketing a huge hit among users. In fact, hashtags like #foodstagram are popular not only on Instagram but also on other platforms like Facebook and TikTok. 

With over 5.07 billion social media users as of April 2024, restaurants that take advantage of various social media platforms are reaching a wider customer base than ever. 

By applying social media marketing in their strategies, restaurants can inform customers about their new menu and attract them through perfectly-curated photos and professionally-edited videos. 

Customers can also check reviews on your social media pages, leading them to dine at your restaurant, seeing that customers spend 31% more on businesses with excellent reviews. 

To get started with social media marketing, here are some of the tools you can use:

Hootsuite

There's a reason why Hootsuite has been awarded Best Value For Price, Top Rated, and Most Loved by Trust Radius. It is also included in the Top 100 Best Software Awards of 2024. 

With all the tasks you simultaneously manage, consistently posting on social media is more time-consuming. Hootsuite helps you save time by compiling all your restaurant's business profiles in one place and scheduling upcoming posts for weeks and even months in advance. 

Thanks to its unified inbox, you don't have to switch between apps just to reply to your customers' queries; you can manage them all in one place.

Price: Professional - $49/month, Team - $124/month

Buzzsumo

Unless you spend lots of time on Instagram, it can be hard to name the top influencers in the food and beverage industry. This is where Buzzsumo comes in. 

This tool recommends influencers who meet your restaurant's niche. Thanks to its content discovery feature, it also assists in creating content ideas that align with your business goals. With it, you can easily track what other restaurants are doing on social media and replicate their best strategies.

Price: Content Creation - $199/month, PR & Comms - $299/month, Suite - $499/month, Enterprise - $999/month

Canva

While it isn’t a tool to manage your social media posts, Canva is a beginner-friendly photo-editing platform, even for those without professional experience in editing photos. 

Thanks to its over 400,000+ templates and roughly 100 million graphics, photos, and videos available for commercial use, creating content for your restaurant’s social media channels is easier than ever.

What’s more, Canva already provides the photo dimensions for various social media channels (and even templates for your YouTube and TikTok videos), so you can design and curate your content without having to scour the internet for the right banner, post, and video dimensions.

Price: Free - no credit card needed, Pro - $14.99/month, Teams - $29.99/month, Enterprise - contact them for a quote

Keyhole

Keyhole is a great choice if your restaurant focuses mainly on Instagram and X (formerly Twitter) marketing. This platform will help you motor how the hashtags you chose for your business are faring so you can instantly be updated if a customer posts a photo of the scrumptious meal they just had at your restaurant.

It will also help you be more aware of the tweets your customers post, especially if they’re angry posts about your restaurant. Then, you can act on them and do damage control immediately.

You can also monitor and compare your restaurant’s posts to those of your competitors. For example, if the cafe across the street offers a “buy 3 get 50% off on the 4th coffee” deal, you can start a promotion of your own, topping whatever deal they have.

Price: Start - $189/month, Grow - $249/month, Scale - $449/month, Enterprise - contact them for a quote

Sprout Social

Sprout is a great tool for managing various social media pages, whether you’re looking to publish, engage, monitor, or analyze content.

Instead of repeatedly posting the same content across various platforms, Sprout will do the heavy lifting for you. All you have to do is input all the necessary details, and this tool will post it to your channels without you having to switch from one app to another.

Price: Standard - $199/month, Professional - $299/month, Advanced - $399/month, Enterprise - contact them for a quote

All-in-one restaurant management tool

Digital marketing is only one of the numerous tasks managers and restaurant owners perform to keep their business operations afloat.

While preparing a restaurant marketing plan is time-consuming in itself, switching between different tools and platforms will only add to the time you spend on this task instead of working on other strategies that can help your business grow.

This is where the importance of having an all-in-one restaurant management tool comes in. 7shifts is trusted by over 1.5 million restaurant professionals in different industries, including pizzerias, bakeries, food trucks, coffee shops, and bars.

With our restaurant management software, you don't have to switch between 86 different apps to manage your payroll, time clocking, tip management, staff scheduling, order management, and data-driven marketing insights. 

Thanks to 7shifts' seamless integration, you can easily export your data from the other tools, software, and platforms you use without manually inputting every essential data needed. 

Stay on top of your restaurant's operations and manage your staff across different locations using only one powerful tool.

FAQs

How do I start marketing my new restaurant?

To market your new restaurant, boost your online presence by creating a Google Business profile and business pages on social media. Then, leverage local SEO to rank in Google's search engine results pages (SERPs). 

It will also pay if you tap into different marketing efforts like email and SMS marketing to reach a wider audience. 

What is the best restaurant marketing tool?

The best restaurant marketing tool for your business could include software and platforms like Hootsuite, Buzzsumo, Twilio, Ahrefs, YoastSEO, and Mailchimp.

Choosing the best restaurant marketing tool for your business depends on your specific needs, whether it’s optimizing your website, building your social media presence, or rewarding your loyal customers.

Which social media platform is best for restaurant marketing?

Instagram is one of the best social media platforms for restaurant marketing. The hashtags #food, #yummy, #foodstagram, and #instafood have accumulated over 400 million photos posted on the platform.

 

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Vahag Aydinyan
Vahag Aydinyan

Hello! I am Vahag, Content Marketing Manager at 7shifts. I am writing about content marketing, marketing trends, tips on restaurant marketing and more.