To Do List for Restaurants

2018 Digital Marketing To Do List for Restaurants

A new year is here and the world around us changes every day when it comes to keeping up with marketing trends and technology for your restaurant business.

In this post we break down the top items you’ll need to focus on right now to improve your top line revenue this coming year.

“No one plans to fail, they only fail to plan”

Start this yea with a solid restaurant marketing plan.  Creating a road map of where you currently are and where you want to be, is crucial to long term success.  Check out the free marketing plan template download here.


1. Goals – Have a Purpose


This is the #1 area where most businesses fail in their marketing efforts. It’s like driving your car with no destination in mind. It’s sounds silly, but a majority of businesses are not planning properly and setting goals, then tracking their progress towards the goals.

I’m not just talking about top line revenue goals like, “We need to gross $3 million this year.” Yes, that’s a goal and it’s a great start, but how are you going to get there? Especially if you only did $2 million in 2016?

So where can you improve?  Can we set specific goals to grow the business?  Examples are:

  • Increase our private event or catering lead generation by 20%
  • Increase our email list subscribers by 500 per month
  • Grow Facebook followers to 10,000
  • Grow Instagram followers by 1,000 per month
  • Increase brunch revenue by 20%
  • Average $50,000 per week in revenue


2. Tracking and Return on Investment (ROI)


What is a lead worth to your business? What is the life time value of your customers?

You learned to set your goals above. Now let’s run programs to meet those goals and track which pieces of the programs are getting the best results, for a profit.

If you can see through analytics that spending $30 on a pay per click ad with Google Adwords generated a $2,000 catering event for your restaurant, how much would you continue to spend on that ad?  The answer is “All of it until you are sold out!”

Because it’s working, you can see it in the tracking, so scale it up.  All digital marketing has the ability to be tracked down to the goal you want to achieve.

We all have those moments when we fell for the salesman/woman and bought the ad we maybe shouldn’t have. Maybe it was $500, or $1000 or $5000. Only to think later, “Did I get any increase in business from that ad.”  The sad thing is most likely NO. So let’s stop wasting money on things we can’t track for ROI.

Old school ad formats are dying for a reason. They can’t be tracked and linked to your goals (above).

Newspaper = dead.
Radio = no results (people can’t take action).
Billboard = your ego (wanting the see your business name when you drive down the street).

Which nets you the most leads or sales? Paid Search/Adwords? Facebook posts? A Facebook ad? Google searches (SEO)? Instagram posts?

Do you even include a trackable link in your social media posts or ads?  Did you know you can?

Setting up the tracking is actually pretty easy once you learn the tricks.  Then it is staying disciplined to always make sure your team is following through.  You can see exactly what platforms, ads, websites are driving traffic to your business.

DYI with Google Analytics and this Campaign URL builder tool.


3. Mobile first!


Google and all your customers think and act on mobile first. The majority of your customers are on mobile devices all day versus desktops.

Google knows this and split their index into mobile and desktop search results. They are putting priority on mobile first. If your website is not mobile friendly, you are going to plummet in search results on mobile phones in 2017. Get a mobile responsive WordPress website designed.

Is your website mobile friendly? Test it with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Testing Tool


4.Hire a Photographer


This year you need quality photos of your food and drinks and interior.  If you want to make a difference on social media and digital marketing, you need great pics!  Spend a few bucks and hire a pro.  Your iphone with the flash on will not cut it.  These photos are a representation of your brand, so make it count.


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5. Invest in Instagram


Lots of “ins” with that title above, but you need to be more aggressive with Instagram this year.  It is the fastest growing platform and they are releasing new features every day.  Take the amazing photos you gain from hiring the photographer and post 1-2 times every day on Instagram.

Checkout our guide to finding the best foodie hashtags and absolutely sign up for our Instagram Follower Boost program.  We’ll grow your following with real and local potential customers by 50-100 per day.  Get a free 7 day trial here.


6. Outsource Some of The Work


These tips sound simple but there is one HUGE problem. Your time!

It would be crazy to try and take on all the heavy lifting yourself.  You can’t be an expert in everything, so be an expert in running your business.  Outsource the rest.  Most restaurants outsource linens, food delivery, liquor inventory management, overnight cleaning.  So why not outsource some or all of your marketing to experts?

There are new marketing methods, platforms and tricks coming out every day.  Are you on top of the latest?  Do you have time?

It might be best to shop around to some agencies who know what they are doing. Most can do this for less than the price of an entry level marketing hire and net you 10 times the results.

Just make sure they are focused on results for your specific goals. You want to hold everyone accountable to meet your marketing plan. Remember the agency needs to show ROI too!

It takes some time to get up and running. There is a lot of up front work to just set the systems in place before they start generating sales. Know the investment is worth it and give it time to work.

Next Steps


Take action and have a plan.


  • Phil
    Posted at 11:26h, 25 October Reply

    Great article. When deciding on who to outsource our marketing to, do you suggest a local agency in our area or does it matter?

  • Brian
    Posted at 13:44h, 10 January Reply

    We suggest to first go with an agency or person with success history in restaurant marketing. They should know all the opportunities for bloggers to write about you, seo links for restaurants, content creation and understand your business. Local or not is irrelevant these days.

  • John Bell
    Posted at 22:55h, 01 February Reply

    Outsourcing some of the work is probably the best advice. When you own a small restaurant, you always try to save here and there and end up doing most of the work yourself. I spent a couple of months playing with wix and trying to design my restaurant’s website, I’m so happy that my friend introduced me to Smart Web Restaurant and I had it up and running in just a week. Then I needed to bring fresh buns to my restaurant every morning, this was something I always did myself before I hired my friend’s son and I must admit he takes a good care of delivery.

  • Moksha media
    Posted at 05:45h, 12 February Reply

    very informative

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