The 12 best digital marketing tools for restaurants

Digital marketing might not be at the top of every restaurant’s priority list, especially when all you want to focus on is making great food. But it’s an essential component and plays a vital role in helping build the business while increasing exposure. 

One of the best ways to maximise your marketing efforts involves using digital tools, which 41% of restaurants agree are extremely important to their marketing strategies. You just need to know the best ones to use for your spot. That’s the purpose of this guide, which features 12 of the best digital marketing tools for restaurants to utilise.

Email marketing

Email marketing is a direct way to target guests and keep them coming back to your restaurant. It’s also handy for attracting new diners, as you can prioritise a specific group of people. An email list is also a channel the restaurant itself owns, and it’s not subject to the unpredictable quirks of an algorithm. As a result, you can fine-tune the messages and new experiences to share with audiences.

1. Mailchimp: For ease of use
Think of Mailchimp as the choice for email marketing beginners. It allows easy automation of digital marketing campaigns simply by uploading the restaurant’s contact list. Use it to target guests for special promotions and other loyalty efforts, and take advantage of Mailchimp’s 100 customisable templates that can be used for all communications.

2. HubSpot: For better customisation
HubSpot doesn’t quite match Mailchimp for templates (it only has 45), but it does offer more unique branding options. You can fully customise all 45 of them to match your restaurant brand for a more bespoke look. On top of that, Hubspot functions as an integrated marketing tool beyond email. You can pretty much do everything on the platform, from using it as a CRM to hosting your entire website.

SEO and search engine marketing

Once the restaurant’s website is up and running, it’s crucial to start thinking about SEO. Most marketing materials lead back to a webpage, so ensuring that the website is up to date and SEO friendly is a necessity.

3. SEMRush: Overall SEO analysis
SEMRush is a bit of a digital marketing bible, but it’s best known as an SEO strategy platform. The tool helps you decide which keywords to use in your content, across all sections of the website. With SEMRush, you get a thoughtful analysis on search engine rankings, plus recommendations on how to improve SEO output. It can also help suggest (and write) content for your website, such as blog articles.

4. Ahrefs: Most comprehensive
Ahrefs has a reputation as one of the industry-leading digital marketing tools. It’s an all-in-one SEO option that helps businesses audit and optimise a website while analysing the competition. It does, however, take a bit of time to navigate and can be somewhat tech-heavy. Still, if you want to take a deep dive into SEO and digital marketing, Ahrefs is well worth a look.

5. KWFinder: For local SEO
SEMRush and Ahrefs cover every corner of SEO, but subscriptions tend to be quite expensive. If you’re looking for an option on the lower end of the price spectrum, try KWFinder. As the name suggests, it gives you a selection of the best keywords for businesses so you can improve organic rankings. To illustrate, if you change your menu around a particular holiday season, KWFinder will supply the words based on the seasonality and location. There’s also the option to pop in a competitor’s URL and see how well they rank for certain keywords.

6. Yoast: Best for WordPress
More than 1.3 billion websites are built on WordPress, so there’s every chance that your restaurant also sits on the platform. With the Yoast plugin, you can get recommendations about how to improve SEO on your site. It integrates into WordPress, which makes viewing SEO insights easy. Yoast also hosts an academy training course, offering users the basics of SEO, WordPress and the Yoast plugin.

Social media and influencer marketing

With 49% of consumers depending on social media influencers for recommendations, it’s imperative to include social media in any marketing approach. Using a digital marketing tool to find a new restaurant influencer or to assist in revamping the restaurants’ social media strategy can save some serious time and effort.

7. Hootsuite: For saving time
Remembering to consistently post on social media can be an impossible task, especially for smaller restaurants where a dedicated social media person might not be in place. Hootsuite removes some of the pressure by compiling all of a business’ profiles in one handy place. The platform can schedule all upcoming social posts for weeks, even months in advance. While Hootsuite is an extremely thorough platform, consider Later or Buffer as alternative options.

8. Buzzsumo: The influencer option
Restaurants and Instagram work together in perfect harmony, which is why an influencer can have a major impact on your marketing. Buzzsumo recommends influencers that meet a restaurants’ niche, so you can reach out and start building a relationship. Beyond that, the platform helps develop a specific brand by recommending content ideas that align with its goals.

Digital marketing

Once you have an idea of the tools you’d like to use, it’s good to think about how they play into the overall marketing strategy. Examine gaps that are missing for the restaurant. Email, SEO and social media are all important pillars, but make sure every need has been addressed.

9. Google Analytics: The classic
For the best analytic data, dive in with Google Analytics. Use it to track every action of the customer journey on a website, from how long people spend on a particular website to how many pages they view in one session. Find the guest drop-off on the site and use it to adapt and grow the restaurant. The platform also offers training videos so that the tool can be expertly used to grow any business.

10. Google Ads and Keyword Planner: Best for paid media
If you’re still struggling to appear on the front page in organic search, consider paid media. Google Ads operates on a CPC (cost per click) basis that features a budget limit on how much the restaurant can and wants to spend. While Google’s Keyword Planner helps integrate the best SEO keywords into a paid search strategy.

11. Canva: Best for branding
Use Canva for your design needs, whether it’s to design a menu, make a flashy social media post or any other type of branding. The base subscription offers more than 250,000 templates in addition to design types and photos. It’s the ideal tool for developing and maintaining a cohesive brand image. Plus, Canva was also built with user experience in mind, making it simple to use even without any design knowledge.

12. SMS marketing: For straightforward marketing
While not a specific tool, using a reservation account to enable SMS marketing is extremely useful for both restaurants and guests. Not only do text reminders help reduce no-shows; it also eases the stress of walk-ins. By collecting guest information, the restaurant can consistently follow up and develop a relationship with the guest.

Make marketing work for your restaurant

Implementing the best tools makes digital marketing that much easier. An excellent website optimised for SEO, a stellar social media strategy and fresh brand designs will help your restaurant thrive in a competitive space where everyone is trying to get people’s attention.