May 7, 2020

Driving More Online Orders To Your Restaurant

By Chris Kizer

For many restaurants, online ordering represents a big opportunity to increase revenue. Simply put, those online orders bring larger tickets, more accurate orders, and a larger customer base to the table. Roughly two out of every three customers who place an online order make more frequent purchases than those who’ve never ordered online.

You know you have to lean into promoting these offerings particularly in times when they may be the only option. With so many marketing priorities on your plate, it can be challenging to know where to start when it comes to setting your restaurant up for success with online ordering. So what should you do to better market and drive more online orders for your restaurant? Here are a few steps you can take in three critical categories that will help increase your restaurant brand awareness.

Better Restaurant Marketing with Google Business

If you looked at your website analytics today, you’d probably find that organic search is driving a significant portion of your traffic (and revenue). By claiming and optimizing your Google Business listings, you can capture even more organic search traffic, leading to more online orders for your restaurant. It’s like getting free advertising. This is a Google Business listing:

GMB Listing

If you haven’t already, head to the Google Business and add (or claim) all of your restaurant locations, making sure the following fields are up-to-date for each location:

  • Website
  • Street Address
  • Phone Number
  • Business Hours

If you have several locations, uploading a spreadsheet is the fastest and easiest way to keep this information updated and accurate.

Optimize Your Restaurant’s Listing to Target a Google 3-Pack

After you’ve set up your restaurant location listings and ensured they are accurate, it’s time to optimize them. The more optimized your listing, the more likely it is to show up in the Google 3-Pack when someone is searching for a local restaurant in your category.

Google 3 pack

This is the Google 3-Pack. To optimize your Google My Business listing and improve your chances of showing up follow these best practices:

  • Write a clear and concise business description with your target audience in mind, including keywords relative to your menu items.
  • Choose a category that most closely describes your restaurant. It’s okay to choose more than one if needed, but don’t go overboard or your ranking could suffer.
  • Upload high-quality images of each location to your Google My Business Dashboard and choose these photos as the cover photo for each location.
  • If possible, add your entire menu to your listing. Be sure to include high-quality photos for each menu item. At a minimum, include a link to your menu on your website, so at least your customers have easy access to get those appetites going.
  • Finally, be sure to include a link to your online ordering platform. Again, just another simple way to advertise to your potential customer.

Stay Engaged

After your listings are claimed and optimized, it’s important that you stay engaged with your target audience. Reply to every review to help manage your brand reputation, either with appreciation or a genuine apology. Owning the situation when you get a bad review shows your customers that you’re committed to delivering an excellent experience. If you’re having trouble getting reviews, make sure you’re including a link to your listing in every email receipt.

Also, making regular posts to your Google My Business listings is a great way to keep hungry customers informed of new LTOs, menu items, or special events. These posts will be featured on your listing for up to a week but can always be viewed later on the “Posts” tab. Additionally, these posts act as a way to continue marketing your best menu items on an ongoing basis, and can help drive clicks, in turn, boosting your ranking over time.

Dial-in Your Restaurant’s Social Media Marketing Strategy

Mouth-watering photography and compelling copy are a must for your restaurant brand, but without a sound social media strategy your posts and ads may go unseen by your best potential customers. Here are a couple of steps you can take to start maximizing your social media budget almost immediately.

Leverage the Facebook Pixel

Without the Facebook Pixel on your website and/or online ordering platform, you’re flying blind when it comes to a marketing and advertising strategy in social. Not only can it help you measure the success of your social media campaigns, but it can help you maximize your Return on Advertising Spend (ROAS) by identifying your best customers. Here are a few ways you can leverage your pixel to drive online orders:

  • Targeting customers who have made online orders in the past. Because we know this audience likes to order online, letting them know about an LTO or special offer should be a part of your social strategy.
  • Build lookalike audiences based on your current high-value customers in order to reach new customers who are likely to place larger-than-average online orders. Lookalike audiences are users who share similar demographics, interests and behaviors with your ideal customer, and are typically one of the most valuable audiences your restaurant can target.
  • Exclude recent purchasers to avoid wasting your budget on customers who would either come in regardless or aren’t ready to purchase again. How long a customer should be excluded depends on how frequently your typical customer orders online.

A/B Test Target Audiences

When building personas, it’s easy to make assumptions. That’s why A/B testing your target audiences is critical if you want to maximize your social media advertising.

When running A/B tests, it’s important to only test one variable at a time. For example, if you aren’t sure which interests you should target, choose a few and create a separate ad group for each one, but keep the creative and budget consistent across the entire campaign. Plug the results into an A/B Test Calculator and see if the results of your test are statistically significant. Over time, you can build a list of “winning” interests to help you create data-driven customer personas.

Email Marketing Tips For Restaurants

Your email subscribers are prime targets for driving online orders. Here are some tips for leveraging your email campaigns to maximize those orders.

Build Your Email List

Collecting emails can be tough, but the investment you make in building your list now will definitely pay off in the long run. Here are some tips for building your email list:

  • Make sure your email sign-up form is featured prominently on your website and give customers the option to opt-in as part of the checkout process when placing their online orders.
  • Include a bounce-back offer with your receipts when a customer who is not currently on your email list makes an online order. For example, offer a free side or BOGO appetizer with their next order if they subscribe to your emails. Adding an expiration date can create urgency.
  • An evergreen social media campaign that targets recent website visitors and excludes current members of your list can be a low-cost method to build your list over time. Just make sure you give your audience a good reason to sign up.

Provide Value

Consumers spend almost four hours on average using their smartphone every day, but they won’t open your emails unless you’re providing value on a regular basis.

  • Avoid sending too many emails, otherwise your open rate will suffer and your unsubscribe rate will skyrocket. Focus on sending meaningful updates like new menu items, LTOs, or restaurant openings in the recipient’s area.
  • Personalize your emails by including the recipient’s name in the subject line. This can have a drastic effect on your open rate and conversion rate.
  • Make sure your emails have meaningful preheader text. This is the text that appears after or below the subject line in most email inboxes, and when subscribers scan their inbox on a mobile device, it can have a huge impact on your open rate. Preheader text often defaults to the first text in the email header, so make sure your subject line isn’t being followed by an unsubscribe link—this is a common issue that can be easily avoided.

Preheader Text Example BADPreheader Text Example GOODPreheader Text Example

Always Be Optimizing

Now that you have built up an email list and are sending quality content, it’s time to start optimizing your email campaigns. Once you have established a baseline for email performance, A/B testing key aspects of your email strategy can maximize the ROI of your email campaigns. Here are a few things you should test:

  • Subject Lines
  • Preheader Text
  • Headlines
  • CTA Button Text & Color
  • Send Time

If your email list is large enough, you can send a test deployment to a small portion of your list, then send the winning variation to the rest of your list. Regardless, keeping a log of test results is key if you want to uncover best practices for future email campaigns.

What Next for Your Restaurant Brand?

Take advantage of your restaurant email list, Facebook followers, and Google as these digital marketing and advertising best practices will certainly set you on the path to success for greater brand awareness and increased ticket sales.


TLDR: Take advantage of technology so you’re in front of your customer at the right time

  • Claim and optimize your Google My Business listing so you stay in front of hungry customers searching for local restaurants.
  • Take advantage of the Facebook Pixel and setup up a smart A/B testing process—this will pay off in the long run.
  • Build your email list and leverage it correctly to help prompt your best customers to order, and reorder, online.