3 Key Ingredients to a Successful Restaurant Paid Media Strategy

May 17, 2021   /   by  Maggie Stankiewicz

Take a drive through any metropolitan area, and you’ll be exposed to every type of cuisine imaginable. Quick service, fast-casual and fine dining restaurants are all bidding for your attention in hopes of satiating your hunger and earning your undying loyalty. As a restaurant marketer, you know better than anyone that the search for the perfect bite intensifies when you search online and see the overwhelming competition.

Do you want more take-out orders? Or are reservations more your style? No matter your chosen KPIs, an effective paid media strategy can help you conjure hunger pangs in your ideal customer. The strategy will be different for every restaurant, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t tried and true best practices in place. We’ve put together three key ingredients to a successful restaurant paid media strategy.

#1: Serve Up A Better Budget. Check, Please!

Paid media includes social media, Google ads and other tactics – which makes it a game where you must “pay to play”, as Rewards Network puts it. If your restaurant marketing plan doesn’t budget for paid media, then you’re missing out on huge opportunities to increase awareness and drive patrons towards your chosen KPIs.

Your paid media budget needs to be as flexible as the waistband of the pants you wear to Thanksgiving dinner. Give your restaurant's digital marketing budget room to breathe. When budgeting, include the following considerations:

  1. Key performance indicators (KPIs)
    • Quick Service Restaurants (QSR): Orders
    • Fine Dining: Reservations
  2. Number of campaigns
  3. Number of locations
  4. Timespan
    • One day, two weeks, three months?
  5. Number of messages being promoted
    • Evergreen
    • Promotions
    • Holiday specials
  6. Average cost per lead
  7. Average cost per conversion
    • Social media
    • Display
    • Paid search/PPCPaid media distribution channels

Stay mindful. Costs can quickly compound when multiple locations, campaigns and dates are involved. For example, if you want to run a promo for 30 days and you have a $30K budget, 30 locations and 3 channels. $1K/day per location = $33/day … factor in other campaigns, it can get spread thin. Revisit your annual marketing budget when deciding how much to invest in paid media.

#2: Which Channels Are on the Menu?

Channels refer to the different platforms used in your paid media strategy. This includes the social platforms you advertise on, as well as Google ads, Nextdoor, Yelp and more. If you’ve used paid media before, review your past performance and identify the highest converting channels. Pick the top-performing 1-4 and work your way up from there, if needed.

If you’re completely new to paid media, the standard protocol suggests you begin with some search, social and display ads. Run A/B testing with images and copy to gain a better understanding of what your patrons respond to, and pepper in prospecting and retargeting to round it out.

If you’re still not sure, here’s a list of factors to examine as you whip up your strategy:

  1. How will you measure success?
  2. What is your target audience?
  3. Tactics per channel
    • Ex. Young audiences love Instagram. The older crowd tends to favor Facebook. What is more relevant to your brand?
  4. Top of funnel decision drivers
    • Search

#3: The Benefits of a Diverse Paid Media Palate

It’s not just about the channels you use, it’s how you use them.

Prospecting is an effective and affordable way to use media to find new customers through social media, Google Ads and SEO. Even if you’re a nationally recognized brand, prospecting can help you reach new segments and generate more leads.

Retargeting/remarketing leverages email marketing, Google Ads retargeting and social media to attract customers who have already interacted with your restaurant. You can create custom audiences based on website visitors and engagements or offer value to your existing email list.

Geofencing is a tactic we used to help Roy’s Restaurant increase reservations by 100%. This location-based service uses data to send marketing messages to custom audiences and boosts the specificity of paid media efforts.

Geoframing collects mobile device IDs from users who have entered a predefined location at a specific time and allows you to target users after they’ve left the session.

Geolocation allows you to target countries, cities, neighborhoods, or regions by postal code.

There’s A Lot to Digest

Implementing paid media is a great way to strengthen your existing restaurant marketing strategy, but it takes a lot of agility to execute it effectively. If you’re ready to use this holy trinity to generate mouth-watering results for your restaurant or chain, we can help. We’re more than a marketing agency for restaurants, we’re a full-service agency focused on growth and getting your food to the people. Let’s talk.

Maggie Stankiewicz

Maggie Stankiewicz

Communications Strategist

As Communications Strategist for Roger West, Maggie developed outstanding content for a diverse array of clients and created an ongoing strategy to establish the agency’s unique brand voice.