The 12 best digital marketing tools in 2022 for restaurants

Digital marketing can be daunting for restaurants. However, 41% of restaurants agree that it’s extremely important to include digital tools in their marketing strategies, according to PYMNTS.com. It’s important to learn what tools are out there to ensure they’re a fit for your restaurant.

The first step to maximizing a marketing budget is to establish the restaurants’ needs. Getting clear on the goals at the start—whether it’s staying on budget, boosting butts in seats, or updating the brand design—will make choosing the necessary tools a breeze.

To help you smash your goals, here are the best tools broken down by type: email marketing, SEO, social media, and general digital marketing.

Quick links
Email marketing
SEO and search engine marketing
Social media and influencer marketing
Digital marketing

Email marketing

Creating an email marketing strategy is a direct way to target guests, keeping your restaurant top of mind. Email marketing is also one of the few digital marketing channels with the ability to directly market to specific groups of guests. An email list is also a channel that the restaurant itself owns; it’s not subject to the unpredictable quirks of an algorithm. This allows you to fine-tune the messages and new experiences that you share with your audience.

1. Mailchimp: For ease of use
Mailchimp is a great choice if you’re new to email marketing. The platform allows easy automation of digital marketing campaigns simply by uploading the restaurant’s contact list. With a few clicks, you can target guests for special promotions or other loyalty efforts. Mailchimp offers 100 email templates that can be customized for all communications, including personalization for each guest segment.

2. HubSpot: For better customization
If you’re looking for a platform with more unique branding options, HubSpot might be the right email marketing tool. While it only offers 45 templates, each template can be fully customized to seamlessly match any restaurant brand.

Unlike its competitors, HubSpot functions as an integrated marketing tool beyond having a focus on email. The platform offers CRM (customer relationship management), inbound marketing, and analytics tools as well as a service and help desk for any questions that may arise.

SEO and search engine marketing

Once the restaurant’s website is up and running, it’s crucial to start thinking about an SEO strategy. 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
While SEMRush hosts a myriad of digital marketing tools, it’s best known as an SEO strategy platform. The tool will help decide what keywords to include within a dropdown menu and on the website.

It also provides thoughtful analysis on search engine rankings and gives recommendations on how to improve. Additionally, if you or an employee want to include content marketing or blog posts on the website, SEMRush offers writing recommendations as well.

4. Ahrefs: Most comprehensive
Ahrefs is an industry-leading digital marketing tool for good reason. This all-in-one SEO tool helps to audit and optimize the website, analyze the competition, and more. However, it’s also touted as being a bit tech-heavy.

It’s a fantastic tool if the time can be taken to navigate it. Otherwise, consider starting with an option that’s a bit more accessible.

5. KWFinder: For local SEO
At the lower end of the price spectrum is KWFinder. As the name suggests, the platform provides the best keywords for the website. If the restaurant changes its menu around the holidays, KWFinder can supply keyword research around seasonality and location.

If you’re looking to see how the restaurant stacks up, drop in a competitor’s URL. The tool will examine how they’re performing and explain how to adapt to competition.

6. Yoast: Best for WordPress
If the restaurant website was built on WordPress, the Yoast plugin is a seamless way to improve SEO performance. Like other SEO tools, Yoast works to optimize your site, however, this plugin works directly through WordPress, saving the restaurant from worrying about yet another tool.

While other SEO competitors offer training help for their respective tools, Yoast hosts an academy training course on the basics SEO, WordPress, and the Yoast plugin.

Social media and influencer marketing

With 49% of consumers depending on social media influencers for recommendations, according to the Digital Marketing Institute, 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. Hootsuite takes away some of the pressure by compiling all of a business’ profiles in one 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
Unless you’re spending a ton of time on Instagram, it’s tough to name the top influencers in restaurant marketing. Buzzsumo eliminates some of the struggle by recommending influencers that meet a restaurants’ niche. Beyond that, the platform helps develop a specific brand by recommending content ideas that align with its goals.

Digital marketing

Once the niche tools have been considered, it’s good to think about how they play into the overall marketing strategy. Examine what gaps are missing for the restaurant. Email, SEO, and social media are all incredibly 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 this effective tool to track every action of the customer journey on a website. 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. Google’s Keyword Planner helps integrate the best SEO keywords into a paid search strategy.

11. Canva: Best for branding
When it comes time to design a menu, social media post, or any other branding, Canva is a restaurant’s best friend. The base subscription offers more than 250,000 templates in addition to design types and photos. It’s a perfect tool for developing and maintaining a cohesive brand image. Canva was also built with user experience in mind, making it simple for everyone to use 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.

Implementing the best tools can make digital marketing easier. An excellent website optimized for SEO, a stellar social media strategy, and fresh, new brand designs will help the restaurant thrive.

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