The Best Restaurant Marketing Tools to Drive Sales

One of the best ways to get new customers through your door — and drive repeat business — is to leverage restaurant marketing tools.

11 min read

Attracting new customers and increasing profits involves building awareness for your brand. One of the best ways to acquire — and keep — customers is to leverage restaurant marketing tools.

Think marketing isn't for your business? Think again. The proliferation of digital channels and online resources has made restaurant marketing tools more accessible than ever. Whether you're a mom-and-pop restaurant or a national chain, a solid marketing strategy helps you get the word out and win over more diners. The best part of all is that the rise of social and digital media, along with the availability of free- and low-cost restaurant marketing tools and resources, have made it possible for anyone to learn how to be a marketer. 

Read on to learn the restaurant marketing tools that will help you reach hungry new customers and boost your sales. 

Building the Basics: Key Restaurant Marketing Tools

How do you begin to generate brand awareness when starting from square one? Even if you have a steady audience of regulars, there will be other diners who've never stepped foot in your establishment. 

The biggest challenge is getting those people to try your restaurant — and then getting them to come back for more. These are the restaurant marketing tools that make the biggest impact. 

Restaurant websites 

A website is essential to not only let people know about your business, but convert them to customers. A recent survey found that 77% of diners check a restaurant's website before eating there — and of that group, nearly 70% have been discouraged from visiting a restaurant because of its website.

If your website isn't current and lacks helpful information (like hours, menu, and contact information), customers may be less likely to dine with you. Don't forget to share the story behind your business — an About page that illustrates the mission and history of your restaurant can help solidify connections with your customers.

Offering online ordering directly on your website helps convert prospective diners into customers faster. With DoorDash Storefront, you can create a branded online store to enable commission-free pickup and delivery ordering directly from your website. There are no monthly fees; instead, you pay payment card processing fees of 2.9% of the total transaction amount + $0.30 per order.

Email marketing

Email is a great way to get information out and remind customers to choose your restaurant next time they're looking to dine out or order in. Email marketing doesn't even have to cost you anything — but on average, it returns $44 for every $1 spent

While ramping up your email marketing, there are many user-friendly restaurant marketing tools to help create eye-catching emails, set up triggered messages, and track metrics. If you're just starting to grow your list, many marketing platforms like Mailchimp and Benchmark offer free or low-cost plans for smaller lists. Ensure you have processes in place to grow your subscriber list as you refine your email marketing strategy. Sometimes, gaining subscribers is as easy as promising something customers want — whether that's a discount (which we'll discuss more in the next tip), complimentary appetizer, or birthday surprise.

Discounts and promotions

Four out of five consumers would be encouraged to make a first-time purchase if they found an offer or promotion. Offering a special deal for first-timers will make their decision of where to eat much easier, and following up with more promotions can turn them into loyal regulars.

DoorDash has tried-and-true restaurant marketing tools to help you drive customer acquisition and retention.

  • First Order, $0 Delivery Fee: Get prominent in-app placement and entice new customers by covering the delivery fee for customers' first DoorDash orders from your restaurant. 

  • First Order, % Off: Offer first-time customers 15%, 20%, or 25% off of their DoorDash order with you. 

  • Order Again and Save: Win back previous customers who haven't ordered from you within the past 45 days by offering a 15%, 20%, or 25% discount on their next order.

  • $0 Delivery Fee: Get prominent in-app placement and offer reduced or free delivery for customer orders greater than $15. 

  • Spend $X, Get Y: Give simple $ or % off incentives to customers who meet a minimum basket size. You can use this to boost your average order value.

  • Promote Menu Items: Promote specific menu items to new or existing customers. Use this to incentivize higher basket sizes, build momentum around new releases, or highlight your most profitable items.

If you're already a DoorDash partner, turning on promotions is easy. Simply log into your Merchant Portal, go to "Grow Your Sales," select the promotion you'd like to run, and watch the orders roll in. 

Social media

Another key restaurant marketing tool is to use your social media channels to share information with existing customers and reach new ones, too. Social platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok let you interact directly with diners, run advertisements, and analyze your performance. Your social media marketing can be as simple as sharing menu specials and reposting customer photos, or as creative as running daily polls, doing giveaways, and creating mouthwatering video content. (Hint: tools like Buffer and Hootsuite let you schedule posts in advance to save time and stay consistent.)

Make sure your social profiles and posts include a call to action that helps to drive sales. DoorDash Storefront integrates with Instagram and Facebook to encourage customers to order directly from your profiles. 

Loyalty and rewards programs

Acquiring new customers can be costly, so your ultimate goal should be to convert first-timers into loyal, repeat business. 41% of business revenue comes from the top 8% of customers, meaning your most loyal customers are also the most valuable. Loyalty programs and customer rewards are some of the most impactful restaurant marketing tools. 

There are many ways to build loyalty, from offering in-store punch cards to leveraging a POS platform like Square (which lets customers collect points as they check out). You could also give customers $5 off of their next order with you, offer a "buy 9, get the 10th free" program, or allow customers to turn points into a free meal. 

You can also participate in a program like DashPass, a monthly subscription program that enables customers to order from restaurants at $0 delivery. DashPass helps restaurants reach DoorDash's most engaged customers — in fact, 30% of DoorDash orders for casual dining chain Smokey Bones come from DashPass.

Seasonal marketing

Holidays and seasons give customers a reason to feel festive and celebrate with your restaurant. Whether it's a standing Taco Tuesday special, a new summer menu, or a series of promotions taking place over the 12 days of Christmas, seasonal restaurant marketing tools create timely reasons for guests to dine with you. 

Looking to spice up your holiday marketing strategy this year? Download the Restaurant Marketing Calendar & Toolkit to learn creative ways to drive sales and grow your social media following year-round. You'll also get an illustrated calendar highlighting 270+ national, food & social media holidays, as well as 24 social media templates to celebrate and engage guests. 

Leveling Up: Using Data to Drive Growth

Once you have your restaurant marketing tools in place and are regularly executing campaigns, you'll need to monitor metrics to track your progress. Looking at campaign data can tell you which tactics are the most effective — and which aren't serving you at all. 

  • Crunch the numbers. When you run a campaign using any of the above restaurant marketing tools, be sure to track analytics so you understand which promotions drive the most ROI for your business. At a high level, this means looking at overall sales numbers and purchasing trends. It can help to look at each of your channels — such as your website, email lists, and social media — to see how many customers are engaging with your content and actually converting. 

  • Look at trends over time. When you join the DoorDash MarketPlace, you can track your sales in real-time and analyze promotion performance using the Merchant Portal. The portal gives you high-level data capabilities in one place, letting you analyze the data across your dashboard, get feedback from customers, adjust your menu, and grow your sales based on what you're learning.

  • Continue what's working, pivot what isn't. If a campaign was particularly effective at getting more diners to order from you, run a similar one. But if a campaign isn't working, use that as a learning opportunity and focus your time and effort elsewhere. Even when you find what works, it's important to keep pushing and testing new strategies to stay ahead of competitors and keep your campaigns fresh. The more you finesse your marketing strategy, the greater your business impact will be. 

Now that you have these restaurant marketing tools in your back pocket, you're well on your way to growing your business. Remember: in the current landscape, it's important to meet customers where they are. Delivery and pickup are some of the most effective restaurant marketing tools for businesses looking to grow. DoorDash offers solutions for restaurants of all sizes to get their name in front of eager customers in your area. 

Ready to accelerate your restaurant growth? Sign up for DoorDash today.


Sara DeForest
Sara DeForest


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