14 affordable marketing tools to help you boost your digital restaurant branding strategy
Building your restaurant branding and online presence is an evolutionary journey that will adapt and grow with your restaurant over time.
To help you get started, we’ve put together a list of our 12 favorite restaurant marketing tools you can leverage to grow your restaurant’s digital presence.
Affordable design and content creation tools to support your restaurant's digital marketing strategy
Affordable design and content creation tools to support your restaurant’s digital marketing strategy. Creating new content is a critical component of keeping your audiences engaged, but not everyone is a graphic designer.
Even relative newbies can take advantage of these tools to create digital restaurant branding materials like social media posts, videos, and more.
This web-based app offers professional templates for everything from logos and social media posts to business cards and video collages. You can use the platform to create your own brand kit to ensure colors and fonts are cohesive across whatever designs you execute. There are both paid and free versions, so you can start small and upgrade your account if and when you’re ready.
Animoto is all about video production. Templates are categorized by intent, so you can piggyback off social trends, explore promo videos, or check out templates made for celebrating special events. Membership includes access to over 1 million photos and clips from Getty Images, plus thousands of licensed songs.
You can get started for free, but advanced features like removing the Animoto branding from videos and accessing more design options require a paid professional or team account.
It’s always nice to have your own branded images to use for marketing purposes, but stock photos offer a low-cost alternative that doesn’t require you to pay a photographer, schedule a shoot, and wait for editing.
Pexel is a searchable database of free stock photos and videos you can download for free. All images are royalty-free and suitable for commercial use.
Easy-to-use email marketing platforms for restauranteurs to stay connected with loyal customers.
Email marketing offers an average ROI (return on investment) of $42 for every dollar you spend. If that sounds great, it’s because it is.
You can use email to introduce a new chef or seasonal menu, spread the word about a renovation or patio extension, or send promos that encourage subscribers to make a reservation, order takeout, or check out a post on your social media pages.
These two email marketing platforms are easy-to-use, affordable, and take a lot of the guesswork out of contacting your customers online:
This email marketing tool encourages you to work smarter, not harder, by creating branded emails using their simple templates. Constant Contact also offers web design and social marketing tools, but those packages are sold separately.
Email marketing capabilities include access to templates, marketing automation, eCommerce marketing, list segmentation, and more. Sign up for free and experiment using the site’s free trial period, and if you like what you see, you can upgrade to either their Email or Email Plus plans, both of which are still relatively affordable.
Mailchimp is another email marketing platform that has expanded its service offerings way beyond email to include website design and appointment scheduling options. But the big selling point here is the access to features like audience management and insights and analytics that can help you gauge the success of your campaigns, track sales, run A/B tests on new email series, and much more.
To access all that, you can sign up for a free account that’s already quite value-packed. There are also paid plans designed for businesses ready to scale their marketing with more contacts, audiences, behavioral targeting, and expert support.
Social media scheduling tools that make your life easier
Social media platforms gain about 1.3 million users every day. For restaurant owners and managers, social media presents an ever-expanding playground filled with people who need to eat and want help deciding how to fulfill that need.
On Instagram alone, 81% of users are on the platform to read up on various products and services. Post regularly and create content that’s authentic, honest, and eye-catching, and you can capture the attention of those info-hungry users too.
These social media scheduling tools help you keep your content calendar up to date without being tied to your smartphone or computer.
Use Later to create social media posts and schedule social media posts ahead of time. The site is free for individuals with just one social set.
There are additional paid plans for restaurants looking to take their social media strategy to the next level.
Use Hootsuite to schedule posts on all of your social networks. Access images right from your dashboard, where you can also monitor social conversations and various trends and see all your brand mentions.
Plans are a bit more expensive as you add social accounts and users, but standalone restaurants should be able to do everything they need via a basic membership.
Remember Canva? This design tool recently added a scheduling utility. If you’re already using Canva to design elements of your restaurant branding, you can now skip the cumbersome steps of downloading from one platform and uploading to another by using their built-in Content Planner to caption images and schedule posts.
This feature is included in the overall Canva pricing structure, which starts with a free plan that’s quite comprehensive.
Many restaurants won’t need to upgrade, but additional paid plans unlock assets like branding kits, other templates, premium stock photos, and project management for larger undertakings that require an entire team.
Restaurant website tools and hosting services
Creating a presence for your restaurant online starts with a great website. This is the first point of contact for many customers, so it’s important that your site is compelling, searchable, and as user-friendly as possible. But it also needs to reflect your brand in terms of color and messaging.
Before you get building, consider this: 77% of consumers who participated in a recent survey say they’re likely to check out a restaurant’s website before dining in or ordering takeout, and around two-thirds have been discouraged from visiting a restaurant or ordering food to-go because of what they saw on that site.
Grubhub Direct is a commission-free online ordering website that you can use as a standalone restaurant website or supplement your restaurant website experience. With Grubhub Direct, you can drive customers to an online ordering website customized just for your restaurant’s brand and include your logo, photos, and menu.
What’s even better is Grubhub Direct gives you access to detailed customer data so that you can develop personalized connections that build a loyal fan base. Learn more about Grubhub Direct by clicking here.
Wix is a website hosting service that also gives you access to hundreds of templates, unlimited pages, and even high-quality hosting, all free with their basic plan. For more storage space, video hours, and other perks like removing the Wix logo from your site, you’ll need to upgrade, but even the basic paid plans cost less than a dollar a day.
You can even embed your Grubhub Direct website onto your restaurant website to drive commission-free online orders.
When you find out 41% of the web was built using WordPress, it’s hard not to be impressed. The platform hosts everyone from solo entrepreneurs to Fortune 500 companies who take advantage of the simple design utility to build beautiful websites without knowing a single drop of code.
As for pricing, WordPress is the cheapest around, with plans starting with a basic free membership and scaling a few dollars at a time as you upgrade for more functionality and support.
And guess what- with WordPress, you can easily integrate your Grubhub Direct online ordering website!
Free to use promotional tools to build your restaurant's online presence
Google My Business
Search engines prioritize local results–for a good reason. MostGoogle searches include the terms ‘near me,’ ‘closest,’ and ‘nearby,’ and one way to quickly and affordably capture that local SEO power for your restaurant is through your Google My Business page.
In addition, if you are interested in driving online orders, including a link within your Google My Business listing to your Grubhub Direct or even Grubhub Marketplace listing can also encourage customers to order directly from you.
Over 90 million people visit Yelp to find local restaurants to dine at, meaning if you are not optimizing your Yelp account, responding to reviews, and using Yelp to connect with new customers, you are missing out on potential diners.
While Yelp does charge advertising fees, claiming your business and providing updated contact information, including a link to your website or online ordering website, are easy and free steps you can take to begin to build your online presence.
Investing in your Yelp listing can also help your business appear at the top of Google searches for ‘near me’ and ‘nearby’ search terms. Learn more about claiming your Yelp listing here.
Over 33 million hungry diners use the Grubhub app to find new restaurants and reorder from their favorites. When you join the Grubhub Marketplace, you also get access to free-to-use marketing and promotional tools such as:
- Promotional and loyalty Tools designed to help take your business to the next level by increasing your restaurant’s exposure on Grubhub Marketplace
- Sponsored listing capability to elevate your restaurant’s place at the top of customer searches
- Ratings and review tools to help you engage with your customers and attract new customers
Start to build your restaurant's online presence today with affordable marketing tools designed to make your life easier.
Building your digital restaurant brand can open your business up to a new world of marketing channels, customers, and revenue opportunities.
While it may seem daunting to get started first, search for easy-to-use digital marketing tools, like the ones listed here, to help you get started. With these tools at your disposal, your restaurant branding strategy is only as limited as your imagination.