If you ever attempted to grow your restaurant with online marketing, Facebook ads probably came up as an option.
It’s no surprise when you consider there’s now over 2 billion users on the platform, making it easier than ever to reach a large number of your potential diners.
When you add the depth of targeting you can achieve, Facebook advertising is a no-brainer.
This is also where the challenges come in.
With all the advanced capabilities of Facebook ads, how can you make sure you’re spending your budget in the way that benefits your restaurant the most?
If this is something you’re struggling with, you’re in the right place.
Read on to learn how to make the most out of Facebook ads not only to bring new diners to your restaurant, but also to nurture and deepen the loyalty of your regular guests.
Why is Restaurant Marketing Different?
While these guides are applicable to many business types and approaches beyond ecommerce, there is a core difference between selling physical products and food that’s made to order.
Compared to an online store, you’re selling an in-person experience that is (in most cases) non-refundable and includes senses of taste and smell, the atmosphere, and a relatively short experience.
In other words, you’re selling an hour or two of enjoyable time which ideally end with a satisfied stomach, a joyful soul, and a great memory.
To some extent, online shopping works similarly, but in most cases, products last longer than a few hours and bring a tangible, long-term benefit.
Restaurant marketing, therefore, has a larger mission beyond getting the sale.
Add to that the local nature of the restaurant business in general, and you’re suddenly dealing with fierce competition of restaurants around you and high expectations from your potential restaurant guests.
Quite different from ecommerce where the world is your oyster, isn’t it?
Luckily, there are some simple tips you can apply to your Facebook ads strategy to ensure your restaurant is the preferred option for your target audience.
Set Up Your Page and Ordering Process For Success
Before we dive into Facebook ad targeting, it’s important that your Facebook page looks good and provides a great browsing experience for the users you attract to it.
Of course, this includes publishing attractive photos (social media posts with food are highly visually driven, of course) and writing engaging Facebook posts, as well as keeping your opening hours and location up to date.
Here’s a great example of such Facebook page:
Going even further, we can break this Facebook page browsing experience into two distinct ways you can improve it:
- The voice, style, and topics that interest your core audience of ideal restaurant guests
- The ease of ordering food directly from your Facebook page (including when dining in, picking up their food, or getting it delivered)
Both are simple and quick to set up, yet crucial for your restaurant’s success, so let’s dive into each.
Deep understanding of your ideal audience
When updating your restaurant’s Facebook page, you can guess what your audience likes and wants to see from you (but you know what they say about assumption)…
…or you can know for sure, and confidently optimize everything you do based on those insights.
The tool that will help you with this is Facebook’s Audience Insights tool.
While logged into your Facebook Page account, head over to facebook.com/ads/audience-insights. When asked to choose an audience to start, select ‘Everyone on Facebook’.
From here, you’re looking at a blank slate, typically set as the United States by default.
Here’s how this tool works: on the left-hand side, you select locations, age, gender, interests, connections, and advanced filters such as relationship status and life events.
As you do that, the graphs on the right-hand side will change.
These graphs will show you the key elements of your audience selected through filters, such as their education, breakdown by cities (if you selected a country, for example), the pages and topics they like, and how active they are on Facebook.
In other words: you will learn about your restaurant’s ideal audience and best ways to target them.
Let’s look at an example so you can visualize this yourself.
You operate an Asian restaurant based in Boston. Your restaurants offers relatively low-cost meals from Chinese, Korean, and Japanese cuisine.
Most often, your guests are young to middle-aged couples or large friend groups.
With this in mind, you could say that your audience criteria is:
- Age 18 to 55
- Based in Boston
- All genders
- Interests: Chinese, Japanese, and Korean cuisine
Looks simple enough, right?
Here’s what you can learn just from entering this information into Audience Insights:
- There are 60,000 to 70,000 people that belong to this audience
- Their age skews 25-34 and over 60% of them are women
- The majority are single, as well as college educated
- They like Wagamama restaurants, the Boston Magazine, and stay informed on local events by following The Boston Calendar
Furthermore, you can also learn how they access Facebook and behave on it. In this case, they mostly use an iPhone and other mobile devices to access the platform, and they click on 30 ads per month.
All this information is extremely valuable because it gives you a sneak peek into your potential guests’ lives and helps you post content, craft ads, and create in-person experiences perfectly tailored to them.
You can click ‘Save’ at the top of this page and save this audience for later, or simply take notes on the main insights you found by entering your filters.
Make it easy to order food from your Facebook Page
Here’s the thing: if you do all the hard work, but no one could be bothered picking up the phone to order takeaway or book a spot in your restaurant, you might be wasting a lot of precious time and money.
That’s why we built jumper: a service for taking orders (or pre-orders) for dining in, as well as ordering takeaway or delivery, through a simple, automated messaging sequence…
…right from your Facebook Page.
If it sounds too good to be true, here’s what it looks like in real (Facebook) life:
And the checkout itself is a fast, frictionless experience for the Facebook user, while adding no extra work on your part:
You can easily set up your Facebook food ordering experience in jumper. It’s as easy as adding your address, opening hours, delivery and dine-in options, payment methods, and uploading your menu to your jumper dashboard.
The final step is connecting with your Facebook account from your jumper dashboard.
Setting this up before running Facebook ads for your restaurant makes sure you get the most return on your investment. The experience of ordering food and drinks becomes instant through the power of conversational commerce.
Create your jumper account in minutes; then, dive into Facebook ads with the following sections.
Attract New People to Dine in and Order Online
The key to attracting new restaurant visitors and/or takeaway orders is to show up on their Facebook feed when they happen to be nearby and highly interested in the dining experience you offer.
This means they shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to figure out if you’re their ideal dining option right now and how to get their hands on your food.
Ordering from you should be an easy, no-brainer thing to do, and it should take little effort and only a minute or two of their time.
If you’ve done your research through Audience Insights and set up your jumper automated checkout, reaching your ideal guests with Facebook ad targeting should be easy.
Here are the key areas to focus on.
Target the areas you deliver to and you’re easy to reach from
It might sound obvious, but you can easily avoid the mistake of wasting money on targeting people who aren’t able to easily reach your restaurant and that you can’t deliver food to.
Facebook Ads let you get hyper-specific with location targeting.
Here are some of the main settings you can test out for your restaurant:
- Entering a specific city/town or its area, such as Dublin, Ireland, or Blackrock, Dublin, Ireland
- Expanding the above entered city or its area by adding a radius
- Dropping a pin to your restaurant’s location and setting a radius
- Selecting between people who live in the location, were recently there, are traveling there, or everyone
For example, if you’re delivering to the entire city of Dublin, you might want to enter the city of Dublin and filter to people who live in the location (as travelers are likely to eat out rather than order in).
However, if you only offer the experience of dining in, you could target everyone who is currently in a few mile radii from your restaurant to encourage them to visit.
You can get more specific by adding interests on top of your location targeting.
Target and layer interests of your ideal restaurant guests
This is where your learnings from the Audience Insights exercise come in handy.
Below the location, age, gender, and language targeting in your Ads Manager, you’ll see a section called ‘Detailed Targeting’.
This is where you can start entering main traits of your audience. In the Asian restaurant case, this may be:
- Asian cuisine
- Japanese Cuisine
- Korean Cuisine
- Vietnamese Cuisine
You get the point. Keep entering items as long as they are highly relevant.
This section will ensure your ads are seen by people who match at least one of the interests you’ve added and not necessarily all of them.
Then, if you click Narrow Audience, you will be able to add more interests.
This means that these interests have to be a match along with at least one of those you entered above for people to see your ads.
Let’s say you learned from your Audience Insights that people who enjoy Asian food also love whisky and current events. Use this space to narrow your audience with these traits.
Finally, let’s say that because you serve affordable meals, you want to exclude people interested in luxury lifestyle. You can click ‘Exclude People’ and ensure you’re not showing your ads to them.
By following these steps, you can ensure your ads are seen by food lovers who are ready to visit your restaurant and are in the right place at the right time.
Re-engage Potential Guests That Engaged With You
The magic of Facebook advertising for your restaurant really shines when it comes to re-engaging people who have engaged with your business in the past.
This comes from the power of Facebook’s Custom Audiences, available at the very top of the Audience section in your ad targeting:
I like to say Custom Audiences are Facebook advertising on steroids. They include:
- Custom audience: creating an audience that has interacted with you
- Lookalike audience: creating a new audience based on the characteristics of existing audiences
These can skyrocket your restaurant’s success because you’re up to 70% more likely to convert those potential guests who have expressed their specific interest in you.
Let’s focus on the first option within Custom Audiences, which is interestingly called simply Custom Audience.
These are all the ways you can reach people who have a relationship with your restaurant:
Within the scope of this guide, we’ll focus on Customer File and Website Traffic. This section will focus on traffic retargeting.
The website traffic option uses the Facebook Pixel and allows you to target people who took specific actions on your website.
For this to work, make sure you check out our advanced guide to Facebook ad targeting and follow the guidelines to install your pixel.
Once you’re ready, here are several ways you can create audiences from your restaurant’s website traffic, and that is by including:
- All website visitors
- People who visited specific web pages
- People who spent a certain amount of time on your website
You can further refine these audiences by adding:
- Recency, up to 180 most recent days
- Frequency, or how many times someone should visit your website to be included or excluded
- Device they used to visit your website (again, for inclusion or exclusion)
You can also layer rules, which means your custom audience might be all the users that visited your checkout page or a specific meal category in the recent month at least twice.
Here are some main suggestions of ads you can run based on your website traffic:
Cast your net wide with all website visitors. This is among the best ways to reach the majority of those who have shown any interest in your restaurant by visiting your website.
Your ad can be based on anything that broadly appeals to those people, such as a positive review or a look inside your most popular meal.
Target visitors that are into a certain food category or a specific meal. The People who visited specific web pages option allows you to create audiences based on your website pages they’ve seen.
- If they visited brunch options, you can show them ads about your upcoming brunch deals
- If they visited gluten-free category, you can create an ad with a gluten-free-specific positive review or a video with your best gluten-free meals
Target visitors who have spent a long time on your website or specific pages. This is simply a way to narrow down the above two options even further and target the top 5%, 10%, or 25% people by the time spent on your website.
They are likely even more interested in what you have to offer, so make the most out of this option.
Nurture Your Email Subscribers and Past Restaurant Guests
The final step to making the most of Facebook ads for your restaurant is targeting people who have the closest relationship to it: your email subscribers and previous guests.
The customer file upload option allows you to do this quite easily.
In case you’re not yet collecting any emails for your restaurant, here are some ideas.
For email subscriptions:
- Set up a ‘Stay updated on newest meal items’ type of subscription box on your website and add it to your Facebook page
- Run a contest with a free meal or a large discount as the prize so that contestants must enter their email address to join
- Offer a small, one-off discount (e.g. $5 for orders over a certain amount) for anyone that subscribes
To collect your customers’ email addresses, you can:
- Ask for their email address when they are dining in to send them a receipt rather than printing it out
- Collect emails when they order delivery or takeaway online
- Encourage them to join a loyalty program if they are frequent visitors
The customer file upload option works like this: when you upload your list of emails, Facebook will attempt to match as much of your uploaded data as possible with Facebook user data.
Keep in mind you’ll never get a 100% match rate. This is simply because people use different emails for different things. A percentage of your email list won’t use the same address to get your promotional emails as they did to sign up to Facebook.
Once you’ve exported your list to a .csv file, you’ll need to upload it.
The list you upload can use pieces of information like email address, phone number, first and last name, postal code, city, country, date of birth and more to identify and match users.
You can download a file template to enter your data. Upload your file, name your audience, and click ‘Next’.
Follow the simple walkthrough to create your audience through all the four steps. You will be asked to confirm and/or fix the mapped data and then give Facebook a few minutes to hash and match that data.
Then, you’re ready to show the best you have to offer to your subscribers and customers!
If you want to make the most out of this audience, try some of these ideas for your ads:
- For diners who ordered from you or visited you recently: Ask for feedback and reviews
- For diners who haven’t visited you for a while: Suggest some of your new menu items
- For email subscribers: Promote a subscriber-only discount or promotion if they visit you or order from you in a certain timeframe
Finally, all of these groups are perfect for sneak peeks and early tasting opportunities, as well as promoting loyalty rewards if they become loyal to you.
As you might notice, it’s good to have your customer and subscriber lists properly tagged and segmented.
If you aren’t doing this highly impactful work with email addresses of your diners and supporters, however, don’t panic, as it’s never too late to start doing so.
You Have What it Takes to Make Your Restaurant Stand Out
The best thing about Facebook ads is that you don’t need to spend huge amounts of cash or a ridiculous amount of time to get started or even to see results.
By following the simple steps outlined above, you’ll reach people who will fall in love with your restaurant because you will rise above the noise of competition and serve them (pun intended!) with the most relevant Facebook ads.
To make the food ordering experience from your Facebook activity a breeze, remember to create your free jumper account. Happy advertising!