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5 Online Marketing Ideas To Increase Restaurant Sales During The Holidays

by | Dec 14, 2018

The holiday season is well underway, but there’s still plenty of time to implement some brilliant online marketing campaigns. While many patrons opt to prepare their own festive meals, others look to restaurants to supplement their holiday entertaining menus. All in all, the holiday season can be a mixed bag for the restaurant industry. However, individual establishments can still increase revenues by putting a good plan in place. Below, we discuss 5 of our favorite online marketing ideas to increase restaurant conversions during the holidays.


Restaurant Marketing Objectives During the Holiday Season


Why should restaurants implement an online marketing strategy? First, the holiday season can be a challenging time for restaurants. Consumers value convenience, a great experience, and consistent food quality. They want to enjoy a great meal after hours of holiday shopping. Many don’t want to wait in line for a table. Thus, the dynamics of consumer behavior during this time require restaurants to recalibrate their marketing strategies.

A recent article in Chron explains:


It’s no surprise that 61 percent of restaurants notice a decline in patrons during a seasonal holiday or major event, according to Blue Sky Local. This decline in patrons or business can be as much as 20 percent. During the holiday seasons, customers are less likely to eat out, mostly due to spending time with family and preparing meals at home.


What Restaurants Can Do To Ramp Up Sales


While retailers in other industries are ramping up sales, restaurants may actually see a slump in business during the holiday season. Thus, an effective marketing campaign that adapts to market conditions can mitigate seasonal declines in consumer traffic.

For instance, restaurants that offer reliable delivery services, off-site catering, and accommodations for group dining are likely to fare better. Additionally, restaurants that implement holiday-themed online marketing campaigns can also benefit from increased consumer engagement.


Challenges Faced By The Restaurant Industry During The Holiday Season


Restaurants face unique challenges involving cash flow, employee turnover, and consumer demand during the holiday season. For example, hungry holiday shoppers will prefer a fast-food restaurant inside a strip mall to one on the outskirts of town. By extension, the first establishment would see a greater increase in revenues.

While specific challenges differ, all restaurants can benefit from solidifying their holiday marketing objectives and implementing viable goals. These objectives and solutions should address impediments to growth.

The main marketing objective for restaurants during the holiday season should be to optimize their services and marketing tools to meet or exceed the benchmarks they set. That said, let’s examine 5 ways to meet and exceed these benchmarks for the holiday season.


1. Branded Storytelling Video Series:


Videos are an excellent way for restaurants to promote their brand to an online audience. For instance, a recent HubSpot survey shows that 72% of people prefer explainer videos to text when learning about a new product. What’s more, 76% of the surveyed restaurants report that embedded videos have increased their website traffic.

As such, restaurants should leverage these statistics to their advantage. Creating a branded storytelling video series is an exciting way to address any holiday slumps in traffic. Ideas for a video series include:


    • founding stories centered around holiday-themed recipes
    • customer and employee interviews discussing holiday-themed restaurant menus
    • special holiday events, performances, or guest appearances at restaurants
    • clips of restaurant chefs sharing tips for hosting large crowds during the holiday season
    • clips of celebrities discussing holiday-themed restaurant dishes


Remember To Share Your Holiday-Themed Videos


The main idea is to create holiday-themed videos to engage an online-savvy audience. Online marketing campaigns can range from the simple to the intricate. Restaurants can highlight popular dishes or make elaborate documentaries about local attractions during the holidays. Including brand menus and providing exact location data in marketing campaigns could also boost online search visibility.

Last, but not least, videos can be shared on social media channels, email marketing campaigns, and business blogs to increase brand awareness. With engaging topics, quality video production, and effective marketing strategies, restaurants will gain positive attention during the holiday season.


2. Holiday-Themed eGift Cards:


Online marketing is all about delivering a positive UX (user experience) to the consumer. Thus, offering gift cards during the holiday season can be a smart marketing move. Restaurants can cash in on the holiday season’s gift-giving frenzy by offering holiday-themed gift cards online.

This gives loyal patrons the opportunity to treat their friends, loved ones, or business associates to a great meal at one of their favorite restaurants. Best of all, customers can order the gift cards from the comfort of their homes or offices. By making e-gift cards available online, restaurants can cash in on the consumer demand for speed and convenience during the holiday season.

Give consumers the choice of having gift cards snail-mailed or e-mailed to recipients. Generally, e-gift cards can be redeemed one of two ways: by scanning the customer’s smartphone or manually entering the e-gift card numbers. In order to make the redeeming process simple for customers, provide clear explanations about the redemption options and claiming process.


3. Gift Giveaway Holiday Celebration Parties:


Much of holiday entertaining involves food. Restaurants can get in on the action by holding celebratory events featuring great food, delicious drinks, and enticing gifts. The build-up to the party will provide great material for online marketing campaigns as well.

Restaurants can promote events by offering existing and potential customers opportunities to win prizes. Engage and convert customers by offering prizes based on these actions:


  • following a restaurant on social media platforms


  • filling out online feedback surveys


  • leaving positive reviews on a restaurant website


  • purchasing e-gift cards in certain amounts


  • spending over $50 on a meal


  • showing up to the gift giveaway restaurant event in certain costumes


  • participating in restaurant social media polls


  • subscribing to a restaurant’s email list


Enticing and memorable gifts increase brand engagement and conversions. As a plus, your efforts will long be remembered after the event. Customers will associate your brand with fun, excitement, and good times. Overall, this is one of the most effective online marketing ideas to increase restaurant conversions during the holidays.

The main objective here is to produce engaging holiday-themed digital marketing campaigns to build brand loyalty and increase conversions. All things considered, make holiday events annual occurrences, so your customers have something to look forward to.


4. Social Media and Email List Discounts:


The holiday season is a great time to offer discounts on social media platforms and email lists. Why? It helps your customer’s bottom line. After all, holiday spending can put a dent in many wallets. A survey of 400 adult consumers reveals important facts about holiday spending:


Nearly 75 percent of holiday diners prefer a ‘buy one, get one entree free’ promotion over any other offer during the holiday season.

Many respondents cited the price of a meal as a key determining factor driving their dine-out decisions during the holiday season, an overwhelming majority favoring establishments with coupons and promotions, namely BOGO deals.


Periodically blasting a discount promotion to loyal email list subscribers and social media followers is a simple, yet effective, way for restaurants to increase holiday revenues.


5. Offering Delivery Options and Off-Site Catering Services:


Family get-togethers are the norm during the holiday season. Additionally, the cold weather can keep the most enthusiastic customers at home. So, make it easy for your customers to order their favorite dishes online and include prompt delivery as a service of convenience. Additionally, consider offering an off-site catering service to meet the needs of larger parties.

While restaurants can benefit from offering both services throughout the year, the dynamics of holiday customer behavior can lead to an increased ROI on these services.

Remember, effective marketing campaigns target the needs of consumers at the right time and place. So, offer your customers convenient ways to eat in the comfort of their homes during the busy holiday season.

An article in Restaurant Business maintains that “The stats are in: Consumers are upping restaurant delivery.”


86% of consumers are using off-premise services at least monthly. And a third are using it more than they did a year ago…

…Food delivery, in particular, is projected to grow in the double digits – 12% per year over the next five years…

…The result is incremental sales growth for operators who can provide the optimal food delivery experience.


Follow The Right Plan To Launch Your Off-Site Catering Service


The Restaurant Business article explains the challenges restaurants face in offering delivery and off-site catering services. However, the rewards are tremendous. Begin by assembling a special crew to set up the prep area, procure the necessary equipment, and develop menus. Follow proven steps to establish an off-site catering operation as part of your business.

Ideally, restaurants would have the operational capabilities in place to offer their customers online delivery services from mobile-optimized websites. Alternatively, restaurants can also partner with third-party providers to offer these services. Either way, restaurants stand to see definite gain from offering both online deliveries and off-site catering during the holiday season.


Online Marketing Ideas To Increase Restaurant Conversions During The Holidays: Do They Work?


In a word, yes. Online food deliveries are expected to grow by 7.5% from 2018-2023. While the holiday season does present some challenges for the restaurant industry, it also offers plenty of opportunities for expansion. Restaurants that demonstrate business agility stand to gain the most. In fact, the right online marketing campaign can increase brand awareness, engagement, and conversions.

So, what do you think of our online marketing ideas to increase restaurant conversions during the holidays? Share your thoughts below or visit us on Facebook to speak your mind. We believe that strategic online marketing campaigns can reap untold benefits for your restaurant during the holiday season. Consider how a mobile-optimized website, centralized automated email marketing tool, and dedicated social media manager can transform your bottom line. Best of all, you don’t have to do it alone. You can take your business to the next level by having an experienced SaaS partner like 9Fold at your side.

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