Facebook Ads for Restaurants: How to Get Started and Win New Customers in 2020

Facebook Ads for Restaurants

Social media marketing has the reputation of being a way to get big results without having to spend on ads. The theory is that if you create great content and build your audience, you’ll attract followers organically.

While this can be true, it doesn’t mean you should avoid ads altogether — advertising on platforms like Facebook and Instagram can bring in customers while you also continue to build your organic audience. Or, if you already have success with social media marketing, you can use ads to reach even more customers.

In this guide to Facebook ads for restaurants, we’ll show you 11 tips that you can use to begin advertising on the platform.

How to Get Started

Facebook makes it easy for restaurants to start advertising. First, set up your page if you haven’t done so already by uploading some images and necessary information about your restaurant. We go into more depth about how to do this on our page about social media marketing.

On your page, you’ll see plenty of buttons asking you to promote your restaurant. Clicking on any of these will take you to the Facebook Ads Manager, where you can begin to create your campaign.

get started with facebook ads for restaurants

For an ad to be successful, you need to get two things right:

  1. The creative part of the ad — This is the text, the call-to-action, the offer, and the images.
  2. How you target your adFacebook has in-depth targeting options that let you choose to show your ad to a highly specific audience, and this is the reason why Facebook ads can be so useful.

If you do this well, you’ll increase your restaurant’s exposure amongst the people that are most likely to be interested in visiting.

Facebook Ad Tips for Restaurants

Target Existing Customers

Facebook allows you to target your restaurant’s existing customers by uploading email lists to the ads manager and then matching this data to the data of users.

This may seem counterintuitive — if people already know about your business, why should you pay to advertise to them?

The reason is that — because this customer segment is already aware of your brand — you can find success by encouraging them to visit again. As you don’t have to spend time (or money) introducing this audience to your business, you can focus on getting them to buy. This means it can be possible to get a good return on your ad spending.

Of course, you need to consider the type of ads you show these customers carefully. Try to include something new such as promoting events, showing off new menu items, introducing seasonal specials, or even giving discounts or coupons.

Audience Retargeting

“Audience retargeting” is a way of showing ads to people that have visited your website. These people may have eaten at your restaurant, or they may merely be exploring places to eat. Either way, the fact that they have already been to your site means they have expressed an interest in your business. These people are considered warm leads.

You can create different retargeting strategies depending on the page the potential diner visited — if it was a page about an event, you could show them ads for that same event; if they visited your booking page, you could show them an ad asking them to finish the booking.

Retargeting is considered one of the most effective forms of Facebook marketing. Various studies suggest that not only do those ads have a higher click-through rate than non-retargeted ads, but they also increase the chances that a website visitor will buy.

Create a Lookalike Audience

Another smart targeting option is Facebook’s lookalike audience feature. This allows you to find new people who may be interested in your restaurant based on them having similar traits to your existing customers.

The way it works is simple: you create a Facebook audience using existing customer data, such as email addresses or those who have liked your page. Facebook then pulls out common characteristics of the people in this audience and shows your ad to new people who also have these traits.

Make sure to remember that ads targeting a lookalike audience may have to be different to those targeting the audience the customer data is based on. The lookalike audience won’t have any existing knowledge of your brand, so your ads will have to introduce them to it.

Targeting people based on their location is another effective way to use Facebook ads. You can aim your ads towards people based on the zip code they are currently located in, or promote to people within a specific radius of your location.

location targeting facebook ads for restaurants

Of course, you don’t have to limit yourself to a single zip code — if you want to increase your reach, you can add neighboring areas. You should also be sure to combine location targeting with other targeting options.

There are many ways that this could be useful: a lunch restaurant near office buildings could advertise an offer to workers in the local area, or a family restaurant in the suburbs could promote local events or specials to families nearby.

Target Ads Based on Interests and Demographics

The final type of targeting you should consider is manually creating an audience based on the demographics and interests you think suggest a person will like your restaurant. This will be necessary if you don’t have any data about existing customers.

Facebook has plenty of targeting options that make this easy to do, and these are split into demographics, interests, and behaviors.

A family barbecue restaurant, for example, could create an audience of parents with pre-teens who like barbecue and then match this with people in their area. They can also exclude people who match specific characteristics that suggest they wouldn’t be interested in barbecue. For example, maybe someone who has expressed an interest in vegetarian food.

demographic facebook ads restaurants

The restaurant should combine this targeting with an offer that is likely to appeal to the customer — something like a discount on a family set menu, or a free dessert.

Have a Specific Goal in Mind

When creating a Facebook ad, you typically want the customer to take a particular action. This should be the first step in a sales funnel that ultimately leads to the person visiting your restaurant.

You could encourage people to:

  • Visit your website
  • Download a coupon
  • Sign up to your mailing list
  • Book a table
  • Sign up for an event
  • Download an app
  • Make an order

When creating your advert, you should be clear about what you want the person viewing it to do. If you want a customer to download your app, then the image, text, and call-to-action should all be relevant to the offer.

Likewise, you should ensure there is continuity between each stage of the sales funnel. If you want someone to sign up for a free drink coupon, be sure to create a specific landing page on your website dedicated to this offer.

It’s also important to keep track of these conversions, so you know the return on your ad spend.

Unlike some online businesses, restaurants typically can’t directly attribute ad clicks to sales. A customer may see the ad, click on it, and then visit the restaurant in person without ever mentioning that they saw the campaign.

Nonetheless, you should still have some way of tracking whether your ad spend is resulting in people visiting your restaurant. This could be as simple as tracking coupon use, surveying customers, or even just comparing covers pre and post ad.

Encourage App Installs

Apps can benefit restaurants by providing features such as loyalty schemes, reservations, coupons, and in-app ordering without the hefty fees associated with third-party aggregators.

Facebook has an option specifically for encouraging downloads that lets you create an ad directing people to your app store listing, where the customer can then download your app instantly.

Consider highlighting an offer or discount available to app users, to increase conversion.

dominos facebook ad

Once people have your app, you can create ads to encourage them to use it. For example, you could direct app users to your order page so they can make an instant purchase.

Use an Email Coupon

Combining a Facebook ad with a coupon gives people a specific reason to visit your restaurant.

The key is to be sure that the offer attracts the type of people you target your ad at — university students will react to different offers in comparison to families.

It can also be useful to add a sense of scarcity to your offer. You can do this by limiting the discount to the first 100 people who download the coupon, or by saying that people must take advantage of the offer on a particular day (as per the Taco Bell post below).

taco bell facebook ad

When using coupons, you should direct customers to a landing page where you ask for their email address in exchange for the coupon, as this will allow you to continue to send the customer information about your restaurant.

Plus, if you don’t have much knowledge about your audience, asking for an email address will also help you build a picture of the type of people who respond to particular offers.

Promote Events

Facebook makes it easy to advertise events created on the platform. It’s as simple as creating an event for your business on Facebook and then promoting the page.

When people see your event, they can click “interested” if they want to attend. You can then send updates as the event gets closer. And, as an added bonus, you can also use Facebook ads to sell tickets to your events directly, where applicable.

Combine events with seasonally relevant days or holidays for maximum effect: a sports bar could promote a Super Bowl party, a taqueria could promote a Cinco de Mayo, or a family restaurant could promote a Christmas party.

If you need some inspiration about the type of event you could hold at your restaurant, check out our mega-list of 60 event ideas restaurants can use to bring in more customers.

Use Professional Quality Content

While focusing on your offer and who you target your ad towards is important, you should also make sure the content of your ad is high quality.

Consider something like getting professional photos taken of your menu and restaurant. This is a good investment, as you can use this material throughout your marketing efforts and not just on Facebook ads. You can also spend time crafting the copy for your advert to make it as persuasive as possible.

Don’t Forget About Instagram

Facebook owns Instagram, which means you can use the Facebook ads manager to also publish on the latter platform. As Instagram is great for restaurant marketing, advertising on the network is a no-brainer.

If you want to learn more about promoting your restaurant on Instagram, check out our article Restaurant Instagram Marketing in 2020 (Including Five Great Examples for Inspiration).

Wrapping Up

Facebook can be a very effective way to advertise your restaurant; the key is to target your ads at the people who are most likely to be interested in visiting your business, and then include a relevant offer.

Be sure to experiment with your campaigns by adjusting things that aren’t working. You can set daily budgets for ads, which means you can experiment without the risk of costs rising too much. Then — when you find a formula that works — you can increase your spending.

Read more on how to promote your restaurant in our article Restaurant Marketing Ideas: The Top 31 Ideas to Grow in 2020.


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