Mobile marketing for restaurants: Catching customers on the go

By ChowNowFeb 27th, 2024

Mobile phone showing restaurant promotion

Effective restaurant marketing means reaching diners wherever they are. In today’s world, that means their mobile devices. To gain more diners and drive more orders, restaurants need to optimize their mobile marketing and make it easier to order.

Here are some tips and tools to help you get started.

What’s mobile marketing?

Mobile marketing is promoting your business on customer’s mobile devices like phones, tablets, and other handhelds. Common channels for mobile marketing include mobile-friendly websites, text messages, push notifications, social media, and more.

Why mobile marketing for restaurants?

Because mobile devices are convenient and we’re always on them. You’re probably reading this article from one right now. In fact, 81% of diners browse for restaurants on mobile devices, and 75% of them select restaurants based on those results. That means if you’re not connecting with customers on mobile, you’re really missing out.

Where to start?

Think about what you use your mobile devices for and start from there. Most of us browse websites, check apps, respond to texts, etc. Here are some tips to optimize a mobile marketing strategy for your restaurant in those channels and beyond.


Studies show that the majority of web traffic on restaurant websites comes from mobile users, underscoring the importance of a mobile-friendly site experience. 48% of users reported getting annoyed or frustrated when restaurants don’t have mobile-friendly sites, causing them to leave the site for another. It might sound intimidating, but with the right tools, making a mobile-friendly site can be simple. For example, restaurants can get a premium website built by our experts and optimized for ordering as part of ChowNow Pro.

55% of all web traffic is mobile

Make sure it’s responsive

A responsive website can recognize what type of device is being used and automatically adjust to its size, so the content is easy to view on any phone, tablet, or desktop. It can also help boost your search rankings, as Google and other search engines favor mobile-friendly sites over others.

Here at ChowNow, we work with Squarespace to help our restaurant partners easily build responsive websites.

Optimize for speed

Mobile users are typically less patient than those on a desktop device. A delay of just a few seconds can lead to potential customers abandoning your site for good. To make your site faster, compress images, avoid videos with large file sizes, and leverage browser caching.

Google has a free tool called PageSpeed that can identify parts of your site that make it slow. You can also use a free tool like Tinify to compress your larger images and videos.

Streamline navigation and content

Think of this as an extension of speed. Users don’t want to waste time navigating your site to find what they’re looking for. Thinking minimally can really help your design and speed up the time it takes for diners to order. Large buttons that standout and a simple website menu that’s easy to find can help boost orders and ticket sizes.

Not sure where to start? Our team can help restaurants optimize their sites with order buttons, imagery, and more. Learn more.


Yes, you read that correctly. And no, apps aren’t just for big brands. Thousands of small and independent restaurants have launched their own iOS and Android apps. Research shows it pays off too. Restaurants with their own branded apps see a 2X increase in orders.

Restaurants with their own apps boost orders by 2x

Admittedly, creating an app is tough, but luckily, there are companies that can do it for you…like us. All we need is your basics, such as your logo, menu, pricing, hours, etc. And we’ll launch your own custom, branded iOS and Android apps. After that, you can use marketing to drive diners to download your app.

Link to your restaurant app everywhere

Update your social media bios to include a link to your app. Send out emails that tell diners about your app and encourage them to download. You can also create flyers and posters to hang up inside your dining room, so customers know that your app is the best way to order while they’re on the go. Basically whenever you mention online ordering, drive diners to your app.

If you don’t want to do it all yourself, ChowNow can do it for you. Mobile apps, automated emails, and print marketing are all included in the ChowNow Pro suite.

Send push notifications to diners

Once diners download your app, you can use push notifications to boost orders and increase ticket sizes. Create a calendar of events or important days for your restaurant, and send notifications to drive orders on those days. You can also send offers and deals, promote new menu items and specials, or just keep diners updated on hours, delivery options, and more. Think of it as your restaurant’s very own marketing channel.

ChowNow can create push campaigns just for your restaurant, so you can drive more orders without lifting a finger.


Texting is the most used form of communication for people under 50. Virtually all text messages are seen and read within minutes. As such, it’s an easy channel for restaurants to grab the attention of hungry diners. But first, you need a group of people that you can text. Here’s how to get started.

95% of all text messages are read within 3 minutes

Harvest your diner data

When you process orders, your system captures data about your customers. This can include their names, order history, emails, and phone numbers. You can use the data to build a contact list to start your text marketing campaigns. Here are good places to start:

Point-of-sale: Most restaurants have no idea how valuable all their POS data can be. It’s the first place you should check when harvesting data.

Online ordering platform: Unlike dine-in orders, every online order you process captures important information about your diners. Don’t forget to check there.

ChowNow is one of the few online ordering platforms that give you full access to diner data. We also partner with Boostly, who can take your data and use it to build custom text marketing campaigns. Interested? See it in action.

Optimize your restaurant website for data

Your website is also a great place to capture customer data. A simple way to get data is to create a popup window that collects customer information and drives diners to opt into text messages. Many website builders like Squarespace allow you to build your own popups, and Boostly has a special tool that helps restaurants build and optimize popups, too.

Launch multiple diner campaigns

Once you’ve captured your data, it’s time to build your campaigns. Here are some simple ideas to increase reviews, drive orders, and boost revenue:

Order campaigns: Text marketing is a great way to drive diners to order more food more often. For example, you can offer customers a discount on larger orders to increase average order size. You can send out offers during typically slow times to bring in more traffic. If there’s a big game coming up, you can reach out ahead of time so diners can get their party favors from you. Like your push notifications, create a calendar of important dates and build text campaigns around them. The opportunities are endless.

Review campaigns: We all know that good reviews are essential for restaurants. With text marketing, you can reach out to diners who recently ordered and ask them to give you a review. Plus, it’s a great way to stay connected to customers and manage feedback that can improve your business.

Informational campaigns: Don’t forget to update customers on any changes to your business. If your hours have changed or there’s a new dish on your menu, send a text to let customers know. That way, you can stay top-of-mind next time they’re hungry.

Our partner Boostly was built for text marketing. One of their specialties is building custom text campaigns that help restaurants drive more orders, reach new diners, and boost revenue. Just take a look at how Renegade Burrito increased their average orders by 167% with Boostly and ChowNow.


QR codes make it easy to open links on phones. Customers simply point their camera at the QR code, and they can get a link to your website or app. You can put QR codes anywhere. Make a poster with a QR code and place it in high-traffic areas, so customers can get the link as they walk by. Send out flyers with a QR code to tell locals where to find you online. You can even put one on your receipts, so every diner can get a link to your mobile ordering option.

Our team can help you create restaurant marketing materials with QR codes that are proven to drive more orders. You can also get free QR codes from Canva and many other sites.

Get ready for mobile orders

When it comes to mobile marketing for restaurants, the opportunities are endless. With the right tools, you can optimize your channels for diners on the go and drive countless mobile orders. Keep it simple, get creative, and try different campaigns to find what works. If you need any help, reach out anytime.

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