How Restaurants Can Improve Marketing By Leveraging Data

Data can provide key insights into consumer behavior that can inform more effective and strategic marketing. Yet even with internet traffic increasing 50-70%, and customers leaving a valuable trail of data on every website, app, and ordering system, many restaurants don’t reap the rewards of data-driven marketing because they don’t leverage these insights.

Analyzing and understanding new buying habits enables restaurants to know what customers want and when they want it, so they can confidently improve engagement, efficiency and profitability.

Restaurants don’t have to hire an expert to improve their marketing—they simply have to know which data points to look at and how to translate their analysis into actionable takeaways.

So, where should restaurants be pulling their data from, and what should they be looking for? With a myriad of platforms available, restaurant owners should focus their attention on systems and data points that best serve a predetermined business objective. Let’s look at three ways restaurants can pull from both digital and ecommerce platforms to improve their marketing.

POS Systems

Many POS systems offer advanced analytics and track valuable information to provide insights on preferred payment methods, peak business hours, popular menu items, and more. Armed with this data, restaurants can proactively exceed customer expectations by staffing adequately and optimizing their menu to suit customer preferences.

If a certain dish is performing well, why not add more items like that to the menu, and chuck the items that aren’t performing well? Ultimately, the aid of POS data enables restaurants to improve the customer experience and  be more cost-effective.


If your restaurant subscribes to a third-party app for takeout and delivery, or you’ve invested in your own online ordering app, you can track when those orders are coming in, and leverage that data to predict when it’s optimal to send out promotional offers. If Saturday night rakes in more online orders than Monday afternoon, consider offering a coupon or special offer for Monday evenings.

Knowing the right time to entice customers with sweet deals, and knowing which menu items they want discounts on the most, can give you a leg up on your competition and will ensure continued traffic to your app or website.

Loyalty Programs

When customers are faced with myriad restaurant options, why should they choose you?

After they try their first meal, what’s their incentive for coming back?

The entire customer experience, from staff friendliness to wait times to meal satisfaction, will play a role in this. But from a marketing perspective, offering a program that customers can opt into for exclusive deals can set you apart from less digitally savvy competitors, and help you optimize your reward system.

An online loyalty program allows owners to track and evaluate which promotions were most successful, why, and how they can be improved so more people redeem offers, and come to eat at your restaurant!

Training and Staffing

Data can also be effective in improving your training processes. If you can identify which staff members bring in the most sales and which seem to need the most support, you’ll be better able to create effective training programs, as you can call on those high-performing staff members to help others implement those techniques.

And when it comes to labor costs, sales data can help you determine what times of day or which days of the week you need to reduce or increase staff based on how busy your tables are.

Implementing Changes

Gleaning meaningful insights from data is only useful if you implement changes to improve processes and elevate your marketing strategy. However, you shouldn’t overwhelm yourself by trying to implement every possible change across the board at once.

Instead, restaurants should focus on changes that will drive key objectives quickly and can be realistically implemented in time to make a difference.

Owners should also allow room for mistakes, growth, and ever-evolving dining habits. When trying a new approach, there will be setbacks, potential budget strains, messy learning curves, and room for constant improvement.

If your restaurant is a chain, start small and implement changes at one location. If that goes well, consider expanding to other locations. If you want to invest in a new technology or software, see if you can take advantage of a 30-day trial period.

Ultimately, any changes that will improve the customer experience, such as reducing wait times by preparing popular meals and ensuring you have adequate staff, are important and should be a priority, especially if you find that staffing and menu issues are affecting sales.

While a mix of traditional and digital marketing techniques such as SEO, email marketing, banners, and billboards may draw in customers, marketing that’s backed by data specific to your restaurant can be highly personalized and nearly perfected.

If you can put that data to work, you’ll ensure you consistently draw in crowds, and always adapt to your customers’ changing preferences.