Marketing & Branding

9 Essential SMS Marketing Tips for Restaurants (+Templates)

Text message marketing offers convenience and immediacy that other marketing channels can’t match. SMS marketing allows restaurants to take advantage of this common medium and reach a much larger audience.

When over 400 retail and e-commerce marketers were surveyed, 96 percent said that SMS marketing campaigns helped them drive more revenue, and almost 60 percent said it significantly increased revenue generation.

This is what you’ll get in this post:

  • Nine SMS marketing tips to help you get the most out of your campaigns
  • Text and messaging templates you can use for a variety of promotions.
3 mobile phones with text messages from restaurants

1. Use Opt-ins and Opt-out Features

Opt-ins and opt-outs are incredibly important for restaurant SMS marketing campaigns. Opt-ins allow customers with mobile devices to sign up to receive SMS messages from their favorite brands. Opt-outs enable subscribers to easily unsubscribe from promotional text messages if they no longer wish to receive them.

A clever way for restaurants to get repeat customers to opt in could be by offering discounts or coupon codes to customers on their SMS subscribers list. To incentivize them further, you can also offer rewards for referring customers and even extra discounts if they make a purchase.

The first text after a customer has opted in should be a welcome message that outlines what they can expect from future text messages. You can inform them about the frequency, content types, and other important information. Be sure to include your restaurant’s name and contact details.

Additionally, make sure your opt-out feature is clear and visible. This will build customer trust and prevent potential customer complaints concerning the abuse of SMS marketing. For example, at the end of your promotional messages, you can include a “text STOP to opt-out” message.

2. Personalize Your Messages

Personalization is critical for SMS marketing for restaurants’ success as it promotes customer loyalty. To be effective, you must tailor your text message marketing to each customer’s preferences and interests.

You can personalize marketing messages by segmenting subscribers into different groups in your customer database based on their past purchases, location, gender, or other criteria. Then you can send messages specifically tailored to each customer segment.

While personalization is essential for the success of restaurant text message marketing, there’s a fine line between coming off as creepy and knowing personal details about your customers. Make sure you strike the right balance to ensure maximum success. Always keep your customer’s privacy in mind when text messaging them, and use personal information only when it makes sense.

For instance, customers’ birthdays or anniversaries might be an excellent opportunity for restaurants to use personalized text message marketing. Happy birthday text messages with discount codes for their next purchase could significantly increase customer loyalty and engagement and boost restaurant sales.


3. Send Clear and Concise Text Messages

Text messages should be short, sweet, and to the point. Most mobile phones limit text messages to 160 characters, so keep your text messages under that limit. Long texts can be challenging to read, so keep them short and simple.

The 3 C’s of restaurant SMS marketing are Clear, Crisp, and Concise. It would be best if you always used clear language that’s easy to understand. Keep your text marketing concise by sticking to one main point and avoiding unnecessary words or details.

You should emotionally charge your text messages to maximize engagement with your subscribers. Using words that evoke emotions like excitement, happiness, and surprise will help engage your customers and increase the chances of them taking action.

In the restaurant industry, words like “treat,” “sweet,” and “indulge” are great choices to entice hungry customers. Also, consider using words like “reward,” “refresh,” and “relax” to encourage customers to take a break from their hectic lives and visit your restaurant.

Finally, ensure your text messaging is crisp by using actionable language and making it easy for the user to take action. Incorporate calls-to-action and ensure that your text messages are enticing enough for subscribers to take action and follow through.

4. Use SMS Campaigns to Promote New Dishes, Exclusive Deals, and Special Events

New menu items are always an exciting addition for repeat customers. SMS campaigns are a great way to communicate new dishes and get customers excited about trying them. Make sure your text messaging highlights the unique aspects of the dish and why customers should try it.

To maximize the effectiveness of your SMS campaigns, consider adding images or videos to your text messages. Adding visuals to text messages can help hungry customers better understand the new dish and encourage them to visit your restaurant for a taste.

Exclusive deals are perfect for building customer loyalty, and SMS marketing for restaurants’ campaigns is perfect for promoting them. You can use restaurant text messaging to announce special offers, limited-time offers, and any other promotions you might be running.

Text messages are also great for reminding subscribers about upcoming special events and other occasions you might have lined up. You can use text messages to inform customers about these and other upcoming events and add additional details like time, location, and cost to reduce the number of no-shows.

5. Send Text Messages at the Right Time and Frequency

Timing is important when it comes to SMS marketing for restaurants. You should send text messages when customers are most likely to read them and take action.

One of the best times to send text messages is during peak hours. Text messages sent during peak hours can remind customers to visit your restaurant when they are most likely hungry and entice them to try something new. You can also use text messages to inform customers about special offers and discounts available at your restaurant during peak hours.

For reservation reminders and special event text messages, the best time to send them is a few days before the event. Text messages sent a few days in advance can help ensure the number of no-shows for the event are minimal and can give your customers enough time to make a reservation or purchase tickets.

Once you get the timing right, the frequency is the next thing to get right. Overkill text messages can be annoying and lead to customers unsubscribing from SMS campaigns. Therefore, you should send text messages at a frequency that will keep customers engaged and won’t overwhelm them.

While SMS marketing laws don’t specify the number of text messages brands can send their customers, a frequency of about two to four text messages per month is generally okay. You can, therefore, adjust this depending on the type of text messages you are sending and the response you are getting from customers.

6. Combine Restaurant SMS Marketing with Other Marketing Efforts

Many restaurant owners are hesitant to invest in SMS marketing because they are unsure of the return on investment. Combining SMS marketing with other restaurant marketing efforts is essential to maximize your ROI.

Social media is another excellent way to reach customers; text messages can drive traffic to your social media channels. You can use text messages to announce new social media posts or to remind customers to follow your accounts for updates.

You can also combine SMS marketing for restaurants with email marketing. SMS messages can announce new emails and encourage people to subscribe. You can also use text messaging as a follow-up to email campaigns and remind customers of any promotions or discounts they might have missed.


7. Create Polls and Surveys

Polls and surveys are great ways to engage your business’ customers, and text messages are perfect for getting customer feedback. For instance, if restaurant managers want feedback on a new dish they served or the level of customer service, text messaging is the perfect way to do so. You can include a link in the SMS message that leads customers to a survey or poll.

Another way to conduct your polls and surveys is by using SMS keywords. For instance, you can create an SMS keyword like “VOTE” that customers can text back to participate in your polls and surveys. importantThis is a great way to get customers involved in your SMS marketing campaigns and increase your restaurant’s customer engagement.

8. Monitor SMS Campaigns and Adjust Accordingly

Effective text marketing campaigns for restaurants require regular monitoring and adjustments like any other marketing campaign. After sending promotional text messages, you should monitor the response to see what worked and what didn’t.

Based on this data, you can adjust your SMS marketing campaign to increase engagement and ensure customers get the most out of your SMS campaigns.

9. Restaurant SMS Marketing Software and Tools

Finally, I recommend signing up for a good text marketing platform. There are several SMS marketing tools designed specifically for restaurants that can help restaurant owners create and manage SMS campaigns.

These SMS marketing solutions have features such as automated SMS scheduling and detailed analytics reporting that allow restaurant owners to track the success of SMS campaigns.

If you are already using a modern cloud-based restaurant POS system, like Square or Toast, you should have this functionality built-in or available as an add-on.

Restaurant POS systems with SMS Messaging

Restaurant Management Software with SMS Marketing

  • OpenTable
  • 7Shifts
  • SevenRooms
  • LunchBox
  • PopMenu

Specialized Text Messaging Software

  • Attentive
  • Slicktext
  • Textedly

9 SMS Marketing Templates

First text message after opting-in

Welcome to {restaurant name} SMS! You will now receive updates on our latest offers and promotions. Reply STOP to unsubscribe

Reminder SMS

Remember to check out {restaurant name} today! We have some amazing specials and discounts you won’t want to miss!

Special SMS

Hey {first name}, we have a special offer just for you! Get 50% off your next purchase when you order online. Use code {discount code} at checkout!

Loyalty SMS

Hey {first name}, thanks for being a loyal customer! As a reward, we are giving you 25% off your next purchase at {restaurant name}. Use code {discount code} at checkout!

Event SMS

Join us today for our {event name} event at {restaurant name}! Enjoy discounts, freebies, and more. RSVP now to reserve your spot!

Order SMS

Hey {first name}, your order from {restaurant name} is almost ready! Please pick it up within the next 15 minutes to avoid cancellation.

Happy birthday SMS

Happy birthday {first name}! As a special treat, we are giving you 20% off your next purchase at {restaurant name}. Use code {discount code} at checkout! Enjoy!

New menu SMS

Hey {first name}, check out our new menu! We have lots of delicious dishes that you won’t want to miss. Stop by {restaurant name} today to check it out!

New food service SMS

Hey {first name}, we just added takeaways to our menu! Now you can enjoy our delicious dishes even if you’re not in the restaurant. Place your order now for pick up or delivery!

Key Takeaways

Now that we have established that SMS marketing for restaurants and any other business is a vital part of any restaurant’s marketing plan. Here are our key takeaways:

  • Text marketing for restaurants is a great way to engage and re-engage customers, drive sales, and promote loyalty programs.
  • A customer database with mobile phone numbers is essential for SMS marketing, and customers should be allowed to opt-in and opt-out of promotional messages.
  • SMS messages can announce new offers, send reminders, solicit customer feedback, and drive traffic to social media channels.
  • SMS marketing for restaurants should be monitored and adjusted regularly to ensure optimal engagement.
  • With text marketing, you can easily send promotional offers and reminders, create polls and surveys, monitor SMS campaigns, and more.
  • Implementing an SMS marketing strategy effectively increases restaurant customer engagement and customer loyalty.
  • Restaurant SMS marketing works best with other marketing channels, such as email marketing and social media.
  • Be sure to use SMS campaigns tailored to your restaurant’s marketing goals for maximum success.
  • Finally, you should tailor your text marketing to each audience to maximize the effectiveness of your SMS campaigns.

By following these SMS marketing tips, you can ensure that your restaurant SMS campaigns are as effective and successful as possible.

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Jan is a writer and content creator at with a focus on the restaurant and food service industry. Drawing from his background in tech and UX design, Jan breaks down complex systems into digestible, actionable insights.

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