Word-of-Mouth Marketing vs. Digital Marketing for Restaurants Success

Maximising your restaurant's success: the online marketing vs. word-of-mouth marketing comparison.

How do people decide which restaurant to go to? 

Many restaurant, cafe, and pub owners believe that word of mouth alone is sufficient for their enterprise. However, effective promotion is crucial in maintaining a consistent customer base and achieving long-term success. Word of mouth is still a powerful tool as customers can trust the opinion of peers they know and respect. It is important to remember, however, that digital marketing plays an equally important role in attracting new customers. After all, most people have access to the internet and are looking for recommendations online.
Both word of mouth and digital marketing strategies are important for reaching the right audience. The guests share with friends and family, and word of mouth encourages customers to share their experiences, but digital marketing reaches a larger audience through social media campaigns, email marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), and more. We’ve compiled the advantages and drawbacks of each, so you can confidently determine when to use either one.

Pros of Word-of-Mouth Marketing

  • Increased Trust
  • Word-of-mouth recommendations are often more trusted than traditional ads. When people hear about your restaurant from someone they know and trust, they are more likely to believe and act on the recommendation.

    There are chances that you have a few local and loyal guests who spread the word and promote your venue to their friends and relatives. They loved the food, the atmosphere, the location itself, the staff; they took their friends to your place. Make sure you value these patrons and continue providing superior service.

  • Cost-Effective
  • Word-of-mouth marketing is a cost-effective way to promote your restaurant. Satisfied customers can spread the word about your establishment instead of expensive advertising campaigns.

  • Increased Customer Base
  • Positive word-of-mouth can attract new restaurant customers. When friends or acquaintances share good experiences, others become curious and want to try it too.

    Cons of Word-of-Mouth Marketing

  • Lack of Control
  • Word-of-mouth marketing has limited control over the messages spread about your restaurant.
    Negative experiences or misconceptions may harm your reputation.

  • Slow Results
  • Word-of-mouth marketing takes time to generate significant results as it relies on organic sharing of experiences. It may not lead to immediate increases in customer traffic or revenue.

  • Inconsistent Communication
  • When customers share their opinions and experiences about your restaurant, it can be challenging to maintain a consistent brand image given the inconsistency in the ways these messages are delivered.

  • Limited Reach
  • The geographic location of your restaurant confines your customer base to a specific area in town, limiting your exposure only to those who reside nearby.

    Digital marketing for restaurants

    Word-of-mouth marketing can be effective in a limited area. However, many owners have misconceptions about digital marketing in general. There are a lot of benefits of digital marketing for restaurants.
    An effective marketing strategy and reaching the right audience are critical components for launching a successful restaurant campaign. To build an effective strategy, it must have clear objectives, well-defined tactics and a realistic timeline. Although these components can be complex, they are crucial for success.

    Digital marketing, like everything else, has pros and cons. Let’s take a quick look at those.

    Pros Of Digital Marketing for Restaurants

  • Increased Visibility
  • Digital marketing allows restaurants to establish a strong online presence, making them more visible to potential customers.

    For example, if a guest staying nearby finds no information on your business, they may never know about your restaurant. However, by making your business visible online through platforms such as Tripadvisor and social media, customers can easily locate and visit you. Being present and available can attract new customers and boost profits in the future. 

  • Targeted Advertising
  • Digital marketing enables restaurants to target specific demographics and reach their ideal customers. By leveraging tools like social media advertising and pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns

  • Enhanced Customer Engagement
  • Digital marketing provides multiple channels for restaurants to engage with their customers. Social media platforms, email marketing, and website interactions allow for direct and real-time communication

  • Cost-Effective Marketing
  • Digital marketing often offers cost-effective solutions compared to traditional marketing methods. 

  • Measurable Results
  • Digital marketing provides valuable data and analytics to measure the success of marketing campaigns. Restaurants can track website traffic, conversion rates, social media engagement, and other key metrics to evaluate the effectiveness of their marketing strategies.

  • Growing Profit
  • Digital marketing provides insights into which campaigns drive the most sales and engagement from customers

  • More Reviews
  • Positive reviews are essential to success in the restaurant, cafe or pub industry and digital marketing tools like social media and online reviews make it easy to grow your customer base and get more positive feedback.

  • Wider audience
  • Expanding your online reach enables access to a wider audience. Digital marketing gives your restaurant’s message a larger audience by reaching people who may not be in the vicinity of the physical location.

  • Loyal Customers
  • Digital marketing can also help retain customers and build loyalty through personalised campaigns, discounts, and other initiatives that make them feel valued. This helps to create a positive perception for your business

    Cons Of Digital Marketing for Restaurants

  • High Competition
  •  The digital marketing landscape for restaurants is highly competitive.  With the help of digital marketing tools, competitors can easily reach potential customers with their own campaigns.

  • Costly
  • Digital marketing can be expensive and sometimes difficult to manage on a budget. Investing in effective digital marketing activities can require significant time and resources that may not always yield results.

  • Unpredictable Results
  • Digital marketing analytics are sometimes difficult to predict. It is important to measure and track key metrics, but it can be difficult to determine which marketing activities are driving the desired results in terms of customer engagement and conversions.

  • Complexity
  • Digital marketing involves a number of complex processes that can be difficult to manage for restaurant owners who have limited knowledge in this area.

  • Technical Expertise
  • Successful digital marketing often requires technical knowledge and expertise. Restaurant owners or staff might not be familiar with digital marketing.

  • Negative Reviews and Feedback
  • Negative reviews and feedback left by customers can have a serious impact on the success of digital marketing efforts. It is important to keep an eye out for negative reviews and address them promptly.

  • Constant Adaptation
  • Digital marketing trends and platforms evolve rapidly. Staying up to date with the latest trends can be challenging.


    Both word-of-mouth marketing and digital marketing have their own advantages and disadvantages for restaurants. Word-of-mouth marketing uses the power of personal recommendations and trust, making it an effective and credible way to attract new customers, but you will be available in a smaller location. However, it can be difficult to control the messaging and reach a wider audience. While digital marketing has its pros and cons as well, it is becoming more and more vital of the modern world. Digital marketing for restaurants can significantly benefit your business

    If you want to attract more customers to your restaurant or cafe, you should consider boosting your online presence. Investing in various digital platforms could help your establishment gain more exposure and reach a wider audience. This could include building a website, increasing your social media activity, or creating targeted online advertisements. Stay ahead of your competition, embrace the digital world and grow your online presence!

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