HomeBlog5 Ways Restaurants Can Use Facebook Ads During COVID-19

5 Ways Restaurants Can Use Facebook Ads During COVID-19

Author: Scott Mesite
Last Updated: November 26, 2021 | COVID-19

To quote one of my favorite clients whose business has been impacted by COVID-19: “This sucks, but we’ll get over it and be back better than ever.”

He’s right. The COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult for all of us so far, and it has been particularly difficult for the restaurant industry. Restaurants are facing unprecedented challenges to find ways to keep the lights on, with Americans staying home to flatten the curve and save lives. OpenTable found that reservations are down 100% year over year globally, which means these businesses are challenged to generate revenue solely through the available options: online orders for takeout or delivery and online gift card purchases.

The good news is that search trends indicate the demand for online ordering and take out is higher than ever. Check out the search volume around online ordering, for pickup or delivery.

search volume for "online ordering"

Volume for “order takeout.”

search volume for "delivery"

Volume for “restaurant delivery.”

search volume for "curbside pickup"

Volume for “curbside pickup.”
(Learn about Google curbside pickup promotions here.)

Now is the time to connect with your community online and turn them into lifelong customers. That’s why we’ve put together five tips to help restaurant owners pivot their Facebook Ad strategy so when things do return to normal your business will be stronger than ever.

P.S. We’re back with an update. You may now also want to check out these post-pandemic marketing strategies that will help you to yield long-term gains.

1. Target your local community on Facebook

Marketing to your community means a personalized approach, and Facebook is personalized marketing at scale. Not only can you deliver a highly personalized message to your prospective customers, but you can also target users strategically and cost-effectively. There are over 2 billion users on Facebook and 700 million users on Instagram, and use of both platforms has been growing during the pandemic. In fact, Facebook recently hit  an all-time high of 2.6 billion monthly users, and daily Instagram usage has increased. With this huge potential for reach and the platform’s targeting options, Facebook offers almost unparalleled possibilities to reach your community. You can target local users, previous customers, or ideal customers with advertisements about delivery options, gift cards available, and any promotions or changes to service that you might be running during the pandemic.

Pizza Hut Facebook ad

The best part is that it’s cost-effective to reach your community on Facebook, too. Did you know that the food and beverage industry actually has the lowest CPC by industry on Facebook?

average cost per click on Facebook 2019

At $0.42 average CPC, you could capture 230+ clicks from just $100 of ad spend. Now, don’t take that metric at surface level. Yes, clicks are inexpensive for the food and beverage industry on Facebook, but that does not mean that all clicks are created equal! Creating a persuasive message and delivering it to the right audience at the right time is paramount to your restaurant marketing campaign’s success. That’s why ad targeting and engaging with your community directly is so important, especially with your messaging. Which brings me to our next tip.

2. Get creative with your messaging

With people staying home there are ways to help them stay connected with your brand or discover your food for the first time. Advertise upcoming virtual events with DIY food kits or new recipes to try while staying home.

Blossom Bar Facebook ad

Keep people in the know by announcing any changes to your food and beverage menu in your ads. Try marketing your loyalty program right now, or consider creating one. Facebook is currently testing a new option that would connect brand loyalty programs to in-app activity. While this is only open to certain brands, you can still use Facebook’s lead generation campaign format to market a loyalty program. Hopefully this pilot program will be open to more users after testing.

And whatever you include in your messaging, be sure to take advantage of the Facebook and Instagram news feed format by using mouth-watering imagery of your food that will make users stop as they scroll through their feed. An amazing image or video can go a long way—that might just be one of the reasons why the food and beverage industry has the second-highest CTR by industry on Facebook.

average click-through rate for Facebook 2019

3. Help your community

Is your restaurant located near a local hospital, grocery store, or post office? Create a thank you promotion where customers can donate meals to say thanks for all of the hard work from essential workers.

McDonald's Facebook ad

Running ads to promote your initiatives will encourage your audience to donate meals to deserving front-line workers right now, helping your business make more of an impact. And it’ll also remind your customers that your business is still open for takeout and delivery.

4. Market your restaurant’s app

Use Facebook’s app install campaign objective to drive app installs. This is a great time to run these campaigns, which will lead to more online orders.

Starbucks Facebook ad

Don’t yet have an app? Head over to this list and choose from the many DIY app making offerings. Not only will this help in the short term, but it can also become the start of a future post-COVID-19 when your restaurant is thriving with online orders and in-house customers.

5. Remember your marketing funnel

As my English teacher used to say, “form follows function.” Facebook’s campaign objectives make it very easy to create a marketing funnel. Choose your campaign objectives based on the function or goal you are looking to achieve. In this case, use brand awareness to introduce your restaurant to your local community and remind them that they can support local business by ordering online. Optimize for leads, messages, or app installs to nurture users. Finally, optimize for conversions and target users at the “point of hunger” or bottom of the funnel ready to place an order!

Facebook marketing funnel for restaurants

Image Source

Try these Facebook Ads tips for restaurants

To recap, here are five ways your restaurant can pivot your Facebook Ads strategy during COVID-19:

  1. Engage with your local community
  2. Get creative with your marketing messaging
  3. Help your community
  4. Market your restaurant’s app
  5. Remember your marketing funnel

And remember that you do not need to go this alone. Keep checking in with the WordStream blog and our COVID-19 resource center, and let us know if you have any other questions in the comments below.

Post-COVID-19 update: While the coronavirus is still very much an active pandemic, we do seem to be past its peak. For help with marketing to your customers if your business is back open, check out these smart ways to get to know your post-COVID-19 customers.

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Meet The Author

Scott Mesite

Scott Mesite is a senior manager on the Managed Services team at WordStream and a graduate of Providence College. When he isn’t immersed in all things PPC, he enjoys spending time with his wife and newborn son, kayaking, gardening, and making homemade pasta.


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