SMS Marketing for Restaurants: The Tactical Guide

April 25, 2024
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SMS marketing can be an extremely effective way to engage with customers and promote your restaurant. This comprehensive guide will take you through the steps of setting up a successful SMS marketing campaign, with a focus on strategies tailored specifically for restaurant owners.

Introduction to SMS Marketing

SMS (Short Message Service) marketing involves sending promotional campaigns or transactional messages for marketing purposes using text messages (SMS). These messages are mostly meant to communicate time-sensitive offers, updates, and alerts to people who have consented to receive them from your business.

Benefits of SMS Marketing for Restaurants

SMS marketing offers a direct and effective way to reach your customers and drive more business to your restaurant. By following legal guidelines, building a solid contact list, crafting engaging messages, and continually optimizing your strategy, you can significantly enhance your restaurant's marketing efforts.

1. High Open Rates: SMS messages have a staggering open rate of 98%, significantly higher than email marketing.

2. Instant Delivery: SMS is delivered instantly, making it ideal for promoting last-minute deals and reservations.

3. Direct Communication: Text messaging allows you to reach customers directly on their phones without the need for an internet connection.

4. Cost-Effective: Compared to other forms of marketing, SMS can be a more affordable option with a higher return on investment.

Setting Up SMS Marketing for Your Restaurant

Through careful planning and execution, your restaurant can leverage SMS marketing to improve customer engagement, promote your offerings, and increase customer loyalty. With its high open rates and immediate impact, SMS can be a cornerstone of your restaurant's digital marketing strategy.

Step 1: Understand Legal Requirements

Before you begin your SMS campaign, it's crucial to understand and comply with legal regulations such as the TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act) in the U.S. or similar regulations in other countries. 

These laws generally require that:

You must obtain express written consent from individuals before sending them marketing SMS messages.

You must provide a clear and easy way for recipients to opt-out of receiving SMS messages at any time.

Step 2: Build a Contact List

Encourage Sign-Ups: Promote your SMS list in-store, on your website, social media pages, and on customer receipts. Offer an incentive for signing up, like a discount on their next meal.

Leverage Existing Contacts: If you already have a customer database with permission to contact them, integrate these contacts into your SMS platform.

Step 3: Choosing an SMS Marketing Service

Select an SMS marketing service that fits your needs, considering factors such as ease of use, cost, integration capabilities, and customer support. Popular platforms include Textla, Twilio, SimpleTexting.

Step 4: Crafting Effective Messages

Keep it Short and Sweet: SMS messages should be concise and to the point. You have 160 characters to make your message clear and engaging.

Personalize Messages: Use customer data to personalize messages with the customer’s name or past orders to increase engagement.

Include a Call-to-Action (CTA): Your SMS should always include a clear CTA, such as "Visit us tonight for a free dessert," to prompt an immediate response.

Types of Text Message Marketing Campaigns for Restaurants

Whether you’re looking to help customers opt-in to text as a new marketing channel, confirm online ordering via mobile phone messages, send new menu pricing notifications to existing customers, or reach new customers in your area, there’s an SMS marketing strategy you can deploy to improve brand awareness and increase your customer base.

Promotional Messages

Promote special deals, happy hours, new menu items, or special events. Example: "Flash Sale! 20% off your dinner if you dine with us tonight! Show this message to claim your discount."

Transactional Messages

Send booking confirmations, reminders for reservations, or changes in business hours. Example: "Thanks for your reservation at [Restaurant Name]. See you on [Date] at [Time]!"

Loyalty Program Messages

Encourage repeat business by integrating SMS into your loyalty program. Send birthday discounts, special member-only offers, or points balance updates.

Event-Based Messages

Leverage local events or holidays to create themed offers or promotions to attract customers. Example: "Celebrate Mother's Day with us! Special menu and complimentary roses for moms!"

Best Practices for Restaurant Text Messaging

From sending reservation confirmations to announcing exclusive deals, there are a variety of use cases for mass texting in the restaurant industry. When you’re using automation to reach customers from a business phone number via SMS text, it’s important to follow best practices to maximize conversion rates.

Timing is Key: Send messages at appropriate times. Avoid early mornings or late nights. Lunch and dinner times are usually the best.

Monitor and Optimize: Use analytics to track the success of your campaigns and make adjustments based on customer response.

Segment Your Audience: Not all customers are the same. Segment your messages to target different groups based on their preferences and behaviors.

Remember, you’re reaching customers via mobile devices, so taking these steps will enhance your response rates and ensure you minimize the number of people who unsubscribe from your campaigns.

Restaurant SMS Marketing Campaign Examples

Restaurants have effectively used SMS marketing to boost customer engagement and increase sales. Here are some real-life examples of how various establishments have implemented SMS campaigns:

Pizza Hut's Mobile Marketing Campaign

Pizza Hut has been known to use SMS marketing extensively. In one of their campaigns, they offered customers the ability to order pizza via SMS. This campaign not only made ordering more convenient but also increased customer engagement significantly. They also send out promotional offers and discounts through SMS to drive sales during specific periods.

Starbucks' Text-to-Win Campaign

Starbucks used a text-to-win campaign to promote their coffee and increase customer engagement. Customers were invited to send a text to participate in a sweepstakes with a chance to win free coffee for a year. This type of campaign helps to build a subscriber list while giving something of value to the customers.

Subway's Daily Deal Alerts

Subway has implemented a successful SMS marketing campaign where they send daily deals to subscribers. Customers who signed up for SMS alerts received daily offers and promotions, such as discounts on specific sandwiches or combo deals, which encouraged more frequent visits.

Dunkin' Donuts' Text Coupon Campaign

Dunkin' Donuts ran an SMS campaign that targeted boost in store traffic during afternoon slow hours. They sent mobile coupons to customers that could be redeemed in-store for coffee and donuts. The campaign reportedly increased store traffic by 21% and significantly increased sales during the promotional period.

Taco Bell's "Drive-Thru Diet" Campaign

Taco Bell used SMS marketing to promote their "Fresco" menu items, which were a healthier option. Customers who opted into their SMS messages received tips, product highlights, and coupons. The campaign effectively educated customers about their healthier offerings while driving sales for those specific menu items.

Burger King's "Text to Win" Campaign

Burger King ran a "text to win" promotion where customers could send a text message to enter a sweepstakes. The rewards ranged from free burgers to discounts on meal combos. The campaign helped Burger King increase customer engagement and build a database of mobile numbers for future promotions.

Domino's Pizza UK's SMS Ordering

Domino's in the UK leveraged SMS for easy ordering. Customers could register their mobile number and a default order, which could then be repeated by simply sending a keyword via SMS. This service simplified the ordering process, making it extremely convenient for repeat customers.

These examples show that SMS marketing can be a versatile tool for reaching out to customers directly, offering them valuable promotions, and enhancing their engagement with the brand. Effective campaigns often combine promotional offers with convenience and timely engagement to drive sales and customer loyalty.

SMS Marketing Templates for Restaurants

Creating effective SMS templates for your restaurant's marketing campaign can help streamline your messaging and ensure consistency across communications. Here are some SMS marketing templates tailored for various purposes that a restaurant might use:

SMS messaging for restaurants

Welcome Message

Welcome to [Restaurant Name]! 🎉 Thanks for signing up for exclusive updates and offers. Show this message for 10% off your next meal!

Promotional Offers

This week only! Enjoy a free appetizer with any main course at [Restaurant Name]. Valid through [Date]. Come and enjoy!

Event Promotions

Join us for our live music night this [Day]! 🎶 Book your table now and get a complimentary drink on arrival. Reply YES to reserve.

Holiday Specials

Celebrate [Holiday] at [Restaurant Name]! We’re offering a special menu from [Start Date] to [End Date]. Book now to secure your spot!

Reservation Reminders

Hi [Customer Name], just a reminder about your reservation at [Restaurant Name] on [Date] at [Time]. Reply with YES to confirm or NO to cancel.

Birthday Wishes

Happy Birthday, [Customer Name]! 🎂 Celebrate with us and enjoy [Special Offer] on your special day. Valid for [Duration]. We hope to see you!

Loyalty Program Alerts

Thanks for being a loyal customer! You’ve earned [Points] points. Redeem them on your next visit for exclusive rewards. See our rewards menu!

Feedback Requests

Thank you for dining with us at [Restaurant Name]. We’d love to hear about your experience! Please reply with your feedback or rate us at [Link].

Limited-Time Specials

Don’t miss our chef’s special dish this [Day] only! Come taste our exclusive [Dish Name] available just for today. Reserve your table now!

Re-engagement Messages

We’ve missed you at [Restaurant Name]! Come back this week and enjoy 15% off your meal. Just show this message. Offer expires [Date].

Weather-Related Promotions

It's chilly outside! Warm up at [Restaurant Name] with our hot [Seasonal Special] and get a free coffee with any purchase. Offer valid until [Date].

Order Confirmation

Thank you for your order, [Customer Name]! Your [Order Details] will be ready for pickup at [Time]. We look forward to seeing you!

Each of these templates can be customized based on your specific promotional activities, audience segments, and strategic goals. By tailoring the messages to fit your restaurant's brand and customer preferences, you can enhance engagement and drive better results from your SMS marketing campaigns.

The Best SMS Marketing Tools for Restaurants in 2024

For restaurants looking to implement SMS marketing, there are several tools available that offer a range of features, from basic text messaging to complex campaign management. Here's a breakdown of some popular SMS marketing tools suitable for restaurants:


Textla is a comprehensive SMS marketing platform that allows businesses to send bulk SMS messages to their customers easily. It offers features like scheduled sends, personalized messages, and detailed analytics to track the effectiveness of each campaign. Restaurants can use Textla to promote special offers, send reservation reminders, or quickly communicate changes in operating hours.


Twilio offers a more developer-focused approach to SMS marketing, providing APIs that allow restaurants to integrate SMS services directly into their existing software solutions. This can be particularly useful for larger chains or restaurants with custom apps, as it allows for fully customized SMS functionalities.


SlickText provides a suite of tools that are easy to use for small to medium-sized restaurant businesses. Key features include autoresponders, text-to-join capabilities, and loyalty program management. This makes it ideal for engaging with regular customers and encouraging repeat visits.

Each of these tools provides unique features that can cater to the various needs of restaurants, from small independents to large chains. By choosing the right SMS marketing tool, restaurants can enhance their marketing efforts, improve customer engagement, and ultimately increase their sales.

Send SMS Marketing Messages with Textla

At Textla, we understand that as a restaurant owner, your time is precious. That's why we've developed a streamlined, powerful SMS marketing platform designed specifically to cater to the needs of restaurants like yours. Here's why Textla stands out:

  • Instant Communication: Send real-time updates, promotions, and special offers directly to your customers' phones. With an open rate of over 98%, ensure your messages are seen almost immediately.
  • Personalization at Its Best: Enhance customer experience by personalizing messages based on their preferences and previous orders. Show your customers you know them!
  • Easy Campaign Management: Launch and manage your campaigns with a few clicks. Our user-friendly dashboard allows you to create, send, and track campaigns with all types of messages effortlessly.
  • Automated Reservations and Reminders: Reduce no-shows with automated reservation confirmations and reminders. Keep your tables full and your customers happy.
  • Promotional Tools: From digital coupons to special event promotions, engage customers with attractive offers that will keep them coming back for more.
  • Comprehensive Analytics: Measure the success of your campaigns with detailed analytics. Understand what works and refine your strategies to maximize ROI.

Textla is here to make sure your restaurant stays at the forefront of your customers' minds, filling your tables day after day. Get a free trial so you can see the benefits firsthand.

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What can happen without ebike insurance

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<span class="blog-quote-name">-Kyle Miller, CEO Brass Hands</span>

Why it’s hard to insure an ebike

When it comes to insurance, ebikes land in a gray area outside standard homeowners insurance and auto insurance. Here’s why:

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Steps to take to properly insure your ebike

The odds that your ebike is covered by your existing insurance is lower than you may think. Here’s what to do to find out if you need ebike insurance:

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Textla Team
The Textla team offers expertise in SMS marketing, sales, and business growth. Receive tips to enhance customer engagement and boost ROI. Follow for practical and effective SMS marketing strategies for your business!
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