How One Restaurant Used Integrated Digital Marketing To Grow Pie Sales 650% Year-Over-Year

by Toby

December 6, 2019

restaurant pie sales growth

Many restaurants and food companies are still painfully slow in adopting digital marketing. You only have to pick up a local print publication to see the ad dollars that go into inefficient traditional marketing. Or a little competitive analysis on digital spending for restaurants, and food companies show that few are fully embracing digital marketing – leaving Restaurant SEO, Google Ads, Facebook Ads and Instagram advertising to their more digitally savvy competitors.

However, one such restaurant embraced digital marketing integrating its tactics across online channels to generate massive growth of its well-known pie business.

This single-location restaurant used relatively inexpensive digital marketing budgets to grow its pie sales year-over-year from 400 in the prior year during Thanksgiving to over 3,000 sales the following year.

Background Of The Restaurant

The restaurant is an individually owned franchise that is part of a national chain. The restaurant is classified as American casual dining and is well known for its pastries and bakery.

Integrated Digital Marketing Tactics

Integrated Digital Restaurant Marketing

Below is a summary of the digital marketing tactics used. All tactics were integrated and coordinated.

By integration of tactics, I mean that the same traffic coming to the website from Google, for example, is cross-marketed on Facebook and vice versa. We cross-marketed between platforms and leveraged behavior-based email marketing to maintain brand presence and nurture leads.  

Cross marketing and digital integration improve brand presence, consumer mind share, and in particular, grows repeat visits – most importantly, those tactics cost relatively little in ad spend and help to nurture leads. Cross marketing helps to increase conversion rates while people are deciding to make a decision (i.e. the sales cycle).

  1. Google Ads
  2. Facebook and Instagram Ads
  3. Google My Business Posts, Local SEO
  4. Email Marketing

Google Ads

For the Google Ad campaign, the location had a modest budget of $500 per month. We ran both search and display campaigns.  If you’re new to Google ads, a related post here is about Google Ads for restaurants that go into the tactical implementation of a campaign.

For the search campaign, we focused some efforts around people searching for pies during the holidays.

But what had a significant impact was the Google remarketing campaign – targeting all those people that had visited the website over the course of the last year. Regardless of how people arrived at the website, whether that was from:

  • Google organic searches
  • Social media (Facebook or Instagram)
  • Website direct visits

They all ended up in our Google retargeting audience.

We also had an extensive email list that was uploaded and used in the Google retargeting list as well.

If you’re not familiar with remarketing/retargeting, the way it works is that anyone that lands on the site is captured in a list. That list can then be shown search ads and banner ads.

People that have done business with you before are the most likely to do business with you again, so retargeting is a vital tactic in your marketing toolkit and a huge business asset that you can go back to over and over. I have also seen a restaurant chain successfully cross-market its frozen foods to all its restaurant visitors and vice versa.

For the restaurant, we’re talking about, creating awareness of the pies to all past visitors had never been done.

Below is the Google Ads remarketing list with its audience size across all Google channels. Imagine having access to 15,000 people that are already familiar with your brand to push your latest promotion? With this remarketing list, we are able to remarket to past customers in the following Google platforms:

  • Search
  • YouTube
  • Display (banner ads that show on other websites)
  • Gmail

Google Ads Restaurant Remarketing List
Google Ads Restaurant Remarketing List

Facebook and Instagram Ads

For this social media campaign, we targeted three audiences:

  • Retargeting past website visitors as we did with the Google Ads
  • Retargeting past visitors of the restaurant that we captured their emails
  • Targeting new customers

For both campaigns, we used a Brand Awareness campaign objective on Facebook to reach our past website visitors and new customers.

Facebook provides advertisers more than 10 campaign objectives that align with business goals – the Brand Awareness campaign objective is designed to grow awareness with people that are more likely to be interested in it.

If you’re new to Facebook ad campaigns and have relied on Boost Posts, I wrote two related posts about why you should not be relying on that and instead of using one of Facebook’s more robust campaign objectives to produce better business outcomes (are Facebook Boost Posts Worth It and Facebook Ads vs Boosted Posts – which is better?).

Restaurant Pie Ad
Restaurant Pie Ad

Stats from this campaign:

  • We reached 25,759 unique individuals
  • Impressions of 50,473
  • Spend: $160

As you can see from this campaign, we spent very little, but we had a significant impact on sales. What other medium can you use that will allow you to spend that little and reach that many people in your target audience?  

Google My Business Posts

We created regular GMB posts to create awareness of the pie offers. Many restaurants overlook the importance of local SEO efforts and optimizing their GMB profiles to help them show in Google local searches and on maps, which is a significant missed opportunity (a related post on, what is local SEO?). When you create GMB posts (GMB’s version of a Facebook page post), they show in the knowledge panel in Google search results for your restaurant, so you’re creating additional awareness for that post and offer within Google FOR FREE.

Here’s an example from a restaurant Knowledge Panel with GMB posts – users can also scroll through the various posts as well. So if you have promotions, offers, special items you want to promote then start creating GMB posts.

Google Knowledge Panel
Google Knowledge Panel Showing In Search Results

Email Marketing

Email is another highly underutilized digital marketing tactic. Despite all the hype around messaging apps and talk that email marketing is
dead, here are some eye-popping stats that show how effective email marketing is today:

  • 90% of the population from 15 years of age – 65+ use email
  • 4400% return on investment (email marketing is incredibly inexpensive)
  • Compared to social media, email is the first thing people check in the morning

(Source for the above data)

For our email campaigns, we used two tactics:

  • Behavior-based emails
  • Email blasts to the entire list

We set up free WiFi logins via a portal to collect customer emails ongoing.

If your restaurant keeps people around for any amount of time offering free WiFi is an excellent way to automatically build your email list effortlessly and provide guests with free internet access.

The restaurant had collected thousands of emails, so we had a nice list to tap into to push the pie sale at the right time. In addition, after they logged in via the portal, we redirected them to the website which automatically also added them to both the Google and Facebook/Instagram remarketing lists that we discussed above.

Pro Tip:

Upload any email lists into Google and Facebook for retargeting with ads as well.

Again, we integrated all the channels with cohesive messaging and offers and across devices – mobile and desktop.

Below is an example restaurant portal that collects emails. We can capture leads via email or via Facebook.

Restaurant Free WiFi Portal Login
Example Restaurant Free WiFi Portal Login

We also used behavior-based emails that acted as a loyalty program. The five automatic behavior-based emails were:

  • New customers emails: when it’s someone’s first visit, we automatically send a unique email
  • Repeat customer email: when someone has been in 2x we send them an automated email thanking them
  • Lost customer: anyone that has been in 2x but has not been in within the last 31 days – they get an email inviting them back in
  • Loyal Customer: a guest that has been in 10x and receives an email rewarding them for their loyalty

Inside all these emails, we integrated our offers and promotions for the pies. Again, these emails were automatically going out and triggered based on the customer’s behavior.

Layered on top of this, we sent out strategically timed email blasts to everyone on the list promoting the pie offers.

Our weighted average for the email campaigns was 29% – pretty good open rates.


Utilizing multiple marketing tactics and integrating them creates cohesive messaging and keeps your brand in front of the customer throughout the buyer’s journey. The benefit is improved sales compared to non-integrated digital or traditional marketing.

None of the above digital marketing tactics were overly expensive but had undoubtedly created an enormous impact on growing sales.

Consumers require multiple touchpoints before they make a decision – the number of touchpoints varies anywhere from 7 to 30 before you make a sale. If you’re not using multiple channels as above and reaching people multiple ways across devices, you will lose a significant number of potential sales.

We welcome your comments and questions below.

If you’re interested in having us develop integrated digital marketing campaigns for your restaurant, we’re happy to discuss your needs. Feel free to reach out to us: call us at 866-202-6412 or email at [email protected].


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About the author 

Toby is the co-founder of 39 Celsius. He has over 20 years of digital marketing experience and has started several companies throughout his career. He's an expert in SEO, Social Media Ads, Google Ads, Marketing Automation, and more. He has a BA in Chemistry/Biochemistry from UC San Diego and an MBA from SDSU.

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