How Restaurants Can Use Push Notifications to Drive Sales 

Once you’ve successfully gotten guests to download your mobile app, a lot of great things can happen for your restaurant. You can gather and use a multitude of data to better serve smarter marketing. You can drive incremental visits, encourage infrequent guests to return more often and get additional dollars out of frequent ones. 

Restaurant apps are powerful tools and no element within the app promises a more immediate and more direct line of communication than the push notification. With great power, though, comes great responsibility. 

Here are the best practices on using push notifications to drive sales: 

Be Timely, Personal and Interesting

From time-based and location-based notifications to city-specific and even weather-specific promotions, the ability to customize which guests receive what notifications gives your brand the ability to market better, to be topical, and to be personal, usually resulting in better outcomes.  


With the quality and quantity of data gathered by both the applications and broader multi-channel marketing tools, brands can reach more people, more effectively. We could, for example, be timely by offering free ice cream with purchase to help beat a summer heat wave, or we can be personal and guests to try an item before it is broadly available. Technology gives us the power to customize our messages. We can be topical. Individual. Smart.

Don’t Overdo It

More restaurants live on our smartphones than ever before, thanks to the proliferation of restaurant mobile apps. In general, it becomes possible to tell a lot about the customers themselves through the data generated, including how frequently each guest should hear from you. Give a weekly notification to a monthly visitor, a monthly notification to a quarterly visitor. In every case, the best way to drive incremental revenue is to encourage extra visits, without overcommunicating. It’s important to not overdo messaging guests, or they will learn to tune it out. Or worse yet, they might turn off messaging permissions entirely. 


Remember, There’s a Time … 

The best time to reach your potential guests? Right before they make a food decision. It’s possible to send users a push notification in the 20-30-minute period just before they usually open their app. For guests coming into the window of time where they determine their lunch spot or their dinner plans, being top of mind, or better yet, top of mind, with a reason to dine, can lead to plenty of incremental dollars and visits.

… And a Place

Thanks to geolocation, we can tie push notifications to our users’ locations. It is possible to cross into the realm of being creepy for guests, so be careful how you utilize geolocation. But the fact is, where our guests are physically at can be helpful in determining when to drive push notifications. 


Imagine knowing that 20 percent of your visitors went to the gas station before visiting their lunch location and sending every app user at a gas station within three miles a lunch offer. Or imagine asking them to check in upon arrival, so their food is perfectly timed and piping hot when they arrive. Guest location can drive impressive experiential gains that keep them coming back faithfully.

For brands thinking about mobile applications, or for those who’ve yet to perfect a digital strategy, there are few tools more effective than the push notifications. Apps give you the ability to act on data to ensure that your guests are having the experience they envision. That they are getting offers than inspire action. That you understand them. That you care. When used properly, push notifications can be the biggest change maker in your toolbox.