2 Facebook Ads Case Studies for Restaurants to Increase Foot Traffic & Online Sales: P.F. Chang and Denny’s

This shares a few proven models from Denny’s and P.F. Chang on how to drive more foot traffic and sales for restaurant businesses.

A common frustration among restaurant business owners is that it’s very challenging to track activity from online to offline.

This article covers the best strategies available in 2018 to help anyone do just that.

It’s structured as follows:

  1. How to Drive More Foot Traffic to your Restaurant (P.F. Chang Case Study)
  2. How to Maximize your Restaurant’s Online Order System (Denny’s Case Study)
  3. How to calculate the effectiveness of your campaign (with our embedded calculator)

Below, I’ll share a “direct” way to drive foot traffic and another that’s more indirect.

Let’s start with direct.

How to Drive More Foot Traffic to your Restaurant (P.F. Chang Case Study)

At the top of the funnel, you can see here that most of the ads feature a free item. The reason for this is that it gives people a strong incentive to click and explore the offer and subsequently the site.



Once they get to the landing page, they’ll see an opt-in button (i.e. “join now”). By entering their details, not only does the visitor get the offer but the advertiser (you), gets the user’s contact information.


This is the opt-in once you click “join now”.


And once you sign up, you’re given 1000 points.


Once you get to the accounts panel, it will record the number of points you have so far.


By doing the program above, you’re creating a direct incentive for people to go to your restaurant. However, the example above is for an established brand.

If you’re a new restaurant or a lesser-known brand, I suggest just giving them something for free outright. In Jon Taffer’s interview with Gary Vaynerchuk (Jon is a bar & restaurant marketing consultant in the US), he gives these statistics:

  • Probability of returning the second time: 40%
  • Probability of returning the third time: 42%
  • Probability of returning the fourth time: 70%

So the right frequency for restaurants is 3 visits. Note that Jon also advises that you give free coupons for these customers during their 2nd and 3rd visits. Unlike the first coupon which is given digitally, the 2nd and 3rd visits are given in person. So you’ll must get your team onboard as well.

As for your first-visitor voucher, it can look something like this (you place it in a post-signup page):


That’s the general strategy for driving foot traffic. Now, let’s explore how to drive online orders.

How to Maximize your Restaurant’s Online Order System (Denny’s Case Study)

If your foot traffic is good enough, and you’d like to expand your revenue channels beyond putting up another branch, then this is an option.

In Denny’s case, they like to use occasions as a trigger for generating sales. Below is an example for thanksgiving where they are offering a special Thanksgiving Dinner Pack.


Beyond thanksgiving, other triggers you can use are:

  • Birthdays (it’s possible to target people who have upcoming birthdays)
  • Busy Office Workers (i.e. push your lunch deals / deliveries)

However, something I would improve on the Denny’s ads is that I would add extra justification to purchase online instead of just talking a 5-minute walk to another restaurant. What you’re competing against here is convenience & familiarity.

If you’re offering the same things as the nearby restaurant, why would someone purchase from you online?

What would that then imply is that at a minimum, you need to have an online incentive program where people get points for every purchase.

There are many incentive plugin software that’s available with a few Google searches. If you’re using Shopify, you can try out an app like Smile.io.

Once you have defined your initial customer offer (e.g. free delivery upon first purchase), you can reward them with initial points then they will come back to your restaurant.

Once someone has clicked on the ad, they will be directed to this landing page.


Note that the landing page should be directly related to your offer; here, Denny’s has linked the Thanksgiving ad with a special Thanksgiving Dinner Pack landing page (which is ultimately just a photo switch).

Once you complement your online ordering system with online offer landing pages (as with P.F. Chang), you’re setting yourself up for success in generating client retention.

How to calculate the effectiveness of your Facebook Ads restaurant campaign (with our embedded calculator)

Let’s get to the mathematical part. Now that you’ve run your campaigns, is it an added value to your business?

You can estimate that by using our calculator below.

These are the prerequisites:

  1. Define how long you want the campaign to run. Is it monthly? Or quarterly? Once you’ve chosen, then it will be classified under “period” in the calculator below.
  2. Get how much revenue you have generated over the campaign period as compared to the previous period (if you’ve chosen monthly as your period, then select the latest month for the current revenue and the past month as the previous period)
  3. Get your usual revenue growth rate on a period-to-period basis (e.g. 2% revenue growth on a month-to-month basis)

Once you have data (estimates are fine, too), then input it into this calculator:

There you have it: you have two proven models for running digital ads for your restaurant and a calculator to estimate if it’s an added value to your business.

If you’d like to discuss more restaurant digital marketing strategies, schedule time with me here for a free initial consultation.

Filed Under: Analytics, conversion, Ecommerce, Facebook Advertising, revenueTagged With: facebook, facebook ads, facebook advertising, restaurant, restaurant marketing

Publish Date

November 12, 2020

Kenn Costales
Owner & Lead Consultant

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