The pizza business is big business.

It’s a near $46 billion market in the U.S., with an astonishing 77,000 pizzerias.

And this huge market isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. Whether it’s thin New York style, stuffed Chicago Style, or doughy Detroit style, Americans can’t get enough.

But how will your little (or not-so-little) pizza restaurant stand out from the other 76,999?

Social media is absolutely the right place to start. A gorgeous feed full of gooey cheesy goodness will attract followers and fans.

But there are other techniques you’ll need if you’re going to compete in 2020.

So I’m going to walk you through three marketing methods that you can use to get all the eyes on your pies.

1. SMS Marketing

What is it?

SMS stands for “short message service.” It’s a fancy name for a text message.

SMS marketing is simply sending text messages directly to your customers’ phones. You can use these texts to provide a coupon, inform customers of a special entree, or inform them about a special event.

SMS messages have a 160 character limit, so they’re short and sweet.

There are also MMS messages—“multimedia message service”. MMS messages allow you to use images, videos, and gifs in your texts.

Why do it?

First of all, what does almost everyone have? An estimated 96 percent of Americans have a cellphone.

Eighty-one percent of those cellphones are smartphones. But a smartphone isn’t even necessary to get SMS messages.

Also, the rules that govern SMS messaging help you to target only the people that really want to hear from you.

Because it is permission-based, customers have to opt-in to receive your messages.

SMS marketers can’t just buy phone numbers and start sending messages. That’s a violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, and can result in big fines.

And, you have to provide a simple way for people to opt-out if they change their mind about hearing from you.

These rules mean that SMS marketing is one of the least spammy ways that you can reach your customers.

But the best part? SMS marketing works.

SMS messages have a 98 percent open rate, compared to only about 18 percent for email. And over 90 percent of those messages are read within just 3 minutes.

And unlike email, there are no spam filters and no segmented inboxes to catch your messages before they’re seen.

How do you do it?

Okay, so we’ve seen that SMS marketing is great. But how do you do it?

To start, you’ll need a service provider. Companies like EZTexting, SlickText, or SimpleTexting all have affordable plans that will let you set up an SMS service.

When you’re shopping for a provider, make sure they have a simple dashboard that’s easy for you to manage and interact with. That’s where you’ll set up and manage your campaigns.

Next, you’ll need to start collecting subscribers.

After you have your account set up with your service provider, you’ll be issued a 5-digit SMS number. Customers will have to text your keyword to this number in order to opt-in to your SMS campaign.

How do you get them to text your keyword to the 5-digit number? You ask them to.

You can post your number and keyword on a sign at your restaurant, or post about it on social media. Or, you could include an opt-in form on your website.

Once you have some subscribers, it’s time to start sending messages. You could send them exclusive discounts on pizzas, or time-sensitive deals that will expire soon to create a sense of urgency.

Just make sure that you’re really adding value to your customers. If your messages are generic or not beneficial to your customers, your opt-out rates will skyrocket.

2. Facebook Ads using Custom Audiences

What is it?

With 69 percent of Americans on the platform, Facebook has a huge reach—more than any other social media channel.

Using their Custom Audiences feature, you can send ads to people who have already expressed interest in your pizzeria by providing you with their email address.

This could include people who have signed up for your email list. But it could also include people who have ordered pizza from you in the past and provided their email addresses when they checked out on your website.

Why do it?

Facebook marketing has seen steady growth over the past decade, up to $55 billion in 2018.

And businesses would not continue to pour their advertising dollars into the platform if it wasn’t getting them the returns they wanted. ROI will obviously vary significantly based on a variety of factors, but one study showed an ROI of 300 to 600 percent.

How do you do it?

Facebook allows you to create your own custom audiences that you can target with your ads.

From the Audience tab in the Facebook Business Manager, you can create an audience based on location, age, gender, and interests. You can even narrow it down with advanced options like relationship status and life events.

But we want to target people that have already shown interest in your pizza — people who are on your email list. If you’re like most pizzerias, you have probably accumulated a large list over the years.

So you can upload your email list to Facebook to create a custom audience of those users.

You can upload your email list directly as a CSV file, or you can upload it through Mailchimp.

Facebook will match your email list to the users’ profiles on Facebook. Then it will create a custom audience of the people who were on your email list, and you can start sending them Facebook ads!

Now, not everyone on your email list will have a Facebook account. But with 69 percent of Americans using Facebook, you can trust that the majority of them will.

3. Timed retargeting

What is it?

You know how you’ll go on a website to look at a pair of shoes, and a couple of days later those same shoes show up in a Google ad? It’s not magic, and it’s not Big Brother.

It’s retargeting.

Advertisers like Google and Facebook/Instagram let businesses put a pixel on their business websites. The pixel tracks traffic to the site, and the businesses can then “retarget” that traffic with an advertisement.

Why do it?

About 98 percent of first-time visitors to a website leave without making a purchase.

Retargeting gives you a second bite at that 98%. It’s a chance to remind them that you have the best pizza in town, and if they don’t order it, they’re missing out!

Plus, it’s effective. Website visitors who are later retargeted have a 70 percent greater chance of making a purchase with the retargeting business.

How do you do it?

Once your web developer has the tracing pixels added to your website, it’s time to start retargeting!

You can set up a custom audience in your Facebook or Google ad manager, and make it specific to people who have visited your website.

Then, you can make an ad specifically for that audience. And the best time to do that is when people are starting to think about food.

Consider targeting the 4 to 6 p.m. time block, as the workday starts to wind down and people are considering what they should have for dinner.

You can run A/B tests to see what works best. Maybe you can run an ad to half your retargeting list at 4 p.m., and to the other half at 5 p.m. to see what brings in the most sales.

And don’t forget lunch. 10 a.m. may be a great time to target to try to get those office pizza parties.


The next phase of marketing for your pizzeria is to get technical.

While a beautiful Instagram feed with the perfect pizza captions is going to be a big help, you’ll need something else to help you stand out among the competition.

SMS marketing, Facebook Ads to your email list, and retargeting will all help to keep your restaurant front of mind when it’s time to order a pizza (or pizzas).

By spending a little time learning and perfecting these methods now, you can grow your revenue through 2020 and beyond.

Are you ready to step up your marketing game and share your pizza with the world?

Adam Guild is a top expert on restaurant marketing. He is also the CEO of Placepull: a technology company that helps restaurants increase revenue by an average of over $207,000 per location using search. 

Marketing & Promotions, Outside Insights, Pizza, Story