How can bars, pubs and clubs continue to attract customers in big numbers once Christmas has come and gone?

Christmas will always be an important time for the food and drink industry, providing the potential for a bumper end to the year. But your biggest challenge is arguably how you fill your venues at the quietest times of the year.

Price promotion is one approach, with incentives such as 50% off food bills in January helping to boost sales. But how you extend the reach of your discounts to the right audience is key. Furthermore, there are non-price promotion tactics you could be exploring to attract customers throughout the year.

Online advertising for bars and pubs

Online advertising in the UK is growing year-on-year. In the first half of 2015, digital ad spend increased by 13.4% on the same period last year to £3.975 billion with 52% attributed to paid search.

That growth is expected to continue, with paid search opportunities being supplemented by the strengthening advertising propositions of social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. Together, they offer a variety of opportunities to reach, connect and inspire your audience.

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising

Well-established. Strong conversion rates. Great flexibility. PPC is a proven advertising channel for any company looking to build awareness and increase custom.

Mobile PPC advertising with geo-targeting, for example, provides a way of promoting your venue at key times of the day to people who are nearby - such as in the run-up to and during lunch or late at night if you have extended opening hours.

If you are running price promotions, or you’re showing a big sporting event, PPC can help you to reach people on the day, so people searching for somewhere to eat, drink or watch know what your venue has to offer.


Re-engagement can be a powerful tool for pubs and bars, especially when it comes to bringing people back during quieter months.

That’s where remarketing - the process of tagging customers on their visit to your site and then advertising to them on the sites they subsequently visit - can be effective; particularly as previous association means strong response rates. Google’s extensive Display Network means your ad will be seen across a number of different websites, including Facebook, increasing the likelihood of a return to your site.

It can be an ideal platform for party and event promotion, where you’re able to build interest over a number of months or even a valuable option for targeting customers who didn’t complete a booking process on their first visit.

Facebook advertising

Facebook is not only the second most-visited website in the world behind Google, but it offers excellent targeting options. Location targeting is particularly relevant for static venue-type business; whilst targeting based on what people have ‘liked’ - such as rival venues - provides further scope for reaching the right audience.

The ability to turn ads off and on as required can be especially useful depending on how busy your venue is at any time. Likewise, it can be a great way to promote your lunch and evening menus at the times when people are planning where to eat.

Custom Audience targeting allows you to match your database of customer email addresses with Facebook profiles to entice people who’ve been before back to the venue. Whilst an update to the platform’s local awareness ads feature has been rolled out specifically to help businesses with multiple locations target people based on where they are.

Instagram advertising

With 90% of Instagram’s users under the age of 35, it already offers a useful way of reaching a valuable demographic.

Its targeting is based on users’ Facebook profiles, giving the same benefits of location, interests and demographics. Furthermore, advertisers are only charged if users click the call-to-action; which generally only happens if they have decided to complete the action.

Using aspirational images can help you push your venues to the forefront of your audience’s mind, particularly high-quality photos of your food or facilities. With the tools to target people based on interests, you can target the types of people you want at your venue too. For example, if you’re showing a football match, Instagram allows you to target fans of specific teams or nearby football fans in general.

Twitter advertising

Although far more expensive than Facebook, Twitter’s click-through rate is considerably higher, making it a worthwhile consideration.

Promoted Posts can be scheduled by time, making them ideal for promoting your lunch and dinner menus or any sporting events you’re showing - particularly when you combine relevant keywords with the user’s location. As well as location, users can be targeted by their biography keywords, gender and device.

Twitter advertising can be particularly effective for promoting a one-off event, with ads targeted based on the information in their biography and tweets.

YouTube advertising

YouTube is the third most popular website in the world and offers a cost-effective alternative to television advertising with much better targeting. Advertising numbers for the platform are increasing too, particularly as it offers a great option for brand building amongst a young demographic.

Video advertising is a great way to show your audience the experience you offer, whether it’s a busy night in your venue or a special event such as a cocktail or cookery class. Likewise, if it fits with your brand values, creating ads that feature food challenges could be a great way to gain the attention of your audience.

Ads can be targeted using a combination of keywords and location to help you reach the right people with your content.