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  • Emilia

How to promote a restaurant using discount vouchers - McDonald's case study

Promoting a restaurant with discount vouchers, newsletters and social media got so much easier with technology over the last couple of years - and less expensive too.

And yet - probably due to limited information and lack of time - *very* few restaurant owners use discount vouchers, newsletters, or social media to promote their restaurants.

Except for a few larger fast-food chains like KFC or Mcdonald's - I have never been offered a discount voucher or asked for my email in any of the hundreds of restaurants I've been to over the years.

McDonald's Hamilton (in New Zealand) has been using vouchers in a smart way that inspired me to write this post. And no - before you say 'I'm not a McDonalds' - read on to see how you can use discount vouchers to promote your restaurant for less than $ 60 per month.

So, in this post you will learn:

  • How to raise your restaurants' brand awareness using discount vouchers on Social Media

  • How to use discount vouchers for customer engagement

  • How to use discount vouchers for handling restaurant complaints

  • How to avoid voucher fraud while promoting your restaurant with discount vouchers

  • How to use a digital discount voucher management system for your restaurant

  • How to set up your first voucher campaign on

Using coupons or vouchers on Social Media for building brand awareness

People are following brands on Facebook mainly to learn about promotions and special offers - according to TviDesigns, the majority of people (almost 37%) follow brands on social media for that reason:

So - apart from creating interesting content to promote your restaurant on Facebook (you can check my post with 32 post ideas for restaurants here) - make sure you use your Facebook page to promote your special offers and discount vouchers, e.g.

  • 20% off all dinners on Mondays

  • 10% off if the customer returns with a friend within 2 weeks

  • $ 10 off the customer's 5th meal in a year

Of course - the effectiveness of vouchers as incentives to dine in your restaurant depends on your restaurant's market positioning and your target audience. If you're a casual diner, a fast-food restaurant, a salad bar, or a popular place - implementing a discount voucher strategy for your restaurant makes complete sense. If you're a high-end restaurant, a Michelin star restaurant or you offer a unique experience to well-heeled clients - then using discount vouchers is obviously inappropriate, and investing more in PR may be a better marketing strategy for you.

Using vouchers for handling customer complaints

Keeping your customers happy is essential in the age of the internet - if for some reason - one of your customers was unhappy with your food or service - they will surely vent on social media if you don't handle the complaint properly. And since things like that often go viral online - one unhappy customer can do huge damage to your reputation:

Offering an apology and a generous discount voucher to boot can be an effective way to offset the customer's wrath: here's how to do it if you have a website with a contact form.

1. Have a contact form on your website:

2. Keep track of the complainants with a voucher management system. Do a manual review of the complaint:

3. Generate a discount voucher for each complaining customer in your voucher management system:

4. Send the discount vouchers via your email marketing tool:

5. Let your customers redeem the voucher in your restaurant:

Using vouchers for customer activation and engagement

But handling complaints shouldn't be the only reason why you're sending your restaurant guests discount vouchers.

Quite the opposite: if your customers were happy with their experience at your restaurant, sending them a voucher is an excellent way to bring them back.


Unless you're a big restaurant chain then you probably won't have a dedicated app for communication with your customers. That's why investing some time in collecting your guests' emails, and then inviting them back for a meal with a freebie or a discount via an automated newsletter can be a great way to implement discount vouchers into your customer retention and engagement strategy.

How to collect your guests' emails in your restaurant though?

1. Place a holder on each table informing your guests that they can get a free dessert if they sign up for your newsletter:

2. Print single-use signup forms with a name, email box, and a tickbox for agreeing to your abbreviated privacy/ data processing policy;

3. Give your waiter a tablet and let your guests sign up for your newsletters directly in your email marketing tool when paying the bill.

4. Stand in front of your restaurant offering free samples of your flagship dishes to your guests - in return for signing up for your newsletter there and then.

You can find more ideas here.

Avoiding voucher fraud

Unfortunately, not everyone is honest, and if you issue apology vouchers to placate the complaining customers, you may see some of them abuse the apology voucher.

Here is a common scenario:

E.g. if you don't track the apology vouchers you issue after you receive a complaint from a website form or a phone call, some customers may learn that they will get a discount voucher each time they make a 'fake' complaint.

But you can avoid this kind of voucher fraud by using a voucher management tool: if you see that one customer ID seems to be getting way more apology vouchers than the average, use promo abuse scoring to flag the Customer ID as suspicious.

Learn more about voucher fraud here.

How to integrate discount vouchers into your restaurant marketing strategy

As we already mentioned in the paragraphs above, in order to deliver your discount vouchers to your former and potential restaurant guests, you need some promotion channels and a voucher management tool.

1. Top-of-the-funnel: Use vouchers on social media as a way of attracting new followers and building brand awareness.

2. Middle-to-bottom-of-the-funnel: Use vouchers in newsletters to communicate with former guests. Email is more effective than social media for that, with an average reach of over 90% (vs. organic reach on Facebook of around 6.4% in 2019) and open rates of around 44%.

3. Use a voucher management system to issue vouchers and monitor redemptions.

ROI of discount vouchers in the restaurant business

What's holding you back from using discount vouchers in your restaurant?

If you're concerned about the costs, and whether the return on investment will justify it: let's do some maths now.

Typically, digital vouchers sent by email have redemption rates of 0.5 to 2%.

That means that if you have an email list of 800 customers (sending newsletters to such a small list will be still free in most popular email marketing tools), your emails will get delivered to 90%, 44% will open them and then 1% will actually come to redeem your voucher and spend $ 50 in your restaurant, your potential gain will be:

800 x 0.9 x 0.44 x 0.01 x $ 50 = $ 158.4

As you can see below, the cheapest vouchery plan costs only $ 65 per month. That's a potential ROI of 143.69%

How to use a digital discount voucher management system for your restaurant

1: Set up your first voucher campaign on Vouchery user platform

In Vouchery, you can easily create a main campaign that includes multiple promo campaigns, whether they are give-aways, discounts, loyalty rewards, or gift cards!

New voucher campaigns can be easily created in four steps:

  1. Set up a new campaign

  2. Define promotion

  3. Add rewards settings and limitations

  4. Generate & set up the coupon codes

Step 1: Setup a new campaign

To build a successful coupon campaign, it must be well thought through. To start, set up the campaign basics; Campaign name, the campaign goal, target group, and the team responsible for managing this campaign.

Vouchery offers three types of promotions: Discounts ( that includes freebies, giveaways, bundles, etc ), Loyalty Rewards, and Gift Cards.

After selecting which promotion type will be running under this campaign, you will set up the campaign budget, and the maximum number of redemptions allowed for all vouchers running under this campaign.

Step Two: Define Promotion

In this step, you will be creating the first promo campaign running under the primary campaign created in the previous step. Starting with defining the promotion basics; name, description, promotional goal, and the channel over which the promo will be distributed.

Step Three: Reward Settings and Limitations

To protect your promo against coupon fraud and ensure meeting your targets, you need to put scenarios where the promo is redeemable. That's what this step is all about.

Before setting up the promo limitations, you will need to set up the reward settings, which includes:

1. What the promo offers discounts on the order value or product type

2. Choose the promo discount type: you have two options, percent or amount.

Next, you will need to set up the reward limitations. Putting the campaign goals and your targets in mind set up the limitations and restrictions to help you better maximize the ROI of your campaign and protect it against any fraud.

Imagine what circumstances your target audience will be highly motivated to redeem the discount. For example, if you are a flash sale, you need to create urgency and fear of missing out (FOMO) by making the discount available for redemption for only a specific time frame to encourage the customer to take action now.

Vouchery's platform offers the following limitations:

  1. Product restrictions: what products, their category, price, or quantity should be in the basket for the offer to be valid

  2. Customer segment limits: what groups of customers should be included or excluded in the promo

  3. Customer redemption limits: how many times a user can redeem the code.

  4. Time of order: Restrict redemption to a certain time window.

  5. Duration: How long your promo will be active.

  6. Minimum transaction value: the amount of value your customer needs to spend to get the reward.

Optionally: Define your own Categories

Vouchery allows you to define different scenarios and situations where the promo will be validated. Each category allows you to include or exclude the allowed buying circumstances for validation. For example, you can include or exclude a customer segment allowed to redeem the promo.

Categories examples:

  1. Restricting the promo to a certain customer segment.

  2. Platform- only redeemable on the mobile app.

  3. Product category- T-shirt, jeans.

  4. Customer segment.

  5. Currency- Euro only. (Note we support all currencies)

  6. Area or Zip Code

You can create your own category that serves best your goals.

Step Four: Coupon codes generation and set up

You can generate codes manually or automatically triggered them when a certain type of action is fulfilled. After choosing to create the codes manually you will have the option to create generic or unique codes.

In case you chose to generate a Generic code, you will just need to write the code and then press "Generate vouchers".

In the case of generating Unique Codes, you will need to set the following:

  1. Quantity: number of unique codes to be generated.

  2. Prefix: get creative, make your codes start with a word related to your brand or the campaign. eg, Vo, Welcome.

  3. Type: the type of your code pattern- mixed, only letters or only digits.

  4. Length of your code.

The triggered automatically option, is chosen to generate the code automatically upon the customer's specific action. For example, when you choose the Loyalty program from the promotion type.

That's it, your campaign is ready for distribution!


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