A Guide To Online Marketing For Pubs and Bars




This a complete guide to online marketing for pubs and bars. Online marketing can be quite daunting and there’s no doubt, there’s a lot to it. But with this guide you’ll be able to apply best practices and we’ll also explore some tips and tricks that will give you a competitive advantage over your competition. Here’s what we’ll cover:

1. Website
2. Lead magnets
3. Email campaigns
4. Local directories
5. SEO
6. Facebook marketing
7. Instagram marketing
8. Twitter
9. Bloc
10. Analytics and Testing



Online marketing for pubs and bars starts with your website. This is where most of your channels will lead and without a good one, you will lose a lot of potential customers. It’s no secret more and more people are using mobile and online channels to find venues. You have around 5 seconds to persuade them to stay on your website. Here are best practices for your website:

– Have high-res photos showcasing the venue
– Implement an easy-to-use booking system
– Show your opening hours and contact information
– Keep it updated and modern
– Make sure it’s mobile friendly (check on different devices)
– Make sure your USP or type is clear on the homepage. i.e if you’re a sports bar, make sure that’s clear to your website visitors


Lead Magnets

Now you have a beautiful website at the forefront of your online marketing efforts it’s time to capture more potential customers. Lead magnets are a powerful way to do just that. Without a lead magnet, 95% or more of your website visitors will leave without making a booking or ever visiting your pub or bar. They’ll forget about it within 1 minute of leaving your site. Lead magnets are a clever way of capturing far more potential visitors and also improve customer retention for repeat customers.

What is a lead magnet you ask? A lead magnet is a pop-up or button (or both) on your website that aims to grab the email address of a website visitor so you can add them to your email marketing efforts. There are loads of ways of doing it but the perfect lead magnet for pubs and bars is definitely to offer a free drink if they sign up with their email. It works well because it also increases the chance of them actually attending.


Bar Lead Magnet Example


Email Campaigns

Online marketing for pubs and bars wouldn’t be complete without good email campaigns, they are still very powerful and work well for getting more footfall. Once you have a database of relevant email addresses you can send emails to get repeat customers. Lead magnets are a powerful mechanism that should be used. Another way to grab email addresses is by offering free WiFi in the venue, but to get onto it the future subscriber has to sign up using their email address. You can use software like MailChimp or Woodpecker to send out your campaigns and track all the data (including clicks to your website). Tread carefully when sending emails, there are best practices and ways to reduce unsubscribes. Here are our best practices:

– Less is more. Sending too many emails is the biggest mistake a marketer can make for email campaigns. The number one reason for unsubscribes is frequency
– Send relevant emails around major events. Are you showing the World Cup? That could be a perfectly timed theme to an email to send out
– Offer a deal or promotion. Add validation to your email with a promotion or deal. The receiver will ask in their heads, ‘why are they sending me this?’ Without a good reason, they’ll probably unsubscribe
– Have a clear CTA (call-to-action) in your email. What do you want the receiver to do?


Local Directories

Make sure your pub or bar can be found in as many places as possible online. Good places to start are Google Local, Yelp, Bing, DesignMyNight and Dodo. There are actually hundreds of them and it’s likely they will add your venue before you ask. But make sure you’re on them and also make sure the photos and copy are perfect. Usually on these directories pubs and bars don’t have hooks as to why a potential customer should go there instead of another venue. So your online marketing efforts shouldn’t stop after you’ve submitted them. It won’t be enough.



‘Best cocktail bar London’, ‘pub showing the football’ and ‘rooftop bar near me’ are just a few examples of what your potential customers might be searching on Google to find venues they want to go to. SEO stands for search engine optimization and is the practice of getting your venue at the top of the search results. Online marketing for pubs and bars wouldn’t be complete without SEO as once you are ranking it’s free organic traffic and potentially free customers. You can use Google’s keyword planner to find keywords that are relevant to your venue. Once you know what you want to rank for then you need to start implementing SEO. Here are our best practices:

– On-page optimization (make sure the keywords or phrase is the perfect density on your page, 5x usually)
– Get quality back links. This is a big part of SEO, the more 3rd party sites that are linking to yours, the more Google ranks it as a good site. Makes sense right? It’s also about quality back links, this means big sites that have a good rank themselves. For example, if you get a media site like Timeout to write an article on your venue, this counts as a good back link (make sure they link your website)
– Depending on how many searches your keywords or phrases are getting, SEO might not be worth the money or time. So analyse the forecast of potential customers from SEO and weigh it up. It might not be for you.

TIP:  ‘Best cocktail bar London’ might get a lot of searches. It might be worth plugging that into Google yourself and paying whoever is in the top 3 to have your venue included in the article. If you make sure your link is included this will also add to your SEO efforts for the same keyword.


Facebook Marketing

There are two parts to Facebook marketing. Free and paid. The free side is all about having a Facebook page for your venue and building a brand and community with your current customers. This can be powerful for customer retention and word of mouth marketing. For example, having an in-house photographer can pay dividends if you upload the photos to Facebook. People can then tag themselves and this can show in their friend’s newsfeed. Some of the best marketers we’ve seen have photo ops in their venues like flower walls which increase the amount of participants. If a customer is proud enough to tag themselves and be seen in your venue then more people will want to go. Including branding in the photos is important too.

Paid Facebook advertising is something you should also explore. We like re-targeting ads most. Facebook advertising is clever and be highly targeted. Re-targeting ads is when someone visits your website, Facebook uses the cookie and then sends your ad to them. Going back to the lead magnet of a free drink. You can tell Facebook to send your ad to a website visitor who didn’t sign up to the free drink offer. So the ad could have a headline of ‘You forgot your free drink’. These ads run for 30 days from the website visit, so your visitor may not have been in the mood or ready for that free drink now, but in the future they could be. It’s powerful.

We don’t advise using Facebook ads without having a powerful hook and way to measure whether it’s working. Clicks and impressions don’t count for anything unless a customer is going to go to your venue and spend. It’s not cheap so should be used with caution.


Instagram Marketing

Similar to Facebook marketing, Instagram can be used for free but also be used for paid advertising. When you set up paid Facebook ads you can also choose Instagram as a placement, so it works in the exact same way. Instagram however can be used slightly differently on the free side. Instagram is very visual and your Instagram page should show high quality images of the venue, the drinks, the food and so on. It should showcase the culture at your venue.

Have you heard of influencer marketing? You probably have, but did you know Instagram is the home of it? If you have influential Instagrammers (they’re the ones with lots of followers) taking pictures in your venue and tagging you, this could lead to putting you on the radar of thousands of people. They have the power to make a venue appear to be the coolest place in the world, or if your service is bad, they could even call you out which could be extremely damaging and hit sales hard. We’ve seen it happen in both cases.

TIP: There are lots of brands that like to hold events for marketing purposes (like Bloc). Try partnering with these brands as it’s likely they could get press, celebrities and influencers to attend. Make sure you have photo ops with your venue name prominent and you never know, your venue could feature in a top paper.



Spreading yourself too thin on your online marketing efforts could be damaging. It’s better to execute the mediums that will get you the best results perfectly, than use all the mediums averagely. Twitter to an extent, comes into this category. It’s not got the same influence or power as Instagram and the paid advertising barely works. It’s also no good to have a Twitter handle for your venue if you’re not Tweeting.

However, saying that Twitter is the best medium for connecting with journalists and industry types. You should have a personal Twitter account that follows the journalists that could potentially write about your venue. Starting a relationship with them is the best way of increasing your chances of free press. And free press can go a long way for online marketing for pubs and bars in terms of SEO for example.

TIP: Use Google to find journalists that have written about your type of bar. Search ‘site:www.insertpaper.com new sports bar’ on Google. This will show you all the articles written about a new sports bar on that website and then you can find the journalist that wrote it.



Bloc Newsfeed Ad for Pub and Bar Online Marketing's Newsfeed Ad


Bloc is one of the only online marketing mediums for pubs and bars where you only pay for your perfect result, a customer in your venue: spending. It’s free to use until someone checks into your venue and actually attends (using geo-location). Clicks to your website and impressions are free. It’s a great tool to accompany your online marketing efforts.

To learn more about Bloc’s advertising click here.


Analytics and Testing

Online marketing for pubs and bars can be daunting but if you constantly test and analyse the analytics you can constantly tweak it until you’re seeing the results you seek. There’s no harm in starting small with your budgets and data to try it out. Once you feel comfortable you can start rolling out the online marketing to bigger audiences.

Using tools like Google Analytics for your website data is critical. All the different mediums including Bloc have their own analytic platform so you can see the results for yourself.