Digital marketing for restaurants is a must for success. Here we look at the best marketing strategies for restaurants, how to be found online, and creating a strong digital presence
Did you know there are over a million restaurants in the United States? Take any big city and there are thousands of them scattered all around. To separate yours from the crowd you need an effective marketing strategy. And by marketing strategy, in today’s world, we mean – DIGITAL MARKETING.
You might own a great space with a tranquil ambiance and a tantalizing menu. But that isn’t enough when all these remain unknown to your customers. Digital marketing for restaurants takes your brand name and its story to the masses and puts you ahead of the competition.
Why Digital marketing for restaurants is Important?
You won’t need any convincing on the importance of marketing for resultants. However, if you have any doubts about the need for digital marketing, here are some stats to stress its importance.
- More than 40% of customers find new restaurants digitally
- 90% of customers visit websites before they dine at a restaurant
- 84% of customers trust online reviews that read about restaurants
- 86% of millennials try restaurants based on online food-related content
- More than 60% of US consumers order food online once every week
These aren’t mere stats but highlight the importance of having an active digital footprint if you are a restaurant owner.
Marketing Strategies for Restaurants
Digital marketing for restaurants involves a mix of different online strategies. To grow your restaurant’s online footprint here are a few things you must do.
Work on Your Website
Do you feel proud of your website? If not, there is work to be done. Your website is the foundation of your digital marketing strategy, and you must work on a few aspects of the website to turn it into a business-generating machine.
- Mobile Compatibility – Is your website mobile-friendly? More than 50% of users browse the Internet on their mobile phones and more so when they are on the move. Invest in a mobile-friendly design if you haven’t done it yet. This would increase traffic to your website and visits to your restaurant.
- Fast Load Time – Customers searching for restaurants are likely to use mobile data when they are on the move. Your website must load fast to attract these customers. Slow websites can be the biggest demotivator for customers searching for information on the move.
- Updated Menu – Does your website feature an updated menu with the latest prices? Most customers visit restaurant websites to check the menu and prices. Use easy-to-read fonts for the menu and make sure all the items are well categorized. The idea is to let a user find the food items they are looking for.
- Operating Hours – One of the things that customers always look for on the restaurant website is their operating hours. You must mention the operating hours and the items served. If you have a weekend special brunch, make sure the customers are aware of the timing.
- Call To Action – Your website isn’t only an information board, but it should also trigger action on part of the customer. You should have CTA elements such as “Book Your Table”, “Order Online”, “Grab the Discount” etc. prominently placed on the website. They should be on top of the page and not require scrolling even on mobile devices.
- Online Ordering – Did you know three out of five people prefer ordering food online over sit-in dining? If you don’t have an online ordering module on your website, you are turning your back on a large section of the audience. Though you may have already tied up with a food delivery aggregator, having an online ordering facility on your website adds to your sales.
Go Aggressive on SEO
Search Engine Optimization or SEO is the lynchpin of your marketing strategies for restaurants. Your website must be optimized for search engines to attract organic traffic and add to your brand recognition. You must go aggressive with SEO and stay invested in the campaign to fetch results. Here are some of the basic things you must focus on
- On-page Optimization – Optimize the meta content on the website (title, descriptions), URL structure, page content, images, etc. on the website to make it search engine friendly.
- Off-Page Optimization – Focus on link building and outreach SEO strategies that help you generate traffic from external sources and improve your website’s imprint on highly visited websites.
- Content Marketing – Create captivating content both for your website’s blog and third-party websites. Your content must trigger the desire among people to try new dishes at your restaurant and build your authority on anything related to food.
- Business Listings – List your restaurant on online business directories such as Google My Business, Yelp Business, and Facebook Business. Create a detailed profile highlighting your specialties and USPs. Make sure these listings have your website URL, phone number, and address. They attract more footfall to your restaurant and add to your SEO score.
Build Social Media Presence
People spend more than two hours every day on social media, and it is fertile ground to market your restaurant. It is important to run an active campaign on social media to increase brand recognition and improve your digital footprint. Here are some of the things you must do as part of your campaign:
- Choose Platforms Wisely – You don’t need to target every platform for your restaurant business. Facebook and Instagram are the most influential platforms when it comes to marketing for restaurants and your campaign must focus on these two platforms. You can have a presence on LinkedIn and Twitter if you want but focus your energy where you would interact with the customers most.
- Content Plan – Have a content plan on the kind of content you will post. Instagram is an image medium, and you must post the best food images on Instagram while focusing on Facebook to share your stories. You can dedicate a day of the week to introducing the secrets of your best recipe. This generates curiosity among your audience to visit your page on that day every week.
- Uniqueness – Focus on the uniqueness of your posts. Don’t share stock images or things that people are likely to come across on a million social media handles. Originality is key to keeping users engaged.
- Interact – Customers are likely to post their thoughts, queries, etc. as comments on your posts. Make sure you respond to most of them. It helps in building a strong community of followers.
Don’t Ignore Email Marketing
Are you engaging your customers through email? If not, it is a big hole in your digital marketing strategy. Thanks to the digital interaction customers have with restaurants, you have ample scope of collecting the email addresses of your visitors and those who plan to visit you. It is estimated that 15% of restaurant visitors turn into loyal customers but they contribute more than one-third of the revenue.
- Low Open Rate – If your existing email campaign has a low open rate, you should explore different headlines and times of sending an email. Your email must stand out in the customer’s inbox but avoid spamming at all costs.
- Low CTR – It isn’t unusual to have a decent open rate and yet suffer from extremely low click-through rates. If your campaign is plagued by this problem, you must focus on the content. Use photos and personalize your emails to strike the perfect chord with your audience.
Solicit Positive Reviews
In today’s digitally collected world most customers choose restaurants based on experiences other customers share. As we have already said more than 90% of customers read reviews! Whether it is Yelp, Google Business Profile or other review platforms what’s being said and written about you would dictate your success – reputation management matters!
- Encourage Reviews – Great food, awesome ambiance, and a good experience isn’t enough when it comes to attractive reviews. You must encourage your visitors to write reviews. Request a review on your bill or simply ask your customers to write their feedback on online platforms once you have served them a meal. Drop an email 24-48 hours after their visit and request a review. You must be proactive to generate reviews for your restaurant.
- Respond To Feedback – You have no control over what the customers write about their experiences at your restaurant. However, you must respond to their comments or feedback irrespective of whether they praise your services or paint you in a bad light. It is especially important to respond to negative posts. If you have committed a genuine mistake, admit that, and let the customer know of the corrective actions you are taking. It is important to portray a professional image where you care about what customers write about your restaurant.
- Focus on Customer Value
Customer value is key to running a successful restaurant. As you’d know repeat customers generate the bulk of your revenue and that should be your focus area with digital marketing for restaurants. You must own your audience to be successful in this business. Here are a few things you must do –
- Collect customer information such as their phone numbers, email addresses, likes, and dislikes. Update this database regularly to target them in a personalized way
- Offer special discounts to your repeat customers on their anniversaries, birthdays, etc. to make them feel special
- Run regular contests between them to make them an integral part of your business
- Encourage them to share their stories and experiences at your restaurant on social media turning them into your brand ambassadors.
Five Words to Focus on in Marketing Strategies for Restaurants
We have already covered the basic steps you must take to improve your digital presence and drive new customers to your restaurants. However, digital marketing for restaurants is more than just a set of activities performed on your website and social media handles. Here are five words you need to focus on while marketing your restaurant
- Search – Your restaurant should be easily searchable on search engines and social media platforms. Hence, you should focus on the right set of keywords, location details, etc. which improves searchability. Use hashtags in your posts to drive curious customers to your website and increase followers on your social media handles.
- Share – When we talk of marketing for restaurants, every restaurant owner would like their brand name to go viral. Be choosy about the restaurant images you share and make use of creative captions. This increases their shareability prospects and generates more footfalls and online orders.
- Interact – You interact with your walk-in guests and help them order the best dishes based on individual tastes. It is important to do the same with your digital campaign. Interact with your customers to know what they prefer most at your restaurant and what they would like to see on your menu. Whether it is a post on Facebook or Instagram you need to engage your audience and earn their loyalty.
- Desire – The most important aim of your digital campaign should be to sow the seeds of desire in the minds of your customers. Whether it is through detailed menus on your website, customer stories on Facebook, or those tempting food photos on Instagram, the goal is to instill FOMO (fear of missing out) in the hearts and minds of the target audience.
- Exclusive – You want a strong digital presence and hence you are looking for more followers on your Instagram and Facebook handles. Pause for a moment and think about what’s there for your followers. Run contests for them, offer exclusive discounts to your followers, and share the secrets of your recipe. They’d feel they belong to an exclusive club and invite others to the fold.
Marketing for restaurants isn’t rocket science. It is about doing the same things you do at your restaurant i.e., offering the best good and experience to your customers. As much as you focus on serving mouth-watery food to your guests and the best drinks, you must also focus on promoting your business. By maintaining a strong digital presence, you increase the discoverability of your restaurant and let satisfied customers share their experiences within the community.
If you are looking for an expert team to employ the best marketing strategies for restaurants, you can bank on Cyrusson Inc. We are a boutique marketing agency that specializes in digital marketing for restaurants and other food delivery businesses. Call: 415-228-9969 to book a free consultation meeting. We let you focus on your food while we bring customers to your door.