Are you looking for tried and true strategies for marketing your restaurant business? Then keep on reading, because restaurant marketing has changed. It is crucial that restaurants not only use offline marketing strategies but also develop a strong online presence and use online marketing strategies to their highest potential. People no longer search for restaurants in newspapers and yellow pages, but on the internet where they can find all the information they need with ease. We’ve put together a list of 30 tips for making the most of your marketing efforts.
1. Customer Loyalty
Building up a steady customer base will earn you the most money and lead to successful maintenance of a thriving business. Be there! Communicate with your customers and encourage them to engage - this is a big advantage if you have a small restaurant. You can communicate with your customers through social media platforms, respond to people’s comments, concerns, complaints, and show them that you care about their opinions.
2. Have a Great Mobile Friendly Website
One crucial component of your restaurant marketing plan is having a website so that local customers can find your restaurant online. Up to 90% of customers will look up a restaurant online before dining, so it’s a good idea to keep your restaurant details up-to-date; the more accurate you are the better. Find a simple design that fits the nature of your restaurant’s atmosphere.
Nearly 50% of restaurant website traffic takes place on mobile devices since customers are always on the go. Most desktop websites look skewed on a mobile device, so make sure your website is mobile responsive so that it’s easy for your customers to get the info they need and make a decision.
3. Local SEO
Now that you have a beautifully designed website with all the necessary information, the next thing you need to do is properly optimize it, and that means your site should meet certain criteria according to which search engines rank pages as interesting and position them in searches. This process involves editing the site content frequently, adding most searched keywords to your content, including images and videos, promoting the site to increase the number of backlinks or inbound links and much more.
This is probably the hardest part of your marketing work, but also the one that produces the highest payoff. It will result in better positioning in search engines, higher website traffic and more visits to your restaurants.
4. High-quality Photos
Guess what the newest trend on social media is? Food porn! Mouth-watering photos are the key to drawing hungry eyes to your social media channels and website. Taking fantastic photos is a little tricky, you can try it yourself or consider hiring a pro to take some professional photographs of your delicious food. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, you can communicate better through photographs. Share your cooking process, decorations, fresh ingredients, drool-inducing meals, desserts and more! Share your restaurant’s atmosphere, your unique vibe.
5. Have an Online Menu
Customers will look up your menu online before visiting your restaurant. Make it easy for them to find your menu, make it high quality and easy to read, make sure it’s up to date and accurate.
Open Menu is a great website that will help make your menu look great. If you don’t create a good menu and make it available online for your customers, the rest of your marketing strategies are pointless. Make sure your design is sleek and stylish. Don’t make it boring, it will make the customers run away screaming!
6. Maintain Your Social Media Presence
Social media marketing strategies are an irreplaceable tool in today’s business world and can be used to interact with your customers every day of the year. Those restaurants that have a strong social media presence fare the best. That being said, you should strengthen your social media presence by interacting with your followers. Experiment with different social platforms to find what works best for your business. Post photos of your restaurant, offer educational posts and sponsor community or charitable causes. Post content with keywords related to your business. Make sure you keep your details up to date and add social media shortcuts such as “Like us on Facebook” and ”Follow us on Twitter” to your website.
7. Build an Email List
You have a website, now you need a collection of email addresses in order to stay connected to your customers. Make sure your opt-in form is visible on your web pages. You can offer a small reward for signing up, share your opt-in form on Facebook every now and then. Don’t send unsolicited email. If you offer paper menus for customers to take away, you can promote the email list there. There are many ways to promote your website and email list, but the most important thing is that the customers actually want to receive your emails! Make it worth their time.
8. Create a Facebook Page
Facebook is an incredible tool for restaurants to connect with their customers. You probably already have a Facebook page and some followers but to truly get the most out of it, you need to connect to your community. Offer continuous new content about your restaurant, team, meals, recipes, interesting facts, etc. Put up a drool-inducing cover photo, post a link to your website and give away coupons that will make people like your page. Don’t forget to interact with your fans via photos and comments!
Make sure you mark your Facebook page as a “Place” location so that visitors can check in and be seen by their friends!
9. Create an Instagram Account
Having an active Instagram account should be obvious; it is integrated with Facebook which in turn makes it easier to promote your best visual content. Use it alongside your Facebook strategies, or on its own. You should open a «Business» account for your establishment to convey a more professional feel and also be able to access important insights. Make sure you use trending hashtags, but don’t overdo them. An Instagram account also allows users to mention your establishment location in their images, which brings more attention to your page.
10. Send an Email Newsletter
Send a newsletter every now and then - every month is a good target. You want to send your newsletter infrequently; your recipients will certainly appreciate a less flooded inbox. You can share your successes, news, discounts, new dishes, specials, etc. Promote your newsletter through your social media. A reliable system like MailChimp is easy to use and is free for lists with less than 2000 emails. It also allows recipients to reply directly to your address while their information stays private.
11. Twitter Marketing
Twitter is another very successful marketing tool for restaurants, from fast food to the elite ones, and it doesn’t require too much of your time. Tweet updates are short, readable and get shared immediately. Twitter is great for spreading the news about your restaurant, new menu items, promotions, offers, specials, etc. Include a link to your menu and images of your food.
12. Engage and Monitor Review Sites Like Yelp
Yelp is tremendously important in the restaurant industry and - regardless of whether you choose to create a profile or not - people will review your restaurant. Add lots of photos, your restaurant details, menu, pricing, parking space,etc. Always reply to your reviews in a polite manner whether the review was positive or negative.
13. Set up a Google+ Account!
When you search for a business via Google, Google’s Knowledge Graph will provide business details in the sidebar. Google Knowledge Graph gathers a large portion of its information from Google+.
Encourage visitors to review you on Google+!
14. Contact Local Media
Contact magazines, news stations, newspapers and television stations in your area, offer them a free meal and have them do a piece on your restaurant. Their reviews will be seen by their entire audience. Use these reviews as a part of your social media tactic by sharing them, and you can also print and display them in your restaurant.
15. Set up Google Alerts
Google Alerts will notify you when your business name or a keyword term that you chose appears in a new piece of content on the Internet. This will make it easy for you to keep track of who is talking about you. Google will email you when it finds new matches, although it won’t catch everything on the web.
16. Share Positive Press
Always share when you are mentioned in the news or a magazine, show off your good reviews on your social media! Spread the word and new people will be encouraged to visit your restaurant. If you are hosting an event that has public value, issue a press release and share on local news and social media. You can also use Google Alerts to find and share positive press.
17. Food Blogger Outreach
Another great way to get reviews online is to invite a food blogger to your restaurant to give your business a try and write an objective review of it. Some food bloggers have a big following and can make a huge difference when it comes to promoting your restaurant. You can find these bloggers in every area, and this will also serve as a backlink to your website.
18. Offer Online Reservations
Consider signing up for an online reservation tool like Open Table. Open Table allows customers to book reservations for your establishment online. It’s easier for your customers to make a reservation in just a few clicks than to pick up the phone. Online reservation tools provide new and existing customers with an efficient way to book reservations and share their experiences. People are running around with their daily stuff that they have to do and will always appreciate it if you make it easy for them to make reservations.
Most people are looking for good food in their area, and you’ll get the most value out of your online marketing efforts by investing in geo-targeted ads. These ads ensure customers in certain areas or within specific radiuses see your ads. Moreover, these ads will save you money by restricting your advertising in the areas where you wouldn’t find the right customers. Google AdWords, Facebook, Twitter and others offer geo-targeting ads at no extra cost. AdWords allows for mobile customization and targeting options which you could use to boost your sales during a specific time period, e.g. dinner.
20. Grow Your Customer Review Bank
Ask your happy customers to write you a review - the higher the number of positive reviews the better. Too many negative reviews will affect your business in a negative way, so make sure you respond to any negative feedback. In addition, ensure you maintain good interaction by responding publicly to all reviews.
21. Host Food, Beverage or Any Other Type of Event
You can host food, beer, wine and cheese tasting, charity or any other type of event! Use social media and flyers to promote in advance and make sure to share some of the photos after you’ve done a few events. Large group gatherings are a great way for people to connect, which will eventually lead to new potential customers.
22. Set up Online Orders
Partner up with a delivery service and increase your traffic with online ordering! This will help you get new customers as well. Since some people like to see and order a dish from your menu directly from your website, you will also get email and phone contact from your online orders.
23. Develop Your Restaurant’s Brand Identity
Your restaurant brand identity will have a huge influence on your social media tactics. You will build your restaurant brand identity around your target customers. Depending on who your target customers are, you will build your brand around what they find interesting. Present their interests on your social media platforms. Are your target customers healthy eaters or fast foodies?
Tell a different story about your restaurant, a story that reflects your restaurant’s style and atmosphere.
24. Start a Blog!
Starting a blog can be a great way to build a community, brand identity and to communicate with your customers. A blog can take a lot of time, but you can keep it simple; there’s no need to post frequently, although we recommend posting news and announcements on your blog.
25. Offer Coupons and Discounts
If you are running a fast-food type restaurant, coupons are a fantastic way to get more customers. However, if you are running a more formal restaurant, it would be wise to avoid coupons. You can, however, give special offers with your announcements, e.g. free desserts on special events, or you can add in a social element and offer group deals. Another great option for more formal restaurants are gift certificates. You can also try advertising a discount through Groupon; this approach will get you lots of exposure, but you will have to pay for sales.
26. Local Outreach
Offer specials for people who live the closest to your restaurant, your neighbors. Connect with local organizations and support each other’s work! Local farmers, community-supported agriculture, non-profit organizations, etc. The farm-to-table movement has gotten progressively more popular in the last decade.
27. Show off Your Employees
Share some photos of your employees in action and add a funny comment! It’s good for your employees and your marketing efforts. Your employees will enjoy the relaxed environment that you create, and it shows your followers that your restaurant is a fun place to be.
28. Use Mobile Ads
Mobile ads are perfect for restaurants as users are often looking for a place to eat while on the move. They tend to be cheaper than regular ads, and AdWords gives you different kinds of mobile customization and targeting options that let you use your bids effectively. For example, you can increase your bids around breakfast or lunch when the users are looking for something to eat, something that you serve in your restaurant. This means your ad may be the first one to show up when people are looking for seafood.
29. Hold Contests
Run contests on your social media pages to gain user-generated content. You can run a photo contest on your Instagram page, it will get people to engage with your brand. Contests can have a great influence on customer loyalty and can keep the customers coming back to your page and your restaurant as well as give you a lot of exposure due to the engagement of your followers.
Not as popular as other social networks, but still a significant one for the restaurant business! Foursquare is leading the way when it comes to location-based social networks. It allows restaurants to offer different deals for free, and users have to check in if they want to acquire these deals. In addition, you can also announce local news about your restaurant location and more. Your users’ friends will be able to see where they are checking in and this activity might persuade them to visit your place.
That pretty much sums up all restaurant marketing tips needed to win your fierce competitors. Don't hesitate to implement them into your business & marketing plan starting from today! Just pick your best meals to show-off in the menu, add mouth-watering images to complement them and enjoy crafting your new restaurant website! Like you put love in every plate you serve, we put love in every template we customize to help your business grow! Enjoy your crafting!