Restaurant marketing is an art and a science. You have to know your audience, where they are, and what appeals to them. While traditional forms of marketing are still an essential part of any successful restaurant marketing strategy, online marketing is becoming increasingly crucial for the restaurant industry.
Your customers are searching for your business online, but can they find you? With the right digital marketing strategy, you can expand your customer reach and grow your restaurant in 2020 and beyond. Here are six strategies to get you started.
1. Invest in and Optimize Your Website
Think of your website as your restaurant’s digital storefront. In today’s digital, connected world, every business – including restaurants – should have a search-engine-optimized, speedy, and mobile-friendly website.
- 93% of people’s online experiences start with a search engine.
- 80% of consumers have searched restaurants on their smartphones.
- 57% of guests view restaurant websites before deciding where to dine.
- Bounce rates (number of people that leave your site) increase by 50% if your website takes more than 2 seconds extra to load.
With most consumers using their smartphones to find local businesses, restaurants must invest in speedy websites that look great and work well on mobile devices. Optimizing your site for search engines will improve your visibility online and increase traffic.
Here are some tips for restaurant website optimization:
- Please include your address, and make sure that it’s easily visible on your homepage.
- Create a page for your restaurant’s menu. Customers want to see what you offer before they visit your establishment.
- Include customer testimonials and reviews.
- When creating pages for your website, use targeted keywords when generating URLs—for example, www.myrestaurant.com/burgers.
- Include photos of your restaurant’s interior.
- Make sure that online orders or reservations are easy to find and use.
- Focus on Local Search Engine Optimization
As part of the search engine optimization (SEO) process, you want to put a greater focus on local users. After all, your customer base is local.
If you perform a quick search for “restaurants near me” on Google, you’ll find a list of establishments close to your location. These results stand out from the rest of the search listings, and they provide searchers with easy access to relevant information, like the restaurants:
- Phone number
- Call now button
- Link to website
The goal is to have your restaurant appear in this prominent section of listings. To do this, you will need first to add your business to Google My Business and focus on getting reviews for your restaurant on Google and other review platforms (more on that soon).
Why is local search so important?
- 72% of consumers that perform a local search visit an establishment within 5 miles of their location.
- 86% of users use Google Maps to look up business locations.
Reviews play an important role in digital marketing because they give your restaurant credibility. They also have significant sway over whether a customer steps foot in your restaurant.
- 94% of diners choose restaurants based on online reviews.
- 4% of customers say the overall rating is the most critical factor when choosing a restaurant.
There are many ways to encourage your diners to leave a review. All you have to do is ask. The trick is to make it as easy as possible for your guests to leave their feedback.
- Add links on your website and social profiles to review platforms, like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Google.
- If you have an app, add links to your review pages.
It’s important to remember that diners trust online reviews just as much as they trust personal recommendations. Making an effort to gain more reviews will help with your digital marketing efforts and results.
Be Active on Social Media
Think social media isn’t necessary? Think again.
- 72% of customers have used Facebook to make a restaurant or retail decision based on comments and images shared by users.
- 42% of diners have interacted with restaurants on at least one social media platform.
Facebook and Instagram are the most popular social platforms for restaurants.
Because of its visual nature, Instagram is a perfect fit for restaurants. Sharing appealing photos of your food and restaurant interior will leave your followers salivating and more likely to drop in for a meal.
Facebook makes it easy to connect with diners. Once you’ve created your Facebook page, customers can ask questions, leave reviews, and more. You can also create content or post photos that your followers will share.
Social media is a cost-effective way to market your restaurant online. It’s free to create an account and to start building your following. Content will be your most significant investment. Invest in high quality, professional photos, and videos to put your best image forward.
Launch an Email Marketing Campaign
Email marketing is still an effective digital marketing strategy because it:
- Attracts new customers
- Shows appreciation for existing customers
- Encourages repeat business
Restaurants can use email marketing to nurture customer relationships, promote exclusive deals, and even invite subscribers to special events.
For email marketing to be a success, you need:
- Customers to sign up for your newsletter (or a mailing list). Sign up is typically accomplished by creating an online form on your website or an appealing pop-up.
- Offer incentives to sign up. Maybe you offer coupons or free meals for birthdays. Other appealing incentives include exclusive subscriber discounts and promotions, or invitations to special events.
Offer Online Ordering
Consumers want the option of ordering online when dining at their favorite restaurants.
- 60% of American consumers order takeout or delivery at least once per week.
- 34% of consumers who order online spend at least $50 on their orders.
- Since 2014, digital ordering has grown 300% faster than dine-in traffic.
Offering online ordering will give your customers what they want, and you can promote this service in online advertisements, on social media, and your review pages.
Digital marketing is crucial for the restaurant industry. Today’s consumers use their smartphones and search engines to find restaurants and to make their dining decisions. If they can’t find your establishment, you will be losing out on valuable business.