By Bilal Hoosen.
With an increase in Muslim tourism and the overall awareness amongst Muslims in ensuring that everything that is digested is halaal, the potential for halal food outlets has risen abundantly.
Halal refers to what is permissible or lawful according to Shariah or Islamic law. It is frequently applied to food and drinks.
The COVID pandemic has had a colossal impact on the travel sector. Muslim travels dropped to 42 million in 2020 from an all-time high of an estimated 160 million in 2019. As the recovery journey starts, the website, NetSuite projects that the Muslim travel market will return to the 2019 levels by 2023.
Halaal food outlets must redefine their digital marketing strategy to ensure that the business is at the forefront of its competitors.
To maximize the results from any digital marketing efforts, it is important to carry out thorough market research. This is done by defining the target audience.
The target audience is a specific set of people who would be interested in what you have to offer, targeting them will give better results than targeting everyone.
The next step is to find this target audience. This is so that you know what digital marketing channels you can use to reach them.
it is also essential to define the long and short term goals of the business.
Finding your target audience
The target audience is those that would be interested in finding halal food that they may trust to ingest. The audience may not only be Muslims but may also be individuals that are looking for Indian, Pakistani, Afghani, or food from Muslim countries.
It is important to define the target audience from the onset of the marketing strategy so that money is not wasted placing the food in front of people that are not interested in halal food.
How do you find your target audience?
Create a buyer persona
A buyer’s persona is all the information about your target audience, this includes but is not limited to age, religion, gender, behavior, etc.
For halaal food outlets, the buyer persona may include individuals who are religiously cautious in the food that they eat. This will differ depending on the style of food that is specialized in.
If the outlet is focused on healthy eating the buyer persona would target individuals that are focused on their health and specific to this blog, those Muslims that are health-conscious looking for halal food.
The idea is to showcase your food outlet or restaurant to the correct audience that will be willing to spend money in return for good halal food. The food must be to a standard that would be expected from non-halal competitors.
Customer research is essential in gaining valuable information about the customer and hence assisting in creating a buyer persona. This can be done in several ways. Examples are listed below:
- Use Google Analytics- if the food outlet has a website google analytics may be connected to the web page and used to gather the information.
- Social media insight pages- the outlet’s social media insights pages may also be used
For halaal food outlets, remember the pain point is to provide the customer with food quality that is equivalent to or superior to the non-halaal options. Use social media groups and websites such as Reddit to find what the potential customer is complaining about. To use this is to provide an edge over competitors.
Use the information collected to create the buyer persona.
Where to find the target audience?
For food-based businesses, social media is a great platform for targeting your customer. Different social media platforms target different audiences.
The first step is to look at similar restaurants in your niche that are non-halal and then analyze their social media platforms.
An example would be if the restaurant specializes in fine dining middle-eastern cuisine. Look at the other fine dining restaurants with a similar style as this on google and analyze all their social media platforms.
According to Upmenu, these are 5 social media platforms that help increase restaurant sales:
Facebook is the biggest restaurant social media potential appinstitute has outlined 10 effective strategies for restaurants.
- Optimize your Facebook profile
- Get customer reviews
- Use Facebook ads
- Sell products through Facebook
- Include a call to actions
- Experiment with different types of post
- Interact with your community
- Experiment with stories
- Drive traffic to other online platforms such as a website.
According to restaurantengine, YouTube by itself is a fantastic social channel, providing an area for viewers to comment on your videos potentially allowing you to interact with your prospects and customers.
Using video to help promote your restaurant should bring an air of personality and interaction to your business. With this in mind, ‘behind-the-scenes’ videos of your kitchen preparing a meal, or your chef cooking his or her favourite dish, will resonate with customers and help you stand out amid the competition.
Restaurantengine has outlined 5 strategies to market your halvah food outlet on Twitter
- Use twitter specific promotions- reward your current followers and incentivize new ones with Twitter-specific promotions.
- Tailor your tweets- include a link to your restaurant website or blog in each tweet.
- Make good use of hashtags- Promoting a new menu item or special event? Create a unique hashtag that your followers, and those who might be searching for you, can find easily
- Improve User Experience with Twitter Cards- Twitter Cards let you take your tweets beyond basic text. When you use Twitter cards, you can attach photos, videos, and rich media to Tweets that drive traffic to your restaurant’s website.
- Host a Twitter Chat- You’ll interact publicly with your followers and promote your restaurant with a Twitter Chat.
Hopperhq.com has outlined a few marketing strategies.
- Create restaurant hashtags (https://www.hopperhq.com/blog/instagram-hashtags-guide/)-Keep a hashtag in your bio which tells customers what to tag when they post Instagram photos at your restaurant! Ensure to include #halaalfood and similar hashtags.
- Stick to a feed colours palette -Maybe it’s the colour of your walls, or the surface of your tables, or a range of bright dishes — whatever you choose as your main content focus, try and stick to a consistent colour palette
- Create a story highlight- when your profile displays on someone’s feed, ensure you have a compelling story to keep them entertained.
- Create a memorable and unique brand symbol
- Partner with influencers and food bloggers- with the increased amount of Muslim influencers and bloggers, there is a greater opportunity to tap into this strategy.
- Create great photography.
Webfx.com has listed a few ideas to use Pinterest to win customers. These can extend to the halaal industry.
- Upload pictures of the best dishes.
- Upload pictures of the restaurant.
- Start numerous boards.
- Visit other Pinterest accounts
- Keep Pinterest up to date
- Host a contest on Pinterest.
- Support the community and talk about it.
- Create a board dedicated to the waitstaff, cooks, and crew.
- Start a blog board
- Scope out the competition.
Although tik tok has not been named in the list by Upmenu.com, it has in recent years become a great social media platform to advertise and go viral to people interested in halal food.
backofhouse.io has listed 6 TikTok Tips for Promoting Your Restaurant in Video.
1. Give a TikTok tour of your restaurant and introduce your staff
2. Debut new items or specials on TikTok
3. Tap into your customers’ finest moments
4. Show off what makes your kitchen or your process unique
5. Tap into TikTok influencers or themed accounts
6. Teach your TikTok audience a recipe or technique
Define your goals
This can be divided between long-term and short-term goals. Below are some of the examples of setting both short term and long term goals
Short term goals
- Complete the digital marketing strategy.
- Obtain a halaal certification from a reputable halaal authority.
- Host popular niche events to increase the awareness of your brand by 40%
Long term goals
- Use influencer marketing to increase bookings by 30% in 5 months.
- Introduce unique dishes that would distinguish the food outlet from competitors.
Every food outlet would have unique short and long-term goals.
Create a website for your Halaal food business
Since the COVID pandemic, many people have become comfortable with the idea of ordering their favourite foods online. There is nothing worse than having a restaurant business but having a poor online ordering system.
A beautiful efficient website is hence essential for your Halaal food outlet or any food outlet.
Business.com has listed some guidelines in creating a stunning website for your halaal restaurant.
- Purchase hosting and install WordPress. See the link on the procedure to create a WordPress website in 5 easy steps. (https://www.bluehost.com/resources/how-create-wordpress-website-5-quick-steps/).
- Pick a beautiful restaurant theme for your website. These are examples of restaurant templates that can be downloaded.
Auberge theme (https://www.webmandesign.eu/portfolio/auberge-wordpress-theme/)
Gourmet theme (https://ordasoft.com/gourmet-wordpress-restaurant-theme)
- Add an online menu- some web pages have downloadable documents for their menus. This is not user-friendly. You should use a plugin like Restaurant Menu by MotoPress through WordPress.
- Create an online reservation form- The Restaurant Reservations plugin for WordPress is free, easy to install, and allows you to quickly confirm or reject reservations, send out custom email notifications and automatically block reservations when you’re closed
- Keep the website updated.
Listed below are some additional aspects to consider when setting up your website.
- The website must display the halaal status of the restaurant. There must be a certificate with the contact details of a halaal authority.
- The website should also display reviews by well-known Muslim influencers that will indicate to your potential customer the trustworthiness of your halaal status.
- Design a responsive website that is compatible with viewing on various devices such as mobile phones and tablets. It is unlike that a person will log into their PC to place an order but instead use their mobile device.
Search engine optimization for your restaurant
Keyword research is about understanding what your customer is searching for and creating content for that keyword and then optimizing the content to rank higher on a search engine.
In this case, your customer may use keywords such as “halaal middle-eastern cuisine”. It is then your responsibility to create content so that if you have a halaal restaurant specializing in middle-eastern cuisine, your website will be displayed higher on the search engine.
Content creation for SEO
The goal is to create content that would resonate with the targeted audience. The contents should be a means of nurturing a relationship with the audience. In this case, showing the customer that if they are looking for a halaal alternative to good cuisine, your restaurant or food outlet would be their best option.
The content should focus on the keywords that would be used by the targeted audience.
- Optimize links (URL and internal links)- the website may link popular halaal blogs as this will assist with the SEO.
- Optimize title and tags.
- Optimize the text
Speed up your website
The website must be optimized for speed so that it will be ranked higher in the search engine.
Google my business
Google My Business is a free and easy-to-use platform for companies and organizations to control their online presence through Google, including Search and Maps. You can review your company and edit your business details to help customers find your business and tell them your story.
blog.trycake.com has listing steps that can be made to optimize your restaurants Google my Business Listing
- Add your business description and what makes it unique. It must give the message that it is halaal certified.
- Use the reservation and ordering feature. The reservation feature allows you to include a booking link in your profile.
- Use the menu feature as 93% of people look at online menus.
- add visual interest to your listing in the form of photos and videos.
- Share announcement about your restaurant as google post
- The Q&A section on your Google My Business listing is where any user can post a question about your restaurant. With this feature, anyone can also post answers in response. So, it would be best if you closely watched this section to provide fast and accurate responses.
- Once you have your listing created, you’ll get a dashboard with invaluable data on your customer’s activity. Use this to understand how your customers interact with your business.
Use analytics tools
In the previous sections, several digital marketing strategies were outlined that halaal food outlets must use to enhance their business and provide an edge over competitor companies. Analytics tools must be used to investigate how the company’s digital marketing strategies have performed and which strategy performed the best in providing the highest return on investment (ROI).
Digital analytics in the marketing context refers to the tools used to analyze and report on marketing data collected through the digital channels on which your brand holds a presence. These channels might include social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or google analytics. They might also include your display or search ads, email, affiliate marketing sites, or many others.
it is important to understand that creating a digital marketing strategy for your halaal food outlet is imperative as all businesses are going digital.
If you research competitor restaurants in the non halaal sphere, you will quickly realize that they are making all efforts to promote their food and business digitally.
So tailor your halaal food outlet with your specific long and short terms goals. Carry out thorough market research. Create content and social media. Create an amazing responsive website and always analyze your data.
About the Author
Bilal Hoosen is an intern at the International Institute of Digital Marketing ™. He is a Civil Engineer by profession and lives in South Africa.