Are you a restaurant owner and struggling with your business? Are you hesitating about opening a restaurant and don’t know what to start with? You may be familiar with some digital marketing strategies, but it’s important to understand that not all of them are applicable to the restaurant industry; in fact, the majority aren’t.
This guide will help you learn how to achieve a successful Digital Marketing strategy for Restaurants in 2022 to effectively market your restaurant online by outlining the strategies that are most effective and explaining how they work and when they should be used.
Why is Digital Marketing Strategy a must for restaurants?
The business restaurant used to be more simple. Nowadays, it is too risky. Although traditional advertising methods such as flyers, direct mail, and radio ads are still viable, the world has shifted online. A lack of an online presence could be as detrimental as shutting down. Here’s how business survival rates for restaurants stack up:
- About 85% of food service businesses survive their first year in business.
- About 70% of food service businesses survive their second year in business.
- About 50% of food service businesses survive their fifth year in business.
- About 35% of food service businesses survive their tenth year in business.
Where to start to prepare for your digital marketing strategy for your restaurant?
Before you start actually writing the marketing plan, there are three
things you need to do:
1. Competitor Analysis:
A successful digital marketing strategy for restaurants needs to incorporate a number of different techniques in order to be effective. The first step is competitor analysis. Who are your competitors? What sort of online presence do they have? Are they using any online marketing techniques that you’re not currently using? If so, it might be worth adding those strategies into your overall marketing plan and seeing how it works for you.
2. SWOT Analysis:
A SWOT analysis is an assessment of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Before you can effectively market your restaurant online or offline you need to know what your strengths and weaknesses are, what kind of opportunities exist that you could take advantage of, and what threats may negatively impact your ability to build a successful business. What do you see as your restaurant’s top strengths? Think about factors like location, price point, reputation etc. What do you see as some of your weaknesses? Look at any form of publicly visible feedback from customers; what do you like about it? What areas need improvement? Having a full perspective of your situation will help when creating goals for improvement.
3. Restaurant vision, goals, and target audience:
Before you can even begin thinking about how you’re going to market your restaurant online, you need to sit down and define exactly who your target market is. This will help you with every other part of digital marketing because it forces you to think through what kind of person or people want what you have. Dig deeper into defining who exactly makes up your ideal customer. Is your restaurant more family oriented? Are targeting more couples or businessmen/women? etc.
Decide what success means for your restaurant. The first step in a digital marketing strategy is to understand exactly what you want your business to achieve, whether it’s gaining new customers or improving conversions. Setting SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound) will help you stay focused and accountable.
Start by asking yourself: What do I want my online presence and marketing strategy to accomplish? How will it make a difference in our business? And how will I measure its success? Is there anything else that might distract me from my goals as an entrepreneur/manager? Be honest with yourself – what other challenges do you have on your plate right now that could be getting in the way of making progress on your digital marketing goals?
It is absolutely critical that you understand who your customer base is, how to reach them (and what channels you should use) and who exactly those customers are. For example, if you’re a pizza place, do your current customer base match up with where most of your online customers come from? If not, consider marketing in areas that will allow you to reach new customer bases.
How To Achieve A Successful Digital Marketing Strategy For Restaurants In 2022?
1. Perfect Your Website
If you don’t have a website, you don’t exist.
Your website is your digital business card and brochure because new customers will look up your site and use this to judge your business and decide whether to buy your product. It is also a way to generate new leads, as new customers can discover your business through online search engines if you have great SEO.
Create Quality Website Content
Having a good website can be like having an advertisement in your customer’s pockets at all times. Make sure you design your site well and make sure that it doesn’t have any glitches as they will turn customers away. It is important that you provide relevant information such as hours of operation, contact information, menu items etc. This will allow customers to get in touch with you quickly if need be and learn more about what you offer from home on their own time.
Most importantly, make sure your website looks clean and professional so that customers don’t think less of your establishment because of its appearance online. Then go through your website page by page with a fine-toothed comb. Think about what words are used in your niche and add those terms throughout your site. If there is not already mention of popular food items or beverages at least somewhere on your site, add them. Don’t just say they are available; tell people what they are, what they taste like and how much they cost.
Ensure mobile-friendly website
In 2015, Google announced that it would now take mobile usability into account when determining search rankings. What does this mean for you? If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, you could be missing out on thousands of potential customers—each and every month. Additionally, make sure your site loads quickly; otherwise, customers will get frustrated and leave.
2. Content Marketing
One of, if not THE, most successful forms of digital marketing is content marketing. Content marketing is essentially creating and distributing content that your audience will find valuable.
The key is to understand where your audience is, and to focus on the social media platforms they are using. By focusing your marketing energy on sharing content where your customers already are, you can get the largest social media ROI.
Content marketing builds trust and shares valuable information about topics relevant to your restaurant’s community of patrons. By creating an effective content that appeals to your target audience—content such as blogs, infographics and videos, you can provide value to your customers and build a successful digital marketing strategy for restaurants with limited time and resources.
Be Active on Social Media
If you’re not active on social media, then you might as well be invisible. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, your restaurant needs to have a presence online. With so many new restaurants coming into business every day, standing out on social media is essential if you want people to come in and see what you have. And while getting people inside is important, so is building an email list of regular customers.
In fact, smart businesses will create an email list and give users special offers that they can only access by signing up online. If you’re struggling with social media marketing or just looking for a good tool to help get started quickly — Hootsuite has got your back!
Use Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing is quickly becoming one of the best ways for restaurants and food brands to reach their audience and boost sales. This is one of many strategies that can help you get new diners in your restaurant. To start, reach out to food bloggers, Instagrammers and other food-related influencers in your area. Once you’ve established a relationship with them (i.e., they’re writing/posting about your restaurant), they can connect you with their followers and help expand your reach quickly.
Another option is a unique social media campaign like Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) which allows guests and potential diners to share their views, feedback, questions and concerns regarding your restaurant through social media platforms.
3. Focus on Local SEO
You can’t expect customers to find you on social media if your website isn’t optimized for search engines or vice versa. If you own a restaurant, local SEO is extremely important. Make sure all of your online listings (i.e., Yelp, Zagat, Google Places) are consistent with one another and reflect accurate information about your business. Keep updating these listings over time as well so customers always know what’s new with your establishment. Also, if possible, consider installing Google Analytics on your website so you can track customer traffic coming from these sources—and ensure that they’re converting into paying customers at an adequate rate.
Maintain accurate Google My Business profile
Having an accurate Google My Business (GMB) profile will give your business a credibility boost and help it stand out from its competitors. This will help you rank higher in search engines like Google, especially when you have multiple locations or if your company name changes. Creating, optimizing and managing your GMB profile can be a simple process that takes only a few minutes each week.
However, some businesses still aren’t getting it right and are losing out on potential customers because of it. Update information like hours of operation and address information as soon as possible if any of these details change. It’s also worth checking in with your business category, making sure that your restaurant is listed under Food & Drink—Restaurants.
4. Access to Customer Feedback
The Internet is a double-edged sword for small businesses—while it provides customers with easy access to customer feedback, it also puts them right next to your competitors. With just a few clicks, customers can rate and review your business on multiple platforms and share their opinions with millions of other potential buyers around the world. Make sure you are listening so you can quickly address any problems before they get out of hand.
Monitor Ratings and Review Websites
Sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zagat and others can really affect your business by either bringing in new customers or driving away old ones. Be sure to keep an eye on these sites for any reviews that could hurt your business. If you see a negative review that is factually incorrect, don’t hesitate to reach out and correct it. Also make sure you have a good handle on what people are saying about your restaurant online before reading their comments — many times if they have nothing nice to say, they won’t post anything at all! Monitor what people are saying about you on social media as well — even though you may not be able to respond directly on Facebook or Twitter, do read through what your customers are saying.
If people leave negative comments or complaints on social media channels like Facebook or Twitter, try responding publicly with an offer for something free or ask them to contact you directly via email or phone so that you can resolve it quickly. If someone mentions positively, mention them in response and thank them, then use their name when addressing subsequent posts from others who may not know about the best review already posted about your restaurant yet. This will show others posting after them where else they should go next if they want great service too!
Take Advantage of Online Reviews
If your restaurant has a Facebook page, ask people if they’ve recently had a meal there. If yes, ask them if they’d be willing to leave an online review. Encourage customers to give you feedback on what went well and areas for improvement. Use those reviews as testimonials on your website or Facebook page. In some cases, you can use photos of patrons in their restaurant experience if you obtain their permission beforehand and tag them. Make sure their testimonial is genuine and consistent with your brand values.
Make sure you read online reviews of other businesses in your industry; not only will you learn more about how people think about various services, but also some other successful business owners might provide ideas for digital marketing ideas that could work for your own company as well!
5. Enable mobile ordering and delivery
The integration of digital ordering platforms can enhance a restaurant’s capacity by cutting down wait times for customers. Mobile ordering also empowers guests with more control over their dining experience—they can order what they want and when they want it, which can have a positive impact on in-store spending as well. In addition, restaurants that offer mobile delivery services are perceived as being more accessible and convenient than those that don’t. The global restaurants and mobile food services market is expected to grow from $2,672.94 billion in 2021 to $2,958.31 billion in 2022 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.7%. For many restaurateurs, embracing online ordering through digital channels has proven to be both cost-effective and easily achievable.
6. Offer Loyalty Programs
In a highly competitive industry like food and dining, building a strong loyalty program is essential. It’s no surprise that most people expect some sort of reward when they become regular customers at any business. Giving them an incentive will ensure your customers will continue to be loyal and help drive repeat traffic. Loyalty programs are also a great way for you, as an owner or manager, to get direct feedback from your customers through surveys or social media—so you can learn what changes need to be made in order for them to leave happy and with larger tips than usual.
7. Keep Online Engagement High Using The Ads
Targeted Ads and Online Campaigns
Creating and managing Facebook ads is a cost-effective way for restaurants to generate business. It allows you to reach more people who are genuinely interested in your brand and products, meaning you won’t have to worry about wasting money on ads that don’t really resonate with your audience. You can reach customers based on demographics like age, location and gender or target them by what they do or don’t like—so, for example, if they love wine but despise beer you can show them ads for a certain type of wine rather than an ad for beer in general.
Google PPC ads are displayed alongside relevant search results and allow you to target customers based on their location, demographics, and search terms they used. Unlike SEO, which gets your website indexed by Google over time, PPC advertising requires a substantial investment in order to get your business seen as quickly as possible.
Find nearby customers with location-specific ads
Targeting by location helps you connect with customers who are familiar with your brand and are more likely to respond. You can also run geo-targeted ads across multiple platforms for better reach and effectiveness. Restaurants that do great work on Google My Business have found success using Place Pages as an organic marketing channel to draw in both old and new customers.
8. Be involved in your community
Offer Regular Discounts
It’s a common marketing tactic, but offering regular discounts like happy hour specials and two-for-one offers are a great way to draw in local customers. You can create simple email campaigns using inexpensive tools like MailChimp or Hootsuite that offer deals at certain times of a day or during special occasions (e.g., Mother’s Day). Your goal is not to make money from discounts; rather, it’s to increase awareness and traffic while turning website visitors into loyal guests who come back again and again.
Host Special Events
By hosting special events at your restaurant, you can build a steady stream of repeat customers. The more people that know about your place, and that have an interest in coming out there to eat, drink and be merry, will actually generate a lot of new business for you. Special events are also great for attracting new customers and people who aren’t already loyal patrons.
Whatever types of special events you decide to host such as celebrating holidays or having an annual food festival, be sure that they correspond with some aspect of your branding message so that guests will associate them with your brand and come back for more later.
Network With Other Local Businesses
One of your best sources for new customers is other businesses in your area. Getting involved with local business networking events and partnering with others can help you connect and learn from a wider range of people, which will lead to more exposure for your business. he more people you meet, network with and cultivate relationships with, your client base will naturally grow. In addition, you never know when connections you make today could lead to bigger opportunities tomorrow—networking is all about creating relationships. To succeed in business, that’s a must.
However, don’t just go around saying business networking events are great! It’s important to be active and engaged with other business owners and have a purpose when you attend these events; network because you have something valuable to offer others at that time, not just because it’s fun or trendy. T
You can have your own unique style of cooking and serving, but without being able to effectively market your business, it will be incredibly difficult for you to build a profitable establishment that people love. Thankfully, there are plenty of excellent resources online about how restaurants can effectively use digital marketing strategy in order to succeed. By using these suggestions as a guideline for developing your own strategies, you should find it easy to promote your restaurant—and be able to reap all of those benefits that result from successful marketing strategies.
Restaurant marketing strategies are complex and ever-changing, but using creative strategies, informed by data about your restaurant customers and operations, can help your restaurant marketing drive new revenue.
About the Author:
Oumaima Kisra MBA – Digital Marketing and Marketing Specialist
Oumaima Kisra is an Engineer who has been passionately working as a Digital Marketing and Marketing Specialist for almost 6 years now. She is currently working for www.IIDM.WORLD.