The restaurant business is cut-throat and it can be quite a challenge to attract and retain customers, especially for those who are new to the business. The profusion of various digital platforms requires brands to evaluate their digital marketing tactics and build a solid plan to position their business for success and growth.
The idea is to be present everywhere your customers are. Whether you're communicating with your customers through social media channels, emailing them with personalized promotions, or revisiting your organic SEO, or redesigning your website to improve customer experience, the first step is to ensure that you take out some time to understand your audience, their needs, and preferences. The better you know your audience and the more you'll be able to create a marketing plan that sets you up for long term growth. Once the foundation is laid, the 360-degree digital marketing approach creates, develops and implements integrated strategies, where everything is connected and measured for ROI.
The marketing team at Restolabs has assembled a brief guide on the essentials of digital marketing strategy that covers all the bases from an eagle-eye view. Let’s break it down.
Website Design & Content
Let’s begin with the basics. If you have a website that your customers use to place their food orders, then it is a must to ensure that the UI/UX (basically the design) of the website is user-friendly and easy to navigate. Your customers should not feel lost or agitated at any point of time while browsing the website. From the color theme to fonts and placement of menu, everything should be well thought out. Keep your customers at the center of your design and ensure that they are able to place the order is as few steps as possible. The average time to find the menu, browse and checkout should not be more than10 minutes.
In terms of content, since it’s a food ordering website that we are discussing here, whatever you write about your brand, would have a direct impact on the decision-making process of your customers. Focus on educating them about ingredients, packaging material (make sure it’s eco-friendly) and hygiene. Talk about the experience of the chefs behind the counter to connect with your audience. Being transparent helps build loyalty.
The evolution of social media and online reviews allows people to spread the word (positive or negative) about your restaurant. These have become an important marketing channel for all sorts of business, both online and offline. Your customers are using social media to seek recommendations and share their experiences. They love to buzz about what's new and trending. A spot-on social media and online PR strategy can put your restaurant on the map. The goals are simple: Create your own voice and let the world know that you exist!
So how do you do that? Start creating a buzz through local media outlets as early as possible and encourage your customers to share little notes about their experience on social media. The key to success is to always be engaged with your audience. Getting an immediate response for their reviews, a double tap on their insta feed or a retweet can encourage patrons to sing your words of praise. Recognize your regular customers and show them love with personalized deals (get a drink free with your next meal with us!) to ensure that they keep coming back and calling you out. In other words, focusing on levels of engagement rather than the size of the audience.
While keeping your customers engaged, don’t forget to take and post beautiful photos of your dishes. Visual content is easy to absorb and sells stuff. Great photos whet the appetite!
Damn, I need that Caramel Frappuccino!
By optimizing your website, you can help yourself to appear higher on popular search engines like Google, Yahoo, etc. The higher you rank, the more likely people will be to find you, and the more you can grow. But SEO needs time investment. The sooner you start, the better it will be. Your optimization strategy can take about 3-6 months to show results, which is why it is better to build and execute your strategy while the website is at its designing phase. Launching a website with built out meta titles and descriptions will ensure that you're already off to a good start.
Basically, SEO comprises of the following elements:
To start, every page on your website should have a title tag, meta descriptions, and keywords. For example, if you run an Asian restaurant, keywords like “Authentic Asian restaurant,” or “local Asian cuisine” should be included in all the three elements of your meta tags. Just don’t overuse keywords.
An increasing number of people are asking Google or Siri for dining suggestions. PPC can help you show up at the top of the page when local, hungry people type phrases like "Restaurants near me", "Asian Restaurant in Denver" etc. The majority of these customers don't click past the first page of results. Thus, PPC marketing or advertising is your best bet if you wish to beat the competition having a higher organic ranking. All you have to do is bid for the right set of keywords and because you only pay for actual clicks, the financial risk can be monitored and controlled as per the budget.
In order to target the right keywords, you can use keyword tools like Google Adwords and/or Ubersuggest. These websites provide tools that suggest a list of keywords based on the phrases, categories or the cuisine relevant to your restaurant.
Often targeting "warm audience" i.e people who have self-identified as interested in your promotions, email marketing tends to give 28.5% better ROI than any other form of advertisement. The key to effective email marketing is “segmentation” and “personalization”.
The first thing you should do is to build a mailing list. For online subscribers, you can use an optin form or place the “I agree to receive promotional emails” right on the website. You’ll also need to consider offline marketing to get email addresses of people who dine in at your restaurant. To do so, for instance, you can run a lucky draw, and ask people to participate by leaving their contact details and opting into your restaurant marketing emails.
In addition, the success of email marketing campaigns depends a lot on the subject line of the email. You’ll need to nail the email subject line to get people to open your emails. For example, Dinner is covered: $15 off if you order in the next 24 hours
A final word on restaurant marketing
Your restaurant serves amazing food every day, it's time to take out some extra time and invest in marketing strategies and techniques we’ve outlined above. For any strategy to work, you need to have a solid plan of action to maximize your return.
For more on this topic, check out the range of restaurant marketing articles here.