In the restaurant industry competition is fierce. Find out how you can get ahead by taking your restaurant marketing online.
The days when we looked up the restaurant in a massive phone book are gone. Today, the internet is our source to find a place for a quick lunch, coffee shop to work, or a restaurant for a family dinner. Digital media has changed the rules of restaurant marketing. And as an owner, you need to keep up the pace. Don't spend your money on print or radio advertisement.
Yes, it might be helpful, but it surely is not enough.You need to have an online presence. This is where your customers are.
Your restaurant might be in a perfect spot, but as potential customers can't find you online, they might never visit. 60 percent of consumers read the reviews of the restaurant or a cafe. And 84 percent trust them as much as a personal recommendation. To drive more clients to your business, you need to have a good restaurant marketing plan. And to develop one, read on! We will explain everything you need to know.
Model Others in Restaurant Marketing
The online marketing world is vast, with new techniques and tools coming out each day. It can be overwhelming and scary. Before you jump-start your restaurant marketing plan, do your homework and look at what others are doing. Look at those who are getting big numbers and dig deep to understand their strategy.
You can do something similar, but don't copy!
Marketing is all about the triggering emotions. Think about what they are doing in their campaigns to trigger emotions. Then come up with the ideas. What emotions do you want to trigger in your customers, and what would be a good way of doing it? People like call-to-action posts. Move beyond the hunger emotion and create something different. Don't post the same boring posts of your lunch features. Customers will not notice you!
Social Media is Your Best Friend
Once you get the idea of your restaurant marketing plan, start with social media networks. 8 out of 10 small businesses use social media networks to drive growth.
Google has some products that help restaurant owners run a business online. Besides being present on Google Maps and having a profile at Google+, the most valuable tool for any restaurant is Google Business. It is a time saver and here is why.
Enter the information, and it will transfer that info to all Google's services. It connects you with clients no matter if they are looking for you in search, Maps or Google+.
Don't forget to keep this data up to date. Consumers would like to know if you changed the working hours, relocated or have a different phone number for table bookings. Once you get the hang of it, you can create your YouTube channel to diversify the content and engage more with your customers.
When creating a page don't forget the fundamentals. Use the proper category (local business and restaurant) to have check-ins and menu enabled on the page. The Pages today have different features you can take advantage of. The posts are not boring anymore. You share several photos without creating an album or share a photo slideshow, create an event or a special offer for your followers.
If you have a subscriber list and send email notifications to your customers, Facebook Pages gives you a possibility to grow your list by creating a Sign-Up button. The live broadcast is getting more and more popular. Show your customers the process, engage and make them feel included.
Another great feature is the reviews others can post on your page. Enable it from the settings menu. Let's face it! We all look at those reviews, especially when it comes to choosing a place to dine. Good reviews will bring more customers into the restaurant. After setting up the page, you need to grow your audience and followers. You can build followers manually by inviting your Facebook friends, but it's very time-consuming.
One of the ways you can gain followers is by promoting your page or a particular post. Target these campaigns towards your audience, their interests, and location.
Instagram is all about the pictures, and the engagement here is even higher than on Facebook.
Since Facebook owns it, you can integrate ad campaigns on both mediums. Or you can do that separately with user generated hashtag campaigns on Instagram. Remember that photos on Instagram should be well composed and engaging. For the beginning, hire a food photographer to take the best pictures of your frequently ordered meal.
Meanwhile, try to perfect your photography skills by taking pictures of the interior, drinks or the bar. Play with the filters and once you like the outcome post it with relevant hashtags. Then observe, learn from your mistakes and relaunch your restaurant marketing plan for Instagram.
What Content You Should Post
Now you know which platforms to concentrate on in your restaurant marketing plan. It's time to understand what type of content you should and shouldn't post.
Words are powerful. But as time has changed simple plain text is boring and drives less engagement. If you still want to have a text announcement on your Facebook Page, try to make it short, ideally 35 characters or even less.
Pictures are very powerful to drive the engagement towards your platform. The right picture that reinforces the message is worth a thousand words. Make sure those images trigger or show emotion. Pictures of your meals are good, but as mentioned above it needs to look professional and well composed.
One of the best images you can post is your guests having fun in your restaurant. Everyone appreciates a sneak peak of the backstage. Take your audience behind the scenes and show them your chef and culinary team in action.
Images and Text
Pictures with text is another way to enhance your restaurant marketing.
Place text over the photos. It can be a congratulatory text of an anniversary, birthday, mother's day or valentine's day to name a few. On regular days, when you decide to post a picture of your specials, add a name of it.
If you have not heard of GIFs, they are pictures that move. And can sometimes bring more engagement than photos. Even if you are hesitant to use it, the fact is that Millennials love them. 55% of our communication is nonverbal. And GIFs help us with it. Add a GIF showing the excitement along the text of your new item on the menu. You have the emotion behind the words.
It has not been easier to record a video than it is now. We all own a smartphone, and all we need to do is push two buttons: record and share.
A video is a perfect tool to play against big chain restaurants. If you dare enough to create a creative video for your establishment, it has a chance to go viral. Examples can be your chef shopping at local farmer's market or a couple getting engaged at your business. Restaurants don't use videos to share their message. Take advantage of it to make your business stand out of the crowd.
Read the Review Websites
We can not stress it more how important the reviews are for your business. It should be one of the primary focus in your restaurant marketing. 25 percent of people are likely to rely on their peers' reviews rather than to professional critics.
Outside of Facebook Page and Google+, your customers will review your business on TripAdvisor, Yelp, and Foursquare to name a few. Monitor the sites to know what they like or dislike, claim the listings, and keep them updated. If you find a bad review, deal with it professionally. Remember that everyone looking at the reviews will see your reply.
Set up the Website
Unlike social media platforms, the site gives you more flexibility. You can create the website yourself or ask an agency to do it for you.
Having a website helps target those current customers that come directly to your site. It also plays a critical role in coming up in the search. The website should contain beautiful pictures, exceptional content, updated menu, location, should be search optimized and mobile responsive. But if you already have one here are some steps to improve it .
If you think that you can't afford a website, there are tons of website building platforms or ready-made themes. And there is a secret for affordable website designs. Having an online booking engine and menu displayed on your site is an excellent way to ease the consumers' experience. 86 percent of diners check out menus online before dining out. Unfortunately, this is not all you should focus on your restaurant marketing.
The Internet is full of different tools and platforms you can integrate and play around to see what works best for you. But if you don't know where to start, we have created a post of some tools your business will need for online marketing strategy.