If you own a restaurant, you will know that unless you have customers either coming in to eat or ordering take-aways and deliveries, if you offer such a service, then the chances of your business surviving are slim.
In most instances, the restaurant sector is extremely competitive, where you are not just competing against other local restauranteurs, but against some of the biggest brands on the planet if one of their franchises operates in your catchment area.
Assuming you already serve up awesome food, the customer service you offer is superb and your prices are competitive then you at least have three core pillars in place to be successful.
But, a house with just three out of four walls is still going to fall down, so you need that fourth element, which is customers, and the way to attract those customers is via your marketing.
Over the years, other than possibly car sales and real estate, the restaurant sector has probably seen more marketing ideas, fads, and gimmicks than any other business sector. We do not say that as a negative, and it certainly proves that those who market restaurants have imagination and drive.
Nevertheless, as with any other industry or business sector, often it is the tried and trusted methods, that have been proven to work over many years, that invariably are the ones that bring the most consistent results in terms of customer numbers.
Now, if you ask several experienced marketers or SEO agencies to outline the top online marketing ideas for restaurant owners, there are going to be a variety of answers.
However, within those answers, you will start to see some which appear again and again. And so, we will have a look at some of those online marketing ideas, and why they are so important to a restaurant’s profits.
3 Reasons Online Marketing Is So Important To Restaurants
Before we look at the online marketing ideas for restaurants, it will serve us well if we actually look at why they are important in the first place. With that in mind here are the three main reasons.
Online Marketing Costs Less Than Traditional Marketing
Now before anyone jumps up, we know that will be exceptions, and that many restaurants are able to use traditional marketing that doesn’t cost a fortune.
However, in the main, the ability to market yourself online, and in particular, the size of the audience you can reach compared to what you are spending, usually favours online marketing.
That is not to say that online marketing should be done on the cheap, but rather the return on any investment you make is likely to be higher in most cases.
Conversions Are Higher
Compare that to a billboard which basically has no targeting other than those driving past. Then it is purely random whether or not one of those passing happens to see the poster and then remembers it the next time they are thinking of eating out.
As you can probably surmise from those two quite different scenarios, the better targeting which online marketing provides means that conversions are going to be a lot higher than many offline marketing methods.
Your Customers Are Online
Next time you are walking along a busy street or sitting in the park, stop for second and look at all the people around you. It is certain than many of them will be staring at their mobile phone or another mobile device, and that will be the case in millions of streets, parks, offices, and homes.
The simple truth is that we now spend a large proportion of our time online, and therefore that is where you will find a vast proportion of your prospective customers. That means if you want them to become real customers, you need to have an online presence, which the online marketing ideas we are about to look at will achieve for you.
Online Marketing Ideas For Restaurants
So, we come to the online marketing ideas for restaurants, and one thing we must say is that we present them to you in no particular order. The reason is that each restaurant owner will have insights into their local market and therefore it may be idea #5 which appeals most, rather than the idea which we have at #1.
The point is it is up to you which of these ideas you choose to market your restaurant, but also bear in mind that most of them are going to require the services of a local marketing agency to plan and implement them. That means if you have the budget available you may even select more than one of them to maximise your results.
This is a marketing strategy that applies to just about every business sector, and for restaurants, it could allow you to dominate in your local area.
If your website is properly optimised for the sorts of search terms people enter when searching on Google for your kind of restaurant, you will be one of the first listings they see. That means they click through to your website more often, and, assuming it is a well-designed website, they either make a reservation, or place an order for delivery.
Getting all that extra traffic can make a huge impact on your profits, however, local SEO is not an overnight phenomenon. It needs proper planning, and a degree of patience as the SEO campaign gradually improves your rankings.
The most common form of paid advertising online is Pay Per Click (PPC) and it provides a restaurant with a very cost-effective way of laser targeting their advertising for specific search terms.
An example would be if you were a steak house located in Rockingham, the most common search for a restaurant like yours would be ‘steak house Rockingham’. You could certainly bid for that keyword in your PPC campaign, but as the competition is likely to be high, the bid will also need to be high.
Your strategy should also include research to find search terms which may not have as much competition, and thus do not cost as much to bid for. Examples could be ‘steak house near Rockingham’ or ‘steak house and grill in Rockingham’.
These might not get as many searches but, by comparison, what you will pay for your ad to appear and get clicks, will mean lots of cost-effective traffic visiting your website.
Social media is a marketing strategy that every restaurant should be using simply because if you do not, it is almost certain your competitors will be and they will benefit from it at your expense, in terms of greater customer numbers.
In terms of specifics, we could write an entire book, however, you need to research to see what platform your customers are likely to be on. Almost certainly you want to be using the main ones such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.
The great thing about most social media platforms is that a lot of the content is visual, so it gives you the opportunity to post images of your delicious dishes, and mouth-watering desserts, as well as making special promotional offers.
Another characteristic of social media is that people love to share post and comments and so if you have posted some amazing images, or if you have a customer who absolutely loves your food, they could start sharing those with their friends and followers.
This means your restaurant is being ‘advertised’ and recommended to people who may not otherwise have seen you online.
Email marketing is one of the oldest forms of online marketing, and it is also one of the most effective too. Once you have a customer’s email, you can communicate with them, not just to make offers and send promotions to them, but to build a relationship with them.
By sending them regular emails, you will always be in the forefront of their mind, when they are choosing where to have dinner, and if your promotions are appealing enough, they will almost certainly come back to your restaurant, time and time again.
The restaurant sector is one which relies heavily on review and recommendations, and so it is vital that you manage these effectively. First, you should be asking for reviews from your customers, and when they leave you a positive one online, always thank them for it, and show your appreciation.
If someone leaves a less than favourable review, do not ignore it…it will not go away if you do. Instead, reach out to the person who left it, and take full responsibility for the fact they do not enjoy their meal. Ask them what went wrong and make a pledge that you will do all you can to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
You will be amazed how many customers seeing that will actually look upon your restaurant more favourably, and even choose to visit, as they can see the owner is someone who genuinely cares about their customers. View our: SEO Case Studies
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