The marketing industry, like many industries, evolve every so often to different eras of social and technological advancement. Digital marketing in the restaurant industry is no exception. Whether you’re thinking about opening your first restaurant, or traffic has slowed down and you’re wondering why your competitor just opened his second location, use this digital marketing checklist as a guide and see what you’re doing to market your restaurant.
It’s a tough job managing the logistical and operations of any business – but it is important to never overlook your marketing strategy and budget and try to rely on word-of-mouth for your customers to come through your door.
- Your website should be responsive. Every time Google has an update to their search platform, there is always more and more preference to sites that are responsive designed. Websites that are mobile-friendly carry an advantage to those that are not responsive to different screens. Not every device has the same screen size, but it is possible to look good in all of them regardless.
- Ditch the PDF menu. Having a readable menu on your site helps your restaurant two ways: it helps by being crawled by search engine bots and indexed on search results whereas pdf menus cannot be indexed, as well as provide a user-friendly interface that can be navigated with ease and not be required to zoom in and out to read a simple item on your menu.
- Keep the PDF menu. Keep a link to download the menu, especially catering and takeout menus so that your client can print it out and have it on their refrigerator or office in handy for their next order.
- Homepage Essentials: Hours of Operation, Google Maps-linked Address, and an embedded Phone number so that your mobile website visitors can give you a call with one touch.
- Be seen where your customer is, and engage with them. Optimize your Facebook and Twitter, and show off your menu with a great photo on your restaurant’s Instagram page. #nofilter
- Consider Advertising. Facebook is more than a free platform for your restaurant. Yes, it IS free; however, Facebook’s business page algorithms change so often that it makes it harder to have an organic reach without investing money to boost your postings or promote your page. Facebook is a business, and given the over 1 billion users on Facebook, you essentially have to pay-to-play in order to get exposure and engagement on Facebook.
- Your industry is at an advantage because it is human nature to be hungry. We all have to eat, and illustrating your menu on video, either by cooking or showing what you have to offer on a visual level, people will more likely than not respond to your video as opposed to a photo. It’s not to say photography is bad, it’s necessary – but now you just need to implement video content too.
- Get your client’s information: name, email, birthdate just to name a few. Whether your customer is hungry or not when they get the email or not, it is vital to keep your customer engaged with your restaurant, but also to keep them updated on your latest specials, exclusive discounts for online subscribers, as well as special promotions for birthdays and anniversaries. Incentives such as a free appetizer or dessert are great to bring in new and existing customers, as well as promote cashflow.
- Where Your Customer Can Find You: People don’t just search on Google for a restaurant. A lot of people use Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google MyBusiness, Bing Places, FourSquared, YP, etc. The list goes on, but it’s important to be available in as many directories as possible for ultimate exposure. If you’re not listed, you can submit your listing. For a business that may already be established, you could already be listed so claim that listing and be on top of your current contact information, website, and be on top of reviews left by customers.
- Reviews: Your brand’s image and reputation does rely heavily on online reviews. People are brutal, your competition may sneak in a one-star to throw off your ratings score, and you can’t please everyone. Trying to avoid a one-star review is like trying to ignore or avoid death. Like death and taxes, a negative review is an inevitable reality, but staying on top of what your customers are saying, responding to them directly so as to offer anyone reading the review a second perspective, and reacting to complaints and fix them if the negative reviews seem to be about one thing in particular. Granted, if you have dozens of five-star reviews, more and more curious customers would more likely want to give your restaurant a shot given the positive feedback from other patrons.
So what’s the takeaway from this?
Digital Marketing your restaurant is a lot more than just having a website and a Facebook page and calling it a day. Digital marketing and social media engagement for your restaurant is crucial in markets such as the food service industry given the amount of your local competitors.
It may seem like a lot of information or difficult to implement given the other responsibilities that go with being a business owner such as day-to-day operations, inventory, and being on top of cashflow to cover overhead, operating costs, and payroll; however, it is essential you evaluate your online presence. Don’t just look at your restaurant – study the first restaurant that comes to mind that’s your biggest competition. Most likely they’re active on social media, have an updated website, advertise on platforms such as social media or search engines, and are reference by other websites such as blogs and news sites.
Go through this checklist and see if you’re doing everything you need to for your business to grow. This is not a definitive list, as there a lot more I didn’t cover. If I wrote everything, this would be a book, and I would definitely charge people to read THAT.