Online marketing ideas for restaurants
An online existence, for any business, starts with online searches. There is endless scope for creativity, as far as online marketing strategies for restaurants is concerned.
Top every search queries: 72% of all online searches consist of the searches for local business. It can be a Google search, or a local business directory search or a social media search. Be sure your restaurant tops in every searches for all the related keywords. Let’s simply with an example.
We ran a search with “Best Italian restaurant in Houston” on Google. Let’s see what we got.
We got ads, local map listing (This will not appear if we would not include a location name in the search query), a few local directories including TripAdviser.com and a couple of blogs.
Chances are that the 100% of the potential customers would choose one restaurant from the first page. While half of the people would select one from the highlighted areas. Your restaurant needs to be there.
Now, you must have realized that there are two types of search results. One, organic and two, paid.
Let’s have examples of three NYC restaurants with different search engine marketing strategy. These three restaurants come under one category and thus it’s easy to compare their strategy.
First, Baja Fresh:
Baja Fresh’s estimated monthly visitor count is 90k. Let’s look at their search traffic.
Baja Fresh gets 77.72% traffic from search queries, which consists of 99.88% organic searches. So, it’s evident that Baja Fresh is concentrating more on organic searches while very little on paid searches.
Next up is, McDonalds:
McDonalds’ estimated monthly visitor count is 4.8 million.
92.21% of their total searches come organically while only 7.79% come from paid search. McDonalds is paying equal attention to both ways of search engine marketing, considering the fact that it’s a more popular brand, compared to baja Fresh.
Their estimated monthly reach is 25k. For Barbuto, 70.95% traffic comes from search results and 100% of these searches are organic. So, it’s evident that they are not investing on Google Adsense at all.
Now if you compare these three restaurants’ monthly visitor number and the search sources, you will identify a pattern.
More organic searches + More paid searches = More visitors.
The same is true for social media and local directories. So, you must enlist your business in all local directories and food directories (example: Zomato). Your restaurant should appear on top results, whenever potential buyer searches with your niche keyword. Optimization for each platform is the key here.
A restaurant functions locally and if it does not appear on local searches, your entire enterprise might just go in vein.
Be sure of your website: Once a customer finds you on search results, he may want to visit your website to know more about you. So, be ready with your website. It should be fully functional and updated. It must perfectly redirect your visitor from one page to another.
One great example of restaurant website is: Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen. It’s a one-page website, where a visitor can find every single details about the restaurant.
Another great example is Terroni. They have included their full menu in their website. But the highlight of their website is, they have featured their customer-generated Instagram photos, taken at their joint. Isn’t it a great effort to accolade customers?
Start blogging: The idea of blogging should pop up the moment the concept of the restaurant is initiated. If you don’t have a blog yet, start right away. A blog can give your restaurant a human face and you can ideally showcase your specials, deals, offers, new events, your staff on your blog posts.
Moreover, having a blog would ensure an extra chance to appear on search results. It will redirect visitors to your social media pages as well as online review sites. Starbucks is doing it right.
Here is a must-read if you want to know more about best restaurant blogging ideas.
Have impressive social footprints: Social media is probably the most under-rated digital marketing tool. Even though every business starts using the tool with great enthusiasm, but stops when it fails to show them overnight success. That’s right! Social media marketing needs time, just like search engine optimization.
- Optimize for local search: As mentioned earlier, local searches are important, even on social space. Let’s see how people search for a restaurant on Facebook:
On Zomato or any other restaurant directories:
The bottom line is, every network has its own algorithm and you need to optimize your business page according to it. If there is Graph Search on Facebook, Zomato and other directories have other search patterns for the local restaurants. But the end result should be the ultimate one: Your restaurant must top the list.
- Join and participate: Generating social media engagement is the easiest for restaurants. The simple reason being, they deal with food, the most-shared content online. But mere presence or posting and sharing is not enough. A restaurant should be engaging enough to connect with its audience.
Buffalo Wild Wings is doing a great job in portraying the company’s voice and tone on social media. They share stories and offers on social media and at the same time interact with their fans, no matter if there is an issue or not.
The above post is a perfect example on how to please your customers. Buffalo Wild Wings introduced a new strategy to attract new customers by letting them choose the components of their burgers. Intelligent, isn’t it?
- Conduct contests: Social media contests and sweepstakes are a vital part of online marketing.
People respond better with such contests, for the simple reason that these contests are free to enter and there is nothing at stake. And the winner gets attractive deals on their favorite restaurants.
Cross-promotion is important to get optimum reach. But make sure you select the right networks to do it.
- Ensure better user experience: When we are talking about user experience on social media, it includes social media profile design as well as functionality.
Not only that your restaurant social media pages must be designed professionally and in sync with the personality of your business, but you also should pay special attention to your posts. They should be entertaining as well as informative.
The pages should function as your parallel website. Facebook application tabs are helpful in this.
KFC has an ‘Order online’ tab to help their fans order for their food from Facebook.
Some restaurants are using these tabs creatively to educate their audience about their food. Here is a nice example.
California Pizza Kitchen introduced a tab for their over ready pizzas, where their fans can know about the crust and different pizzas, in terms of the nutritional value, ingredients and cooking method. Interesting!
- Claim your spot on FourSquare: Since restaurant businesses are local, you must not ignore the power the FourSquare. Claim your restaurant, if someone already created an account. The process is a bit complex and technical, but it’s worth doing it, as you get all the control of your business.
You can do endless things to promote your restaurant on this platform. From offering Specials to adding tips about businesses; from using lists on your page to broadcasting your events and creating custom badges, the scope is huge. In return, your customers can check-in and leave a tip for you to boost your social footprints.
Many restaurants encourage FourSquare check-ins to increase their social score.
Send emails: Email marketing never fails, when it comes to promoting and broadcasting your new menu, deals, offers, and events. Utilize your user database here. Create an email list.
But you need to craft creative newsletters, so that your customers feel interested to read it through. They should be interactive enough. Let’s give a big hand to a great example.
Pay attention to image marketing: As you belong to food industry, you must understand how important images are.
57% of all Pinterest users interact with food brands. This makes it the #1 category on the network. (source: Compete)
Here is the stat about Facebook. According to eMarketer, 87% of all Facebook shared posts are images.
The same is application to Twitter as well. Buffer testified that tweets with images get 150% more RT, 89% more favorites, and 18% more clicks than those without.
So, make sure to utilize your food images in favor of your branding. Invest in occasional professional photo-shoots. The return would be greater.
Go mobile: 64% of mobile restaurant searchers convert instantly or within an hour at most (Source - Search Engine Land).
So, no matter, how small or big your restaurant is, you must have a mobile strategy in place. Be it a mobile responsive website or a mobile app, it’s a must- have in today’s scenario. In fact, restaurant searches on mobile appears on the second spot among all categories.
The image, below, would give you a fair idea of what your potential customers search on their smartphones.
Let’s talk about Taco Bell’s mobile app now.
It’s clear that they are taking their mobile app as seriously as their Facebook marketing. They are promoting the app with a unique hashtag as well, which is great to create a brand recall.
The link redirects their fans to the app store, from where they can download the app. And they have included a Vimeo video to assist their new customers with a complete app tour.
They just opened a new door for sales with this app.
Consider group-buying sites: Sites like Groupon form another way to promote your deals and offers.
It’s an effective way to attract local customers to any local restaurant and its ongoing deals. There are many sites like this. You just need to select according to your business needs and target group.
You need to invest: Yes, you need to spend, at least in the initial phase, when your restaurant is a newbie. Paid ads on search results and social media networks like Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest would give you an instant recognition among your target group.
Listen to online conversations: Your customers are online, 24*7. Tracking what they are talking about your brand is manually impossible. But you can do it with proper tools.
Your customers want to get heard, even if they are your loyal fans. Look everywhere on the web to identity the positive buzz as well as negative buzz about your restaurant. Positive ones can be utilized as testimonials while negative ones should be dealt way more carefully.
In case there is a confusion or query, respond within 2 to 3 hours, else your customers would doubt on your sincerity. Here is an example.
Look at the way Starbucks responded to a page comment and you will understand why they are awarded as one of the most engaged brands online.
There is a three-fold way to online reputation management.
Listen: Check review sites like Zomato on a regular basis. Monitor your online ratings on different channels (Facebook, Google, Yelp)
Learn: Try to understand the problem. Remember, there is nothing personal. Your customer chose your business but returned offended due to a specific reason. Talk it out.
- Act: Offer a solution to the issue. If there is a misunderstanding, clear the doubts just like Starbucks did. If there is a fault on your part, apologize and offer a compensation that no one can deny. Take it down as early as possible.
Negative comment, if left unattended, can lead to disastrous culmination.
Tracking results: And that’s not all. You need to track the results thoroughly in order to gauge if at all your strategy is working. Ideally, six months is a fair time to show some significant outcome of your restaurant marketing ideas. But, you must keep your goals practical.
If the current plan fails to show you the desired result, revamp the strategy. Contact us to analyze what went wrong with your previous marketing plan. Fill in the form below and we will get back to you at the earliest.