How to Create The Best Digital Marketing Plan for your Restaurant
Marketing a restaurant doesn’t just mean having a social media presence and website and hoping that your customers will come to you. In our modern age where people can connect with each other and businesses whenever they want, you need to be actively promoting your brand and your venue to gain their attention.
Digital-driven influences impact 40% of all dining visits
– Hospitality Tech
Whether your guests are dining in or ordering to go, the success of your digital restaurant marketing depends on targeting the right audience, in the right places, at the right time.
5 Valuable Tips to Get Your Restaurant Marketing Right
You Need to Keep Your Restaurant Guests Up to Date
It is essential that you keep your online platforms up to date with the latest information about your restaurant – this should include areas such as: opening and closing times, accessibility, parking, the type/s of cuisine you serve and any dietary restrictions (for example – if you prepare dishes with nuts in them, you need to let people know in case they have an allergy).
You want to have all your relevant details easily available so potential guests can find out exactly what they want to know and make their decisions without being put off by lack of information or having to contact customer services.
One of the most disappointing things that can happen from a customer perspective when ordering from a restaurant is finding something incredible on the menu online, only to go to the restaurant and discover that it’s no longer available.
The platforms that you update should include:
- Your Website
- Review Sites
- Your Social Media Channels
- Third-Party Ordering Sites
You need to regularly review your online information, whether you’ve made any recent changes or not – especially on third-party websites where glitches or problems may affect your listing without you being aware of it.
Updating your information regularly will help reduce disappointment (especially with seasonal dishes), increase the content you can share with your social network, and help you promote special events, as well as help your brand maintain a good reputation.
Your Website Design and Visuals Need to Be Fresh and Relevant
When you create or update your restaurant website, you need to make sure that your graphics and design match your brand voice, and accurately reflect who you are. For example – if you own a sleek restaurant with expensive wines and high-class fine dining foods – then cutesy gifs of cartoon animals would be inappropriate. However, if you run a restaurant that regularly sees families and young children, and you have a children’s menu that you strongly want to promote – this approach could work for you.
You need to keep in mind that your overall look, tone and design should apply to every image and piece of content that you are creating. Your customers will find it easier to recognise and connect with you if you’re projecting consistent branding.
When it comes to your content, ‘good enough’ is NOT good enough – your content is what advertises and appeals to customers, if you don’t think it’s stunning, then why should they? As a restaurant, you have plenty of access to potential content – from the food, and the chef that makes it to the front of house team and décor, there is a wealth of imaginative content you can use to market your establishment.
“If I see a great looking picture posted, I’ll want to go and eat there immediately,”
You should always double-check the grammar and spelling in your social media posts and ensure that you always use a clear and consistent tone of voice – there’s nothing wrong with being a little casual (if it fits the aesthetics of your venue) but you need to make sure that you’re not going to use language and phrases that could offend or be misunderstood.
Professionalism is a vital part of customer service, and customer service is key.
Good or Bad – You Need to Reply to Your Restaurant Reviews
60% of consumers read reviews before going out for a meal, a habit that takes precedence over getting directions to a restaurant, or looking at food photos.
– Open Table
How you appear to your customers depends not only on your own content – but how you appear on review sites. The reputation of your venue has a huge impact on whether or not a person will decide to become a customer. You need to reply to reviews as part of your marketing efforts.
When you encounter good reviews, sending a nice reply has three positive results for your brand:
- It shows the customer that you care about their experience, making them feel welcomed and valued, and more likely to return
- People who are researching your brand will see that you’re active and engaged, and that you’re committed to giving a good experience – increasing their likelihood of visiting
- Search Engines will not only pick up the positive sentiment from the original review, but they will also index your response – essentially giving you twice the amount of positive search terms on each review.
Negative reviews can feel difficult to deal with, and there may be the temptation to ignore it. But, if left unchecked, a bad review will discourage future visitors (you may have answered the reviewer privately, but other visitors won’t know that – they’ll just assume that you didn’t answer and you don’t care), appear in the search results for your brand with no balancing factors to change people’s minds, and damage your overall reputation.
Make Full Use of Your Restaurant Pages on Social Media
Social media is one of the best ways to advertise your business to guests, no matter their demographic – creating an optimised and relevant Marketing Plan will let you discover who your audience are, what they expect from you and where they are posting, so you can focus your efforts in the right place at the right time.
You need to have a presence on the main platforms – such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Depending on who your audience are, you should also consider using other platforms such as Pinterest, YouTube and Tumblr. Even if you don’t plan on using all these channels at present, you should still register an account with them – this will prevent someone else taking the name you want to use, or masquerading as your venue and damaging your reputation.
You can use these platforms to share special offers, photos of your food, limited menu items, behind the scenes looks, and relevant information to get customers interested in visiting.
These platforms also help to turn customers and guests into Brand Ambassadors. If you offer visitors incentives to share your content and create their own about your restaurant, you will reach a larger audience.
You Should Promote Your Restaurant on Google Business
Google is one of the biggest and most popular search engines, and it’s important that your venue is getting seen in the results. Google Business points people to venues in the areas they are looking for. It positively effects your outreach, because it provides information in just a couple of clicks, allowing people to find out what they need to know about your restaurant.
You need to invest time into your Google Business presence, and make sure everything is up to date to put your restaurant on the map.
Why Your Restaurant Marketing is An Investment
Technology and access to the internet has changed the way your customers are choosing where to dine. Your customers make their decisions based not only on their personal preferences, but quality, brand values, and the experience of others. Your marketing strategy will help promote you to the right people, in the right places, at the right time.
When you’ve got a flexible and optimised strategy, you can maintain long-term relationships with current customers, encourage new guests, and be the venue that people remember.