Over the course of a few years, the ever-increasing use of smartphones has intensified the playing field for restaurant marketing. The combination of good food, online ordering, and restaurant marketing has steadily become vital for restaurants to be successful.
However, with each passing year, the market becomes more saturated with competitors and options to choose from. For both customers and restaurant owners, it can be overwhelming and disheartening. The challenge to compete and stand out becomes harder, and a restaurant’s ability to relate to customers can become incredibly difficult and frustrating.
While multiple methods of attracting customers are available, many restaurants are still not investing in the tools and knowledge to make their business stand out from the crowd. Regardless of what you choose to do as a restaurant owner to convert more customers, you’ll want to begin investing in restaurant marketing tools that’ll help grow your business. Here’s where you can start:
- Improve Local SEO
- Offer Online Ordering
- Be Social
- Include Email Marketing
- Begin a Loyalty Program
If these ideas seem like too much at one time, try picking one concept, committing to it, and owning the process. The end goal is to drive local customers – new and old – to your restaurant through the marketing choices you make.
1. Improve Local SEO
When local customers search for your type of restaurant, they need to be able to find you. Local SEO is the practice of sharing content and data via your website and other sites, so search engines can effectively determine what you offer. Local SEO helps increase your restaurant’s visibility to local customers.
Use the Right Tool: Either head over to Google My Business or use NetWaiter’s free Google Connect tool to make sure your restaurant’s information is updated so local customers can find you. For more information on how to leverage the power of SEO within the restaurant industry, we recommend reading How Restaurant Search Has Evolved.
Customers routinely turn to search engines to find information about local restaurants. Because some people search the internet without a particular destination in mind, it’s important to associate specific terms with your restaurant, to grab the attention of as many customers as possible.
2. Offer Online Ordering
Online ordering is a way of life when it comes to booking flights, making reservations, buying clothes, and of course – conveniently ordering food. Each online ordering system is a little different. Some might provide 50+ restaurants to choose from. Others might link directly to a restaurant’s website where customers can place direct orderers. Regardless of the service, the process is basically the same. Customers use their computer or phone to access a restaurant’s menu and place an order for pickup or delivery. The continuously-growing popularity of online ordering benefits both restaurants and customers. So what are the ‘must-have’ features of a good online ordering system? Let’s take a look.
Simplicity. The goal of every online ordering system should be to make the ordering process as easy as possible.
Branding and Control. The best systems allow your online ordering site to be properly branded and tailored to your restaurant’s look and feel.
Data. Capturing valuable information about your customers helps you improve your processes and menu in the future.
As a restaurant owner, you know the value of your brand and what works best for your team. A system that’s easy to use and provides your restaurant with the best ability to maximize the benefits from online ordering is going to be most effective.
3. Be Social
Generation Z now makes up around 26% of our population. Where Baby Boomers originally held the crown, Generation Z now reigns supreme as being the largest demographic and is taking charge of their spending habits.
By 2020, they are expected to account for about 40 percent of all consumers. Before the digital world, it was easier for restaurant owners to differentiate themselves from their competitors. Right now, we live in a world where all information regarding everyone and everything is available right in the palm of your hand, making it harder to stand out.
Build local loyalty. Across all ages,55% of consumers trust user-generated content over other forms of marketing. Additionally, only 15% of people trust recommendations from brands, while 84% of people trust recommendations from people.
Authenticity goes a long way. If you allow yourself to open up to your customers, you are more likely to see a higher level of engagement and purchasers. Treat your customers like family and friends, and invite them into your restaurant’s life with open arms.
The opinions of Millennials matter. They determine what’s trending and what’s old. Soon, they will be the largest percentage of the population with the greatest purchasing power. This means that their interests and daily habits can drastically impact your business. As a result, they are influencing what we eat. If you think you have them all figured out, think again.
4. Include Email Marketing
Email marketing is alive and well. After completing a survey of more than 500 marketers, researchers found that69% of businesses spend money and time on email marketing. The reason? People see emails as 90% of emails reach their intended inbox. Furthermore, a customer has to sign up to receive most emails that arrive in their inbox, a voluntary measure that goes beyond targeted social media campaigns. There’s no denying that email marketing can be used to increase restaurant profits.
Email marketing allows you to reach out to your customers by their name, create content that is related to them, and give your restaurant the chance to learn more about your restaurant in a meaningful way.
Once you invest in the right system, make sure you are familiar with how to properly manage your lists. Building and growing your email list is something that you should do at every opportune moment. You can collect email addresses through sign-up forms on your restaurant’s website, feedback cards, or via online ordering.
5. Begin a Loyalty Program
Loyalty programs for companies have been around for a while, and they come in all different shapes and sizes. Some programs are created in such a way where a customer has to collect a certain number of points to unlock a special reward, or maybe they pay a particular premium to gain access to additional options as a valuable customer (i.e., Amazon Prime). For restaurants, loyalty programs are a simple way to say “Thank You” to customers and keep them coming back for more.
When it comes to marketing, real-life experience is best. “Word-of-mouth marketing isn’t about giving customers talking points as if they were brand spokespeople. It’s about delivering an exceptional customer experience that makes customers want to recommend you,” stated Deborah Eastman, CMO of Satmetrix.
Diana Kelter, a senior trends analyst at marketing firm Mintel, wrote in a blog last year that the notion of extending a restaurant brand beyond its food and into new categories merge with the choice of millennials and Gen Z to discover trends on social media. “In a social media culture, expanding into new territories is quickly becoming the norm in order to stay top of mind with younger consumers,” she wrote.
In a nutshell, your food, service, and brand create your identity and uniqueness to engage with customers emotionally. Find the “special” part of your restaurant and bring attention to it. Take time to understand your customers, determine where you should improve your marketing efforts, and then design a clear strategy to reach more local customers.