The restaurant business is a hard business to crack. Competition is high and customers are constantly expecting a quality aspect on all sides of the business. Marketing your restaurant to beat your competition is an ever challenging prospect with new technology emerging every year. Digital Marketing is one aspect that restaurants can’t afford to get wrong. Customers are now likely to search online and view reviews before trying the food so ensuring your food’s quality translates online is vital. Yorkshire based Digitial Marketing agency Jacobdeen, SEO, Web and Digital Services has vast experience working with a range of restaurants in the UK, working with small burger chains to popular London steakhouses.
We live in a world where everything and everyone is judged and reviewed. Reviews, whether they be positive or negative matter online, Google crawls for these online, Facebook uses them to judge whether users should see content and most importantly your customers are searching for them online. Ensure you’re owning these reviews, encourage users to post reviews and make sure you as a restaurant are responding to them whether they are positive or negative. Having reviews online will send all the right signals to Google and ensure when your customers are searching for “Food in your town” your restaurant appears.
Start by registering accounts on TripAdvisor, Google My Business and Yelp, these are all free tools that will help your business. Google My Business is especially important as it gives great tools your business can use such as directions to your restaurant and call facilities.
Online Directories are also of huge importance online and filling them in with all your details can be a quick “hack” to getting those much-needed backlinks to your website. Google loves other websites talking about your business and website, it helps validate your online listing and gives your website credibility. Filling them in can be a tedious task but spend a night filling out as many as possible and ensure your listings are accurate and consistent!
Stop Boosting Posts
Social media is a great tool for your restaurant business, it gives you a platform to shout about your business and engage with your fans which can only be a good thing! Recent changes to the social media platform though have forced many businesses to start boosting every single post so that they can achieve the same level of engagement they had back when the platform was in its infancy. If you’re thinking about going down the paid advertising route then great, but make sure you’ve got a clear digital marketing strategy.
Facebook Paid Advertising
Don’t boost every single post, think about creating several different Facebook Advertising audiences that fit your marketing goals. Start with simple audiences like “Students” “Parents” and “Locals”, then expand by targeting those who have visited your website or have engaged in your Facebook posts. In the past months, Facebook has created a new tool called Facebook Local, this function is a marketers dream as it gives great insight into the Facebook users who visit your location. Facebook Local gives you age demographics, data on when your busiest times are, giving you all the data, you need to reach out to users who could visit your restaurant. Create content that fits these audiences and watch your engagement and traffic to site rapidly increase. It really is as simple as it sounds, if you have a new children’s menu that you’re launching, promote this to those who identify as parents.
Boosting post are a great quick win but you are limited to what you can achieve, think outside the box and create a campaign that fits your marketing goals. If you’re looking to drive more traffic to your website booking form, then a campaign that has a traffic objective would be far more effective than a boosted post. Think about the placement of the ad too, if your restaurant is a big hit with students then make sure you’re pushing your content to Instagram.
Cook your posts
Facebook has changed since its creation back in the Noughties, it now has a complex algorithm that you may feel you need a degree to understand! The truth is you absolutely don’t, you just need to think of it in the same way you think of your restaurant, only send out posts that are great quality and engaging. As a restaurant owner you’d never send out food you weren’t happy with, consider how you post in the same manner, post sparingly and only post your absolute top content, because for many users online it will be their first interaction they have with your business. Sprout social reports that Facebook’s latest algorithm change has made a big difference and engagement is now much harder to receive but there are several hacks you can do to get around these changes.
- Never post without an image, this one should be a given, make sure your posts are as engaging as possible.
- Make your posts unique and individual, don’t try copy and paste previous posts.
- Embrace video content! Facebook themselves have admitted that video content produces far greater engagement. Take this one step further by creating live videos! Your customers will see you’ve gone live and they’re far more likely to watch and engage.
- Reduce the links in your organic posts, Facebook done right can drive traffic to your website, but the latest algorithm is reducing reach dramatically to those who share links. Consider driving traffic in a paid post instead.
- Facebook loves carousel style posts, and best of all your customers love them too. Adparlour comments that “Facebook’s delivery algorithm favours ads that are driving conversions, are engaging and are relevant. Carousel app ads have an advantage over traditional mobile app install ads as they are a fresh commodity in the marketplace and are naturally engaging by design.”
Whilst this sounds complex, it’s just Facebook pushing business pages to create meaningful engaging content. The rule of thumb is if a user has seen one of your posts and not interacted with that post, they’ll be less likely to see your future posts. Create shareable and engaging quality content that screams how good your product is.
Behind the scenes content.
As a restaurant, you’ve got access to tons of exciting content that your fans want to hear about. Your chefs, your food, your bar staff are all personalities that will sell your brand and create customer loyalty. Think about the tools your restaurant has access to and how you can use this in your social media, website and email content. Great restaurants and companies give away content and build a brand around their personalities.
- Online marketing is about quality of quantity, whether you’re sending out an email, putting together a social media post or posting a blog online; make sure your content is the best it can be. Ensure the photos you send out showcase your food exactly as you’d want a top food writer to see. Also, remember that we live in a world where every slip up your restaurant makes will be put up online, whether it be on social media or in a review make sure you’re owning your space online
- Ask your customers to sign up to your mailing list for monthly recipes. You don’t have to give your secret sauce ingredients away but ask your chefs to put together tips and tricks that your customers will love. If your customers are engaging with your brand every month, you’ll turn that one-time customer into a lifelong customer who will spread the word about your restaurant to their friends and family.
- Sell the abilities of your chefs. Share videos on social media of your chefs, bar staff or waiting staff, video content works incredibly well on social media and is the most shareable content you can produce. Create videos of your personalities talking about their favourite food experiences or content that shows off the great quality of your product and your fans will share, spreading the word and ensuring your restaurant looks like the expert it is.
Journey Starts Online
Whether you know it or not your restaurant has a clear user journey and most likely it will start online. Your customers will likely have either heard about you from a friend, seen your restaurant passing by, read a review or seen you online. As a restaurant owner, it should be your responsibility to control this journey and make sure every stage is on brand and telling your food story. Start by mapping out your user journey and breaking it down into 6 stages.
Mapping your online journey
- Awareness – How you are reaching out to customers, this could be a Facebook advert, a print media advert, an offer online.
- Research – What information your customers can find out about you. Ensure your website, Facebook Page, Google My Business page, TripAdvisor account all display your latest up to date details.
- Making a reservation – How users can either book a table or order food online. Ensure this is a seamless process and details are easy to find and that your staff are trained on taking bookings over the phone in a manner that represents your business.
- Dining In – Does your online message match with your restaurant experience? Do you have up to date menus? Does your branding match what your customer is expecting?
- Spreading your message. – Encourage Users to post photos online of their food on sites like Instagram and Facebook, make reviewing easy online easy, don’t be scared to encourage your customers to leave a review online if they’ve had a good experience.
- How you’re turning your one-time customers into lifelong friends of your business.
You could argue that each stage of the customer journey is as important as the next stage and its vital that your marketing materials support this.
Your website is crucial to your success online, ensure it is optimised for mobile and has great SEO so you’re easy to find on Google; traffic, an easy to use website, social signals and links from other websites are a sure-fire way to getting Google to love your business. Ask a friend or family member to try book a table at your restaurant online and gain feedback on how you can improve, are you easy to find online? Can you book a table easily or find your telephone number? Make sure your website is fit for purpose as it will be one of your key platforms for driving sales.
Your website, social media pages and review pages don’t just need to be accessible, they need to be consistent and they need to sell your business how you want your customer to experience it when they make an offline visit. Online branding is crucial, and it should be both consistent and quality, you wouldn’t send out a steak that wasn’t cooked to perfection so don’t send out content that doesn’t represent your brand in the best possible way. If you receive negative reviews online don’t shy away from them, respond to them and show other users you care and that you’ll listen.
Building your brand ambassadors
Once your customer has visited your restaurant turn them into brand ambassadors. A steady flow of regular customers is the backbone of every great restaurant. They’ll bring their friends and family and if they feel a part of your success they’ll share your online content and leave great reviews. Don’t forget about them, reach out to them by targeting your online ads to those who have visited your bookings page, collect an email marketing list and send special offers and content to entice them to visit again.
Many will think these hacks aren’t rocket science but so many businesses get the simple steps wrong or forget about how important it is to get them right.