Technology has not only changed the way we work, it has also altered the way we choose and order our food. According to recent data, 89% of the customers research an eating joint before ordering food or actually visiting the place. Considering the fierce competition and a high failure rate in the restaurant business, the success of any restaurant depends on its marketing strategies as much as its food and services. Supplementing traditional marketing strategies with online marketing is the way ahead. In this post, I would be highlighting ten tips for restaurant marketing in the digital world.
1. Develop Your Restaurant’s Brand Identity
A brand is the distinct personality of your business. Any time a customer interacts with your business, whether online or offline, your brand is the basis by which a customer judges what to expect from your business. Before you dive into building your brand, you need to identify your target customer- college students, young professionals, or business class. And, how do you want your customers to perceive your business- a casual fun hangout or an elegant diner?
Once you have a clear idea of your business goals, you should start working on a strategy to achieve it. Create a distinct voice for your business and stick to it in all your communications including your social media posts and promotions. McDonald’s, for example, projects an image of an affordable and fun place to visit with your family. Building a brand takes time; you may need to align your strategies continuously to strengthen your brand identity.
2. Monitor Your Social Media Presence
According to a study by Zizzi, millennials spend five days of a year browsing food images on Instagram. With customers checking out social media to decide whether a restaurant is worth visiting, restaurant owners need to spruce up their social media marketing game. Regularly updating your Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram account will no longer cut the mark, you need to have a well-developed strategy in place to create a buzz. Think of contests, exclusive coupons, and ideas that engage your followers. Remembers these platforms are the perfect tool to build an active brand voice. You should also make good use of geo-location tagging on these platforms to help your customers find you easily.
Social listening can help you to keep track of positive or negative sentiments about your business and keep an eye on the competition. These platforms also enable you to bolster marketing initiatives with user-generated content within a very low budget.
Posting regular content and keeping a track of the comments and messages on all Social Media channels is a herculean task. However, if you do it well, the pay-offs could be tremendous. You could use popular social media management tools like HootSuite or Buffer to make your job easier. Advanced tools like Mkonnekt Marketing Platform are also available that enable you to streamline all social media marketing efforts from one single dashboard.
3. Reputation Management
Your restaurants’ online reputation is constantly at risk. It not only affects your sales but also your customer relationship. An unhappy customer can ruin your reputation with a single malicious review on sites like Yelp, Open Table, or Facebook. 80% of the American customers reveal that they read reviews to make informed buying decisions.
Many potential customers may even avoid trying out your food and services by developing a prejudice based on these negative reviews. The only way to handle this is to proactively reply and reach out to both positive and negative reviews. Your response should reflect that you care about your customers.Instead of logging on to all the platforms separately, you could use reputation management software like mKonnekt, Birdeye or Podium to check and reply to reviews centrally.
4. Email Marketing
Email is still one of the most reliable methods to build customer loyalty. Devote some time to build a clear effective email marketing strategy to reach out to your customers and encourage them to leave feedback. Check your emails regularly and make sure that you answer them within one or two days.
5. SMS Marketing
Of all marketing strategies, SMS/Text marketing is the most preferred communication channel. It is budget-friendly, with a delivery rate of 97% within four minutes. SMS’s get an average response rate of 30%. SMS marketing coaxes customers into quick action. You can choose from a multitude of bulk SMS marketing tools that are available in the market. You can learn more about SMS marketing here.
6. Build a Responsive Website
A website opens up opportunities for a much larger market of consumers. It makes it very easy for potential and even existing customers to find and interact with your business online. Almost 83% of the customers check out your website for information before they actually visit your restaurant or place an order. A website, therefore, is the perfect tool to establish your brand and promote your restaurant.
56% of customers reveal that they either leave or switch to a competitor because of issues on a website. Ensure that your webpage is easy to navigate, intuitive and responsive. Daily deals, menu changes, and announcements about events in your restaurant should go up on your website, regularly. Your website should also enable customers to leave feedbacks and place online orders.
7. Online Ordering
In a normal take-out setting, the customer has to call the restaurant for placing an order. Online ordering makes it possible for the customers to order from their homes or workplaces. Such systems reduce human errors in taking down orders and reduce friction that often arises due to a misunderstanding on the cost aspects of menu items. The other benefits of the online ordering system are that it provides precise information on cash flow, accounts, and inventory.
8. POS System
Point of Sale systems handle the processes associated with a restaurant business such as ordering, billing, or maintaining inventory. By electronically managing these processes, POS systems have made it easier to conduct business while pushing up efficiency. These systems not only provide you with detailed reports and faster checkouts speed, but they also help you to track your inventory efficiently and build a rich customer database.
Invest in a high-quality POS system that can be integrated with your website. This makes it possible to directly update any changes in menus, offers, and prices on your website. Your POS system should also be integrated with your loyalty program. This brings us to our next point.
9. Loyalty Programs
Much before the migration to mobile platforms, Restaurants had been successfully using punch cards to build a regular customer base. With the advent of convenient mobile platforms, the entire landscape of loyalty programs is witnessing a revolution of sorts. Roughly 30% of all restaurants are offering a customer loyalty program, and with 69% of consumers claiming their choice of restaurant may be influenced by where they can earn rewards, it is evident that loyalty programs are here to stay. There are a number of ways in which a loyalty program can help restaurants in expanding and retaining their customer base. You can learn more on the subject here.
10. Get a Mobile App
81% of the customers reveal that they prefer a mobile app to place orders, while 61% claim that the would not order if they fail to see the restaurant’s menu in the mobile browser. Considering the data, mobile apps are becoming indispensable for restaurants. Almost ever brands like Starbucks and Dominos have built their own mobile apps to tap the full potential of the growth in this segment.
The good news is that you do not need a big marketing budget to build a mobile app for your restaurant. The growth in the number of mobile app builders has made the technology affordable and accessible to all businesses. Besides allowing customers to place their orders, these apps can also be used for promotion of offers via push notifications. You could also think of integrating your loyalty program with the mobile app to build a loyal customer base.