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Your restaurant is only as good as the amount of people who talk about it. Find out how to successfully promote your eatery via online marketing.

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Online Marketing for Restaurants

Online Marketing for Restaurants

In the current day and age,it is essential to have an online presence for any business including restaurant owners. Most of your potential customers are active online, presenting the ideal opportunity for you to reach them. You do not need to possess some amount of experience as a marketer in order to promote your establishment.

Start off by getting a good website developed. To help you fully understand the relevance of SEO for restaurant owners, below is a list of some of the emerging SEO trends for dining establishments.

  • Social media
  • Mobile marketing
  • Email marketing
  • Directory, display & search marketing
  • Online deals

1.) Social media

You may wonder how people find the time to aptly manage their social media profiles. This including monitoring every page, responding to customer feedback and posting fresh, useful content. This is bound to take a certain amount of effort and time. However, maintaining a strong social media presence is essential for businesses. In the modern age, there are numerous opportunities for you to benefit from social media platforms such as Facebook and the location-based platform Foursquare.

In fact, it is very likely that your customers are already engaging in dialogue regarding your business. By monitoring these conversations, you can truly tap into the potential presented by these platforms.

  • Facebook: This is a social media channel currently used by 1 billion users and serves as an excellent network for sharing pictures, videos and promos.
  • Twitter: This is a real-time platform where marketers can share short-form content. This is used by a great amount of potential customers who actively even talk about brands as well as products/services.
  • Foursquare: This location based network enables you to track the check-ins and visits of your customers.
  • Instagram:A picture can convey a message more effectively that a set of words, especially when it comes to food. That is why this platform is ideal for promoting your restaurant and food.

2.) Mobile marketing

It is not news that a large percentage of people currently use smartphones. This is why it is important to have a separate mobile optimized website or a mobile app. Although it may be costly, the outcome will prove to be worth it. Start by partnering with established marketing brands.

If you are having budget restrictions when it comes to developing a custom mobile website, a solution is to find a partner who has experience in restaurant marketing, with a good knowledge in mobile sphere.  A simple way to start is by listing your business in online directories, that offer good mobile-optimized shortcuts.

3.) Email marketing

Although there seems to be too many promotional emails sent around, it is worth giving a try. The key is to add a personalized tough to emails you send out. These typically include targeted content allowing you to stand out among dozens of irrelevant emails that people receive daily.

Expensive software platforms are required to deliver personalized email content. Therefore, in this case also you should partner up with an experienced marketer who possesses some proficiency in this area.

4.) Directory, display & search marketing

In order to get new diners to visit your restaurant you can optimize your online presence on Google and other search engines. There are three options:

Search engine optimization (SEO): This stands for the use of quality content with suitable keywords, to get a higher ranking on search engines for your website.

Directory optimization: This means listing your restaurant in online directories, to return location-based visits to your website.

 Display advertising: this means the advertisements that you display on other websites.

Between directory optimization and display advertising, you would have to spend quite a bit of money to start getting return on investment(ROI). Small restaurants with limited budgets may have to seek the assistance of online marketers for this.

5.) Online Deals

The year 2016 has seen consumers spend over $5 billion on online deals. These include online discounts and flash sales. They have become one of the methods of marketing for restaurants both large and small. This has given the chance to build a group of loyal customers. With a variety of online deals to choose from, you can easily pick the right type of promotion for your restaurant’s clientele and image.

Facebook optimization

1.) Page appearance

The establishment of your Facebook presence stars with the creation of your brand page. It will be the representation of your dining venue, with the possibility of being found by thousands of new customers. It will serve as the hub for the interactions with your customers and gaining new followers. The designing of this page is a step that requires a great amount of consideration and effort. Instead of following the footsteps of other similar establishments, there are several things to consider:

  • Profile photo:This should ideally be the logo of your brand/company. Since people will usually see a thumbnail of your profile photo on their newsfeeds, it is clever to not use images with too much of text or details.
  • Cover photo: This should be an inviting and warm photo, that represents your brand. Since this is the first impression that a visitor to your page receives, it is wise to choose a nice picture of a delicious dish you offer or something similar.

2.) Page maintenance

Once the designing of the basic elements has been done, you need to consider how to share content. The more followers you get the more important content you should post. There are two options in this regard:

  • Pin: by clicking the pencil icon of the top right corner of a post, you can pin that piece of content to the top of the page. This is useful when you have some special promotion lasting throughout a certain period and you do not want the new posts you share to replace it on the page.
  • Highlight: This is the star shaped option at the top right corner of a post, giving the ability to expand your post to fill your page’s entire width.

3.) Attracting followers

The next thing is to find people who will be interested in the content you will be sharing. You already may have a customer base that regularly visits your restaurant. You can approach them easily and get them to follow you on Facebook. In order to do this you should combine your offline and online strategies.

A few tips:

  • Include the link to your Facebook page on the menu cover
  • Add the message “Have you liked us on Facebook?” to ever y bill
  • Give out coupons to customers who follow you on Facebook
  • Feature a message like “Like us on Facebook” on every bill

4.) Sharing interesting content

Once you have acquired a good amount of followers, you should think about how to keep them engaged and informed regarding the happenings at your restaurant. Successfully posting on Facebook is not as easy as it sounds. Here are a few tips to help understands how to keep the interest of your audience.

  • Frequency

This refers to how often you share posts on your page. At the start, share 2-3 posts per week. Keep it simple at this stage. Inform your followers about a special promotion or menu item you are featuring for a given week. Once you get your followers to interact with your posts, you can increase your post count to 5-7 per week. However be sure not to overshare.

  •  Post about Tips, recommendation and promotions:

These are powerful when it comes generating engagement. Tips and recommendations could be about drink and food pairings or the recipe of a popular dish in your menu. A promotion could be about a special dish you offer for the night.

5.) A visual approach

Images are very popular on Facebook. They get shared more than text posts do. The easiest way get you followers to talk about you is to post pictures paired with suitable text. For instance, the pictures could be of the popular dishes in your menu or of your customers enjoying a meal. The goal is to get your potential customers’ interested and ultimately visit your restaurant.

 6.) Increase your reach with offers and ads

These are very effective routes. However without a proper understanding about the, you may end up not getting the expected results for your investment. The ad types you should focus on are”

  • Offers: These are discounts and promotions that generate the interest of your Facebook audience. If it is done right you are bound to receive an impressive amount of traffic to your page.
  • Page post ads: These ads are of some event such a happy hour which will be shown your followers and their friends.

Bear in mind that the above two options are not alternatives for posting good content on your Facebook page. They are simply a good complement.

7.) Genuine Care for Customers

 Some restaurant owners are afraid of receiving bad press in such a public space, thus tend to not have a Facebook presence. But the key is to use negative feedback to your advantage. You stand the chance to eliminate the possibility of losing certain customers due to bad experiences at your restaurant.

A complaining customer essentially gives the opportunity to prove how much you truly care about delivering a good experience to them at your restaurant.

8.) Plan your budget properly

Before you start maintaining your own Facebook page, it is important to properly plan how you are going to delegate responsibilities. Once you have identified your budgetary constraints, and the scope of your strategy, you can decide the frequency of your posts. If you are having doubts, you can get some consultation from an experience online marketer.

Tips for running successful email campaigns

1.) Understand your customers

Understanding what kind of visitors you get is of utmost importance. Find a way to classify the kinds of customers that visit your restaurant. It is the first step in figuring out how to convert one-time customers into regulars. With an advanced email system you can make this possible as it can classify your customers into 3 main categories: new, repeat and inactive customers. Then you can send your emails based on those their category.

 2.) Find good Email Service Providers

There is no need of big financial investments to acquire the right kind of email marketing technology. Below are two options:

  • Affordable advanced tools:

Exact Target and Responses are leaders in the industry when it comes to the creation of excellent advanced email marketing programs. These two are established, solid ESPs to try out.

  • Free simple tools:

MailChimp and Constant Contact are good ESPs that are quite easy to use and let you control your email campaigns easily.  Though not as advanced as certain other options, these two are ideal to use at the start of your email marketing campaign.

3.) Keep the emails and their subject lines interesting

It is important to deliver the promotion or message clearly and effectively. Typically an email consists of a body and subject line. In order to get the customer interested enough to actually open the email, your subject line should be great. Next, to keep the customers engrossed to go through your email, its content should be interesting and unique.

Open rate

This refers to how often your emails are checked by customers. This metrics helps in determining which subject lines received the most responses from customers. You can pit different email campaigns against each other to test several factors based on the open rate. It helps to figure out;

  • Whether you have been sending too many emails
  • What the best time is to send an email
  • Which subject line works the best

Deliverability Rate

This is the simple measurement for any email campaign. It helps you determine whether your emails are reaching the inboxes of the recipients. There may failures in delivery due to reasons such as :

  • Bar reputation or being black listed
  • Spam filters
  • The receiver’s email address being retired
  • Incorrect entry of email addresses