restaurant marketing

Restaurant Marketing Ultimate Guide

Why Do You Need Restaurant Marketing

restaurant marketing ultimate guide

The restaurant industry is one of the most difficult industries to achieve long-term success. According to an Ohio State University study, 60% of restaurants close or change ownership in their first year of business, with a whopping 80% closing within the first five years. 

The market is saturated, and the competition is fierce. According to statistics, there are over 660,000 restaurants in the US as of spring 2018. Additionally, the restaurant industry projected sales in 2020 was $899 billion. IBISWorld reports that 88,232 of them are chain restaurants.

With all of this this competition, much of it from large chain restaurants with big budgets, how can you compete? Well, for starters, keep this important statistic in mind:

63% of consumers would rather spend money on an experience than purchase an item

In other words, way over half of consumers would rather spend their hard earned money on an enjoyable experience, such as a nice meal, than spend it on a material product, such as clothes, a book, shoes, etc.. That’s something to build on.

According to a survey in 2019, 56 percent say they dine at a restaurant, get takeout or have a meal delivered 2 to 3 times a week. Fully 10 percent said they eat out 4 to 6 times a week, and 6 percent said they eat out every day. In 2019, average food away-from-home expenditure of U.S. households amounted to about 3,526 U.S. dollars.

So now that we have established that people are very willing to spend money on experiences, how can your restaurant capitalize on that?

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Know Your Customer

restaurant marketing

Restaurants that market with sustained success know their customers. Not just basic demographic data such as age and gender, they go way beyond that. Take the time and do the research to understand your customers habits, dining preferences, and what they like and don’t like about your restaurant.

The better you understand “who your customer is”, the better you will be able to create offerings and devise a restaurant marketing strategy that will connect with them. Is your customer base mostly families that are concerned with a child-friendly environment? Are your customers primarily young, affluent singles that enjoy an environment that encourages mingling? Understand who your target patrons are, then build your brand around what they are interested in. Your goal should be to build you restaurant’s identity around your target customers.

Develop a Strong Brand

restaurant advertising

Having a strong brand that connects with your local market is a great way to generate buzz and continually drive business into your restaurant. Your brand will be the heart and soul of your restaurant marketing.

In developing your restaurant brand, you first have to ask yourself the simple question: “how do you want your customers to perceive your brand”. Is your restaurant sophisticated? is it wholesome? Perhaps it is daring or even outdoorsy? Does your food target patrons who prefer healthy eating? Or does your restaurant have a more beer-and-wings kind of vibe? There are many tools available to figure out the personality of your brand.

Restaurant Marketing Essentials

Restaurant Website Design

Your website is the public face of your restaurant and is also your front-line restaurant marketing tool for establishing communication with guests and promoting daily deals, prices, menu changes, and announcements. That being said, perhaps the number 1 reason to have a professionally designed, user friendly, and mobile ready website is to bring in new customers.

More than 80-percent of American adults use their smartphones or tablets to find restaurant locations, hours and directions.

By an astounding rate, most consumers will research a local restaurant online before making a decision. Having a user-friendly website increases your visibility in your local market and increases the chances of converting people into first-time customers.

The main pieces of information that consumers will look for on your website are menu, location, hours of operation, and reservation information. Your restaurant website should also include contact information, methods of payment and social media links. Consider using a POS software solution for your menus and specials. This will make it easy to keep your restaurant website up to date with fresh information about your offerings.

  • 80% of consumers think it’s important to see a menu before they dine at a restaurant
  • 70% of consumers think it is important to be able to read the menu of a restaurant on a mobile device
  • 62% of consumers are less likely to choose a restaurant if they can’t read the menu on a mobile device

Including reviews or links to review sites is also a great way for customers to offer feedback and learn more about your restaurant through comments from other customers.

Restaurant Local Search Marketing (SEO)

Search Engine Marketing (SEO) can be a confusing subject. What exactly is Restaurant SEO and how does it work? You may be wondering if you really need to invest in having a monthly SEO service. Well, let me ask you one simple question:

When someone in your local market performs a Google Search for “restaurant near me” or “local restaurants”, do you want restaurant to show up on the first page of the search results?

I hope you answered YES! I need restaurant local search marketing!  You should have answered yes, considering that Over 80% of consumers research a product or service online via a Google search before making a buying decision.

A study by conducted by Singleplatform found that 81% of consumers have searched for a restaurant on a mobile app and 92% through a web browser in the last six months, outperforming other highly searched industries, such as entertainment, retail outlets, hotels, and personal services. Additionally, 75% say they often choose a restaurant to dine at based on search results.

Having a website that is visible to search engines and ranks well for valid search terms is one the most important things you can do to ensure the success of your restaurant marketing. Search engines work by finding websites which match the keywords that local prospects search with. Understanding what those search terms are and developing a strategy that will optimize each page of your website to rank for those terms involves many steps, including unique page titles, correct use of headers, keyword filled content, as well as internal link tagging.

Claiming and managing your business listing on Google My Business will also help you to improve your local search rankings. For the best results, make sure the information on your website includes your address and phone number along with a clear description of your business and the business categories you fit in.

Restaurant Digital Marketing (PPC, SEM)

An effective way to drive traffic to your restaurant’s website is through Google Search Ads, or Google PPC ads. PPC ads are one of the most under used tools in restaurant digital marketing

When a local consumer performs a Google search for a restaurant, the resulting Search Engine Results Page (SERP) will display in 2 main sections:

  1. Paid Ads– Typically located at the top and bottom of the SERP, as well as on the right side panel. These are marketing ads that advertisers create on the Google ads network. Advertisers are charged for these ads ONLY when someone clicks on them.
  2. Organic Results– Earned rankings that show restaurant websites in the local market that are valid to the search query. Your restaurant’s website will show up in this area of the SERP by rank depending on your website’s SEO strategy.

So the immediate benefit you will see with restaurant PPC advertising is your restaurant will jump to the top of the queue on search engines, right above all of the competition that will be fighting for a place within the organic search results.  This is a great way to get your restaurant in front of consumers immediately, while waiting for the slow process of getting to place in the organic rankings.

With PPC advertising, you only pay when your ads are clicked. You control your monthly and daily budgets, and you also control how much you are willing to bid for each keyword that you want your restaurant to rank for. Currently, very few restaurants (less than 1%) are taking advantage of this opportunity, which means that buying keywords is currently very undervalued. According to Wordstream, the overall average cost-per-click has also dropped.

There are a lot of additional benefits to using Google PPC advertising as part of your restaurant marketing, including boosting your online traffic and generating more leads. Once you get an understanding of its key benefits, you’ll understand it’s value.

  • PPC is ads are immediately effective – there is now waiting to get them to show up in Google searches
  • Restaurant PPC Ads only Target the Right People in the Right Locations

PPC also works together with SEO. The numbers tell the story: 30% of consumers click on the paid ads at the top and bottom of the Google SERP, which is respectable. But check this out… Consumers are OVER 70% more likely to click on your organic listing in the SERP if they also see that your restaurant has a Restaurant PPC ad at the top of the SERP. Not that is POWERFUL!

Restaurant Social Media Marketing

One of the main goals of marketing and advertising is to get the consumer’s attention. Once you have accomplished that first step, then you need to deliver a message that connects with them. Social media is one of the essential restaurant marketing tools for doing just that.

Social media is a driving force, with billions of people accessing platforms like Facebook and Instagram every day. For a restaurant, some channels are better suited than others in order to drive brand visibility.

During the second quarter of 2020, Facebook reported almost 1.79 billion daily active users.

Facebook is still the most platform out there for all age groups and it has the most advanced platform for allowing people to interact with business and to stay “in the know”. During the second quarter of 2020, Facebook reported almost 1.79 billion daily active users. Along with allowing you to pot your basic restaurant information and photos, you can place a call to action button at the top of your page for customers to contact you with a click of a button. Facebook also lets customers post reviews and check-in with geotagging.

A well-crafted Facebook ad designed to connect with your target demographic can drive a significant amount of traffic to your website and landing pages. These ads show up in the natural flow of the user’s news fees along with typical daily postings, so they are not disruptive to the user’s experience. Facebook Ad budgets are flexible, and you can set a daily budget, a monthly budget cap, and target your audience based on a variety of demographics such as location, income, interests, and behaviors.

Instagram has nearly  nearly 500 million daily users and it is an ideal social channel for restaurants because of the popularity of food photos. Instagram is a photo-centric platform that features beautiful photos and videos that use hashtags and geotags.

Restaurant Direct Mail Marketing

Direct mail has always been one of the best performing restaurant marketing tools. With the almost limitless creative format, restaurant direct mail is an extremely effective vehicle for bringing attention to your business and converting them into new customers.

Solo direct mail restaurant postcards stand alone in the mailbox and can feature your brand, beautiful photos of your dishes, and give the consumer a good feel for what your restaurant is about. Solo direct mail postcards can also deliver your specials and coupons directly to the consumer. 

In 2020, 88 percent of survey respondents in the United States stated that they had used coupons.

Even in the age of digital marketing, where having an online digital presence is essential to compete, direct mail performs well and even works hand in hand with online marketing efforts to promote your brand.  A solo restaurant direct mail postcard is a great way to drive consumers to your website and landing pages. You can also drive traffic to your social media and your online reviews.

With solo direct mail, your promotion is delivered directly to your defined target audience making the response rate and ROI very high.

  • You can target only your IDEAL prospects by neighborhood and/or demographics
  • Your message is featured and can be read without having to open anything

TRUST THE SCIENCE! The Decision Neuroscience Research Group” tested how the human brain processes Direct Mail Marketing and Digital Marketing differently.

General Tips for Restaurant Marketing

Use Google Reviews and Yelp!

restaurant digital marketing

In no other industry is there more emphasis put on favorable online reviews than in the restaurant business. What do consumers do when they can’t decide where to eat? They turn to Yelp and Google. Data shows that 91% of consumers read online reviews before making a purchase, and 68% percent form an opinion after reading between one and six online reviews. Yelp averages more than 178 million unique visitors every month, and a whopping 82% of consumers visit Yelp because they’re intending to make a purchase. 

Create a process that encourages your customers to leave reviews, monitors the reviews they leave, and improves or replies to any negative reviews you might receive. Creating a review process will also help you run your restaurant better. Google Maps, Yelp and other review sites can also make it easier for consumers to find your brand quickly and decide if they’re ready to try it out. 

Connect with your customers

restaurant online marketing

At great way to connect with your customers and create loyalty is to show the people that are behind your brand. Sharing the faces and stories attached to your employees, your owners, and your vendors a great way create buzz with others in your local market. Your audience wants to know who you are. Are you a farm to table restaurant? Do you have a relationship with local farmers? Do one of your employees have an intriguing human-interest story? Don’t be afraid to share them. They can go a long way to showing your commitment and involvement in your local community. Entrepreneur has a great on article on the general art of connecting with your customers.

Consider Using Influencers

restaurant website marketing

Influencer marketing has become a powerful tool in restaurant marketing. It has long been the norm in the fashion and beauty industries, but with the inclusion of geotags and “@” captions, influencer marketing for restaurants has become significant on social media.

Finding the right influencer on social marketing for your restaurant can be complicated, but do not be intimidated by the process, as it can pay big dividends. Here is a helpful article about influencer marketing.

Develop Delivery Service Partnerships

restaurant seo marketing

In 2020, having a delivery service partner for your restaurant became an essential service. Beyond the extraordinary circumstances that brought on the necessity of having a delivery partner, it has always been generally a good idea.

A delivery option expands your customer base beyond people who want to dine out. Partnering with a third-party delivery service has been shown to raise restaurant sales volume by 10% to 20%. Uber Eats and Doordash have great resources to help your make your decision on choosing third-party delivery service partner.

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