Including several tips to get started TODAY!
By L.J. Norman
Getting online customers to visit your establishment can be challenging. However, these insights will help you to drive more online customers to your restaurant and show them your wonderful recipes. This is not easy, it will take some work, but you got this! I have faith in you!
First and foremost, it is imperative to have a website that will establish your online identity. Your website is your online brick and mortar. It is the genesis of your online presence. The tips listed here are nothing without a reliable website (with an online menu) as a foundation. Everything that follows ultimately points back to your website, make sure you have a good one!
Honestly, you cannot have a successful marketing campaign without a solid email marketing strategy. A customer’s email is the foundation upon which you share your insights with your customers. The very fact that you have a customer’s email address is a testament to the trust that you have already garnered with that customer. Email is a wonderful way for you to follow up with customers and remind them of deals, events and specials.
By creating a campaign that enables you to “be in front of the customer,” either weekly, monthly or daily you can create a certain amount of trust in your brand. That trust is the start of brand loyalty which eventually leads to a packed house every night. Avoid allowing your brand to be associated with any negativity by offering constant value to the customer. Make sure that you are able and willing to follow through with whatever you offer to your customers on time and with consistency. Here are some strategies to help you get started with a solid email campaign.
- Collect email addresses
Collect email addresses everywhere you possibly can. EVERYWHERE! When a customer comes in to buy a gift certificate; collect an email address. If you attend tasting events or host a vendor booth; have an email sign up form. Do you host events at your establishment? Collect their email address when they inquire about the event. Even better; make sure that all events and reservations are done through your website (make sure you have one), so that you can automatically capture your prospective customers contact data.
There are several email marketing services that you can use to create forms, landing pages and save customer data. My favorite is Mailerlite, however there are several out there and they all have their advantages and disadvantages. Do your research and make sure you use tutorials to become familiar with the tools.
- Send a variety of emails
Send exclusive offers, like 50 percent off two drinks or half-off appetizers, to entice new customers to come in. Keep loyal customers coming back by having a loyalty program where by being signed in they would receive exclusive discounts delivered by email. When you’re hosting an event, send invitations via email. When a new chef comes in, let customers know by email. There are several variations that you will come up with. Get creative.
I would like to reiterate that there are several email marketing services available to you that will allow you to create a variety of emails to bring value to your customers.
Here is a great blog regarding this step:
Social media advertising
Social media is becoming the most powerful tool you can use to attract new customers, as well as keep loyal customers coming back. Most restaurants have a social media presence, and if you continue to add content consistently you will build an organic following. However, by spending a little money on advertising you can significantly increase your fan base and engagement. Here are a few options:
If you’re new to social advertising, Twitter is a good place to start. Twitter has several advantages that a restaurant owner/manager should consider including; showcasing current specials and highlighting new and special employees. Its ad types are user-friendly making it easy to understand and create. A huge bonus is that you can select targeted audiences and set a budget that works for your restaurant.
Here are some more helpful articles to help get you going on Twitter:
- Facebook Ads
Facebook ads can be complicated, mainly because there are so many options for you to choose from. However, the payoff is worth it. A huge advantage is the shear audience that Facebook has, this allows you to broaden your reach and find demographics that you just cannot target from any other platform. Like Twitter, you can select targeted audiences and set a budget.
Here is a great tutorial for getting started on Facebook:
And of course, here are some helpful articles:
Instagram is a great platform to show imagery and perhaps highlight your menu items. Their base and engagement is massive and you can visually attract customers to your restaurant and interact with them. According to Jonathan Long, Founder, Market Domination Media® “Instagram’s content is visual, which is an advantage over other advertising options, because 40 percent of consumers respond better to visual information than plain text.” I truly believe that Instagram is one of the best, if not the best ways to advertise your restaurant. It takes a lot of work and you might want your whole staff to start snapping pictures of everything they see beauty in.
Here is some helpful content to get you started:
Online Restaurant Listing Services
Help customers find your business online by creating a business listing on several sites. Think of these sites like a modern day yellow pages.
- Google My Business
Google My Business should be the very first place to list your business. It is free and essentially lists your business on Google. My Business is easy to set up and when your business gets verified you will be able to update holiday hours, read and respond to reviews, and give insights to what you are currently up to. This is really a necessity and it is amazing how many establishments do not utilize this tool either at all or inappropriately.
Here is the links to get you started with Google My Business
TripAdvisor is the world’s largest travel site and strangely TripAdvisor is often overlooked for the restaurant industry and I am not sure why. If you are near an airport or in a popular tourist destination than you really MUST use TripAdvisor to list your business. However, you really should be using it anyhow. It is very easy to set up your business through TripAdvisor and you really cannot go wrong as this is a very popular directory.
Yelp is one of the most popular online directories for restaurants, mainly because of its review system. It not only provides customers with basic business information, but it also allows customers to rate your place and leave feedback. Yelp is also a wonderful place to interact with your customers and get excellent feedback that should always be viewed as constructive criticism. If you are consistent in your delivery of your product than you should consistently get good reviews. When encountering a negative review, always respond positively and do your best to correct the situation for the customer. Others read these responses from you and will judge accordingly.
There are several other listing sites and really you cannot go wrong by listing your business with all of them you can think of. If anything, this will allow your business to grow online and by listing your website with all directories you can improve your search engine optimization (SEO) to rank higher in search engines like Google, Bing, Explorer and Firefox.
A lot of the directory sites like Whitepages, are more of the “set it and forget it” type. You input the information once for customers to find and there isn’t any upkeep to them. Yellowpages and Yellowbook are two other options.