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The Most Important Tools Needed for Successful Restaurant Digital Marketing

restaurant digital marketing

Diner, doughnut shop, pizzeria, steak house or nightclub: if you serve food, you need restaurant digital marketing.

Studies show social media and online reviews influence most consumer decisions. Instagram influenced 72% of the people. 23% responded to Facebook posts.

Pinterest persuaded 22% of the respondents. Twitter and Snapchat influenced the remaining 4%.

Traditional advertising, like newspapers and billboards, aren’t enough anymore. People expect to find your restaurant online. They want to see your menu and read reviews before they ever set foot in your restaurant.

Digital marketing tools work. Let’s look at the digital tools restaurants can use to reach customers.

1. Build a Useful Website

Build a website to suit your customers’ needs. Make contact information, menus, hours, photos of food easy to find and view. Optimize your site for mobile searches. You need clickable phone numbers and downloadable menus.

Creating a website may seem outside the realm of running a restaurant, but it’s vital to success. It doesn’t have to be expensive. If you’re up to the task, use a DIY website builder. If you need help, hire digital marketing professionals.

Website Builders and Content Management Systems (CMS) are user-friendly. Use one to buy a domain name and build a website. The management tools let you update the website with blog entries and daily specials. They can also help you with

Your website is your first impression. Make sure you give customers a great experience online so they visit your dining room.

2. Claim Your Google Maps Listing

If you want your restaurant to appear in search results you must claim your Google listing. The first step is to secure your listing through Google My Business.

Make sure all the information is accurate. Follow the tasks outlined in Google My Business. This increases how often people see your business in their search results.

Enter Complete Data

When you have a complete listing Google can match your business to a relevant search. Include your physical address, phone number, hours, category, and business attributes.

Verify Your Location(s)

This is essential for local search results and Google Maps.

Maintain Accurate Store Hours

Update your hours for special events and holidays. You’ll build customer trust when your restaurant is open as advertised.

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Manage and Respond to Reviews

Thank customers for good reviews. Resolve problems if it’s a bad review. Responding shows customers you value their feedback.

Add Photographs

Interior and exterior pictures of your restaurant and food give customers more information. Show them you have what they want.

3. Have a Social Media Strategy

Your social media presence is key to a good restaurant marketing strategy. Too often social media is an afterthought. If it isn’t a priority you end up with abandoned pages and subpar posts.

The best strategy is to follow a plan.

Think of social media as a conversation between you and your customers. Show repeat customers and potential customers that you care about them.

Follow these guidelines to maximize your social media efforts:

Connect Your Facebook and Instagram Accounts

Use the same name across all your social media channels so customers recognize you.

Put Your Social Media Feed on Your Website

Include the feed from the most popular social media channel on your site. Don’t forget to use icons that lead customers to social profiles.

Use Hashtags

Always use your restaurant hashtag on social posts. It makes it easy for people to find you. Include location hashtags so new customers discover your place.

Post New Photos on a Regular Schedule

Create photo posts that show food, staff, specials, and satisfied customers.

4. Use Social Media Management Applications

Use a social media management application to stay organized. It’s a great tool for a social media manager, or anyone responsible for social posts.

A social media management application lets you schedule posts in advance. You can create and schedule daily special posts for the entire week. Your accounts have fresh content every day. You save time and effort.

The goal is to keep customers engaged all the time. Here are some ideas to keep them involved:

  • Run a photo contest
  • Create your own hashtags
  • Reward customer check-ins
  • Post videos of your chef creating popular dishes
  • Encourage customers to post reviews

Remember, a strong social media presence is as important as your website.

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5. Invest in Email Marketing

An email marketing program can boost your digital marketing efforts. Email click-through rates are better than social. This is because the recipients already opted-in and want to hear from you.

Like social media posts, you can automate email marketing to save you time and effort. You can schedule emails about upcoming events, seasonal menus, and daily specials.

Use email to invite people to a holiday event, or to conduct a survey. Reach out to customers who haven’t visited your restaurant in 60 to 90 days. Provide a discount as an incentive to return.

Some services provide free email marketing up to a certain number of contacts.

6. Online Reservations

Sometimes the simplest changes have a big impact. Online table reservation sites let customers reserve a table through the web or a mobile app.

But speed and ease aren’t the only benefits. Online reservation sites also:

  • Coordinate with restaurant Point of Sale (PoS) Software
  • Integrate into your website with a widget
  • Help restaurants manage inventory and staff
  • Put your restaurant top of mind since it’s listed on the reservation site

Yelp has a reservations service that’s part of its review platform.

7. Online Reviews

Reviews are an essential part of the decision-making process for many consumers. People trust online reviews as much as a personal word-of-mouth recommendation.

Ask customers to review your restaurant. Build a review into their dining experience.

  • Add a review request to the receipt
  • Provide a short survey at the end of a meal
  • Send an email with a link to a survey
  • Dedicate a page on your site to reviews; include samples
  • Ask and answer customers questions on social media

Use the information you gain to highlight positives and improve negatives.

Add Restaurant Digital Marketing to Your Plan

The best marketing for any restaurant is great food, service, and atmosphere. Make sure customers know you provide it. The best way to reach consumers is to make sure they find you online.

Follow the tips in this article and hungry diners searching the web for their next meal will find you.

For more insights on restaurant digital marketing and upcoming trends, visit our blog.