03 Nov Best Restaurant Marketing Ideas
It’s no secret that operating a small business is difficult. You’ve probably heard that half of all small businesses fail in the first five years. And did you know that locally-owned restaurants have an even bigger failure rate?
In truth, nearly 80% of restaurants go under by their fifth year. This could be due to any number of things, like bad location, poor management, poor food quality, etc.
Most often, however, restaurant failures are a result of not bringing in enough money to keep the lights on. In this case, an effective restaurant marketing strategy can really turn things around.
So if you are a restaurant owner, think to yourself: What are you doing to get the word out about your restaurant? What reason are you giving people to come to your restaurant?
Coming up short on answers? That’s where we can help. Keep reading for our top restaurant marketing tips to get people in the door.
1. Define Your Brand
First, let’s talk about your branding. Does your restaurant name, logo, and design stand out from the competition?
While these things may not seem like a big deal, remember that success in the business world is all about brand recognition. The more memorable you are, the more repeat customers you’re going to get.
Just as importantly, brand recognition is vital for drawing in new customers. When people see your ads online or on TV, you need to make sure your marketing message sticks in their minds.
2. Maximize Your Search Engine Visibility Using SEO
When it comes to local businesses, few marketing ideas are as important as search engine optimization. SEO is the coding behind all websites that search engines look for to direct users to the most relevant content online.
For example, if someone in your area is looking for “the best restaurants near me,” your website SEO will determine how quickly they find you. If your website ranks high for those types of keywords, you’ll come up at the top of their search results.
If not, they may not see your website at all. The majority of website clicks are generated from the first three results of the first page. If you’re not even on the first page, your restaurant won’t gain much visibility.
If your SEO game isn’t currently strong, all hope is not lost. Let’s look at the top ways to increase your SEO rankings.
Building up your search engine visibility organically will take time. However, unlike a one-time ad that only generates leads while it’s running, SEO actually builds on itself and gets stronger as you develop your website.
You can boost your rankings by creating a blog and publishing relevant, keyword-rich articles. The keywords you use should be as specific as possible. Instead of “restaurant” or “best food” try “Italian restaurant” or “best Italian food.”
You should also use local keywords to ensure you’re driving local website traffic to your site. We recommend using your city, state, and county. However, conversational keyword phrases like “the best Italian restaurant near me” are also important.
Google will use GPS tracking of the user’s device to ping their location and give them the most relevant results for their search. This tactic is even more effective if you register your website with Google My Business.
Link-building is important for increasing your website’s credibility (according to Google’s algorithm). This includes internal links, external links, and backlinks.
Internal links are those within your website that lead visitors to other pages on your site. This could be a link leading users to another blog article, to your contact information, or to your online ordering page.
External links are those that link to other websites. These are often used to cite data or provide additional information about a topic outside of your field of expertise. They can also lead users to local businesses with whom you affiliate.
Finally, backlinks are links on other websites that lead users to your website. These are the most difficult to obtain.
However, by guest posting and affiliating with other local businesses, you should be able to collect a wide variety of backlinks over time. You can also get backlinks from local blogs, newspapers, and magazines that feature your restaurant on their site.
SEO is a complex field to navigate. If you don’t have the skill, experience, or time to improve your SEO ranking, hire a restaurant marketing agency with SEO services. They can help you get your restaurant on the map.
3. Invest in PPC Advertising
As we mentioned above, it can take time to build up your organic SEO ranking. Fortunately, there are restaurant marketing tips and tricks you can use in the interim to increase your website visibility.
PPC campaigns using Google Ads allow you to pay Google to bring your website up to the top of certain search results. For example, you can pay to rank for keyword phrases like “best family restaurant in Albuquerque,” or “best Italian restaurant in Savannah.”
When customers use keywords relevant to your search ads, your website will come up at the top of the page. While these website links will have an “ad” disclaimer attached, they will help you generate more leads for your restaurant and bring in more customers.
How It Works
In PPC advertising, you pay the search engine for each click your website receives. You can set a total daily limit to ensure you’re not going over your restaurant marketing budget.
For instance, you could set your budget to five dollars a day. Once your website gets enough clicks to hit that limit, the ad will be temporarily disabled until the following day.
PPC advertising is incredibly effective. Studies show that most PPC advertising campaigns return $2 for every $1 spent. For this reason, many businesses continue to use them even after they’ve established a strong SEO ranking.
4. Perfect the User Experience of Your Website
So far, we’ve talked a lot about how to get customers to your website. However, we also need to discuss the user experience you’re providing for people once they get there.
The quality of your website design is imperative to your restaurant marketing. If it’s difficult to use, unattractive, or unprofessional, most people won’t stick around long. It will fail to generate legitimate leads.
Furthermore, a poor website will lead to a high bounce rate. In other words, users will log onto your website and quickly bounce off of it. This, in turn, will decrease your SEO ranking because it shows Google that people don’t like what they find on your site.
Here are some ways you can improve the user experience.
Your website needs to be visually appealing. Aside from your branding that we talked about earlier, this also means adding a variety of pictures, videos, infographics, and text. However, don’t make your website overstimulating.
Additionally, your site needs to be intuitive. Customers should have no problem navigating your pages. It should be easy for them to find articles, your contact information, your location, and your menu. This is especially important if you offer online ordering services.
If you allow customers to order food online, this process must be streamlined. If customers struggle to order food online, they might end up ditching the entire process and dining with someone else.
One of the most practical marketing tips for restaurants is to ensure your website is optimized for mobile devices. Over 85% of Americans have smartphones and you can be sure they’ll be using them to find your restaurant.
When people are searching for places to eat, it’s generally because they’re out and about. And even if they’re sitting on the couch at home, they’re more likely to grab their phone than their laptop.
If your site isn’t optimized for these types of mobile devices, it will load slowly and in the wrong format. This will lead to frustration on your customers’ end and a loss of sales for you.
5. Develop a Strong Social Media Presence
Some of the best restaurant marketing ideas revolve around social media. Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram can greatly increase your customer base. That’s because the vast majority of Americans have accounts on these types of social media apps.
People use them to stay up-to-date on current events, post about their lives, keep in contact with friends, and more. As a local restaurant, you can use social media to increase your visibility and reputation in the community.
Facebook Organic Marketing
Facebook has over 240 million users in the US. This makes it the ideal app for restaurant marketing.
Create a business profile for your restaurant and ask all of your personal friends and followers to like and follow your page. Then, as you post content about your restaurant, encourage these people to share your posts, which will make them visible to their friends and followers. By posting engaging and enticing content, you can build up your following and increase your marketing influence organically.
You can also create hype and gain new followers by running special promotions. For example, run a promotion that awards users points for following your page, liking your content, commenting, and sharing posts. The points will be used in a raffle wherein the winner is awarded a free week of lunches. The second and third place prizes can be a single free meal.
These types of campaigns get people excited about your restaurant and ensure more followers. Once you have followers on your account, you can post regularly about special discounts. These can include:
- Kids eat free nights
- Free dessert days
- Half-off lunches
- And more
The idea is to keep people engaged with your account.
Paid Facebook Ads
Facebook ads are amazing restaurant marketing tools you can use to reach new customers outside of your organic reach. Paid ads allow you to choose who sees your marketing message based on their location, gender, age, interests, and more. In other words, you can choose your target audience.
Just as importantly, Facebook ads monitor your performance. You can see how many people saw your ad in their feeds, as well as how many people engaged. Engagement includes likes, shares, comments, link clicks, profile follows, etc.
This information can be broken down even further, and will help you create better ads in the future. Many businesses run A and B ads simultaneously to compare and contrast marketing styles.
Instagram is all about visual appeal. In the beginning, it largely focused on posting pictures with captions. However, to compete with Tik Tok’s rising popularity, it now incorporates Reels (short videos).
This type of advertising is perfect for food marketing. By taking high-quality pictures and videos of the foods you offer at your restaurant, you can entice a lot of customers.
How to Use Instagram
To ensure you’re getting a lot of followers and views, we recommend adding depth to your account. Make it about the love of food, rather than just product photos. You can post recipes, cooking and baking tips, etc.
It’s also important to understand how the Instagram algorithm works. Instagram uses something called hashtags, which are essentially keywords. The time of day you post and how much you engage on the app are also key to your posts’ visibility. Don’t “post and ghost” and expect your content to be viewed heavily. Spend some time before and after posting engaging with accounts. This shows Instagram that you’re not just using the app for your own gain (even if you are).
Instagram wants users to use the app as much as possible and rewards those who do by making their content more visible. For this reason, posting every day, or at least a few times a week is also important.
Finally, let’s talk about a trend in social media marketing – influencer marketing. A social media influencer is someone who has gained a large number of loyal followers.
While few small local businesses ever reach influencer status, you can work with people in your community who have. By affiliating with social media influencers, you can market your restaurant to their audiences.
In return, you can pay them for each post they do for your restaurant marketing or provide them with free dining. The amount and type of pay depends on the influencer.
6. Connect With Consumers With Content Marketing
Next, let’s talk a little more in-depth about content marketing. Content includes everything from your social media posts and emails to blog articles and ads. In this section, we’re going to focus on your blog.
The content you create, as suggested above, will affect your SEO ranking. It is an important aspect of your restaurant marketing strategy, and is about more than just keywords.
Creating Valuable Content
Your content must provide something of value or substance to your readers. Creating valuable content will benefit you in multiple ways.
First, valuable content will keep users engaged on your site longer. This will improve your SEO ranking and help you generate more leads. Quality content will also help you earn consumer trust and improve credibility for your restaurant.
But what is valuable content?
Valuable content, as suggested above, provides your readers with something of substance, something that makes their life better on some level. This can include cooking tutorials, baking tips, recipes, etc. It can also simply serve to entertain.
In essence, you’re trying to create relevant content that your readers want or need.
On another level, content creation helps humanize your brand. The content you create should make you look more relatable to the customer. In this way, it disarms people from viewing you as an unfeeling business trying to take their money.
7. Use Email Marketing to Stay On Customers’ Minds
In most cases, you can increase your sales simply by being present in people’s minds. When things are slow, it’s not necessarily because people don’t want to eat at your restaurant. It’s generally because they’re not thinking about it.
Email marketing is one of the best restaurant marketing ideas to remind locals about all the delicious foods you offer. You can also use email campaigns to generate hype about special promotions coming up or the weekly specials we talked about earlier:
- Family nights
- Kids eat free nights
- Free dessert days
- Happy hours
Your emails can also contribute to your content marketing by highlighting new blog articles and linking back to your website. You should also include links to your social media pages.
So how do you get email subscribers?
Building Up Your Email List
As a restaurant, you’re not going to have a hard time collecting email subscribers. It’s all about creating an incentive. People won’t do things (like join an email list) unless you give them a compelling reason to do so.
Using your ads, website, and social media pages, encourage people to join your email list by offering exclusive discounts. A landing page on your website could be an especially effective tool. You can also encourage customers to sign up at the point of sale in your restaurant.
By subscribing to your email list, customers could be rewarded with a free meal or a major discount. Then, to ensure people remain subscribed beyond the initial incentive, continue to offer valuable discounts and promotions that are only available to them. This will make customers feel like they’re part of a special club, and ensure you get repeat business.
8. Publish Customer Reviews
When most people shop online, they don’t make any decisions without first reading customer reviews. Customer reviews provide buyers with peace of mind. They want to make sure other people were happy with the product or service before they spend their own money on it.
For your restaurant marketing, customer reviews will serve as social proof that you offer good food and customer service. The more reviews you have, the more credible your restaurant will appear to prospective customers.
Encourage your customers to review your restaurant by offering them small discounts on their next meal. You can also offer free desserts or appetizers to customers who use their smartphones to write reviews on-site.
And if you have any negative reviews, it’s important to respond to them professionally. Comment on the review and apologize to the customer for their negative experience and offer a solution to make it better. This will show people that you are a caring and compassionate business.
9. Develop a Mobile App
Earlier, we mentioned that 85% of Americans use smartphones. As such, developing a mobile app for your restaurant could prove to be hugely beneficial.
You can use this app to take orders, share updates, and create a customer loyalty reward program. It could serve as a virtual punch card that can go towards free meals and other rewards.
Just as importantly, you can use this app to send automated push notifications to customers. As noted earlier, this will keep you present on their minds, which will lead to more sales.
10. Use Geofencing
In the restaurant industry, location is important. Many people eat at restaurants based on where they’re at when they get hungry.
For this reason, we recommend using Geofencing to target consumers near your restaurant. Geofencing uses GPS tracking on mobile devices to locate and target high-value customers.
Your ads will reach people who are nearby and present them with a fast and convenient dining solution. And if we know one thing about consumers, it’s that they appreciate speed and convenience.
Want to Ramp Up Your Restaurant Marketing?
So now we’ll ask you again, what are you doing to draw in customers to your restaurant? Are you implementing any of the restaurant marketing tips listed above? Imagine how effective your marketing strategy would be if you used all of the tactics listed in this article.
If you’re ready to ramp up your food marketing performance, we can help. Contact us today to talk about our marketing services. We offer full marketing packages as well as specific marketing specialties.
We would love to help you put your restaurant on the map and maximize your profits.