Craft a Great Experience for Customers: 5 Ways Restaurant Marketing Helps

Posted: Feb. 21, 2019

In the course of a few years, an ever-increasing use of smartphones has intensified the playing field for restaurant marketing. The combination of good food, online ordering, and restaurant marketing have steadily become vital instruments for restaurants to be successful. Most restaurants aim to get more customers to eat in-house or to order online for takeout/delivery. However, with each passing year, the market becomes more saturated with competitors and options to choose from. For both customers and restaurant owners, it can be overwhelming and disheartening. The challenge to compete and stand out becomes harder and a restaurant’s ability to relate to customers can become incredibly difficult and frustrating.

While multiple methods of attracting customers are available, many restaurants are still not investing in the tools and knowledge to make their business stand out from the crowd. Whatever you need to do as a restaurant owner to convert more customers is highly recommended, and you’ll want to begin investing in restaurant marketing tools that help grow your business. Here’s where you can start:

  1. Improve Local SEO
  2. Offer Online Ordering
  3. Be Social
  4. Include Email Marketing
  5. Begin a Loyalty Program

If these ideas seem like too much at one time, try picking one concept, committing to it and owning the process. The end goal is to drive local customers – new and old – to your restaurant through the marketing choices you make.

1. Improve Local SEO

When local customers are searching for your type of restaurant they need to be able to find you. Local SEO is the practice of sharing content and data, via your website and other sites, so search engines can effectively determine what you offer. Local SEO helps increase your restaurant’s visibility to local customers.

  1. Google Maps. Around 86% of people look up the location of a business on Google Maps. This is important because Google Maps has evolved into an essential component for local SEO. Google recently rolled out an update allowing business to add additional URLs and links to their listings. Restaurants can now add links to their online ordering page, update their restaurant’s bio, and showcase photos of their dishes.

  2. NAP Consistency. Your NAP details (name, address, phone number) should be consistent everywhere your business is mentioned on the web. So the details on your Google business page need to match up exactly with your website and all your business directory listings. Second, get citations: listings in reputable local directories, outlets like trade magazines, local newspapers, industry blogs, etc. Third, make sure you gather reviews from customers to show others you are a high quality establishment.

  3. Use the Right Tool: Either head over to Google My Business or use NetWaiter’s free Google Connect tool to make sure your restaurant’s information is updated so local customers can find you. For more information on how to leverage the power of SEO within the restaurant industry, we recommend reading How Restaurant Search Has Evolved.

Customers routinely turn to search engines to find information about local restaurants. Because some people search the internet without a particular destination in mind, it’s important to associate specific terms with your restaurant, to grab the attention of as many customers as possible.

2. Offer Online Ordering

Online ordering is a way of life when it comes to booking flights, making reservations, buying clothes, and of course – conveniently ordering food. Each online ordering system is a little different. Some might provide 50+ restaurants to choose from. Others might link directly to a restaurant’s website where customers can place direct orderers. Regardless of the service, the process is basically the same. Customers use their computer or phone to access a restaurant’s menu and place an order for pickup or delivery. The continuously-growing popularity of online ordering benefits both restaurants and customers. So what are the ‘must-have’ features of a good online ordering system? Let’s take a look.

  1. Simplicity. The goal of every online ordering systems should be to make the ordering process as easy as possible.  Keep in mind – the #1 benefit online ordering provides customers is convenience. To maximize customer convenience, it’s best to minimize the number of clicks needed to complete an order.  The fewer the clicks, the easier it is for customers to place an order. If the menu is easy to view and navigate, customers will feel empowered to choose what they want.

  2. Branding and Control. Not all individual sites are the same. Some are very basic, while others provide a variety of features and benefits. The best systems allow your online ordering site to be properly branded and tailored to your restaurant’s look and feel.  Using a system that provides you direct access to your site’s settings and allows you to edit your menu and site design is ideal. The best systems will also provide you feedback and statistics on ordering trends and customer data.

  3. Data. Capturing valuable information about your customers helps you improve your processes and menu in the future. Using a service that has built-in reporting features can help improve customer retention and growth. The service you choose should allow you to collect information about your customers and their ordering history. This information can help you identify trends, learn more about your customers, and plan marketing campaigns and promotions.

As a restaurant owner, you know the value of your brand and what works best for your team. A system that provides your restaurant the best ability to maximize the benefits from online ordering is going to be most effective. More importantly, a system that’s easy to use will provide your customers with a positive experience and will keep them coming back.

3. Be Social

Generation Z now makes up around 26% of our population. Where Baby Boomers originally held the crown, Generation Z now reigns supreme as being the largest demographic and are taking charge with their spending habits. They are expected to account for about 40 percent of all consumers by 2020. Before the digital world, it was easier for restaurant owners to differentiate themselves from their competitors. We live in a world where all information regarding everyone and everything is available right in the palm of your hand, which makes it harder to stand out. Despite the challenges, going digital and being more social has a quick return of investment for restaurant owners.

  1. Improve your social media channels. If you are used to attracting customers via traditional marketing (postcards, billboards, radio advertisements), consider your investments. To draw the attention of the popular Generation Z, you need to be quick, and you need to be available on channels where they are. On a weekly basis, Generation Z-ers most frequently check YouTube (12.2 times), followed by Instagram (7.7 times), Snapchat (6.9 times), Facebook (6.7 times), Twitter (4.6 times), Google+ (2.4 times), and Pinterest (2.3 times).

  2. Build local loyalty. Across all ages, 55% of consumers trust user-generated content over other forms of marketing. Additionally, only 15% of people trust recommendations from brands, while 84% of people trust recommendations from people. As you continue to engage with customers, additional support will follow through personal communications to friends, families, and other people who trust their opinion.

  3. Authenticity goes a long way.  Like any form of marketing, try to have as much fun with it as possible. Avoid only trying to promote deals, specials, and restaurant-specific content. If you allow yourself to open up to your customers, you are more likely to see a higher level of engagement and purchasers. Treat your customers like family and friends, and invite them into your restaurant’s life with open arms.

The opinions of Millennials matter. They determine what’s trending and what’s old. Soon, they will be the largest percentage of the population with the greatest purchasing power. This means that their interests and daily habits can drastically impact your business. As a result, they are influencing what we eat. If you think you have them all figured out, think again.

4. Include Email Marketing

Email marketing is alive and well. After completing a survey of more than 500 marketers, researchers found that 69% of businesses spend money and time on email marketing. The reason? People see emails. Only 2% of people see a post on their social media feed, but 90 percent of emails reach their intended inbox. Furthermore, a customer has to sign up to receive most emails that arrive in their inbox, a voluntary measure that goes beyond targeted social media campaigns. There’s no denying that email marketing can be used to increase restaurant profits.

  1. Increase brand awareness. Email marketing allows you reach out to your customers by their name, create content that is related to them, and give your restaurant the chance to learn more about your restaurant in a meaningful way. Over 53% of marketers say ongoing, personalized communication with existing customers results in moderate to significant revenue impact.

  2. Share across marketing channels. When marketing your restaurant, you can no longer rely on just a single channel to get your message out. Customers expect businesses to communicate to them via multiple channels (social, email, print, etc.). In a world where customers are incredibly connected to their phones and computers, it is up to you to determine the best methods of taking advantage of these channels to rope in customers.

  3. Build your list. Once you invest in the right system, make sure you are familiar with how to properly manage your lists. Are you exporting information you already have from an Excel file to then import into the system? Are all of these addresses current customers? Building and growing your email list is something that you should do at every opportune moment. You can collect email addresses through sign-up forms on your restaurant’s website, feedback cards, or via online ordering.

5. Begin a Loyalty Program

Loyalty programs for companies have been around for awhile and they come in all different shapes and sizes. Some programs are created in such a way where a customer has to collect a certain number of points to unlock a special reward, or maybe they pay a particular premium to gain access to additional options as a valuable customer (i.e. Amazon Prime). For restaurants, loyalty programs are a simple way to say “Thank You” to customers and keep them coming back for more.

  1. Increase Sales. Using a tool where you can simply plug in a loyalty rate for customers will quickly help boost sales since it will encourage customers to order again. From a customer’s perspective, they can immediately see their loyalty balance increase as they order each time. Once they reach the minimum redemption amount, they can then choose to redeem their loyalty rewards with a single click.  

  2. Boost awareness. The real value of a loyalty program is its ability to sustain engagement with valuable customers. The more loyal your customers are to your brand and the more they purchase, the larger the reward is for them in the end. Find a way to make your loyalty program experience as easy as possible for those purchasing so they know how much rewards they are collecting.

  3. Easy to implement. Don’t make customers jump through hoops to get rewards. Equally important is to provide customers a clear idea of the benefits they will receive. Your goal is to motivate customers to spend more at your restaurant and spend more frequently. When attempting to change a customer’s buying habits, it’s critical they understand the benefits involved and how easily they can capture those benefits.

If a customer loves your restaurant, give them something to motivate their return. The most recent statistics show that 64 percent of brands saw an increase in loyalty program membership over the last year. Rewarding your most loyal customers will in turn help you attract more customers to your restaurant who will then spend more often.

When it comes to marketing, real-life experience is best. “Word-of-mouth marketing isn’t about giving customers talking points as if they were brand spokespeople. It’s about delivering an exceptional customer experience that makes customers want to recommend you,” stated Deborah Eastman, CMO of Satmetrix. Diana Kelter, a senior trends analyst at marketing firm Mintel, wrote in a blog last year that the notion of extending a restaurant brand beyond its food and into new categories melds with the choice of millennials and Gen Z to discover trends on social media. “In a social media culture, expanding into new territories is quickly becoming the norm in order to stay top of mind with younger consumers,” she wrote.

In a nutshell, your food, service, and brand create your identity and uniqueness to engage with customers emotionally. Find the “special” part of your restaurant and bring attention to it. Take time to understand your customers, determine where you should improve your marketing efforts, and then design a clear strategy to reach more local customers.

Author Bio

This article was contributed by our friends at NetWaiter, a restaurant marketing platform and network with embedded online ordering, benefiting restaurants and customers.

Posted: Feb. 21, 2019 | Written By: lavuadmin

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