last updated 15/02/2023

Digital Marketing for Restaurant – 2023 Strategy

Restaurant digital marketing

The restaurant business is exciting and unpredictable. There is no manual to being successful in this line Competition is stiff.

So you got to be on your toes all the time and think of novel strategies to attract more customers. If you want to learn how to do digital marketing for a restaurant, your in the right place!

Gone are the times when people had a favorite local whose food they swore by and didn’t look elsewhere. 

There are so many options these days that the customer is spoilt for choice. It’s no longer just about great food but food that is instagram worthy and an ambiance that looks picture-perfect.

No wonder then that restaurants these days got to allocate a considerable percentage of their budget to marketing activities. 

With newspaper readership dwindling fast, spending a massive fortune by advertising in the papers no longer makes sense. 

Traditional market in the form of billboards and pamphlets has their relevance, but restaurant owners need to think of more direct and effective ways of reaching their customers.

This is where digital restaurant marketing comes into the picture.

Why should you invest in restaurant digital marketing?

The web has completely transformed the way businesses connect with their customers. The internet, especially social media has become an integral part of everybody’s lives.

Online media, over the past decade, has fast displaced traditional media like print, electronic media, etc. 

With the smartphone becoming super ubiquitous, people rely on it to access everything from news to entertainment.

For a business like a restaurant, digital marketing is very important because creating memorable experiences for people is at the core of this business.

Here are a few reasons why you should invest in digital marketing for your restaurant business.

1.      Digital marketing is cost-effective

Traditional marketing costs a fortune. 

And, the results no longer justify the kind of money one has to put in. This is the major reason many businesses are taking to digital marketing.

As a restaurant owner, your goal is to reach the maximum number of people through a cost-effective platform. 

Digital marketing fits the bill. The cost of advertising on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram is far less than the traditional media channels.

The best part about online marketing is that you can start marketing with a minimal budget. 

An Instagram business account comes at no cost and you can start connecting with your customers instantly. Similarly, you can start a Facebook page to connect with your customers and then gradually increase your social media presence.

2. You can reach more customers

As per the latest statistics, more than 60 percent of the world’s population uses the internet. According to a study published by the Statista Research Department, there were more than 5 billion internet users worldwide, as of April 2022.

This means that your customers are online and they are doing multiple searches for products and services including restaurants.

You can capitalize on this huge prospective customer base by investing in a digital marketing strategy.

3.      You can reach them at all times

The advantage of digital marketing is not only that you can reach more customers but you can reach them at all times.

That is because people have their smartphones with them almost all the time.

In traditional media, your reach is restricted to the time when people are reading the newspaper or watching television. 

But in online media, there are no such barriers. You can target them consistently through attractive offers and packages as they go about their daily chores.

4.      It is interactive

The biggest advantage of online marketing is that It is not one-sided. You can create a conversation with your customers.

In restaurant marketing, the feedback of your customers is very important – if they like your food, do they have any suggestions for improving the menu, if the procedure of ordering is convenient, etc. 

Social media marketing enables you to communicate with your customers and incorporate their feedback and suggestions in making your restaurant better.

Interacting with customers becomes even more important for countering bad publicity. 

There are many restaurant review sites these days where customers can leave a bad review for your restaurant. You must keep a track of these things and assure them that you would look into this matter and improve your service further.

5.        It leads to faster customer action

Initiating customer action is the ultimate aim of all marketing strategies.

The goal of both offline and online marketing strategies in the restaurant business is that customers either order food online or visit the restaurant.

Digital marketing for restaurants can lead to faster customer action. If someone is using Google to search for local restaurants in that area, it’s obvious that they want to order food online. 

While checking out the menu of the restaurant online, sometimes people instantly decide if they want to order from this restaurant or visit the place.

When people are specifically looking for products or services online, they are more bound to take concrete action if they like what they see such as clicking on the restaurant’s website.

Digital marketing plan for restaurant business

You need to have a full-fledged digital marketing plan to promote your restaurant.

The plan will outline the strategies for digital marketing adopted by your company and the desired results.

No matter what the size of your business is, you cannot afford to be complacent and go about doing social media marketing randomly without having any strategy in mind. 

Random marketing doesn’t work in business. You must do comprehensive research on the market and then lay out a strategy for achieving your objectives.

These are a few points to consider while formulating digital marketing strategies for your restaurant business.

  • Research your market – This is most important. Do comprehensive market research on your target customer base. What are their internet usage patterns like? Which social media platforms do they use the most? In the restaurant business, the bulk of your customers will be locals so you need to create your marketing strategy accordingly.

  • Research the digital marketing strategies of your competitors – You must keep a tab on the digital marketing campaigns, social media presence, etc of your competitors to see how you can innovate your campaign and catch the audience attention in new ways.

  • Take the services of a digital marketing expert – You cannot do everything yourself. Your in-house marketing team might not have the required expertise for digital marketing. It’s best to hire a digital marketing expert as a consultant so that they can work in close coordination with your marketing team. This would also save you a lot of money as hiring a consultant is cheaper than hiring a whole new set of people for digital marketing.

  • Incorporate strategies for free marketing – This might sound like an exaggeration, but there is a lot of scope for free restaurant marketing. If you are a small business with limited means, you could liaison with your regular customers and local influencers for free marketing like online reviews, restaurant pictures on social media channels, etc.

  • Define your objectives clearly – This is extremely important. You must be clear about what you want to achieve. What kind of restaurant do you have? Is it a theme-based place or a generic eatery?  Are you promoting your restaurant along certain lines? Is your restaurant located in a touristy area? Or are you mainly targeting locals? You need to be clear about all these points to formulate the right digital marketing plan for your restaurant business.

Tips for restaurant digital marketing

Now, we come to the practical part. That is, how to implement digital marketing strategies for your restaurant business.

These are the best strategies for digital marketing that should be adopted by all restaurants.

1.      Make your website perfect

This is the first step of digital marketing.

Just because you are a local restaurant, it doesn’t mean that you should neglect your website. 

Remember that more than 80 percent of customers are searching for the best restaurants online. 

They check out your website and form impressions about your business.

Your website is like your brand ambassador. It should have an attractive and appealing design to draw customers into checking the site. 

It should be functional professional and user-friendly. Keep the layout elegant yet simple, so that people are not confused by too many categories and information overload.

Potential customers should be able to navigate the website swiftly to check out details like your menu, address, hours of operation, etc. 

You must also invest in a good photographer and videographer to showcase your restaurant to prospective customers. 

When people visit your website, they must get all the information they need and a complete overview of the aesthetic ambiance of your restaurant.

2. Social media marketing

With almost 3 billion monthly Facebook active users worldwide and nearly 1.21 billion Instagram users over the world, social media marketing has become a must for all businesses. 

The restaurant business is no exception!

You must make use of social media marketing and the option of paid ads on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.

There are various components of social media marketing. Let’s take a look at these in detail.

a.      Customer engagement

One of the most important purposes of social media marketing is to engage with customers.

Social media channels like WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook, etc have boosted customer interaction in ways unimaginable before. The restaurant business needs to capitalize on this advantage.

You should make sure that all customer queries on your social media handles are promptly answered. 

In the restaurant business, customer feedback is crucial. You must promptly respond to all their comments, tweets, posts, etc.

There are many tools social media that give you the flexibility of managing all your channels from one place. You must make use of these tools to streamline customer communication.

WhatsApp is emerging as the most important social media platform for engaging customers. It should be an integral part of your marketing strategy. 

You must have a dedicated WhatsApp account to deal with customer queries. Maintain regular contact with your followers. Use a chatbot to answer generic questions from consumers and if there is a specific query, then give them personalized responses.

b.      Gain followers on social media

Your social media marketing strategy wouldn’t be of much use unless you gain followers.

Use various social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram etc to gain a solid follower base.

The restaurant business is all about visibility. 

Use networks like Instagram to connect with prospective customers through pictures and videos. Your social media campaign needs to be highly proactive. 

Your creative team must constantly improvise new ideas to promote the restaurant menu, food, setting etc on social media. 

Posting once a week is not enough. You need to have several posts scheduled for every single day.

You should also use paid social media marketing to promote your restaurant business.

c.      Make use of video marketing

Video marketing is an important component of your digital marketing strategy. Videos are great for showcasing your eclectic menu.

Create engaging and appealing videos of your kitchen and food. Also, curate unique videos around customer experiences. 

Social media is all about storytelling. You should use the video format to strengthen the online presence of your restaurant bond.

Video marketing is all about connecting with people’s emotions. Your videos should be crisp, engaging, and fun to watch. 

Every social media channel follows a different algorithm Short videos are great for Instagram and Facebook. You should use Youtube for sharing longer videos that give an in-depth insight into your restaurant business.

You must also make good use of Instagram reels and youtube shorts. These extremely short video formats can reach millions of potential customers; such is the power of their reach.

In the business of restaurants, social media marketing, as mentioned earlier, is all about visibility. You got to generate brand awareness.

d.      Run campaigns and contests

You should run innovative contests and campaigns on social media to promote your restaurant.

Give your followers fun surprises on Instagram like offering a free meal to every 100th follower. Give your followers access to discount coupons and promo codes from time to time. The restaurant business is all about creating a buzz and by running these campaigns and contests on social media, you’d get the attention of your customers.

Remember that it’s all about creating a buzz. Your contests shouldn’t seem like you are being pushy to promote your restaurant. They should make your prospective guests feel special and unique so that they end up connecting with your brand.

3.      SEO marketing for restaurants

SEO or search engine optimization is the core of digital marketing.

You must focus on local SEO to drive organic traffic to your site and ultimately initiate customer action.

You should have an SEO strategy while creating content for your website. Make sure each page of your site amply utilizes local keywords as well as other forms of SEO coding including metadata embedded in videos, pictures, headings, etc.

SEO also forms the crux of your content marketing strategy. 

Relevant content in your niche is key to making your restaurant website rank high on google searches. 

Merely providing information about your business isn’t enough. You need to create relevant content in the restaurant niche. Start a blog highlighting various features of the restaurant industry.

Remember that SEO digital marketing is all about letting prospective customers discover your services or products through google search. So it has to be an important part of your promotion strategy.

4.      Email marketing

Email marketing is one of the best marketing strategies for restaurant industries.

Your first task is to build an email list of subscribers. 

You can gain email subscribers through social media, your website, landing page ads, affiliate pages, etc, and by offering attractive discount packages to previous customers who subscribe.

The next step is to start sending regular informational emails to your subscribers. You shouldn’t spam your subscribers will every day emails. 

That will be a put-off. Send them a set of emails once or twice a week. They could be in the form of greetings, and discounts and coupons.

You can also use email marketing to create a personalized rapport with your subscribers by sending them information about various updates to your restaurant such as the new dishes on your menu worth checking out, the new chef you hired, etc.

People like to have a personal connection with the place where they frequently eat out. The purpose of your email strategy should be to convert these subscribers into loyal regulars.

5.      Online review sites and listings

It is one of the best marketing strategies for restaurants.

Online listings and review sites are immensely popular amongst people. They go by these listings to decide where they want to eat out. This kind of digital marketing is highly effective for initiating action.

You must build an effective presence on sites like TripAdvisor, Zomato, EazyDiner, etc. 

You must provide all the details of your restaurant including the location, contact details, menu, price etc, along with eye-catching pictures of your restaurant.

Many of these sites also allow customers to give their own reviews and describe their dining experience. 

If someone gives your restaurant a negative review, you must make it a point to address their concerns and respond immediately. 

If they give you suggestions regarding the menu, you must graciously thank them and say you’d surely consider their suggestions.

This is one of the best strategies for customers digital marketing

6.      Google My Business Listing

Don’t forget to list your restaurant on Google My Business Listing.

Google uses a generic business profile known as Google My Business to help businesses establish a connection with their customers through search results.

 To be included in this listing, you need to provide several details like the name of your business, address, timings, reviews, website link, photos, etc.

GMB profiles are handy for businesses like restaurants as they can help you reach more customers by providing them with relevant information.

The greatest advantage of this listing is that it appears before the search results along with a map, thus creating more visibility for your restaurant.

7.      Influencer Marketing

One of the best strategies for digital marketing is the use of influencer marketing.

Social media influencers are a great means for free restaurant marketing. 

They have an established fan following in their niche and you can rope them in to promote your brand in exchange for a fee or a certain number of free meals.

Influencer marketing is a two-way process. 

You are looking for influencers to enhance your restaurant’s profile and they are looking for opportunities to create new content to further increase their fan following. Look for local influencers and invite them to dine at your restaurant for free.

Influencer marketing is one of the fastest-growing segments of restaurant marketing. 

These influencers would play a major role in shaping public opinion about your restaurant by reviewing the place in their Youtube and Instagram videos, reviewing your food, and posting their pics with your restaurant as the background setting.

Wrapping up

  • We told you all about the importance of digital marketing for restaurants. Then, we talked about various points you should keep in mind while formulating a digital marketing strategy. Next, we described in detail different kinds of digital marketing for restaurants.
  • You must remember that in the restaurant business, the quality of your food and the standard of your service matters the most. Make sure your kitchen area follows the highest standards of hygiene and cleanliness. Often, restaurants spend a lot of money on jazzing up their dining area but neglect the upkeep of the areas where food is being cooked.
  • Remember that when guests are ordering food, they are as concerned about how the food was prepared as they are about the final look of the dish. Digital marketing strategies for the restaurant business can be super effective if you take care of the basics and offer a quality experience to your customers.
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