It’s no secret that excellent food and service are the cornerstones of a successful restaurant business. That being said, there are many other things you can do to foster more customer loyalty and realize restaurant success. Establishing a stronger digital restaurant presence is one such way to promote your restaurant, as well as attract and retain customers.
In today’s digitally-driven world, it is imperative that your restaurant not only exists in the physical world but has a strong standing in the online world too. No doubt, your guests are online, and it only makes sense that your restaurant should be too. Here are some ways to grow your restaurant’s online presence to increase customer loyalty and realizing business success:
Consider Proactive Marketing
Usually, marketing strategies focus on reactive marketing, or the kind of marketing that establishes a product/service presence in a space your audience is already looking at. For example, selling a particular food product, like ice cream, in a grocery store is a form of reactive marketing — you know that customers who come to a grocery store are usually shopping for food.
For a restaurant, reactive marketing would involve getting listed on sites like OpenTable or Yelp. Reactive marketing is less risky and yields decent results.
However, to build brand awareness and reach a larger number of people, you might want to consider proactive marketing. As stated by experts at the Timmerman Group, proactive marketing “is marketing or advertising that places your product or service in the places where people are not already looking. The people looking for your product or service are performing another activity, such as reading the Sunday paper, watching the local news on TV, or scrolling through a social media feed.”
Proactive marketing is based on the premise that these people who are otherwise engaged should be disrupted by your powerful marketing efforts, so much so that they are “pulled away from their original intent.”
Social media ads as well as display advertising are great proactive marketing channels and have the potential to reach hundreds of customers. Aimee Cicero, PR Events Manager of The Brownstein Group suggests creating life-sized menu items as a way of proactive marketing to create a buzz about a restaurant opening. She recommends moving around the food item and a digital photo booth through highly trafficked public locations, where people wouldn’t generally expect to see such a display.
This sort of marketing allows potential customers to interact with the food, try samples, and even take pictures to generate social media hype via the digital photo booth. In turn, this sort of proactive marketing allows you to further build your online presence through potential customers.
Create Targeted Content
To create specific content that resonates with your audience, you need to first identify your consumers. Look into the type of clientele your restaurant caters to: Do families frequent your restaurant, or is it more geared to couples? What are the average age ranges of those that come in for a meal? Do people usually stop in for a quick bite and coffee or stay for longer full-course dinners? Once you know your customer demographics and their preferences, you can start creating content that is tailored to their needs.
No matter the type of business — in this case, a restaurant — it’s always a good idea to do some market research and look into what other similar successful restaurants are doing. Additionally, take the time to get feedback from your customers to further understand them. An article by experts at Fiscal Tiger recommends asking customers for specific feedback in regards to particular aspects of the business. This yields more clarity as opposed to general feedback and reviews, and help you better cater to customer desires.
Your brand identity and content should be based around your audience, all the way from promotional materials to simple social media posts. As stated in an article about various restaurant marketing ideas, “the better you target your marketing, you’ll find your customers will be of a higher quality and spend a lot more per visit.” Creating targeted online content does not have to be difficult — with a little effort, you can use the widespread reach of online channels to build up your digital presence and better appeal to customers.
Use Other Digital Channels
Social media marketing is of utmost importance and is probably the most accessible and effective way to establish a stronger online presence. However, it is not the only way. While you should focus a good chunk of your efforts on upping your restaurant’s social media game, don’t disregard other opportunities to strengthen your digital identity.
For instance, an article on Business.com that details how to attract customers to your restaurant recommends creating a simple but very functional website. Your website should be continuously updated, easy to navigate, and intuitive to use. A good restaurant website gives the customer any information they need about food and location as well as allows for a simplified booking and reservations process. Customers prefer simplicity and straightforwardness as opposed to a complicated website that doesn’t allow for basic functionality.
Secondly, be sure to create a Google My Business (GMB) page for your restaurant. As we’ve mentioned in a previous article, an optimized GMB page can “provide increased visibility in search results for your restaurant, better user experience for your guests, and send more web traffic to your site.”
Digital influencers are another channel to boost online presence. Consider organizing relevant events for bloggers and/or industry veterans. Influencers are extremely useful in reassuring older customers about the continued quality of a restaurant, as well as bringing in new customers. Publicity through the influencer’s online channels will also aid in further establishing your digital identity.
One thing to keep in mind, however, is to stay authentic. Without authenticity, your digital channels — be it your website, influencers, or social media posts — won’t mean anything. To quote experts at Appnovation, “With the rise of influencer-marketing, people are more selective and will choose brands that are authentic and accountable, able to form and offer personalized relationship with consumers and brand ambassadors.” Remember this when leveraging any digital channels.
In today’s world, an online presence is a must for your restaurant. In fact, a solid digital presence could be exactly what elevates your restaurant from a local favorite to a universal powerhouse. Rather than hoping and waiting for customers to discover you, leverage the opportunities of the digital world and be the one to reach customers through their phones and laptops. Use these tips to establish an online presence for your restaurant, and plant it firmly on both the physical and digital maps!