Creative Marketing for Restaurants

Part I: Websites

Creative Marketing for Restaurants

How Creative Marketing for Restaurants Started…

The City of Lowell recently tapped Tomo360 to present marketing strategies for restaurant owners in Lowell. The goal of the webinar was to help restaurants during COVID-19. It turned out to be a two-part series, with the first webinar covering website marketing and mobile presence; and other digital marketing aspects, such as Google My Business and Search Engine Optimization. The second webinar discussed Social Media Marketing, another important aspect for restaurants. 

This blog series will cover the content of these webinars and we hope these blogs can help restaurants beyond the Lowell community! Please share this article with a restaurant owner you know!

 

INTRODUCTION 

Research shows that the majority of people don’t enjoy cooking. Even with social distancing measures, it’s possible for restaurants to easily sell takeout to customers. However, COVID-19 does present communication obstacles to restaurants and customers. In this blog, we’ll discuss ways to update your website so that communication is easier and customers can get busy ordering! 

WHY IS MY WEBSITE SO IMPORTANT TO CUSTOMERS?

When hungry customers search for restaurants they all have different appetites, but everyone’s got to eat, right? Some want a specific ethnic flavor, some are looking for something nearby and another may be looking to accommodate a large party. You can count on a few basic truths: customers are looking for your phone number, your location, to read your menu, to look at photos of your dishes, and to see your reviews. 

There is plenty of research illustrating how customers behave. For example, 80% of surveyed customers searched for a restaurant on their mobile phone. Also, 70% of customers think it is important to read a menu on their mobile device. And, 92% of customers read restaurant reviews (Upserve, 2020). So, what do you think are the most important elements to include on a professional restaurant website? 

7 KEYS TO A PRO RESTAURANT WEBSITE

A restaurant website needs to address a customer’s needs and wants, and take into consideration where and how they choose a restaurant before ordering. 

  • Phone number, and address prominently displayed and clickable, if possible
  • It must be mobile compatible! 
  • Presents your food beautifully with many enticing photos of your dishes and highlights your signature dishes and cocktails 
  • Menus must be uploadable, and mobile compatible
  • Information about your hours, how to order, and takeout procedures
  • Easy to order links; your own, secure ordering platform is best
  • Access to restaurant reviews 

A professional website helps you showcase your menu, display food photos, and share reviews. It also should enhance Google search results and make it easy for customers to order, contact you, or arrive at your location. Also, we can’t state how important it is to have a mobile-compatible site — it is an absolute must in today’s world. 

YOUR WEBSITE IS A KEY INGREDIENT TO WINNING NEW CUSTOMERS

During this pandemic, many businesses are closed. Customers are not sure which restaurants have closed or what new hours they are keeping. A key ingredient for communicating with customers is to make sure your website clearly states your hours, open locations, your takeout procedures, and anything else that your customers should know to help them make a decision. 

Make sure your takeout or delivery links are clear and easy to find. Whether you choose to partner with a delivery service such as UBER Eats or GrubHub or have your own online ordering system, it’s essential that “order here” links are easy to see. 

It is also important to share your restaurant story and links to social media. Your fans will want to know more about you. Telling your story creates an emotional bond for customers and makes them feel like they are a part of your story. 

Another best practice for a professional restaurant website is online reviews. Online reviews are so important because they build credibility, help with SEO (yes, reviews impact search rankings), and they connect you with customers. 

92% of customers read online reviews and the majority prefer peer reviews to critics reviews. How do you get reviews? Ask your customers to review you online. If you have 4-star reviews or higher, go ahead and add reviews (Google or Yelp) to your website either as a feed or use images of your best reviews. Reviews can also be written on TripAdvisor, OpenTable, and even Facebook! 

MARKETING PROGRAMSMarketing Programs for Restaurants

There are proven marketing programs that entice customers into buying more and becoming repeat customers. Try one that you think will resonate with your customers: 

  • Online gift cards! They can be used in the future and given as gifts. 
  • Loyalty programs. Show your appreciation to your repeat customers by giving them something to celebrate, like a free lunch, a complimentary dessert, or double points on a Monday. 
  • Email marketing. 90% of adults use email and its ROI is proven to be higher than print mail and to solid returns for every dollar spent. 

 

GOOGLE MY BUSINESS

Google. This search platform is where many of your customers will start their search. This is where they go for new ideas, to see exactly how many Columbian restaurants are in their area and to read reviews. It’s very important to claim your Google Business Profile so that you can control what information is displayed to customers who are searching for their next meal.Example of Google My Business Profile

Google displays the same information that is crucial for your website, like your phone number, hours, photos of your food, reviews, directions, maps, and more information about other services you’d like to promote, like events and catering. However, your contribution to this profile is what will make your profile stand-out!

WHAT IS SEO (Search Engine Optimization)? 

We briefly touched on the power of Search above. SEO is the process of improving the quality and quantity of website traffic by increasing the visibility of your webpage through search. SEO increases your rankings in search engines! 

When people are searching for a restaurant on a search engine and find your website, then your SEO is good. Sometimes the SEO is not well optimized, and your website and other business profiles are not coming up in searches. There are changes you can make to improve how this works. 

The search engines rank websites based on the quality of your content and technical aspects of your site. So, by improving the quality of your content, and displaying information that will be most important to your visitors, you can easily improve your search ranking. Here are some content changes that are proven to improve SEO:

  • Include quality content
  • Use relevant titles and URLs
  • Use META descriptions to make it easier for searchers to see what’s on your site before clicking on it
  • Display your phone number, address and hours
  • Include reviews
  • Create links to other websites that will link back to your site
  • Add your story

In addition to content, you should also upload a lot of high-quality photos. Yes, photos can also improve your search ranking. More website specific things that could help are geo-tags, and alt-text descriptions. This is getting a little technical, so feel free to contact us for more information! Or check out this blog about SEO extensions that could help you. 

POINT OF SALE

You have probably considered upgrading to a Point Of Sale system, and it’s a terrific idea. As you re-open, you may find that many more customers will be interested in contactless check-out, because the pandemic has made people very cautious. It’s the safest way to shop, aside from ordering online. Other benefits are:

  • Tracking inventory and sales
  • Creating branded gift cards
  • Employee tracking
  • Loyalty programs
  • Reservations
  • Online ordering integrations
  • Email marketing 

 There are several POS systems, in various price ranges and with different features. All restaurants are different so research to find one that works for you. Some POS systems are also integrated with online ordering systems. And, there are many online ordering systems available! 

REINVENTING YOUR MARKETING STRATEGY FOR RE-OPENING! 

A lot of the strategy and tactics in this article are digital marketing based. That is because so many of your customers are online. We know it is a lot of information, but remember, the basic idea is to provide your customers with the best information and high-quality photos on your website; and don’t forget to touch on other important online experiences like Google My Business and search. If possible: promote via email, social media, and through your website!  Gift certificates are a great promotion idea because they allow customers to purchase now for something they’ll use later.

Of course, there’s more! We will cover social media in our next blog, with a special focus on how to creatively use social media to grow your customer base, even during the pandemic.

Another great re-opening strategy is to get a marketing tune-up!  What is a Tomo360 Marketing Tune-Up?  It’s a great way to assess your marketing efforts to see what’s working and what could be improved to help you reach your goals. We have several packages to choose from! Contact us today.

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