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Restaurant Marketing: How to Attract New Customers Online

As a restaurant owner, you might be wondering why your doors aren’t constantly flooded with customers. After all, you’re familiar with the overwhelming joy that comes with finding a hole-in-the-wall restaurant gold-mine. However, what you might not realize is that finding  hidden culinary gems in the area, just like yours, isn’t always easy for customers.

More often than not, browsing Google Maps for a quick minute or two is all the research customers do to choose a restaurant. If you want to help your customers find you, you have to put your restaurant on the map (literally). In this post, we’re giving you some digital marketing tips that will help you fill your tables; and keep them full night after night. 

Benefits of Restaurant Marketing

Customer Loyalty

In addition to attracting new customers, restaurant marketing also helps you foster relationships with existing customers, deepening customer loyalty. Customers who keep up with your restaurant on social media will think about your restaurant more often. What is more, that digital window into the operations of your restaurant will make customers invested in your success. 

Restaurant marketing also gives you the opportunity to personalize the dining experience for loyal customers. You can offer special discounts, VIP reservations, or little gifts to your restaurant’s top supporters through loyalty programs and email marketing.

Brand Reputation

Building a social media presence gets your restaurant’s brand out in front of customers. Building a brand reputation through social media feedback and reviews is a great way to show potential new customers what they’re missing out on by not booking a reservation with you. Restaurant marketing gives you a certain level of control over how the public perceives your business, and you can use this to your advantage.

Increased Revenue

At the end of the day, restaurant marketing is a way to get more customers in the door. More customers = more revenue. It’s as easy as that. 

Restaurant Marketing Tactics

Bring Food to the Phone

Forget reaching for the refrigerator door; now more than ever, consumers are grabbing their phones whenever hunger strikes. The more accessible you make your food online, the better chance you have of snagging those hungry tappers. 

First and foremost, make sure your restaurant is up on Google My Business. GMB adds your restaurant to Google Maps (where so many customers find their next bite). According to a Google Study, 30% of searches convert into paying customers immediately, 60% convert within the hour, and 80% convert eventually. GMB also acts as a standalone website for your restaurant. You can post photos of your food, link to online ordering services, post updates in the community section, and more. This is also where browsing customers can scroll through your customer reviews. 

Setting up online ordering is key. A big portion of your potential customers prefer ordering online and picking up in store. Be sure to provide that option so you don’t miss out on those customers. And don’t forget about delivery. You should also consider implementing some kind of delivery service to tap into customers who prefer to have their food delivered to their door. 

In-store Promotion

Attract in-store customers to your social media profiles by placing a QR code on your tables. You can even offer an incentive such as a free drink or dessert to customers who show their server proof of social following. 

Related: Five Social Media Food Photography Tips

Respond to Customer Reviews

Reviews are a crucial part of restaurant marketing. Similar to the tactics above, you can offer customers incentives for leaving a review by placing a barcode on your tables that link directly to your review platform of choice. 

A study showed that 97% of customers say that reviews influence their buying decision. When you get guest feedback on your GMB page, be sure to respond. Thank your positive reviewers and offer your negative reviewers an apology or a solution, whichever is appropriate for the situation. 

Related: How to Respond to Restaurant Reviews on Social Media

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 Social Media Advertising for Restaurant Marketing

You can take your restaurant marketing to the next level by investing in social media advertising. With social media ads you can publish content directly to your defined target audience. 

The bigger your audience, the bigger your budget will need to be. But any budget can get started with ads! You can start small by defining a particular demographic you want to target. For example, maybe you want to bring in more students from a nearby college, so you target that group with a specific ad. 

To assess the conversion rate for your ads, use a tracking service. That way, when you share a link on social media, you can monitor how many customers order from that link.

Once you’ve identified your social media advertising ROI, you can expand your audience and your budget. Keep up with the analytics to make sure your advertising tactics are working and adjust what isn’t working. Getting into the “testing” mindset helps you discover valuable insights from both low and high performing ad campaigns 

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Restaurant Marketing Ideas for the Holidays and Beyond 

The holidays are rapidly approaching. Here are some restaurant marketing ideas you can use to jumpstart your holiday marketing campaigns and continue all year long. 

#1 Offer Perks for Gift Card Purchases

Gift cards make great gifts! After all, there are some people out there who would love to unwrap a steaming plate straight off your menu, but that’s not feasible. Try incentivizing gift card purchases by offering special perks like a free menu item. 

#2 Special Holiday Limited-Time Offers

Spice up your menu with some limited-time holiday-specific meals, then spread the word. You can even sell Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners to be warmed up at home. Or, you might just stick with adding a special peppermint beverage to your cocktail menu. 

#3 Partnering with Other Businesses

The holidays are the perfect time for charity work. Partnering with other businesses in your community to give back is a great way to boost brand awareness while doing something good. 

Related: How to Work with Food Bloggers and Influencers

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#4 Plan Your Holiday Social Media Calendar

You’ll be busy this holiday season. So, schedule your social media posts ahead of time to avoid getting swept away by the holiday rush.

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Catherine Mitchell

Catherine Mitchell is the Director of Brand & Communications at PLANOLY. She is always looking for ways to inspire and excite small business owners and creators with new narratives to cultivate community and drive growth.

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