Digital Marketing for Restaurants

How did you find your favorite taco place? Where’s the best burger you’ve ever eaten from? When you’re craving sushi, where do you make a reservation? The answer to all these questions starts with a simple Google search. “Tacos near me.” “Best burger in Charlotte, NC.” “Sushi restaurant Bayside.” Now, more than ever, people start the search for food online. Are they finding your restaurant?

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Why Should Restaurants Market Online?

The food service industry is ruthless. The hot restaurant today might be yesterday’s news tomorrow. Competition might set up shop down the road and poach your regular diners. Or, a pandemic might force you to close your doors for months at a time. Without a great marketing strategy to keep your restaurant relevant, you run the risk of falling victim to an industry that claims 80% of establishments in their first five years of operation.

To attract patrons, develop a presence and become a longstanding hotspot, your restaurant needs to market online effectively. Get listed in directories. Run social media ads. Collect five-star reviews. It’s all part of building your reputation as a staple eatery in your town.

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5 Reasons to Market Your Restaurant Online

A good marketing strategy is your restaurant’s secret recipe for success. Get ready to attract tourists, foodies, local residents and, of course, your regulars. From better word-of-mouth and reputation, to more bookings and higher average tickets, effective marketing puts people in seats and food on tables. It’s up to you to give them a reason to come back! Here’s how digital marketing gets your eatery on the map (literally).

#1

Make your menu available.

What’s the first thing potential diners do when they’re choosing a place to eat? View the menu. If yours isn’t online and accessible—or at least a description of the food you serve—you’ll lose patrons before you even get the chance to serve them. An accessible menu means more chances to pique their curiosity and land a reservation.

#2

Get on Google Maps.

Every Google search for a restaurant inevitably lands on Google Maps. If you’re not listed and actively marketing online, your establishment won’t pop up and you’ll lose visibility among the competition. Whether it’s a local search or a food-specific search, you want your name front and center on Google Maps—along with all the information a person needs to dine in, carry out or book a reservation.

#3

Gather reviews.

Good reviews are what keep a restaurant relevant. If you’ve got dozens (or hundreds) of five-star reviews, expect people to prioritize your establishment over others without the same reputation. If you’re brand-new or have a reputation problem to remedy, getting new, positive, descriptive reviews from diners is a great way to reposition yourself in your local market.

#4

Join the conversation.

While Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are all important places for your business to exist, there’s a whole network of cuisine culture out there! Marketing online can land you in a local foodie’s blog or as a feature on a regional site. This type of exposure is what makes a successful restaurant into a renowned one, pushing everyone from local foodies to visiting tourists into your dining room.

#5

Make booking easier.

Digital marketing makes it easier for patrons to book with you and order from you. In seconds they can click a button on Facebook or Google Maps to reserve a table, or find your phone number to call in a carry-out order. Every time they do, it’s another ticket for you and a new opportunity for repeat business.

As new customers become returning ones, digital marketing pays for itself. Through a robust online marketing campaign, restaurants gain the power to make themselves visible, reputable and in-demand—which is invaluable in a market where your competition is literally any other food service establishment. Make sure your restaurant is the first, best and most accessible restaurant when the question of “what do you feel like eating?” inevitably comes up.

Make Your Establishment a Must-Visit Eatery

You already know what makes your restaurant great. The food. The service. The ambiance. Whatever it is, you need to communicate it to potential customers! Give them a reason to choose your restaurant for date night or try something new instead of ordering “the usual” again. Here’s what it takes to show diners you’re special.

White Website Icon Website Design and Development

Your website needs to reflect your restaurant, to set expectations for people who’ve never eaten there before. Does your site feel upscale and sophisticated to match your sport jacket policy? Does it inspire a sense of fun, like the ambiance of your tiki bar? Your website needs to tell people what your restaurant is all about and prepare them for the experience they’re going to have there. Make sure it includes your menu, booking information, special features about your eatery and, of course, a description of who you are, what you do and what makes you special. A great site will give people the confidence to visit.

Seo Bulls Eye IconSearch Engine Optimization (SEO)

There are likely dozens of burger joints in your city. A multitude of taco places. New coffee shops, sandwich places, steakhouses and more appearing monthly. The only way you’re going to stand out against competition new and old is to firmly entrench your restaurant at the top of Google’s search results. To do that, you need to optimize. Optimize keywords for items on your menu and stake a claim on a specific genre of food to let Google know what you’re all about. Done right, SEO will catapult you to the top of relevant searches like “burgers near me” or “sushi dine in near me,” even if the market is thick with competition. Your online marketing is what will make you stand out.

White Piggy BankPay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC)

Running a seasonal special at your restaurant? Promoting a new menu item? The restaurant business is a fast-paced one, which might mean pushing the fish before it goes bad or finding a way to capitalize on the local sports team’s big win. To get your campaign out there quickly, you’ll need PPC. Targeted PPC ads put you at the top of Google search results instantly, with a message that’s timely and enticing, too good to be ignored. Expect clicks and traffic to your website and, if your deal hits the spot, plenty of eager patrons to take you up on your offer. Make sure you’ve got enough for everyone!

White Chat SocialSocial Media Engagement

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and even sites like Yelp! are rife with conversation about local restaurant hotspots and where to find the best food. Communicating with your customers on social media to thank them for their patronage or resolve problems is a great way to show yourself as an active member of the local community. When customers feel like they’re appreciated, they’re more likely to return. Social media is also one of the best ways to advertise your menu, post updates about the dining room and even hire staff! For restaurateurs, social media is a gold mine of opportunity—but you need to join the conversation first.

White Brand Management LikeBrand and Reputation Management

People are passionate about food. They won’t think twice about leaving a terrible review—or, they might take the time to leave a glowing one. Brand reputation and management are about directing that momentum in your favor, good or bad. It’s easy to lean into good reviews and feature them on your website or in email blasts. Bad reviews give you the opportunity to make things right with a disgruntled diner. In either case, the results are plain for anyone to see, and the reviews might be what brings in a new patron, who becomes a recurring one.

White Citations ImprovementsCitations and Directory Listing

Are you listed on Yelp!? TripAdvisor? Zagat? Open Table? Urban Spoon? There are dozens of restaurant review sites out there, as well as local directories people search when they’re in the mood for a particular type of food. Getting your name out there and listed for searchers to see makes it easier to attract patrons—whether they live in the area or are visiting from somewhere else. Whether you’re an upscale, fine dining establishment or a fast food, grab and go kind of place, it’s important to make your mark in local directories.

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We’re Restaurant Marketing Experts

No two independent restaurants are the same, which means there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to digital marketing for restaurants. Let us distinguish your establishment online and make your eatery the first choice for people looking for a great dining experience. We don’t only know the food service industry—we’re foodies ourselves, who appreciate a restaurant that can market itself (and its menu) effectively.

Win in Your Niche

There are burger joints, and then there’s your burger joint. The best one in the area! But how do you make sure customers know? We identify what makes you special and position you as the must-visit, must-try, too-good-to-pass-up restaurant in the area—no matter what your menu has on it. Burgers? Tacos? Sushi? Sandwiches? Pasta? Whatever you serve, we’ll make sure it has a reputation for being the best.

Ambiance is Everything

People want a dining experience. Given similar menus and prices, they’ll choose the more exciting venue every time. We’ll help you leverage the ambiance and personality of your establishment to your advantage—whether you’re a sports bar or a traditional supper club. Let us help you set the expectation for a great time and get people excited not only for the food, but for the experience they’ll have while they’re with you.

Justify the Price

Is a meal with you worth the total on the bill? Effective digital marketing helps set the expectation, so when the time comes for the check, patrons feel good about what they’re spending. Marketing promotes value, so your patrons see beyond price. Instead, they’ll enjoy delicious food, embrace the ambiance of your establishment and pat themselves on the back for making such a great choice.

How Do I Get Started?

When it comes to online promotion, knowing how to get started can seem challenging if you’re not familiar with the different online marketing options that exist. We help you find your footing, putting your restaurant on the path to local marketing dominance. Contact us directly to learn more about the steps below and how they can take your dining establishment to the next level.

#1 Get a Complimentary Website and Digital Strategy Analysis

Your website is the backbone of your online campaign. It needs to be professionally designed, feature great content and promote easy navigation. We’ll work with you to evaluate your site’s strengths and opportunities for improvement, then roll those into broader strategies. We give you a complete rundown of your web presence so you know where you’re starting from, what your goals are and how to achieve them. With a site breakdown and digital strategy analysis in-hand, you’ll know what it takes to establish and grow your restaurant online.

#2 Review Findings and Opportunities

Before officially launching any online marketing campaigns, take time to review the findings and opportunities from your complimentary website analysis. This information will help you to establish where you currently are as a company and where you want to go. This involves setting actual benchmarks and making decisions about where to invest time and money online. We work with you to establish everything from your target keywords to marketing budget allocation, so you can be sure you’re getting the most out of your decision to market online.

#3 Sit Back and Relax While the Pros Get to Work

Hiring experts to handle your digital marketing campaign affords you the time and mental space to focus on running your business. You can put your trust in our entire team, knowing we have the marketing savvy and food service background necessary to help your business win online. From targeting the right keywords for SEO, to smart PPC budgeting, to web design, content writing and reputation management, our team covers the complete scope of your efforts. While you’re turning tables and setting the seasonal menu, we’re making sure customers are finding your business online, so you can pack the house every night of the week.