Diners are living digital lives when they’re not filling your seats (and sometimes when they are). If you aren’t engaging them online, you’re missing frequent opportunities to get their business.
Thankfully, you don’t have to be a marketer by trade to promote your restaurant—you’ve got resources. Companies like Restaurant.com that are completely focused on staying ahead of the restaurant marketing curve can be an invaluable solution.
The Top 5 Digital Marketing Strategies
Based on insights from Restaurant.com President and Chief Marketing Officer Christopher Krohn, this article covers the following top five emerging digital marketing areas.
• Online deals
• Search, display & directory marketing
• Mobile marketing
• Social media
• Email marketing
1. Online Deals Are the Main Course
- By 2016, consumers are expected to spend $5.5 billion annually on online deals, flash sales and other online discounts. That’s double what they spend now!
- A recent NPD study revealed that deals and special offers represent 37 percent of restaurant visits influenced by online marketing …the biggest piece of the digital marketing pie.
Online deals drive new diners through your doors and provide a steady stream of potential long-time loyal customers. And with the multitude of types of online deals to choose from, the one best suited to reach your restaurant’s size and clientele is out there and ready to help build your business.
A visible search presence is an absolute must-have to attract diners online. A few ways:
• Display advertising: Ads that run on other websites.
• Directory optimization: Restaurant listings in a slew of online directories to return more location-based visits to your website.
• Search engine optimization (SEO): High-quality content with keywords that help your restaurant rank higher on search engines.
The majority of restaurants just don’t have the budget or bandwith to create an aggressive search campaigns. The solution? Affiliate your restaurant with a larger marketing program. Diners come to websites like Restaurant.com to find restaurants, and Restaurant.com spends millions annually optimizing our search and display programs to maximize exposure for your restaurant.
A strong search presence is one part of the equation. Now, let’s move on to one of the largest emerging markets available to restaurant owners, MOBILE!
3. Mobile Marketing Is Your Future Bread and Butter
Today, 53 percent of your customers and potential customers have smartphones in their pockets, purses and hands. What are you doing to reach them?
The Key Ingredients: Established Marketing Brands.
For many restaurants, custom mobile web development is outside of budget restrictions. The alternative is finding a partner that is well-versed in restaurant marketing—and proficient in the mobile space:
• Deal sites and restaurant directories: Catering to diners doing online searches for restaurants, these websites (like Restaurant.com) offer you a place to create your own controlled restaurant page.
• Facebook: A no brainer. Follow simple steps to create your own brand page.
• Google: Control and optimize your page content to give on-the-go diners the sound bites they need to choose their restaurant by mobile.
Your customers are already using social media to have a dialogue. Whether you plan social around location-based services like Foursquare or take a more established route like Facebook, make your restaurant a topic in these conversations.
Here are some of the leading social media channels:
• Facebook: Now engaging a whopping 1 billion users, this is a great network for sharing promos, pictures, and other high-quality content.
• Twitter: Whatever the size, companies can make a resounding impact within this real-time network for sharing short-form content.
• Pinterest: Targeting predominantly 25-44 year old women, Pinterest is a very focused network. An added bonus? It boosts your SEO ranking.
• Instagram: Pictures can be a strong emotional trigger, especially when it comes to food. Here’s one of the most popular online picture-sharing networks.
• Foursquare: Location-based networks like this one gives you the ability to incentivize customer visits and check-ins.
Before you choose which social media channels to pursue, carefully research your audience and decide which sites targets them the best.
Let’s move on now to the more private marketing channels, like email.
5. Email Marketing Encourages Diners to Return for Seconds
A personal touch to your email marketing makes all the difference to cut through the clutter of irrelevant emails consumers get daily. Targeted content that gives them something they actually want at a value, invariably catches their attention.
For example, the young mom with kids is looking at a completely different set of criteria than the empty nester when looking for a restaurant.
Let’s explore how each customer profile may look:
• The Young Mom: A young mom looks for kid-friendly dining options; a kids-eat-free call out speaks to her loud and clear. And when she’s scoping out date-night restaurants, the dinner-for-two offers can be very attractive to her.
• The Empty Nester: On the flip side, an empty nester isn’t feeding little ones. She may be drawn to a subject line about “evening specials”.
As motivated as you are, you probably don’t have the time to manage personalized digital marketing and some of the software platforms out there can be cost-prohibitive. An experienced, affordable partner like Restaurant.com is often a more viable option. We help beef up business and establish your brand as a mainstay in the neighborhood.