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There was a time when the restaurant industry was more of an offline market, but that’s no longer the case. The online world is advancing as we speak and offering new strategies for business promotion. Whether we like it or not, modern-day marketing is heavily dominated by social media and technology.
The latest advancements call for fresh restaurant marketing strategies and an updated marketing plan. If anything, the recent global pandemic has proven this to be more relevant than ever. After thousands of businesses have been forced to close down, moving online is no longer a luxury but a necessity.
It is nearly impossible to find people who don't search for restaurants online before choosing which one to visit. Even if they are 99% certain of where they want to go, they may still do it for hundreds of different reasons.
One searches to find the reservation page, the other is looking for the menu, someone else wants to read the reviews, or to check if there are other locations of their favorite local restaurant, so on and so forth.
Online restaurant marketing will give you the opportunity to reach out to all of those different kinds of people individually, at once. How to do that? Easy. The solution you’re looking for is an online presence. Presenting your business through a website or social media will increase your business visibility quicker than anything else.
Online presence and high-quality content go hand in hand. No matter what restaurant marketing strategies you’re using, good content is what attracts people in the first place. Let’s put it this way — the food you serve is the most important component of your restaurant, and the content you present online is a close second.
In this article, you will learn some of the best restaurant marketing strategies that should be an integral part of your marketing plan. Let’s get started!
While offline advertising still plays its part in restaurant marketing, bringing some offline activities online is one of the critical points in attracting more potential customers. One simple example is to have an online menu as part of your restaurant marketing plan. Doing so will make sure you attract better and high-quality visitors to your restaurant. Let’s see how.
An online menu will automatically filter those people who would come to your restaurant and leave after a couple of minutes just because your menu didn’t have what they were looking for or the prices were too high for their budget.
It almost works like those menu stands in front of cafes or restaurants where people can have a look at the available dishes and decide if they want to go in or not.
Restaurant reservation aggregators are another great example. Having the possibility of an online reservation along with accepting reservations over the phone will step up your competition game. Nowadays, most restaurants provide their visitors with that possibility, and if you don’t do it, let’s just say you become a little less desirable than your competitors.
Don’t forget about those customers who like to order food from restaurants. Research shows that 79% of Millennials are interested in ordering takeout via a website or app. Enabling a delivery service may also increase your chances of being chosen by your customers.
Having a website for your restaurant will allow you to implement all of the suggestions mentioned above. A website will quickly increase your chances of being found by hundreds if not thousands of people searching online for a nearby restaurant.
Setting up a site doesn’t have to be complicated nor expensive. It can be as simple as using a ready-made website template to customize for your business in a few minutes.
As you can see, going online has many benefits for customer acquisition. Move your restaurant marketing efforts online and let your potential visitors find you.
The best way to get noticed by your potential customers is to have your restaurant listed on popular business directories such as Google My Business. A lot of people decide where to go and eat only after spending some time searching for good places on Google.
Google My Business is free to use, but you must optimize your company information to rank higher and increase your restaurant’s chances of appearing on Google Local Finder and Google Maps. Add your business name, location, choose your business category, write down your contact details and website URL, so that users can easily find your restaurant.
Besides Google My Business, there are so many other business directories that you should make good use of. Websites like Yelp, Facebook, Bing Maps are all great options to get your restaurant listed. For a fuller list of best local business directories, check out this article.
Being listed as a local business will increase your restaurant visibility and help you attract more loyal customers. When your potential clients find you on the listing and visit your website, it’s important not to disappoint them. This is where having relevant content on your website comes into play, which brings us to our next point.
Content is king. You may have heard this phrase a million times, but there’s a catch to it. The secret is that content can’t be king without quality. So let us rephrase Bill Gate’s famous quote a tiny bit. “Quality content is king” sounds way better.
The issue is that many people see the difference, but not all of them truly understand how crucial it is to present their businesses with high-quality content. To get the success you desire, you need to pay attention to the content you display online.
Let us bring an example of photo qualities to better illustrate this point. Let’s say you are scrolling your Instagram feed, and you come across the same photo in two different qualities. One of them is awful; the photo resolution is so bad that you can’t look at it without straining your eyes. And, by contrast, the other one is so bright and vibrant that you could look at it for days.
Now the question is, which one will you be gravitated towards? The answer is obvious. The high-quality photo wins the game. Of course, this example is a bit exaggerated, but it makes our point more vivid.
Don’t forget that people are sensitive to the quality of the content they have in front of their eyes. Quality applies not only to photos but also to videos, text, and any other form of content that you might choose to post.
Besides having high quality, your online content should also be engaging and differentiated. It’s best to include several types of content, like text, photos, videos, etc.
As you’ll have different kinds of people with different preferences visiting your website, you need to make sure the content you provide is versatile. This will ensure that different segments of your target audience find something interesting or helpful on your website.
Videos can also become a great tool for presenting your brand to your potential customers. They are much more engaging than text or even photos, which makes them perfect for promoting your restaurant and the tasty dishes you serve.
Your main goal here is to make your brand look its best in the eyes of consumers. Again, you should pay very close attention to the quality of your video and the message it promotes. It’s worth your time to plan and develop a strong video marketing strategy for your brand.
And last but not least, we have text. They say people don’t like to read, but before you take that statement as a fact, please remember that thousands of people are reading on their way to work, school, or while waiting in a queue. Informative and well-written text is a powerful tool to bring value to your reader.
Quality always matters. Regardless of whether you post a photo, a video, or text, you must always go for top-quality content. As Ina Garten said, "Food is not about impressing people. It's about making them feel comfortable." Your mission is to make consumers feel comfortable with your brand online even before they taste your delicious food.
If you’ve been on social media at least once, you have undoubtedly come across picture-perfect photos of food; they are everywhere! Food seems to be everyone’s favorite topic these days, and restaurants take full advantage of it (as they should). If your restaurant is not on social media yet, you’re missing out on a lot.
Developing a social media marketing strategy and staying active on social networks can be a big part of your success. Firstly, it will allow you to reach out to a significantly larger audience. More outreach means more brand awareness.
The second huge benefit of social media is that it gives you the opportunity to establish a direct connection with your customer base. Just creating an Instagram or Facebook page for your restaurant will not cut it. You should make an effort to get your customers’ feedback, reply to their messages and requests in a timely manner, and so on.
The two giants of social media marketing are Instagram and Facebook. But it’d be a lethal mistake to disregard the big marketing potential of TikTok, YouTube, and Twitter. We recommend you start by focusing all your effort on one or two platforms. As your business grows over time, you can diversify your digital marketing to include more social media channels as well as email marketing.
User-generated content (UGC) continues to grow, as more and more brands come to realize its real power. User-generated content is created by your customers. People trust each other more than they trust brands, which is why, in some cases, your customers can promote your brand better than you yourself can.
So how to successfully create user-generated content and get people to talk about your brand? One of the most effective ways is to organize contests and challenges. You can encourage people to perform a viral dance in front of your restaurant, post pictures of your meals with your hashtag, or participate in an eating contest. The key is to make it fun and simple and to offer rewards to the winners.
Chipotle’s iconic #GuacDance challenge is a perfect example of UGC. It broke all records, quickly surpassing 1 billion views on TikTok.
UGC is all about getting people involved in creating your content. Build a strong connection with your audience and turn your existing customers into brand ambassadors.
Most searches for restaurants take place on mobile devices — hence the huge demand for food apps. Not utilizing the power of mobile apps means you’re missing out on consumers looking for an eating place on the go.
Having a mobile app for your restaurant will make it so much easier for users to look at your menu, book a reservation, and order food if your restaurant offers a delivery service. While it may be costly to make an app, the increased conversions and sales can cover the cost quite quickly.
However, if you don’t have the means to create your own restaurant app, there are hundreds of food apps where you can list your business. It’s also a great option for newly opened restaurants that don’t have an established client base yet.
This concludes our list of restaurant marketing ideas to help you create a reliable marketing strategy. Besides all the above-mentioned tips, you can add anything else that you find effective for your restaurant marketing. These might include email newsletters, loyalty programs, influencer marketing, etc.
The cozy environment and the rich menu of your restaurant are key factors in attracting and retaining customers. But first, you have to increase your online visibility to.ensure people find your business.
With a strong online presence, you might end up attracting more customers than you had planned. They will be eager to come back and enjoy your restaurant’s great atmosphere and tasty food. And as they say, a happy customer is the greatest advertisement.
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