Great food and hospitality are the most important factors for a restaurant’s success but they can only get your restaurant so far—the key to driving more customers through your door is marketing your restaurant and growing your online presence.
According to the National Restaurant Association, 88% of adults use tech (online resources, mobile phone, etc.) to look up restaurant locations, directions, and hours of operation. Improving your online presence can dramatically improve your business. However customers are accessing your restaurant—via your website, social media or review sites—they take that impression into the restaurant with them.
Whether you’re just getting started or looking to boost your online marketing efforts, here are three big ways to not suck at the internet.
Master Your Website
More often than not, the last thing restaurant owners spend a lot of time on is their website but this is the most important marketing tool you have at your disposal and within your control.
- Make sure your website is clear, simple and clean. It should be easy for customers to navigate and find the most important information related to your restaurant including location, hours of operation, reservation information and your menu.
- Photos! Invest in restaurant interior and food photography. Many visitors to your site may not have dined at your restaurant before and images can go a very long way. This is your chance to show them your beautiful dishes and ambience.
- Spend some time researching search engine optimization and what tactics you can use to ensure your website is the first result when people are searching for the type of food you serve and area you’re located in.
Don’t have the time or money to invest in the above? There are plenty of low-cost options out there such as BentoBox, a solution dedicated to building websites specifically for the restaurant & bar industry.
Win At Yelp Reviews
We know—Yelp reviews can be a pain point for many restaurants but this doesn’t mean it isn’t a valuable resource. Restaurants can use Yelp to gain insight into customer experiences which can be a great way to improve your restaurant and menu. But don’t stop there! Engage users on these sites to close the feedback loop and improve their experience. Correct issues and connect with customers who have had a poor experience to regain their loyalty. You’ll also benefit from a nice bonus: other users can see your interactions and that can speak volumes about your ability to connect with your customers.
Social media is a powerful (and free!) tool restaurants can use to connect with customers. Think about it— Facebook has over a billion users, Twitter shot to prominence seemingly overnight and now has over 300 million users, and Instagram has more than 400 million users. Social media allows you to connect with your community and reach new customers.
First thing’s first, sign up! Start with no more than two social channels, maybe three, and sign up for those you feel most comfortable with that also allow you to post stunning photography and video of your food and your restaurant. Then strategize. Think through your mission and goals for social media. Make sure you’re posting engaging and relevant content. Include images of your menu items that are visually appealing, communicate any specials or promotions you’re running and respond to any posts and pictures that you have been tagged in. Remember, this is your chance to really connect with your customers (did we mention it’s free?!).
We know that there’s no simple formula for growing your online presence but it’s very important in order to get noticed and differentiate yourself from the competition. Start small and be sure to set aside time to invest in online marketing for your restaurant. It takes a lot of creativity and thought but if there’s anything we’ve learned from working with restaurateurs—you’re some of the most creative people out there!
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