Successful Digital Marketing For Restaurants

Published on Forbes.com Sep 15, 2017
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Running a restaurant in today’s digital world can be a daunting task, even for the most seasoned restaurant owner. The explosive growth of social media and smartphones allows your target audience to see and criticize your every move. Yelp certainly doesn’t help matters by allowing everyone – particularly millennials – the opportunity to shred your business without any validation because they didn’t have a “DopeAF” time. Operating a restaurant has become as much about playing defense as it is about providing great food and atmosphere. This is why a savvy digital marketing strategy is critical to increasing revenue.

Your Website Must Be Fully Baked

A restaurant website does not have to be robust but it has to be well thought out and 100% functional. So many of our restaurant clients come to us with websites that are not optimized for mobile. The phone numbers can’t be clicked, menus cannot be downloaded and there are blurry images. Having a poor restaurant website is like having a bland Bolognese in an Italian restaurant – it’s the cornerstone of everything. You want people to land on your website and make a reservation or walk in; it’s that simple.

Your restaurant website should have vertical sections so people can easily scroll to find pertinent information for your restaurant – contact info, menus, hours and a photo gallery. The restaurant industry is at the top of the list when it comes to the most mobile traffic, therefore it makes sense to design your website through the lens of a smart phone.

Own Your Google Maps Listing

This could be the biggest factor in getting your restaurant on the coveted page one of Google's search results. Google displays what is called a "Local 3-Pack" when you search, for example, for “seafood restaurant in [city].” The Local 3-Pack comes ahead of the search results with a map and three listings – prime real estate! There are many factors that Google weighs to determine which restaurants to display in the Local 3-Pack and it's always changing. Moz reports proximity being one of the largest factors at only 19%; Google reviews account for 13% weight, according to Moz.

One thing is for sure: owning your Google business listing helps gain visibility for your restaurant. Secure your listing and make sure all the information is accurate. You can go to Google My Business to start the process.

Social Media For Restaurants

A good social media strategy is integral to a successful restaurant marketing strategy. Everybody knows that. What they don’t know is how to execute it. Too many restaurants turn over their social media to whoever wants to do it. This often results in neglected pages, rushed posts, mediocre images and slow follower growth. As I mentioned earlier, social media is way too important to pawn off on someone who likes to do it. You need someone who knows how to do it and has time to do it properly or otherwise hire a restaurant marketing agency.

Social media is where you talk to your regular customers and where you market your restaurant to new customers. It needs to be taken seriously. Some of the common mistakes we see include:

  • Connecting Facebook and Instagram accounts
  • Placing your social media feed on your website
  • Using lots of hashtags on Facebook
  • Not establishing a system to generate new photos every month
  • Marketing to a national audience vs. a local targeted audience

Social media is not terribly complex, but it needs to be thought out and properly executed to be effective.

Email Marketing - Don't Call It A Comeback

Email marketing is the most resilient form of digital marketing. It was abandoned a decade ago when spam became a big problem. It was left for dead again when Facebook went through historic growth and became an easy way to connect with your customers. Then there was another shift when Facebook started to severely limit how many followers see your posts and started asking you to "boost" your posts to a wider audience for a fee. That is how email marketing was resuscitated once again.

As a restaurant owner, you are entitled and expected to send specials, event information and new menu items to all your customers for free. MailChimp allows you to use its email marketing platform for free for up to 2,000 contacts. And as we've previously written, click-through rates are significantly better on email than on social media.

Of course, email marketing is only as good as the email addresses you have collected, and perhaps that is why many restaurants neglect it. There is an easy way without bothering your guests; forget about the old tired strategy of collecting business cards in a fishbowl and having a weekly drawing for a free appetizer. Now you can install Wi-Fi that will ask your guests for their email address instead of a password to gain access.

In Closing

Digital marketing for restaurants is getting more and more complex.  If you focus on your customers and the strategies mentioned above, you can really make a difference on your bottom line. However, the best digital marketing strategy still cannot move the needle as much as great food, excellent customer service and a clean ladies room :) 

Thanks For Reading! 

The Bare Minimum SEO All Local Businesses Must Do

SEO For Local Business Manhattan Beach

Running your own local business is rewarding, exciting & motivating.  It can also be a huge time sucker in the sense that you often engage in too much DIY activity. One of those activities is marketing.  It either falls to the way side or like many local businesses, you delegate to your web programmer who is not interested or lacks the skills to be effective.

Whether you are managing a restaurant, medical practice, automotive shop or law firm, digital marketing for a local business is critical to its branding, revenue and ultimately success.  Well you are in luck because we are going to provide you with three digital marketing activities that every small business should do in 2016.

Go big, Go mobile or go bankrupt

Many local businesses websites were built 3-5 years ago.  They may have had a mobile "retrofit" recently but that may not be enough to be mobile device compatible.  In the last few years a technology called “responsive design" has emerged.  This is a programming technique that builds your website so that it checks the size of the device before it loads images and content.  This way you only build one website and its works for desktop, tablet & mobile. The antiquated strategy was to build two separate sites, one for desktop (abc-hotel.com) and one for mobile (m.abc-hotel.com).  This is no longer necessary or effective. 

In 2015 Google announced they altered their search ranking algorithm to give preference to all sites that were built with responsive design.   Go mobile or your site will slip in the rankings, it’s that simple.  In addition 30% of all Google searches come from mobile devices.

Claim your real estate

All local business owners should be checking to see how their business looks on the in search results, this includes Google (& Bing) map results.  If you have a brick and mortar business with a physical location then Google has already created a map listing.  The problem is that this map listing looks like this.

You need to create a login for Google My Business and claim and verify your listing.  Google will send a postcard with a PIN to verify that you have a physical address. Once verified you must update your listing with the correct contact information, location, description and photos.  This is no different than your Facebook business page in fact its Google's competitor to Facebook except this is what shows on Google Maps and mobile devices when people are searching for your services. If you take away nothing else, understand that if you want to rank higher in Google, then it makes sense to use their products.

Hit Me One Time SEO Master

The third SEO digital marketing task you should perform for your business is On-Page SEO.  Do this at least one time.  Contact a reputable digital marketing agency and have them modify your website to make it search engine friendly.  This should cost you about $800-1000 and will pay dividends in terms of organic visibility.  They will talk with you about your core services and make sure you can be found online when people search on Google.  SEO is a tireless beast and if you want to stay at the forefront of search results it should be done monthly. However, if you are not willing to pay for monthly services then at very least get some on-page SEO done once.

Thank You For Reading!