Restaurants that don’t adapt to digital advertising and communications lose customers to their competitors. Web strategy has become increasingly important—even for small restaurants that only attract customers from their immediate neighborhoods. Essential steps for promoting a restaurant digitally include establishing a website, optimizing for local searches, optimizing for mobile searches, connecting with social media and engaging customers.
- Getting a Website
Getting a website is the single most important way to promote a restaurant in the digital age. Almost everyone uses the Web, even people without computer skills. Technology like touch screens, Bluetooth and smartphones make using the Internet easier than phoning a friend.Restaurateurs have no excuse for not getting online because many companies offer free websites, paid hosting services and design tools. Restaurants can post their menus online, engage with customers, target prospects and build loyalty.Doing the job professionally offers many benefits because an optimized website attracts more visitors and keeps customers happy. The basic design of a restaurant website helps companies respond to customers and make quick changes to the sites to keep them interesting and useful to site visitors.
- Local Search Optimization
Optimizing for local searches allows people to find local restaurants when searching for places to dine. Competing with big advertisers and restaurant chains requires a different marketing strategy for getting high visibility in local searches. Restaurateurs can take many steps to optimize their sites for local searches.Submit detail about the restaurant to local directories, Google Places and social media. Managers can use the keyword tool at Google AdWords to find popular keywords that customers and local restaurants are using. Website design is the key for successfully optimizing a site for local searches.
- Add local contact details on each website page.
- Use a map on the site, and describe the details so that search engines can find the information.
- Use local terms without keyword-stuffing.
- Use proper HTML coding to make the site search-friendly
- Going Mobile
Optimizing a restaurant website for mobile searches is essential when busy people are using their phones to find places to dine. Mobile optimization, such as responsive websites, ensures that a website looks good on all devices. Referral sites also provide more business to restaurants with websites that have location-aware and mapping technologies.Use an optimized mobile website to post the restaurant’s menu, events calendar and daily specials. An optimized site allows customers to click-to-call for reservations or receive SMS text promotions. Customers can use mobile ordering to speed their orders.
- Using the Social Media
The social media juggernaut continues to gain marketing influence. Traditionalists might not understand why people share details of their lives with strangers, but the practical-minded can’t deny the trend’s popularity. Every type of restaurant can benefit from using the social media.
- Use social media to connect the restaurant’s website to social media pages.
- Benefits of a strong social presence include inspiring customer loyalty, letting an extensive audience know about the restaurant and promoting the business’s events and culinary philosophy.
- At a minimum, connect with customers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to post photos of the restaurant and its food and monitor what other people are saying about the restaurant online.
- Reviews can make or destroy a restaurant, so try to engage customers though social media channels to reward favorable reviews, change the minds of critics or change the restaurant’s practices.
- Get creative by rewarding fans, educating them about cuisine, asking trivia questions or showing behind-the-scenes preparations for a big festival, catering event or local sports match between in-state rivals.
- Fostering Customer Communication
Managing a busy restaurant makes it easy to fall into the trap of tunnel vision. Some customers voluntarily complain about a restaurant or praise it, but most won’t bother. However, even timid customers state their views on the Internet. Restaurants can generate greater loyalty by using online communications to solicit opinions, offer special incentives and sponsor crowdsourcing initiatives where customers submit ideas, photos or reviews.The key to better communication lies in responding quickly and professionally—even to critics. Offer to resolve any customer’s complaints. Engage audiences by providing chef biographies or recipes for popular menu items.The ways of promoting a restaurant have changed from just a decade ago. Following the above list in order is a good way to start for newcomers to the restaurant business or online marketing. Other marketing strategies are icing on the cake or gelato on the pie. Getting started as soon as possible with online marketing offers the best prospects for restaurant success.