The competition among restaurants is fiercer than ever. However, it takes more than just slipping menus under doors and in mailboxes for a restaurant to succeed in 2021. We have made this list of the best restaurant marketing ideas to help your restaurant stand out! As the top marketing agency in Chicago, we know the expert strategies to help your cafe, diner, or eatery attract the attention of hungry bellies everywhere.
Best Restaurant Marketing Ideas
These are the best restaurant marketing strategies to help your local restaurant improve its online presence, reach more potential customers, and succeed in a post-pandemic world. Your marketing campaign might include a combination of these tactics.
Nothing makes someone hungrier for your food than a top-notch photo. Visual content is both popular and effective. You can hire a professional photographer to take pictures of your food, or you can do it yourself with a smartphone (and maybe some filters.)
A loyalty program encourages patrons to visit your restaurant again and again, rather than check out the competition. You can create your own loyalty program, or you can use an app to do it for you like Belly, LevelUp, Loyal Blocks, or Perka. Or, go old-school and just hand out punch cards!
As you probably already know, Yelp is a huge influence in the restaurant industry. A large amount of good Yelp reviews is almost priceless for any restaurant, so try to garner as many as possible from your loyal customers.
Some restaurants think they can get around Yelp by not creating an account, but here’s the thing: people can review your restaurant even if you don’t set up your own account. This is why you need to take charge and create your account so it works for you, instead of against you.
When you set up your Yelp profile, make sure to include as much detailed information as possible. Don’t target your photos, store hours, location, menu items, price range, and details on your WiFi, outdoor seating, parking, and anything else you can think of.
Then, make sure to thank all Yelpers for their review. Yes, even the bad ones. There are good ways for businesses to respond to bad reviews. Consider thanking the person for their feedback, apologizing, and offering to make things right in the future. This can reflect positively for your restaurant in the long run. Many reviewers are flattered by the personal attention.
Set Up a Google My Business Page
A Google My Business page is important for any restaurant that wants to be found on Google. GMB tells Google all the relevant information about your business, so that Google can in turn share that information with searchers. Just like on your Yelp page, be sure to be as detailed as possible in your Google My Business profile.
Launch Geofenced Ads
It is critical for restaurants to target people in their area. Unless you have several Michelin stars, diners probably aren’t traveling from long and far to eat at your diner! Geofencing helps companies target their local audience by providing a virtual perimeter. These kinds of ads ensure that hungry tourists in Chicago, for example, find your pizzeria when they search for “deep-dish pizza near me.” Certain advertising platforms like Google Ads offer geo-targeting ad options. We recommend that restaurants take advantage of these ads to get in front of target customers.
Use Instagram to Promote Your Restaurant
Instagram is a free platform on which you can post photos of your delicious food and cocktails, share your specials, and entice potential diners to visit your restaurant. Restaurants have the opportunity to have fun with Instagram!
Consider Email Marketing
Email marketing for restaurants is actually pretty simple, because it doesn’t have to be constant. Your subscribers will actually probably appreciate a less-frequent email newsletter that doesn’t clutter up their inbox. But, they will look forward to it, especially if you offer some coupons or discounts inside! You can also share any specials or new menu items. SEO Design Chicago can help you create an email marketing strategy for your restaurant.
Utilize User-Generated Content
User-generated content is an easy win for many restaurants. Every time someone eats at your establishment and snaps a pic for their social media feed and tags you, you can instantly reshare that content to your own feeds. If you’re not getting a lot of tags, try hosting a photo contest by asking customers to post their favorite meal at your restaurant. You can even create a customized hashtag for them to use. Offer a free appetizer or another prize for the winner. User-generated content makes your customers feel special when they get a reshare, and it’s free content for you. Win-win!
Show Off Your Happy Staff
In the digital age of robotic chats, people love to see the human element of your restaurant. We can all use more personal connections these days. Don’t be shy to show off your restaurant’s owners, employees, and more on your social media. This can go a long way toward improving your restaurant’s reputation.
Monitor Your Social Media Accounts
Social media isn’t just about throwing up a photo of your food on Instagram and being done with it. You need to engage and interact with your audience, too. There is a correlation between restaurants that succeed and those that are active on social media. There are tools like Hootsuite that can help you with social media engagement. Or, you can hire a social media manager like the ones at SEO Design Chicago to help you.
Set Up Google Alerts
Just like you want to stay on top of your social media pages, you also want to make sure you are notified any time your restaurant is mentioned online. But how? Keep track of your marketing efforts with Google Alerts. You can set up Google Alerts for your restaurant’s name so you can be notified right away whenever someone is talking about your restaurant online.
Share Positive Press
Did local TV do a spot on your restaurant? Or did your cafe get a writeup in a local newspaper or magazine? Any time you get positive media coverage, you can reshare that publicity on your website and social media. This helps spread the word about your restaurant and encourages new customers to visit.
Reach Out to Food Bloggers
If you need help getting press coverage for your restaurant, try reaching out to local food bloggers. Invite them to your restaurant to give it a try. If you are okay with it, offer a free appetizer or even a free meal to get them in the door. Then, ask them politely if they would be willing to share their experience with their readers.
Start a Blog
If you’re still struggling to generate articles about your restaurant, create your own! If you don’t have a blog or website, consider a restaurant website builder to get started. One of the best ways to build a relationship with your audience (and improve your SEO) is to start a blog. A blog gives your restaurant a voice and personality. You can share your successes (and struggles), give advice to other restaurateurs, discuss recipes, funny stories, anything you can think of! Or, you can hire the blog writing experts at SEO Design Chicago to run your blog for you.
Confirm Online Details are Accurate
Make sure that all online details about your restaurant are up-to-date online. This includes your address, phone number, hours, your menu, etc. 77% of diners look up websites before dining, according to one survey. That’s why it’s vitally important to ensure that all the information potential diners are seeing online is correct.
Have a Visually Pleasing Menu Online
When potential diners are doing their research about your restaurant, they will most likely want to see a menu. Gone are the days when you could take a photo of your physical menu and post that online. Make sure it’s a high-quality, interactive menu on your website. And don’t skimp on the photos!
Develop Your Restaurant’s Identity
This tip is particularly important for your digital marketing strategies. Make sure your restaurant has a voice and recognizable identity across its platforms online. Take Wendy’s Twitter account, for example. The fast-food restaurant is known for its hilarious tweets. The idea is to build your restaurant’s identity around its target audience.
Speaking of Twitter, another restaurant marketing tip is to schedule your tweets around mealtimes. If you tweet out a photo of your delicious food just before lunchtime, for example, you might influence some hungry customers to come by! Or, if you offer a happy hour deal, promote that an hour or so ahead of time.
Offer Online Ordering
These days, many people prefer to order their food for delivery online. Online ordering is key for many restaurants’ success. There are several software options you can use for online ordering.
Partner with Delivery Services
If you want more potential diners to find your restaurant, it might be a good idea to partner with some delivery services. This gets your restaurant in front of plenty of hungry customers. Some options are Seamless, Eat24, and GrubHub.
Use Mobile Ads
Mobile ads are ideal for restaurant advertising because they are both inexpensive and effective. This is because many people use their mobile phones to look up restaurants while they are on the go. Mobile ads also have high conversion rates. Google Ads gives you plenty of targeting options so you can specifically narrow your audience. For example, you can increase your bids around breakfast if your restaurant specializes in brunch.
Keep an Eye on Holidays
And we don’t just mean Mother’s Day. There are plenty of national holidays, like “National Pizza Day” and “International Beer Day.” Keep an eye for when these are coming, which relate to your restaurant, and then capitalize on these trending hashtags or perhaps offer a deal or special in conjunction with the day. Holidays can be a valuable marketing tool for restaurants.
Restaurant Marketing Ideas at SEO Design Chicago
SEO Design Chicago offers restaurant marketing services to help your restaurant succeed. We analyze your business and formulate a plan to help your restaurant grow. From PPC ads, to social media marketing, we handle every aspect of your marketing for you, so you can focus on making and selling your delicious food. Trust the team with the best restaurant marketing ideas to come up with a marketing plan for you. We offer the best marketing for restaurants, including diners, cafes, coffee shops, and steak houses. Contact us today!
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