With hundreds of thousands restaurants across the United States, diners have no shortage of options on what to eat or where to order. that’s why restaurant marketing is so essential.
But modern restaurant marketing involves much more than creating ads or running a social media page. This forces restaurants to step out of their comfort zone, test new tactics, and measure what moves the needle.
The first step in this process is to research new tactics and decide what to test. Here are eight restaurant marketing tactics to try in 2022.
1. Redesign your website
More … than 75% of guests visit a restaurant’s website before deciding where to dine. They can search for the particular restaurant, search for restaurants in their area, or get there via referral links – but no matter how they arrive, the restaurant should leave a strong impression.
The design should be compelling and on-brand. Content should tell a story and communicate relevant information. And the user experience should make it easy for customers to navigate pages, especially pages with revenue-generating features like direct online ordering.
Click here to see some of the best restaurant websites redesigned in the last year.
2. Invest in email marketing
The main benefit of direct online ordering is that restaurants avoid third-party commission fees. The secondary benefit – which is almost as important – is that restaurants capture customer information such as email addresses.
As direct order online becomes more popular, this gives restaurants a valuable opportunity to expand their email marketing efforts. New technologies make this easier than ever. Restaurants can actually automate email marketing, sending out emails and promotions based on how long since someone ordered (e.g. 7 days after ordering).
Dough Artisan Pizza, a pizzeria in Caldwell, New Jersey, sees $96 in revenue for each restaurant that clicks on one of its automated email offers. That’s modern restaurant marketing in a nutshell.
3. Create a digital loyalty program
Restaurants should target their marketing to more than potential customers. They should also market to past customers. The higher a restaurant’s lifetime customer value (LCV), the fewer customers it needs to make a profit.
Studies have shown that customers pay 92% more when they’re enrolled in a restaurant’s loyalty program, and new tools make it easier than ever to start a restaurant. With the right digital loyalty software, they can email past diners with incentives to earn points and unlock deals. It’s a perfect extension of their messaging strategy.
The best part? Setting up a digital loyalty program isn’t as daunting as it sounds. According to Geoffroy Raby, owner of Cuisinett Bistro & Market, BentoBox’s digital loyalty program “took two minutes to light up.” In other words: configuration and complexity shouldn’t be a barrier to increasing customer lifetime value.
4. Look into word-of-mouth marketing
Sometimes a restaurant’s customers are its best marketing channel. After all, 86% of consumers rely on word of mouth marketing.
At its core, word of mouth marketing requires a great customer experience, which makes it slightly different from other marketing tactics. This is especially important in the age of social media, as consumers are more likely to share a negative experience than a positive one.
One specific way to turn customers into marketers is to sell wearable restaurant items like hats, shirts, and hoodies. Brooklyn pizzeria Di Fara, for example, sells Dodgers-style shirts through its online store, turning customers into walking billboards for the business.
5. Take advantage of new social networks and features
Not so long ago, Instagram was new and restaurants doubted its value. Now it is accepted as a major part of every restaurant’s marketing strategy.
TikTok seems poised to follow in Instagram’s footsteps, and restaurants would be wise to take it seriously. It exploded during the pandemic, exceeds one billion users in much less time than Facebook and Instagram. Success requires an authentic video content strategy, but if you have one, like Boston Brewery Night Shift Isthe organic reach is unmatched.
Elsewhere, older networks continue to add valuable features. Facebook and Instagram now allow restaurants to place an “Order Now” button on their pages and “Order Now” stickers in their stories. Even better, with the right software, restaurants can connect these order buttons directly to their online direct ordering platform. Click here to learn more about how it works.
6. Develop an Exam Response Strategy
Responding to reviews is hardly fun, especially when they’re negative. However, a thorough review response strategy can prevent a restaurant from losing customers before it has a chance to engage with them. Indeed, if someone searches for a restaurant on Google, Yelp, Facebook or TripAdvisor, a bad review can be enough to create uncertainty.
The tactic here? Set aside 10 minutes every day (yes, every day) to respond to reviews, whether they’re positive, negative, or mixed. This shows how committed the restaurant is to learning from customers and acting on their feedback. Plus, good responses to reviews can change people’s minds after the fact. Note how a quick response from the Mazra team boosted this Yelp reviewer’s rating by one star.
7. Embrace the community
There are countless people in the area of a restaurant that the restaurant did not serve. Direct mail, local PR, and transportation ads can help bridge that gap, but sponsorships are an overlooked tactic, especially as the world clamors for more in-person connection.
Whether it’s local school, sporting or charity events, restaurants can position themselves as an integral and supportive part of their community through sponsorship. Restaurants can also host the events internally with revenue sharing parties for local organizations. Chipotle does this pledging to donate 33% of sales on fundraising dates for those seeking support.
8. Reuse User Generated Content
User-generated content (UGC) combines elements of social media marketing and word-of-mouth marketing. The practice turns a restaurant’s fans and marketers into sharing their photos, videos, posts and reviews on the restaurant’s own channels. It shows that customers love the restaurant so much that they are willing to talk about it.
Even better, when a restaurant shares UGC on social media, they can easily reuse that content on their website, as long as their website has an integration. California chicken restaurant Baba’s demonstrates this on its homepage, which automatically integrates with its Instagram content.
Because it’s created by customers, UGC also reduces the time restaurants spend creating content themselves. As restaurants learn to operate with fewer employees, small savings like this add up.