Even if your restaurant has full tables almost every night of the week, you’ll still be missing out on a lot of potential customers if you don’t maintain a strong online presence. To some restaurateurs, the Internet and digital marketing might not seem very relevant, but there’s no doubt that a tech-savvy approach towards marketing your venue can make a world of difference, particularly if you haven’t been in business for long or you’re struggling to keep your tables full.
Just as potential customers use modern tools to find the perfect meals, so should restaurateurs be using the same tools to ensure they’re visible to them. In fact, according to the National Restaurant Association, 88% of people check restaurant menus and/or reviews online before they book a table. Additionally, many of these people won’t even visit your venue if they can’t find the information they want beforehand. After all, there are usually plenty of other options to consider.
Show Off Your Menu
Disappointing restaurant experiences are often down to unrealistic expectations. However, by showing off your menu online, preferably complete with some eye-catching imagery, you’ll be able to build up more accurate expectations for people. By viewing your menu online, potential customers will be in a better position to make an informed judgement about whether or not your venue is suitable for them. First impressions count for a lot, and the first impression many people will have of your venue will be when they see your menu on your website or elsewhere online.
Leverage Customer Feedback
These days, anyone can leave a review of your venue online, particularly on third-party websites such as Yelp or TripAdvisor. While the fact that your reputation is now largely in control of your customers might be unnerving, it’s also important that you take a transparent approach towards digital marketing and actively encourage user reviews. After all, most people now check reviews online before they book a table, either through a website or over the phone. Google even displays ratings of certain venues in the search results.
In order to leverage customer feedback and other user-generated content as a powerful marketing tool, you should always ask your customers to leave feedback and, even more importantly, respond to that feedback whenever possible. Particularly when you get negative feedback, which is inevitable sooner or later, you should be present to provide a professional and personalized response. After all, many consumers will put more weight in your response that they negative feedback itself when formulating their opinions about your business.
Build a Community
Social media platforms are among the most important online resources of all when it comes to marketing your restaurant on the Web. By establishing and maintaining social media profiles, you’ll be in a perfect position to build a community around your brand to the extent that it might even go viral. Although your website might serve as the centerpiece of your online marketing strategy, it’s social media that leads to meaningful interaction between you and your brand, provided you’re involved as much as possible. In other words, do not make the mistake of approaching social media as a tool for direct promotion.
If you’re still not convinced about the value of social media in the restaurant industry, consider the fact that so many people now post photos of just about every meal they eat. Foodies seem to be taking over social media to the extent that there are now many popular food blogs and countless Instagram profiles with nothing other than countless pictures of various culinary delights. Try our social media management and we will build a community for you.
Maintain an Online Store Front
For traditional high-street businesses, a website is basically a virtual store front, and this applies to restaurants as well. Not only can you provide a quick and easy way for people to make reservations through your website, you add a whole raft of new possibilities such as online ordering and home deliveries. As people spend more and more money on the Internet, it’s becoming increasingly common for people to order food online, either in advance of arriving at a restaurant in person or to have delivered to their homes, typically using a local delivery service.
Increase Exposure with Google Maps
Unsurprisingly, the world’s most popular website and online service is the single most important resource of all for any business. People use Google Maps all the time, either on their Android-powered smartphones or on their computers to find local businesses. If your venue isn’t listed on Google Maps, you will be missing out on a lot of potential customers. In many cases, venues end up finding their way onto Google Maps anyway, but you should still claim your listing to make sure that your venue becomes fully incorporated into Google’s network. This will allow you to upload photos of your venue, specify opening times, ensure the location is correct and much more. Even more importantly, you can use Google’s new Business Photos tool to upload 360° photos of your venue. However, don’t forget that Google Maps and Google My Business aren’t the only important resources out there. Just like any local business, you should also claim your listings on Microsoft’s Bing Maps, Foursquare, TripAdvisor and Yelp, as well as any other popular online resources in your country or region.
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While there’s no need to jump on board every trend that hits the world of digital marketing, there’s no doubt that maintaining a strong online presence, particularly with a mobile-centric approach, is crucial for any catering venue. Whether your venue is brand new or well-established, a strong online presence will help to secure a future of growth and prosperity.