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A Guide to Restaurant Marketing Strategy in the Digital Age

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You’ve found an amazing location. Your interior design is, without blowing your own trumpet, immaculate. Your food would get Gordon Ramsay swearing in a good way. You’ve created the perfect restaurant. But where are the customers?

For many restaurateurs, marketing is the annoying obligation that comes with the business. The main focus may be on the food and the atmosphere, but without diners to enjoy either, what’s the point of your restaurant?

Ensuring you have a sound marketing strategy is paramount for any successful restaurant owner. And in this digital world, marketing needn’t be a chore. Thanks to the internet, it can be fun, simple and cheap. Let’s have a look at how to construct a solid restaurant marketing strategy in the digital age.

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Getting Your Google On

In Australia, Google dominates the search landscape. For your restaurant to be searchable, you need to get in bed with Google.

Google Business is the best place to start. By setting your restaurant up (which only needs to be done once), you’ll gain access to the entire Google network, meaning visibility for your restaurant on:

  • Google search
  • Google Maps
  • YouTube
  • Google+

On top of that, you’ll be able to use Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools to gauge your online performance.

Over 95 percent of Australian web searches run through Google. Ninety five percent is ridiculous. It’s about as ridiculous, in fact, as a restaurant that doesn’t have a Google presence. If you’re not on Google, you’re missing out. And when the service is free, there is absolutely no excuse to not get on board.

When you have set your business up, be sure to keep your information (trading hours, contact details, web address) up to date.

Socializing

Your restaurant’s online presence needs to be more than a simple Google profile and a pin on Maps. It needs to be active. It needs to worm its way into people’s hearts and minds. It needs to get social.

Well over half of all Australians are regular users of social media. And Australian users are some of the most active in the world. We live on social media; it’s where we get our news, our entertainment and much of our social interaction. By giving your restaurant a social presence, you’ve got a direct line to a person’s smartphone screen.

Facebook, the biggest of the lot, is a great place to start. When setting up your page, be sure to fill in as much detail as you can. Ensure that you’re listed in the correct restaurant subcategory, as this will affect your searchability. Add your menu as a permanently pinned part of your restaurant’s profile. Your Facebook page can also be enhanced to optimize customer ‘check-ins’.

For those who enjoy photography, Instagram is an excellent second port of call. The minimalist photo-based social network is a boon for restaurants, as my educated guess is that around four out of every five Instagram photos is an overhead shot of someone’s lunch. Be sure to use a healthy amount of #hashtags, as they give your posts the ability to be found.

Finally, Twitter is also worth a mention. With the focus on short, snappy posts, it’s the perfect place to advertise specials or announce events.

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Review Your Reviews

Online reviews can make or break a restaurant. You need to be aware of what’s being said about your establishment, and act on it. Main Australian review sites include:

  • TripAdvisor
  • Urbanspoon
  • Google
  • Menulog
  • Yelp

Check your listing on these sites regularly, and interact with the reviewers. Just be sure to do it in the right way. If something positive is said, thank them for their patronage. If something negative is said, don’t get passive aggressive. Nothing puts off a potential diner more than a restaurant who refuses to learn from their mistakes.

If the criticism was warranted, apologize to the customer, and assure them that every step is being taken to improve. If you feel the criticism was unwarranted, explain your side of the story in a calm manner, and again, thank them for their feedback. Even if it’s through gritted teeth.

That’s a Start

Digital marketing is so multi-faceted these days that you could spend multiple hours on it daily. But a firm foundation in the Google, social and review fields will be more than enough as a digital marketing entrée for your restaurant.

Where you take things from there is entirely up to you. Bon appetit.

Michael Catford

Michael has a love of travel that quickly developed into a love of writing while he was trying to document his adventures. A bearded Australian with a taste for sport and beer, often simultaneously, the web content knowledge gained from running his own travel site has allowed Michael to expand his fields of expertise. We look forward to him sharing his thoughts as part of The Social Savior content team!

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