When used effectively, digital marketing can be a powerful way to expand your restaurant’s reach. Social media posts, ads, websites, and search engines can deliver your brand directly onto the screens of thousands of potential diners, giving patrons a quick answer to the age-old question, “what’s for dinner?”
Restaurant marketing is most influential when it capitalizes on patron behaviors. Social media posts and ads tailored to be relevant to users are more likely to capture views — and bring hungry patrons to your restaurant. Here are four restaurant marketing ideas to help you make the most of your digital marketing efforts.
Harness the Power of Instagram
Instagram has quickly moved into place as one of the top social media channels for restaurants. The platform has baked-in benefits for eateries eager to leverage social channels: it’s photo-centric and allows patrons to eat with their eyes before they even step foot into your restaurant.
If you want to be a hit on Instagram, you’ll need two things: enticing, high-quality pictures, and active engagement techniques. For more alluring food photography, take advantage of natural light. Frame dishes lovingly with inviting, colorful details — a garnish of fresh orange slices, for instance, or a spoon placed elegantly across the plate. For more on this, The New York Times dining section has a great primer on Instagram-ready food photography. You can always hire a professional photographer to help take pictures of your entrees, which will give your images a professional edge.
Engagement forms the other half of the Instagram equation. Some eateries, like Pinkberry, ask followers to name their favorite flavor of frozen yogurt. Others hold photo captioning contests or give away prizes to followers who post selfies at the restaurant. Don’t be afraid to get creative here, playing it safe is not always the best strategy on social media.
Put It on Video
As you dig into the internet, one thing becomes clear: internet users are consuming a lot of videos. According to the marketing automation platform HubSpot, 54% of survey respondents say they prefer videos to any other type of branded content.
Videos also tend to make a more significant impression: 43% of HubSpot respondents said the most memorable piece of content they had viewed in the past month was a video. In fact, Cisco Systems' research predicts that videos will make up 85% of all US internet traffic by 2020.
A captivating video doesn’t have to be complicated. There are many simple ideas that will allow you to capture social media views without time-consuming scripting and editing. You can upload footage of a party or special event, a video revealing a new menu item, or a short cooking lesson from your head chef. As a bonus, this content can be repackaged to perk up email campaigns and newsletters.
Use Cross-Promotional Marketing to Your Advantage
Once you have a robust social media presence, you’ll be able to create powerful cross-promotional campaigns. Partnering with another company, such as an event promoter or a vendor used in your restaurant, lends credibility to your marketing efforts. It also allows you to tap into a new stream of followers and expand your reach.
Ask partners to produce content for your restaurant’s blog and promote it on their Facebook and Instagram accounts, offering to return the favor. Or create a shared hashtag to use in your social media posts. If your partner is a food vendor, ask to create a branded menu item — tacos featuring a local hot sauce brand, for instance — and display that brand’s logo on your menu and promotional materials. Be sure to promote it on social media, too!
Tap into Geo-Targeting Advertising
If you really want to be ahead of the pack when it comes to digital marketing, you may want to think about investing in geotargeting ads. These are mobile ads that are pushed to a user’s phone when they’re in proximity to your restaurant. Geotargeting is poised to become a major channel for restaurant marketing in the near future.
One iteration of this appears in the mapping app, Waze. Geotargeting ads in this application leverage Waze users’ GPS locations to display relevant ads when that user stops at a stoplight. Facebook and Google also have similar geotargeting ads available for purchase.
This technique is compelling. According to Forbes, geotargeted ads tend to generate a much higher ROI since they are tailored specifically to a certain audience at a particular period of time. For these ads to work, however, you’ll need to first optimize your digital presence for mobile. Make sure your website is mobile-ready, with menus that can be read on smaller screens. Also, claim your restaurant on Google My Business and make sure to complete your profile there.
If you’re already busy with the day-to-day work of running a restaurant, you may want to outsource these tasks to external contractors or even a professional agency. Hiring a website developer, photographer, social media coordinator, or marketing manager — even on a part-time or temporary basis — will add that professional polish to your restaurant marketing materials and campaigns.
Ultimately, thoughtful, high-quality restaurant marketing tactics make the biggest impression with internet users, garnering more views, likes, and shares—and bringing more visitors to your restaurant!