Did you know that 90% restaurant-goers check out a restaurant online before they decide to dine there? To say that this is a definitive statistic is a gross understatement. This figure is enough to convince any serious restaurant owner to start investing in a focused and vigorous marketing strategy for the restaurant to make sure it enjoys a thriving reputation online.
The fact is, technology has long since become a central part of our lives. Most of what we do is aided in one way or another by technology. If you are running a restaurant, chances are you’re already using technology to run, maintain, and promote your eatery. But through this post, we are going to take it a step further.
Here, we are going to focus on five technology-based marketing tips that you can employ to market your restaurant in the booming tech-economy.
- Launch your restaurant’s website
A beautifully designed, easy to use and navigate, and interactive website is a must for any restaurant that wants to succeed. If you already have a website, make sure it is updated with a professional restaurant logo design prominently placed, that it represents your restaurant’s vibe and culture, includes the menu, and has a lot of pictures.
These pictures can be of your food, the restaurant itself, of events you managed, and even your regular patrons. The goal is to make the website a true and live representation of the restaurant and the kind of experience it can provide. If you think about it, the website of your restaurant could be one of the first points of contact between the business and a potential customer.
When people are searching for certain food items or eateries near their location, they may begin with a search for relevant websites. By creating one that is optimized for search engines such as Google or Bing, you can instantly boost the visibility of your restaurant.
In case you have an existing web page, there are tools for SEO (Search Engine Optimization that you could use to market to a wider customer base. Websites are also a great way to promote your social media as you can incorporate the links to your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages. By doing so, people may have a better insight into the menu, specialties and become familiar with your brand identity as well.
In addition to creating a beautiful website, make sure it has all the latest technological functionality, like an online ordering system. Take a look at the examples of two well-designed websites for restaurants. Both Costa Vida and The Ivy Asia have created web pages that represent their eateries and attract the attention of the visitor from the first look.
Image Source: costavida.com
Image Source: theivyasia.com
Most web pages like the two above have options which allow visitors or customers to order directly. However, patrons are more likely to place an order there than at a third party app that you are registered at.
Which brings us to our second point.
- Get listed on food delivery apps
This is another great way to boost your marketing using goods of technology. Food delivery apps are a popular meal order options for people who can’t visit the restaurant. These third party solutions act as a bridge between the restaurant and the patron. With an updated menu and fast meal preps time, you can gain a quick following at any of the food apps of your choice.
Top 5 apps that you should definitely consider are:
- Food Panda
In addition to a kickass website, having your presence at any of these apps can drive up your sales and marketing like anything.
While there is no doubt that the delivery platforms can really help put your restaurant on the map, you should keep in mind that also charge a service fee or commission. Usually, it can range between 10 to 30 percent of the price of all deliveries made. In return, eateries can enjoy the customer base that frequently orders from these apps and also make the process of checkout and payment smooth. If you want to opt for something different, you can develop your own app and promote it through your web page or social media accounts.
By doing so, you would make it easier for existing and potential customers to place their orders, track them and keep returning as well. McDonald’s, Panda Express and Cici’s are just a few restaurants that have managed to launch successful apps for delivery which are frequently used by their audience.
- Use Food Bloggers and Instagram Influencers
Currently, Facebook is the go-to social media channel for restaurant owners to market their business. 68% of all restaurant owners consider Facebook their prime SMM channel. So it is definitely a place that you should not leave open to your competitors. Build a presence there. Engage with the community. Post great pictures, and make sure your guests are mentioning you.
Though Instagram lags behind Facebook in terms of restaurant marketing, the platforms’ influencers can be a game changer. In addition to using Facebook and other bloggers to market your restaurant, get in touch with a few IG influencers who you think most closely resemble the vibe and feel of your company, and see if you can work out a deal.
Instagram influencers are becoming the next big thing in the marketing world, you’d do well not to ignore their potential. There are a lot of successful food bloggers and influencers that you can find on the social media network and collaborate with them to promote your eatery. Food is actually quite a popular category on Instagram.
You will often come across influencers posting appealing pictures of dishes or food items on their blogs or pages. Some even trend hashtags to promote a new offer or the launch of a new menu by a particular restaurant. This is great for spreading awareness and marketing a new or established place.
If you take Instagram for instance, there are some very well-known food blogs and influencers that you could reach out to. Ashley Alexander, Jennifer Pallian and Nataly Perez are some names that have a large following on the social network and are frequently found giving people tips or advice on the best meals.
- Enable Social Payments
Since we are talking about social media, it is worth mentioning all the great things it can do for your business, other than just simply promoting it. Social Payments not only increase your brand awareness and word-of-mouth marketing – it actually solves a very real problem of the business.
Social payment options like PayPal and Venmo allow your guests to pay for their meals using their social/digital wallets. Currently only 4% of restaurants do that, and we hope you can appreciate how it leaves the field open for you to enter and dominate.
A lot of present day consumers consist of Millennials and Gen Z folks – both these segments are always appreciative of the comforts and convenience technology brings in life. If you adopt a social payment option at your establishment, and you’re the only restaurant in your street doing that (along with great food and a superb customer service), well, we all can guess where most of these active restaurant goers will be headed to and tell others about.
With easy payment options, you can also gain an edge over your competitors that keep system offline. This will allow you to engage customers who prefer to go cashless or may just be looking for a restaurant that accepts the option that they might have access to.
For example, if someone has Apple Pay or Venmo instead of the amount in cash, they can quickly place their order without worrying about the hassle of getting the money physically. This could give you advantage in a highly competitive market and bring in more customers as well.
Other than social payments, you can also incorporate online payment processing in your website or app which makes it easier for people to place their orders and checkout. This way, not only they can benefit from faster transactions but you can also maintain records of your payments and orders. In this day and age, this feature is being used by a majority of small, mid-range and established eateries.
- Encourage User Generated Content
The social media culture is a culture of sharing and information overload. People want to share and talk about their experiences, everyday events, major milestones, and anything that made them laugh, pause, cry, and think.
More and more people, especially Millennials, are now interested in experience and emotion more than they are interested in the thing itself.
As a restaurant owner, you are already in the business of creating experiences and feelings, and with time, have gained mastery over it. Now is the time to use that skill to encourage customers to talk about those great experiences and share it with their social media world.
Every time they post a photo of their meal, or geo-tag you, you get a free user generated content aka free promotion. To add value to this experience and show your appreciation, you can offer a free cookie to your patrons and increase customer loyalty.
There are quite a few restaurants that have benefitted greatly from user-generated content. Starbucks has ran contents with hashtags and encouraged people all across the globe to post pictures of their beverages and even offered rewards to the best entries.
In 2016, the chain released limited red cups during Christmas holidays and created a campaign that allowed people to create designs or customize them according to preference. Then they were asked to share it on social media with the hashtag #RedCupArt. Starbucks shared the most creative entries on their own social media pages which now have a following of millions.
This is just one example of user-generated content that can help promote a restaurant effectively and convince people to try out their food items. According to a report, around 91 percent of consumers in the age demographic of 18-34 years trust online reviews similar highly. In fact, they consider them as a personal reference or recommendation.
So in a way, user-generated content is similar to word of mouth marketing. When people come across organic posts being shared by people about their experience of a meal or with customer service, your restaurant will have a higher chance of attracting them.
A palette cleanser as you leave…
If you are not a tech expert, these tech-centered marketing strategies may seem a bit complex to you. In reality, they are extremely straightforward to carry out and implement. If you feel overwhelmed, you can hire experts to take care of these details.
There are also minimal resources required to upgrade the social media strategy, create an app or have a well-designed website. So in case of a new establishment, you will be able to manage marketing your restaurant in tech effectively. It is highly recommended that in the beginning, you take out a budget for digital strategies and promotions.
Your investment can actually pay off quite well both in the long and short term. At the end, marketing can help a recently launched or existing restaurant take off in a short span of time. The bottom line, however, will always be the food. No marketing gimmick or strategy can ever cover up the smell of a badly cooked meal.
So if your food game is on top and you’re not skimping on customer services, then these new marketing techniques will fill up any gaping holes in your profit margins quite nicely.
Anne Sherman works as a freelance content writer, by providing quality and SEO optimized write ups to help boost their ranking as well as appeal to their customers. She likes to spend her time at the library reading or playing crossword puzzles.