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Top-10 Best Digital Marketing Strategies for Restaurant

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Ivanna Shepetyuk
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Your restaurant may have the most delicious food, a wonderful room, perfect service and the freshest products, but at the same time you will 100% screw up if your business is not represented on the network. And you need not just to be present on the Internet, but to do it right or, at least, better than competitors. Next, we will look at the top 10 restaurant digital marketing strategies that can be used both together and individually.

behavior Digital Marketing Strategies for Restaurant

The behavior of a modern gourmet when choosing a restaurant

# 1. Various promotions and contests

The easiest way to attract people's attention to the restaurant is to offer some kind of freebie. Usually this is free Wi-Fi, discount coupons that are handed out on the website and on social networks (just like that or in exchange for a subscription or repost) and small gifts, such as Happy Meal children's toys at McDonald’s. Many restaurants use these things, and therefore you should not refuse them, but you need to do this beautifully and in such a way as to arouse interest among customers.

Here are some examples of great digital marketing strategies for restaurants tied to promotions, contests and quizzes:

KFC and "Heartbreak Island". New Zealand television channel TVNZ 2, along with fast-food chain KFC, launched a vote on the choice of the hottest couple in the reality show Heartbreak Island. Fans could vote for their favorite show participants and received various coupons for exchanging food for them at KFC, and if the fans also provided some personal information, they could also win a vacation from Helloworld NZ.

Kinder Digital Marketing Strategies for Restaurant

Kinder and TVNZ 2 Tinder Style Contest

Dunkin 'Donuts and the "shark grin". The Dunkin 'Donuts chain of pastry shops along with the Discovery Channel launched the “Take a Bite, take a Pic” photo contest in 2015, timed to coincide with Shark Week at Discovery. Diner visitors had to take a picture of how they plunge their teeth into the donut's flesh (like a shark plunging their teeth into the victim's flesh), and then share the picture on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #DDSharkWeekPromo.

Bloodthirsty Digital Marketing Strategies for Restaurant

Bloodthirsty Shark-style Donut Eating Contest from Dunkin 'Donuts and Discovery Channel

Domino and free pizza coupons. The international pizzeria network was the first to come up with a change of free pizza to personal customer data. To do this, Domino began to distribute coupons that every client could receive when buying in the amount of $ 5 or more. The coupon gave the right to free pizza, but to get it you had to go to the site and enter some personal data.

Promotions Digital Marketing Strategies for Restaurant

Promotions for the exchange of freebies for personal data after Domino began to carry out all

BurgerFuel and muscle cars. The restaurant chain BurgerFuel, along with the web magazine The Motorhood, once launched a quiz about American muscle cars. Everyone who gave the correct answers could get a free burger. But in this case, you first had to fill out a form indicating the name, email and whether they want to receive a newsletter.

winners Digital Marketing Strategies for Restaurant

In addition to free food, the winners of the quiz also receive a sense of satisfaction from victory, which is useful for building a positive customer-brand relationship

McDonald's, Yahoo! And court tennis. These brands invited users to come up with a creative headline related to their Australian Open tennis championship images, to which the #WhatALegend hashtag had to be added. Winners received free food, and some free flight to the tournament and unlimited meals at McDonald's.

Promotion Digital Marketing Strategies for Restaurant

"Live Like A Legend" Promotion boosted McDonald's and Yahoo! in all social networks

# 2. Restaurant Loyalty Programs

rewards Digital Marketing Strategies for Restaurant

77% of people want rewards from restaurant loyalty programs to be used on digital and mobile platforms. Source of the image

If your restaurant is not located near the airport, bus station or highway, then most of your revenue will come from regular customers (80% according to Gartner). Moreover,  according to the Software Advice, for more than 70% of gourmets, it is important that the restaurant has a loyalty program, and it must be adapted to modern digital realities.

This means that you need to not only reward people for repeated visits to the restaurant, but somehow use their gadgets and “digital” personalities (accounts on social networks). Here's how to do it:

  1. Offer referral incentives to customers for promoting your brand among their friends and followers on social networks. For example, you can reward people with free pizza for every 5 customers or a discount card for 50 customers. Or give points for each new visitor, which can then be used instead of money in your restaurant.
  2. Provide extra points for helping spread the word about your establishment online. For example, if someone wrote a positive review about a restaurant, you can reward people for their promotion by giving, for example, 5 points for like and 20 points for repost.
For the functioning of such a loyalty program, you need a system with coupons, points, and a mobile application with which you can receive tasks in exchange for points and monitor the status of the account - the current number of points. Similar applications are already used, but in other industries, for example in mobile games, where players receive in-game money or items in exchange for feedback, repost, subscription and other digital activities.

# 3. CRM (SMS-, SMM- and email marketing)

channels Digital Marketing Strategies for Restaurant
Various channels for interacting with customers
If you have access to personal data of clients (can be obtained using the two previous marketing strategies), then you can use various CRM tools to automate interaction with them through mail (MailChimp, Sendinblue, HubSpot), SMS (Mailshake, SimpleTexting, ClickSend) and social media posts (Buffer, Hootsuite, Holr).

Here are some things to keep in mind when using such tools:

  1. Personalize messages. Divide people into several groups according to their interests, average check size, visit time, and other socio-demographic characteristics and send each group a message focused on its data and preferences.
  2. Always remember about time. For example, if you send out messages with information about discounts for today or today's specials, then you need to do this a few hours before lunch or dinner. If you share information about new promotions, dishes and other things, then you need to do this in the morning, during lunch or in the evening - then when customers have time to read.
  3. Tell the gist of the message in the first 5 words. In the first three seconds, the reader must understand what will be discussed next, and if he is interested, he will continue reading, if not, he will close the message (this is normal). If you “start” for a long time, you will lose both the first and second.
  4. Talk about things that will interest people, not you. For example, the fact that you celebrate the year from the opening is not interesting for people, and the fact that you have a 20% discount in honor of the anniversary is very interesting (such information should be in the first sentence). Your achievements and the successes of people are also not interested, this is spam, which will be sent to the bin without looking.

# 4. Various Internet Listing Sites

listing Digital Marketing Strategies for Restaurant
An example of displaying a restaurant after filling out a profile in a Google My Business listing
To make your restaurant easy to find on the Internet, you need not only a website and pages on social networks, but also a completed profile in various listings. To be honest, entering information into such sites is the first thing you should do when starting any business. Especially if it's a restaurant business.

Here are the online listings your restaurant should have:

  1. LinkedIn Company Directory.
  2. Google My Business and Apple Maps.
  3. Yelp and its analogues in your region, country, city.
  4. Yellow Pages, Yahoo! Local, HubSpot, Facebook and Bing.
In addition to these resources, also see popular travel listings in your area, such as TripAdvisor, Expedia, Booking, and Airbnb. On such sites, you can also represent your business and receive regular customers thanks to this (if you have a high rating).

# 5. Contextual and targeted advertising

Launching paid online advertising campaigns targeting a specific region and target audience is another great strategy for promoting a restaurant, especially a new restaurant. Since through advertising on Instagram, Facebook, Google, you can immediately reach potential customers and get direct traffic to a website, page on a social network or an online food ordering platform.

Advantages of this approach to restaurant promotion:

  1. Geo targeting. Google and Facebook allow you to show ads in a specific country, city and even street. Moreover, you can choose several regions at once, if you have, for example, a network of restaurants.
  2. Choice of display time. It is useful if, for example, you want to attract office employees to a business lunch by showing dishes, or to inform about discounts in the evening, what needs to be done several hours before the event.
  3. Targeting specific groups of people. For example, to a specific language group in your country, if you want to lure immigrants with their folk cuisine, or to youth if you are a coworking cafe.
  4. Targeting specific queries on the network. So, if someone in your city is looking for “pho-bo soup”, and you are a Vietnamese restaurant, then this user can be shown an advertisement for your restaurant with a photograph of this particular dish (+ the price and address of your restaurant on the map).
The cost of such advertising starts at $ 5 per day.

# 6. Website with menu and blog about restaurant and food

A website with a menu and blog about food and your restaurant is another great way to get customers and build loyal relationships with them. Thanks to them, you can demonstrate dishes and prices (this is what people usually search on the network), show your restaurant (kitchen, lounge, staff), and also talk about your loyalty program, current promotions and competitions.

Here's what you need to consider when creating a blog site:

  1. Visualize everything you can. Beautiful photos are the best description of the dish, provided that they are real, that is, taken from a regular order, and not with the help of a professional photographer, lighting and photoshop. People believe in "living" images, even if they are not very glamorous.
  2. Make cooking video streams (on YouTube, Facebook, Twitch). So you show your restaurant (cuisine and dishes), the professionalism of the staff, and you will have something to put on the website and in social networks. You can arrange master classes for the winners of some competitions and loyal visitors.
  3. Indicate the exact contents of the dishes. This is important for those who have some kind of allergy or a ban on certain types of ingredients (for medical, moral or religious reasons).

# 7. Home Food Ordering Application

Application Digital Marketing Strategies for Restaurant
The online food delivery sector will grow by 16% per year over the next 5 years. Source of the image
Already,  every fifth resident of the United States and the EU at least once a week orders food at home, and, according to forecasts by Morgan Stanley and Statista, the number of such gourmets will constantly grow. Therefore, the marketing strategy of your business should take this trend into account. What can be done by creating your own food delivery application or by connecting to existing services.

If you choose the second option, then you will also need to choose which business model to use:

  1. Aggregator applications. These services work according to the scheme of marketplaces: any restaurant can connect to the service and sell their dishes there. The application takes over the processing of orders and cash payments, the restaurant prepares dishes and independently delivers them to customers. GrubHub, Just Eat, and Eat24 work on this model.
  2. New delivery services. These services assume not only the processing of orders and payments, but also the delivery of food. For this, the service uses freelance couriers who connect to the system and receive delivery orders from it (took food in a restaurant and delivered it to the buyer). This model is used by UberEATS, Foodpanda, Postmates and Caviar.
How to create your own food delivery application is described in the article «How much does it cost to create a food delivery app like UberEats or Deliveroo?».

# 8. Monitoring and response to reviews

Behavior Digital Marketing Strategies for Restaurant
Behavior of people before shopping for goods and services in their region. Source of the image
Surveys show that 92% of people always read reviews about a local business before spending their money there. Therefore, your restaurant also needs to develop a marketing strategy for working with reviews, which will include two areas:
  1. Receiving feedback. These are the actions of the restaurant staff and network activity, which will be aimed at ensuring that your visitors leave feedback on Facebook, Yelp, Google Maps Yellow Pages, Yahoo! Local and other venues. Usually this is done in exchange for a discount, a discount card (activated after writing a review) and a compliment from the chef or due to the charm of the waiters.
  2. Work with reviews. Whatever the review, the person who wrote it is always pleased to receive a response from the restaurant, be it “Thank you” or the assurance that “Your review is very valuable and we will fix the problem you indicated in the near future.” Come back in a week and see for yourself”.

# 9. Newsletters

Example Digital Marketing Strategies for Restaurant
Restaurant Newsletter Example. Source of the image
The newsletter is a beautiful poster with which your restaurant can showcase a dish, talk about a promotion or quiz and thus attract visitors. The newsletter can be posted on the website, on social networks or used as a physical poster (flyers).

The bottom line is to visually demonstrate food by launching a dopamine reaction with it (dopamine —  the hormone of anticipation of happiness, motivation), and link the pleasant sensations created in this way to the name of your restaurant. Discounts and other benefits also trigger a dopamine reaction. That is why you are everywhere surrounded by posters of food and beautiful people - they trigger a dopamine reaction, which is why  you buy more.

Basic rules for creating a newsletter:

  1. Responsive design. The digital newsletter must adapt to the user's device: a personal computer, tablet or smartphone.
  2. High quality and “live” pictures. Your message should be supported by high quality images made with real food, and not photos from photo stocks and professional photo studios.
  3. Call to action. There should be a link to a website or application where the user can place an order here and now. Or in the newsletter there should be a QR code for a discount or a special dish from the chef.
  4. Social media buttons. Provide your customers with buttons for sharing content on social networks.

# 10. Influence marketing

buzz Digital Marketing Strategies for Restaurant
What does buzz marketing look like with a restaurant advertisement
Your restaurant can become a local hit in just a couple of days if it is recommended by local opinion leaders - people's accounts on social networks with a relatively large number of loyal followers. As a rule, these are artists, musicians, politicians, artists and social activists. But not always, now the accounts of video game streamers, bloggers, various experts (photography, fashion, biology, skateboard) and just sociable people are also influential.

If these are not very popular personalities, invite them to your restaurant and in exchange for a free dinner, and ask them to review the restaurant. If these are people with a large number of subscribers, then you will have to pay for the review. The cost of such advertising ranges from 100 to 1 million dollars.

average Digital Marketing Strategies for Restaurant

The average cost of advertising on Instagram depending on the number of subscribers. Source of the image

At the same time, it is better to order advertising from local celebrities, and not from the most popular ones, as for users with a relatively small number of followers, the conversion is higher. In addition, it’s easier to make advertising natural, which also increases conversion.

Instagram Digital Marketing Strategies for Restaurant

The average conversion of ads on Instagram depending on the number of subscribers. Source of the image

Another important point when developing a restaurant marketing influence strategy is not to use paid ads! Since when they see a paid ad, people will immediately understand that this is a custom post, which means that you should not believe it. It’s possible (and even necessary) to pay for reposts and likes of such posts).


Top-10 Best Digital Marketing Strategies for Restaurant key takeaways:

#1. # 1. Various promotions and contests
#2. # 2. Restaurant Loyalty Programs
#3. # 3. CRM (SMS-, SMM- and email marketing)
#4. # 4. Various Internet Listing Sites
#5. # 5. Contextual and targeted advertising
#6. # 6. Website with menu and blog about restaurant and food
#7. # 7. Home Food Ordering Application
#8. # 8. Monitoring and response to reviews
#9. # 9. Newsletters
#10. # 10. Influence marketing

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