It is no secret that in the 21st Century, restaurants that cannot be found online and have no online presence will fail. However, setting up a business online for marketing purposes is actually quite simple. Here are 7 easy tips courtesy of restaurateur Abraham Diles to help you build an online presence and effectively market your restaurant online.
Establish Social Media
Surprisingly, if one has limited time, setting up the restaurant’s social media channels — like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and LinkedIn — are more important than a website. They’re free to establish, and social media channels will begin to geo-locate the restaurant to other social media users. As an added benefit of social media channels, Abraham Diles states it allows you to create a forum for customer interaction and it enables you to have specific demographic data to help make informed decisions.
Once social media channels are established, those in charge of marketing should begin posting pictures and promotions on behalf of the restaurant. Some of the best offers that restaurants can do at first are $5 off purchases of $25 or more (or something similar). For high-end restaurants, Abraham Diles suggests this kind of promotion should be branded as a gift certificate rather than a coupon. Posting them digitally over social media will reach far more potential customers than passing them out in person.
An important consideration for social media promotions/offers is tracking. The owner and staff will need to track and set limitations on the offer so that people don’t abuse the promotion. In spite of how customers might be tempted to overuse the promotion, it will always create a buzz in the community and get people in the doors for the first time.
Register the Restaurant with Online Directories
Online directories are platforms such as Google Maps, Apple Maps, Waze, Yelp, Trip Advisor, and more. While most of these places will allow the business owner to set up their online directories for free, it is a time-consuming process. Many restaurant entrepreneurs prefer to hire a digital marketing agency or a service like Yext to setup and manage their online directories for them.
Restaurant digital marketing often comes down to being present on online directories. These directories connect to GPS software on smartphones and host hundreds of helpful reviews from customers.
Get Positive Reviews
For restaurant startups, food quality and customer service mean everything. If customers are happy, they will frequently leave raving reviews. However, if a restaurant’s staff treats customers poorly or serves bad food, then it will quickly be exposed online.
In spite of the risk of negative reviews after a business owner’s best efforts, a lack of positive reviews is even more damaging. Encouraging happy customers to leave reviews always pays off. Additionally, Abraham Diles points out the importance of managing your online reviews, he says that actively engaging with negative reviews and attempting to solve the problem shows that you care and are making efforts to address customer needs.
Build a Website
When the marketing budget has enough funds, it is important that the restaurant owner not build a website for cheap. More often than not, one gets what one pays for when creating a website. That’s why it is best to focus on social media until the restaurant has enough marketing funds to invest in a good website.
Build Online Menus
Once the restaurant has a website, it is important to make the website mobile friendly and to set up a clean online menu for customers. This will encourage more customers to find you online and know what to expect.
Maintain the Digital Channels
Perhaps the key to restaurant digital marketing (after setting up the digital channels) is keeping these channels clean and up-to-date. For Abraham Diles this means regularly adjusting business hours, location changes, publicizing new promotions, and more. For example, one of the most common ways that restaurants get bad reviews occurs when Google Maps or Yelp said the restaurant was open when it was not. The little things truly make all the difference.