Running a successful restaurant isn't just about making incredible food at a good price. You also need to market your restaurant effectively if you want to attract new customers and retain the ones you already have - and a large part of that marketing is digital. Stay on top of the game by using these highly-relevant and necessary marketing tools.
The first tool in your arsenal is email marketing. Email is a great way to get the word out about new products or promotions, and the medium can help you connect with your customers where they already are. However, you have to be careful because the average person receives more than 120 emails per day. If your email subject line could easily be used be another restaurant or another company, it's never going to be read. Make sure to lead with your selling point and not to oversell, and aim to email no more than once a week.. Your email marketing should make customers feel special, not annoyed.
In today's digital age, social media is essential... especially for restaurants. According to Cornell University, almost 60 percent of chain restaurants and roughly 75 percent of independent restaurants use social media to reach would-be customers and retain existing ones. They use it to promote unusual foodie holidays, like National Fried Chicken Day, and special meals, like charity dinners. Many restaurants also use social media to offer special deals when a person checks in to the location on social media. Make sure you are staying competitive by being just as active. If you aren't participating in social media, your customers could forget all about your restaurant.
Customer service also counts - and that includes how your entire staff interacts with the public. "While the front of the house is the face customers see, customer service includes everyone, from the maintenance crew to the cooks in the kitchen," explains The Balance. "Clean restrooms, good food, [and] a friendly and inviting atmosphere are all components of good customer service, in which every restaurant employee plays a role." It also means that you don't let your staff overbook reservations, you train your staff on how to handle an unhappy customer; you show your regulars some type of appreciation, and you make the overall experience of dining at your restaurant unforgettable... in a good way.
People want to know what they can expect at a restaurant, and their expectations are the basis of why they choose one place over another. According to SproutSocial, a whopping 88 percent of consumers take online reviews and comments seriously. They use them to choose where to dine and where to visit again. Employ online reviews for restaurants by asking for testimonials and encouraging customers to check in when they visit.
Also, pay attention to your photos and video. Simply taking pictures with your phone is not going to cut it. Almost 70 percent of consumers say that product image is important when making a purchasing decision, and some 60 percent will contact a business that has photos before they touch base with one who doesn't. "Marketing is all about communicating your value to the customer," explains Industrial Marketer. "Unfortunately, many businesses don't understand the importance of good marketing photos and how the right styling and consistent imagery can help them not only convey quality, but also help them successfully tell their company story and create alignment across their brand."
Finally, remember that promotions are a form of marketing. Family promotions (e.g. kids eat free), coupons that allow customers to bundle different dishes into a meal, and nights with special pricing (e.g. wing night, happy hour) are effective ways of bringing people to your restaurant - and they work. Take Bob Evans for example. When the restaurant chain added a special kids program, their revenue went up by 30 percent within a three month time period.