The competition within the restaurant industry is fierce. In fact, it is notorious for being one of the hardest industries to break into and thrive in. But you already know that. So how can you turn the odds in your favor? The first step: a solid digital marketing guide for restaurants.

The key to any successful business is knowing how to market your products and services. While traditional marketing methods like handing out flyers and putting up commercials are still valid, the world is going more and more digital. Today, without an online presence, it’s hard to have a successful business. 

Don’t fret. We’re here with a digital marketing guide for restaurants that will help you create an online presence and bring the customers through your door.

1. Create a website

You can be armed with a great digital marketing guide for restaurants, but it wouldn’t work without a website. A great website should be mobile-optimized and include the following:

  • An ‘About Us’ page that introduces your brand, the story behind it, your inspirations and what you stand for/believe in.
  • Your menu
  • A gallery which showcases your restaurant’s interior, shop front, vibe and decor.
  • A booking page so you don’t have to answer calls or check your emails all day long. You can either incorporate this into your website (there is a plugin for this if your site is powered by WordPress), or direct customers to a third-party booking platform such as Chope or eatigo.
  • An online ordering page if you are offering delivery and takeaways.
  • A ‘Contact Us’ page and feedback form where your customers can share their experience of dining at your restaurant, or offer suggestions on where you can improve. 

2. List your business online

To ensure that your business shows up on Google searches, it’s important to create a Google My Business (GMB) listing for your restaurant. It displays everything a potential customer would need to know: address, phone number, operating hours, website, reviews and more. You can also upload images and your menu for customers to peruse, and they can also reserve a table easily all through your GMB listing.

You should also create social media pages for your restaurant on Facebook and Instagram so customers can find you on different channels. Make sure that details such as your address, contact number and operating hours are all listed correctly! It’s also important to do some competitor research – check out your competitors’ pages and see what they’re doing well, and how you can incorporate it into your page. 

3. Work on your local SEO

Local SEO is what will help customers in your area find you and bring them through your door. When someone searches for “(your cuisine) near me” or “(your cuisine) in Singapore”, your SEO rating will determine where you rank on the SERP. Some ways to improve your local SEO is to: 

  • Ensure that information on your GMB listing is accurate and up-to-date
  • Encourage customers to write Google reviews and respond to them sincerely
  • Update your GMB listing with events, announcements and special offers
  • Use your keywords. Make sure that they appear in your site’s meta content, copy, and URLs. You can also do this by creating content such as writing blog posts.
  • Make sure that Google Maps is attached to your pages such as your “Contact Us” or “About Us” page.
  • Get high-quality backlinks by creating content that others would want to link to, guest blogging, or engaging local social media influencers (more about this later).

4. Social media marketing

Engaging your customers is a must. You should always aim to put out interesting and valuable content, and respond to your followers’ posts, tags and comments. You don’t need to post everyday, but try to put up something at least once a week and keep the frequency consistent.

What’s also great about social media marketing is that you can get great results with both free and paid advertisements. An example of a cost-free marketing is holding a competition to extend your reach, or doing free giveaways by asking your followers to like/share your post and tag a friend. 

Alternatively, you can look into doing paid ads, or more specifically geo-targeted ads. Geo-targeting is marketing to specific users based on their location, age, gender and more. So for example if you’re starting up a fine dining restaurant, you may want to target your ads to users who are aged 30 and above, and also who are within a certain distance to your restaurant. 

5. Engaging social media influencers

If you are just starting out, it’s likely that you haven’t amassed a strong following. A great way to gain visibility in the digital sphere is to engage social media influencers. These influencers have established credibility in their industry, and they are likely to have thousands, if not millions of followers.

If there are food bloggers or influencers in your location, you can invite them to your restaurant for a free meal or food tasting session, and ask if they’d be willing to share their review and experience online. For an added perk to bring customers in the door, you can also go on to give the influencers a unique discount code that they can share with their followers. 

6. Build your mailing list

Email marketing is one of the most effective (and cost-effective) ways of digital marketing. First, you need to build an email list of subscribed users. You can do this with a landing page ad and offering a discount code to everyone who subscribes to your email newsletter. 

You should aim to send out emails to your subscribed users at least once a month. A great way to create a personal touch via email marketing is by sending them updates about your restaurant – introducing your team, new experiments in the kitchen, or the teambuilding event you just had. Sharing your culture to your subscribers would help them get to know you and give them a homely feeling when they visit your restaurant. 

Email marketing is not about aggressively gaining subscribers or new customers, but about retaining them, nurturing them and building customer loyalty.

7. Measure effectiveness/ROI

You won’t know how successful your digital marketing strategy is and where it needs tweaking unless you look at the statistics and measure its effectiveness.

Engaged a social media influencer? Take a look at how many users have used his/her unique discount code. How many new followers have you gained on your social media platforms? Was there an increase in your web traffic, and how long did these users spend on your page? How many of these users actually converted to actual customers that walked through your doors?

If they didn’t, then why didn’t they convert? How can you tweak your strategies? Asking the right questions will help you modify your marketing campaign and refine your business strategy for greater success.