Dog videos and cat pics might rule the internet — but images of food aren’t far behind. Something about food and drink gets people amped to spend time online, a digital dynamic that makes websites and online marketing a fruitful avenue for restaurants. Customers are likely to browse your menu, look up your reviews, and even order delivery before they’ve so much as found your physical address. In short, you have to look good and work smoothly online. Some of the sharpest digital marketing comes from total amateurs, and there’s a great chance you’re already testing those waters on your own. When you want to outsource those tasks or level up to more rigorous approaches, there are a bevy of solutions to help you navigate, track, and ensure the success of your website and marketing effort.
How to use website and marketing solutions for restaurants
Optimize your site for people on the go: A restaurant's website is a first point of contact where a new customer scans menus, looks up hours and contact info, and scopes out your food. Make sure these things are front and center, easy for a hungry (think: impatient) person to scan. The most functional, user-friendly sites work seamlessly on mobile devices. Don’t hit “publish” on your website before you see how it looks on an iPhone.
Step up your social game: Speaking of food photos, your social media — particularly Instagram and Facebook — should be stacked with them. Many restaurants use social media as their digital marketing hub, which only raises the value of using top-shelf photos. As people like, comment, and share, you strengthen your connection with existing customers and reach potential new ones. It’s a conversation, so keep encouraging (even rewarding) users who post about your establishment.
Launch a loyalty program: Customers love to feel special. And restaurant operators love customers who come back again and again. So build a strong loyalty program into your restaurant marketing strategy. Entice repeat visits by offering your customers discounts and freebies. If you think loyalty programs are gimmicky, well, invent one of your own that fits the style of your restaurant.
How to provide website and marketing solutions for restaurants
A plethora of digital marketing tools are available to help you create and maintain your online presence. For a website, check out Squarespace — a platform that hosts the site, offers easy templates to build your site, and makes e-commerce a snap. Facebook, Instagram, and Google provide decent tools to track your metrics, but if you want to go deeper into reporting, scheduling, and data analytics, give Sprout Social a look. As for loyalty programs, your point of sale system might have one built in, or you can try out SY5 or Boostly for software that can gather customer data (think birthdays and anniversaries) and suggest custom perks that will make regulars out of casual visitors.