Industry Spotlight: Online Marketing for Restaurants
Restaurants face many unique challenges because of the dense market saturation in many areas. It’s one of the highest risk businesses, with a study from Cornell Hospitality Quarterly revealing 60 percent of restaurants fail within the first year. The study also found a strong correlation between restaurant density and owner turnover.
Because marketing can seem overwhelming when you have a bunch of other responsibilities to manage. Online marketing may seem like your last priority, but it is the key to growing your business, attracting new customers, and building client loyalty over time. With these major challenges in mind, how can you ensure your restaurant venture is a success?
Common Challenges for Small Restaurants
Outside of the high risks of the restaurant industry, there are other smaller factors that can wear on the business over time. Having a too-large menu can increase costs and make food take longer to prepare, increasing table turnover time. It also can make your restaurant seem less cohesive. Plus, if you haven’t reassessed your menu in a long time, your prices may not be aligned with your costs.
Customer service matters a great deal and can drive guests away. This topic often appears in online reviews, and it may scare future diners away. Customers are more likely to take advice from their peers than the business itself. Good customer service can improve your online reputation and attract future customers.
Running a restaurant is a time-consuming endeavor, which means hiring and training staff and staying on top of management can be challenging. Staff members with inadequate training can damage your current and future customer base. It’s also important to know your most profitable menu items and the things no one is ordering. Set sales goals and know your profit margins. You also need to know how much you are spending on labor compared to restaurant sales.
For small restaurants, fast casual establishments may be threatening sales. These new concepts have been cropping up everywhere in the past few years, and one of the reasons they are so successful is because they generally have a cohesive image. If your restaurant lacks a unified concept, it may be more difficult to attract new business.
With all these challenges, it’s no surprise that restaurant owners often have difficulty marketing themselves. Sometimes there just isn’t enough time to create brand standards, form a marketing plan, engage your customer base on social media, maintain a high-quality website, and create a customer loyalty program. Even when you have a website, it’s easy for information to fall out of date without anyone managing it. Small restaurants may find their name, address, and phone number vary between their website, Yellow Page listings, and review websites like Yelp.
Fortunately, you aren’t alone. Clickx can help you bring your restaurant marketing to a new level.
Increase Your Online Presence
It’s no secret that Yelp can be a restaurant owner’s best friend of worst enemy. Courting positive reviews is absolutely crucial to attracting new customers and bringing them back over time. These are some websites where you can try to get listings to enhance your online presence:
- Trip Advisor
- Urban Spoon
- Grub Hub
- Find Me Gluten Free
- Gluten Free Registry
- The Chef and Restaurant Database
- US Diners
Many consumers search websites like these to get recommendations for new places to eat, especially if they are in a new city or after a particular type of cuisine, and this is why a local focus is important for growing your online presence. Positive reviews from previous diners encourage new business, which can help you continue to expand your business.
Additionally, it’s important to remember that customers can review your restaurant on these websites without you setting up an account, but creating a profile and providing more details helps you control your online presence. You can also use many of these websites to post your menu, but similar to name, address, and phone number, it’s crucial to keep all items current. Having access to the full menu before they come into the restaurant could be the deciding factor of whether they choose to dine at your establishment or go somewhere else in the neighborhood. The more information you have about yourself online, the more likely customers are to come in. After claiming your local listings, be sure to add photos of the inside of your restaurant. It enhances legitimacy and encourages people to come in.
Some restaurant owners may consider addressing negative feedback on these websites because it can have long-term benefits for your business reputation. While every business owner is terrified of receiving negative reviews on Yelp and other review sites, how these reviews are handled makes all the difference. Responding to unsatisfied customers and offering some sort of resolution can bring back clients who may otherwise never have returned. In addition, potential diners who are scoping our reviews of your restaurant will see that you genuinely care about your customers.
Solutions for Restaurant Marketing
Here at Clickx, we do far more than just help you get good reviews on different websites, and we know there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to marketing. We can help you establish a unique marketing mix that allows you to stand out in a crowded marketplace. We will take the time to understand your business so we can provide the best marketing strategy possible that is tailored to your specific needs. We will always be here to act as a partner, rather than just another marketing agency.
Because the restaurant industry is so competitive, we would recommend a combination of pay-per-click advertising, social media, and content marketing to extend your online presence. We can help you come up with campaigns to encourage more Yelp reviews, use local marketing, optimize your content for search engines, send email newsletters, and monitor your social media presence. Clickx will help you develop your brand identity and meet your marketing goals with measurable results. Once we work together to get your business where you want it, we can set new objectives.
Local marketing is especially important for restaurant marketing because it helps draw in customers in your immediate vicinity. The vast majority of searches now occur on smartphones, and users are frequently looking for local results. In addition, local search leads to more immediate results. Clickx can help you target the specific customers you want to reach. Part of our strategy will be to help you claim your Google, Yahoo, and Bing local listings, saving you time and money while increasing your online visibility.
Plus, you can’t ignore mobile when it comes to local marketing. People generally search from a mobile device when they are on the go, and this can lead to an immediate transaction. Compared to other types of purchases, customers may feel comfortable making a decision on the go, compared to more costly items that need more research. Even people at home may search for restaurants from their smartphones because the mobile Web has nearly the same functionality as desktop. Having a fully equipped mobile website is no longer an option—customers expect this from nearly every business. This channel is very valuable and can bring in new customers who may not have found you otherwise.
Clickx helps you leverage earned, owned, and paid media through one platform so you don’t have more to juggle with your busy schedule. We will help you create the right marketing mix tailored to your business’s specific needs, while allowing you to gain better control of your online marketing efforts so you can focus on other areas. The platform gives you 24/7 access to current metrics, campaign performance by marketing channel, and expert support when you need it. We also help you plan, refine, and grow your marketing efforts over time.