Woman at restaurant
Trying to find innovative ways to market your restaurant? Discover what the future of restaurant marketing holds.

According to the marketing firm, Sinuate Media, 70% of online food searches are performed without mentioning the name of a specific restaurant.

And even if your restaurant manages to be picked by a potential customer in the search results, two out of three potential customers will compare your eatery to 3 or more other restaurants.

Here’s one more statistic for you that sets the tone for why it’s so important to have a 2020 restaurant marketing strategy: over 80% of potential customers will review your online menu before deciding to visit your establishment.

In light of these facts, how can you make your restaurant more well-known, beyond the obvious advertising means of yesteryear (coupons, flyers, radio, TV)?

Don’t Rely On Your Website To Do The Talking

Have you ever tried to search for your restaurant online? If you haven’t or if it’s been awhile, do so now. When you do, you’ll likely notice that your restaurant’s website is nowhere near the #1 listing on popular search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo).

Instead, you’ll notice that review sites, local maps and social media profiles (assuming you have them) rank higher. In light of this, how does your restaurant’s profile look on third-party sites? Are there any reviews? Are there negative reviews that have yet to be addressed?

Let’s answer the first question. If a review site such as Yelp contains no reviews or few, encourage your existing customers to post reviews by offering an email voucher for a free entree on their next visit. (This way, you can capture your customers’ email addresses to use for future promotions. If you have a best in class point of sale (POS) system, you can use it for robust email marketing campaigns.)

And if there are unanswered negative reviews, no matter how old they are, if possible, do your best to respond to them. In your response, thank the customer for posting the review; express contrition for their bad experience; list the way(s) in which their experience has been remedied, and invite them in to give your restaurant another try.

Got the Best Ribs This Side of the Mississippi? If Siri Don’t Know, They Ain’t Gonna Go

Sure, word of mouth is still crucial; it just still might be the best form of marketing there is. But ever increasingly, potential customers are using voice search to choose where to eat. Roughly a decade ago, that meant people would enter the phrase, for example, “bbq near me.”

These days, people still search using “near me.” However, more and more people are using voice apps like Siri and Alexa and asking more specific search phrase questions, such as “What restaurant in [city name] has the best barbecue ribs?”

The reality is that even if your mouth-watering, unrivaled recipe for ribs was handed down to you by  your great-great grandma, if your website doesn’t have a menu and you haven’t optimized your website with the search terms “barbecue, bbq, ribs,” etc., local search results won’t know you exist. You better hope that you get enough organic walk-in traffic, otherwise people will visit other barbecue joints in your area.

Now, if the thought of optimizing your website sounds like you need a computer engineering degree from MIT, no need to worry. You don’t have to do any optimizing yourself. If you have the budget, spend a few hundred bucks and have a local web programmer create an online menu for your website and sprinkle in some keywords. You can also have the web programmer create a blog for your website. Post pictures of your menu offerings and talk about the recipes using the keywords you want to rank for. (But don’t disclose your secret sauce.)

Yellow Pages: Still Relevant to Restaurant Marketing!

Stop the presses … the Yellow Pages is the future of restaurant marketing? Well, no, not exactly. But YP.com, the iconic, seemingly-antiquated phone book’s website, is just one of dozens of digital platforms that your restaurant might be—and should be listed on. In other words, people don’t just use Yelp for restaurant reviews; it’s not the only review game in town. Besides YP.com (and obvious platforms such as Facebook and Google), check to see if your restaurant is listed on:

  • AllMenus
  • Foursquare
  • Delivery.com
  • TripAdvisor
  • AllergyEats
  • HappyCow (for vegetarians and vegans)

These are just a handful of platforms. It’s worth repeating that there are dozens and dozens. Your restaurant should be listed on as many as possible. The more listings your restaurant appears on, the better chances your restaurant will be listed on page 1 of search results. (You can submit listings yourself or pay a search engine specialist; to save money, choose a local freelancer, not a firm.)

Keep Your Content Updated

In addition to frequently posting on social media (including Snapchat like Taco Bell cleverly did) and updating your website’s blog, make sure the information on your website and social media platforms are updated. What does this mean exactly? Let’s say your store hours have expanded for the summer or winter holidays. Does your website and social media platforms have the new hours listed? Same goes for your menu. If your menu is different from what’s on your website or, for example, YP.com, customers may be dismayed and never come back.

Be As Specific As Possible

On your website and social media platforms, tell potential customers everything they need to know. Not just about your menu but also your location and parking; options for people with food allergies (do you have gluten-free pasta, for example?); delivery options, etc. Tell potential customers everything they would want to know about your eating establishment. Not just because it’s good customer service to do so, but also because people are searching for phrases such as “dog-friendly barbecue restaurant with gluten-free sauce.”

The future of restaurant marketing also involves making sure your restaurant POS can seamlessly help you grow your business. Contact us today for a demonstration.