Don’t Put Digital Marketing on the Back Burner

Without proactive digital marketing, your restaurant will suffer.

This conversation is based on actual events:

Me:  On my way here, I tried to view your website on my iPhone, but it wasn’t responsive and your mobile site wouldn’t work properly.

Manager of a restaurant chain with over 20 locations:  I’m sorry, what do you mean?

Me:  Your website wouldn’t load on my phone when I was trying to place a to go order. 

Manager: [Blank stare] Oh.  Um.  Someone is supposed to be handling that for us.

Me:  So instead, I went to Urban Spoon and looked at your menu. But when I called here to place the order, they said the items on Urban Spoon were from your old menu.

Manager:  What is Urban Spoon?

Leverage Social Media for your Restaurant Business

Whether your customers are trying to make a reservation, explore your menu, find your location, or read reviews, restaurant decision-making happens online more than anywhere else in the world. 

With 1.2 billion people accessing the web from their mobile phones (and growing), Marketron says that 61% of users have a better opinion of brands when they have a good mobile experience.

Need more proof? The same Marketron study found that 57% of people would not recommend a business with a poor mobile experience. 

The days of relying exclusively on a good location, food, and service are over.  Those things only matter if lots of people show up.  And your competition isn’t just found in your neighborhood; it’s found on every mobile device in your city. 

Your website, as well as your online reputation, are your digital storefront.  More people will visit you online than will EVER visit your restaurant.  If that’s the case, why do so many restaurants perform poorly online? And what can you do to avoid being one of them? mobile website tips

5 Tips for Restaurant Digital Marketing

Well, besides knowing what Urban Spoon is, here are five recommendations for proactive restaurant digital marketing:

1. Make your website responsive.

It is called ‘responsive’ because this web design automatically adapts to the size and shape of the user’s screen or device.  (As a consumer yourself, you’ve likely seen websites like this, so perhaps you know what I mean.)  When responsive web design is done correctly, each user gets an appropriately sized and oriented version of the website.

2. Make sure your website has the five M’s: 

3. Claim social media profiles.

Twitter, Instagram and Facebook are obvious choices since 49% of consumers use Facebook to search for restaurants (Mashable). However it is surprising how other convenience-based and reputation-based social media channels are mismanaged or ignored by restaurants.  Google+, Urban Spoon, CitySearch, Yahoo, Yelp!, and FourSquare are all examples of social places where your current and potential customers are browsing reviews and deciding where to eat next.

4. Engage. 

After you setup your social media profiles, you must engage. Read your reviews, update your menus, dedicate time to respond to (some) comments, and keep information current. The more you engage, the more people will share your content and recommend your establishment – and don’t forget that consumers are 71% more likely to make a purchase based on social media referrals (Hubspot).

5. Dedicate resources to marketing. 

“If you build it, they will come” is old school thinking. You must attract customers by being available in their digital world and engaging with them when they arrive.  If digital marketing is someone’s job after they hire the staff, handle inventory, update the menu, book events, or bus tables, then you are not dedicated to earning new business. Marketing is creating a pipeline for your restaurant; the experience at the restaurant is closing the deal. And you can’t close the deal, if the customers aren’t there.

About Kelly Lafferman

Kelly Lafferman is CMO & Principal at Findsome & Winmore, The Classic Digital Marketing Agency, located in Orlando, FL. She specializes in helping clients find and win customers through a blend of digitally-driven marketing, branding, communications and engagement solutions. Kelly loves pinot noir, her kids, surfing, and studying consumer behavior (not necessarily in that order). Follow her on Twitter at @klafferman.

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