Digital Marketing for restaurants

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Digital Marketing for restaurants – an industry where brand experience is everything

If there is one industry where the customer experience can never fall short of anything but exceptional, the hospitality industry is it.  Times have moved on and customers will experience and judge brands way beyond the front fascia of a restaurant and the food and service inside an establishment.

With so much to consider, it’s impossible to do everything.  So what are the most important things to do in restaurant marketing to get your brand experience right in the digital world? Digital marketing for the hospitality industry needn’t be overwhelming!

What’s most important for the hospitality sector?

Firstly, having a website is probably the most important thing you can do for marketing your restaurant. If you have easy-to-read opening times and menus, a click-to-call button, the ability to book a table, and something that looks vaguely appetising, you’re streaks ahead of your competitors.

If you haven’t, you’re in trouble; you’re missing out on hungry people who have cash to spend. And hungry people always order more!

So if you’ve got a great looking website – what else do you need to know? Here’s a handful of tips to get you started…

1. Responsive, responsive, responsive!

This isn’t just your customer service mantra – it’s an absolute must that your website is optimised for mobile phones. If it doesn’t have a responsive design you’re losing “right now” business.

As you’re reading this, there could be hungry people browsing the web for their nearest restaurant. If your site isn’t easy to view on a mobile, those hungry hordes will simply go elsewhere.

What is responsive design? This is where your website content adapts to the device you’re viewing it on. To understand more about responsive design and why it’s important – watch our short video here

responsive design 

2. A picture is worth a thousand words (but are those words good or bad?!)

Great food photography can get people’s stomachs rumbling and mouths watering. But remember bad photography can also have the reverse effect! Dishes that look unappetizing can turn customers off in an instant. If you change your menu daily, don’t worry about having professional photography of each dish you serve – but do look at how you can show appetizing and delicious food shots on your website, coupled with imagery that shows what sort of experience your customers will have.

Likewise any pictures of the restaurant should reflect what the place is like. While an empty restaurant can show how big it is, it can look cold and unatmospheric. Too busy and it may look noisy and frantic. Strike the right balance of people enjoying themselves and having fun without looking crowded.

3. Keep it fresh

New content on your website is great – not only for helping the searchability of your site, but it tells your customers about your business – it makes you look interesting and exciting and gives people a reason to check in from time to time. A blog area on your site gives your customers some insight in to your brand personality. Why not consider the following content:

  • Write short write-ups (with pics) about events you’ve held
  • Talk about awards you’ve won
  • Have an article on an exciting new local supplier you’re using
  • Talk about new menus you’re launching, special events you’re running etc
  • Interview with the head chef!
  • Perhaps a monthly recipe from the chef they can make at home?

There’s no end to how creative you can be – just by sharing some of the things you are doing in your business every day.


4. Be social!

There’s no doubt about it – a social media presence is really important for the hospitality industry. But where to start? Do you simply broadcast your news or do you engage in meaningful conversation with your diners?

There’s simply too much to cover about Social media in one short blog post, so we’ll shortly be launching our guide to Social Media for the hospitality industry. Keep an eye on your inbox for when this launches.


5. Menus – it’s all in the detail

Having menus online is important – having menus that are easy to find on your website and are easy to read are even more important!

Is this the current menu? Date them too –even if it’s just the ‘Summer Menu’ – at least people who are looking at it know they are looking at dishes you will actually be serving when they are visiting.

Remember also that a lot of diners like to look at menus and pre-select what they want/can have. For example customers with dietary or allergy requirements, or those following a particular diet plan like to research in advance so they can make an informed choice. If your menu is out of date and the customer can’t have something they have already researched and selected online, they’re likely to be disappointed before they’ve even tasted the food – and even more unlikely to return!


6. Review your reviews

You’d be surprised how many people seek advice online and are swayed by what they find. A simple request for “Where’s good to eat in #Clapham” could return a lot of posts, reviews, images and videos.

Those same consumers recommending your restaurant can also critique it. So be vigilant and proactive by addressing any negative posts you may find – before others find it too!

It takes just one disgruntled and vocal customer to influence others. But when it happens, be interested and polite and engage with them – find out why they didn’t enjoy their dining experience. Ask for feedback so you can improve your service and develop an opportunity to correct the issue. If you feel their comments are valid – why not offer them a free drink or discounted meal when they next visit? It’s worth it to get them back in through the door with a chance to talk favourably about you! Reviews and social media should NOT be feared – they should be embraced as a way to converse with the very people who will return again and again and most importantly recommend you on as the place to go.


7. Where are you?

Spend some time making sure you can actually be found online. Traditional listings are important, but also ensure you’re ranking on Google.

Consumer research on ‘local searches’ showed that Restaurants and cafés are by far the most common local search, with nearly 70 percent of respondents stating that they have used the Internet to find a restaurant or café in the last 12 months.

SEO (search engine optimisation) is important for making sure you will be found online when someone is searching for somewhere to eat in their locality. In its simplest sense, search engines work by searching website content for keywords and delivering relevant results. Understanding this and writing content that will help you rank higher on search results is vital for making the most of your online presence.

There’s more on this in our Social Media guide coming soon….


8. Find me!

Have you got a map? Do your customers know where to find you? Have you got directions from your nearest landmark? If your customer is on the move and wants to stop for an impromptu lunch or dinner… do they know how to get to you?

A map, along with some simple directions will make it even easier for your customers to find you. Also make sure your opening times are easy to see, so that there are no disappointed customers turning up on a day when you’re closed.


9. Reservations

Make it easy for people to book online… either through a form, a clearly displayed telephone number, a call back option… whatever it may be make sure people can work out how to book a table.

This is particularly important if you’re closed in between lunch and dinner service. If there is a way to contact you when the restaurant/pub is closed they will be more likely to book.



10. Bring in the experts!

Ok – so we’re bound to say that. But from experience the age old saying – ‘Stick to what you’re good at” has never been truer than now. With xx % new restaurants opening every day, competition is fierce and being distracted by building and maintaining your own website, generating and posting content, managing and engaging customers, is a big risk.

TBD Group specialises in providing intelligent digital solutions that deliver tangible business results. What’s more, we understand the hospitality industry and the pressures that businesses face.

We’ve spent the last 5 years working alongside John Wood, a former Michelin starred chef who has worked at some of the best restaurants in the world, to create Kitchen CUT – the leading recipe costing and price monitoring system supporting businesses around the World.

Contact us today to find out how we can help to revitalise your brand and transform your website to convert casual surfers into paying customers.

TBD—it’s all about the experience.



» Insights » Digital Marketing for restaurants

, , , , , November 12, 2014

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