By Jessica Zekry
The pandemic has forced restaurants and consumers alike to change their behaviours overnight. Online ordering was a growing trend for several years until it became the only way to keep restaurants afloat and diners served.
The value and utility that this service offers has certainly allowed it to make its way into new consumer habits. By December of last year, digital ordering had seen a 142 per cent increase in Canada.
Now that more restaurants have turned towards digital ordering services, reaching customers online doesn’t come without its own challenges.
Here are six effective digital marketing strategies to help you promote your restaurant online and make the most of your ordering app.
Divert traffic to your online ordering app
Delivery apps come at a cost and between delivery, commission, and tips, fees can quickly add up. To stay profitable, one of the most common approaches is to offer a discount.
Below are some common discounts that you can offer:
- Seasonal discount: an event-based discount generally set around a specific date or season (Valentine’s Day, Canada Day, Christmas, etc.)
- Meal bundles: special offers that combine products or combos (family meals, group meals, etc…)
- “Buy One Get One”: this can be done in two different ways — buy one get one, or buy one get second item X per cent off.
Be creative with your promotions. The possibilities are endless with what social media has to offer today.
- You could run a treasure hunt of gift cards that you would hide around your restaurant’s location, you could post teasers and updates on your social media to encourage participation.
- Organize giveaways on your own or with the help of a foodie influencer.
Running promotions is arguably one of the most effective ways to drive sales. If done well, they boost your sales, attract new customers, and lead to repeat sales.
Use your social media
Social media (such as Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok) has become a great tool for promoting your restaurant and sharing your daily news. And, for many, it has also become an integral part of their digital communication strategy.
You can bring bits of your daily operations straight to your online community’s devices. From sharing what goes on in your kitchen to showing delivery and pickup orders being prepared and highlighting customers who regularly order from you, there are an infinite number of ways to extend customer experience off-premise.
Here are some helpful tips and a great marketing example from one of our clients:
Optimize your ordering app
High-quality pictures allow you to highlight your brand and create a better customer experience, adding to the visual appeal for your different menu items when a user is on your ordering app.
Update additional information
Make sure to update the item description to inform your customers with food allergies, special diet, etc.
Create a simple online menu
Optimize your menu to be easily digestible. Break your categories down by food groups (starters, sandwiches, desserts, and drinks). It helps users navigate your menu and helps them easily make their choices.
Your Google listing
With Google My Business account, you get more than a profile. It not only allows you to easily connect with your local customers via Google Maps but to also advertise your restaurant.
Here are some of the things you can do:
- Link your website and online ordering to your profile to stimulate your customer engagement.
- Post photos, hours of operation, and menu options to show your customers what makes you unique.
- Create Google posts to inform your customers of promotional offers, events, or the launch of a new product. With this year’s update, your Google posts no longer expire after seven days, they are instead displayed under a Knowledge Panel in your listing.
Your website is the core of your online presence. A study found that 90 per cent of consumers research local businesses online before deciding to make a purchase. When your website is optimized, you make it easier for potential customers to stay on your page and place orders online. In return, you will increase traffic to your website and sales of your products.
Here are some tips for updating your site:
Add a Call-To-Action button (i.e.: Order Online, Order Now) that is visible on your home page to encourage customers to order from your app.
Update your contact info, hours of operation, menu, and gallery so customers know what to expect.
Responsive layout: These days, most of your traffic comes from mobile devices. Consumers search for food on the go right before they eat. If your website isn’t mobile user-friendly, you’re missing out!
Use keywords to attract local customers: SEO is essential, no matter the size of your restaurant or the field of activity, if your restaurant is present on the web. The choice of keywords is essential so that your customers can find you. Examples of keywords for an ice cream shop: Vegan dairy, vegan ice cream, premium ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet, and homemade non-dairy ice cream.
Get online reviews
A recent survey indicated that more than 80 per cent of consumers look at online reviews before choosing a restaurant or cafe. Top review sites like Yelp, Google Maps, or TripAdvisor are good ways to collect reviews and promote your business.
Here are six ways to encourage more online reviews:
- Start a conversation and gauge their level of satisfaction, before asking for a review.
- Link your online ordering page to your profile on review sites such as Yelp, Google, TripAdvisor, in-App reviews, etc.
- Optimize your website, social media, and email template for your customers to easily write reviews (set website badges to your social media profiles).
- Give your customers a reason to leave a review by offering incentives (i.e: free coffee, discounts).
- Respond to every review – even the bad ones: When you respond to a bad review, it gives you the opportunity to value their opinion and to deliver excellent customer service.
- Share reviews in posts on your social media and showcase them on your website. They serve as social proof; hearing what other customers have to say about their experience will help others know that they can trust your business with their purchasing decision.
In today’s connected world, restaurants face stiff competition to retain customers and to draw in new ones beyond location. To succeed, you need to offer a unique value proposition that other competitors will not replicate, and to continually communicate about it.
By developing a digital strategy and carefully monitoring it, you will be able to strengthen the notoriety of your restaurant, increase your sales volume, and attract new customers.
Jessica Zekry is the Marketing Manager at MYR POS, an all-in-one, cloud-based Point-Of-Sale System solution built for quick-service restaurants. Zekry develops, implements and executes strategic marketing plans. When she doesn’t work for MYR, you can find her on a hiking trail or eating her favourite vegan dishes.