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Getting Found Online: 8 Effective Digital Marketing Strategies for Restaurants

Hospitality industry in India flourishes with huge numbers. To say the least, we Indians love our food and it’s only natural that we love trying out in our favourite restaurants. Even if you’re exploring new food or trying out your favourite food in different restaurants, finding them digitally for reviews, social proof, location is synonymous to the digital world of today. So if you’re a restaurant owner, who is having half-hearted ideas about strategizing a digital marketing plan for your beloved business, let’s clear your confusion first with some interesting numbers!

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But how is it important for restaurants?

  • Now, India has around approximately 70 lakh restaurants in organised category & about 2.3 crores of hotels and catering services in unorganised category.
  • A survey found that, back in 2021 about 45 millions of Indians satiated their cravings in restaurants.
  • Research suggests that 90% of customers research online before choosing their restaurant and do keep in mind, this percentage is more than any business.

Now, we believe we’ve made it clear how important online marketing strategies are for restaurants. With constantly evolving digital marketing strategies you might be bombarded with to-do lists everyday. Considering our country and the behemoth competition, smart and effective strategies are needed to help you devise an online marketing plan and to take your business to the next level!

8 Effective Online marketing strategies for your restaurant

Optimise your website

In the ocean of restaurants, you might own a local cafe or big eatery. Your digital face makes a lot of difference for customers who are wanting to find you online. A survey found that 57% of guests visit the restaurant’s website before making their presence to enjoy their favourite meals. Having an responsive and an attractive website makes a lot of difference. 

If your website is sluggish and having a bland design that doesn’t do any justice for your restaurant’s reputation you’re missing your potential customer. A bad presentation can shroud your cooking mastery or the value that you provide. Therefore, investing in a website for restaurants is no brainer. 

A good website checklist

  • Your website must be navigable, professional and creative mimicking your overall brand experience.
  • Put user experience first and put valuable information for your customers (like operating hours, location, booking numbers etc.)
  • Finally invest in some good photography for nice visuals on your website. Natural and appealing recipe images are sure to bring in potential customers.

Leverage online-menus and ordering system

In today’s competition and the comfortness customers seek of having their food at home, your restaurant must be missing out on a lot – if you’re compromising on having an online ordering system. Having an online menu that shows what you offer for the customers is the cherry on top. 

Even if you’re a local business, there are tons of people looking to have a quick bite, delivered to them fast. A well designed menu showing all the varieties you have to offer, adding variations, easy customization options are all to look out for when you build a system to take online orders. The Menu has to also have high quality food shots that make the overall experience tempting enough. You can build the delivery system internally and operate with few delivery staff. 

In today’s age there are a lot of food delivery services like Swiggy, Zomato etc. to partner up with and make sure your customers find the favourite food they want. 

Focusing on Local SEO

The king of all online marketing strategies – Search Engine Optimization. Implementing the best SEO practices for your online business will bring in a lot of organic traffic, who are more likely to visit your restaurant or take an online order. The importance of Local search optimization is very crucial for a perfect digital marketing strategy and we can explain this with an example.

Picture this, if you’re a traveller in a new city or a working person who’s in craving for a satisfying meal, the next obvious thing you’d do is type in your search engine ‘Restaurants near me’. And we get a ton of suggestions from the Local SEO, giving out the website info, social sites and the other stuff like operational hours & contact numbers. Immediately, the customer would get to the restaurant that they find is performing well in the online space, thanks to SEO. 

Ways to Improve SEO ranking

  • Add details for customers to track you: location, website, social sites, contact info.
  • Create high quality SEO friendly content that’s richly engaging in your niche. This will bring in a lot of organic traffic, that, in turn will improve your SEO ranking.
  • Create a Google my business account, if you don’t have one already. If you do, try adding reservation options. (Few restaurants have seen 20% conversion rate by doing this simple addition)

Social Media presence

Anything without Social media feels kinda bogus today. Regardless of the business type, social media is an effective platform that pulls in a ton of potential customers. More than that, social proof is an intangible yet powerful phenomenon that gives the sense of secureness and adds brand value to your business.

So if you’ve been ignoring social media for quite a while, buckle up to take your social media presence and take your business to the next chapter of growth. Social media presence cannot be achieved in a few days. It needs a ton of patience, consistency and high quality content that converts. Keeping the engagement might be a bit of a hassle but with consistent replies, interactions with your customer base, you’d be seeing a steady organic reach.

Social media’s versatility cannot be understated. From content to keeping it organic or paid (with diverse advertising options & marketing tools), social media’s remarkable share in the online marketing space is to be kept in mind while strategizing your plan.

 Google my business account, if you don’t have one already. If you do, try adding reservation options. (Few restaurants have seen 20% conversion rate by doing this simple addition)

Use ratings and reviews

Reviews and ratings are indispensable, infact 33% of online customers read other guests’ reviews before choosing their restaurant. A reassurance of some sort is always something people wanna consider before making a choice, even if it’s an eatery they are thinking about visiting. 

In the plethora of options to choose, customers might find it difficult to make a decision. And in such times, a good citing the ambience, meal quality and service satisfaction could be that one thing that might make them come in search for a seat. 

Make sure to ask for your customers to leave genuine feedback online. But it’s also critical that you reply to all the reviews, which would make the customer feel that you really do care about  your guests’ expectations

Use email-marketing

Who doesn’t want a special offer time-to-time? It could be an additional cupcake that comes with all orders or a 25% discount coupon that you can redeem on an offline visit. Email marketing is the best channel out there to do all these, that also gets a huge conversion rate.

With attractive mail campaigns, make your customers sign up for your newsletters through social media, website or landing pages and keep them in loop about your discounts, offers and additional benefits.

Again, email marketing is a very effective tool, when done the right way as the customers who’ve enrolled are already interested in your business

Make ties with right Influencers

Influencer marketing is a very powerful way of expressing your business’s uniqueness as it is mediated by a human voice. Established and credible people in social media would always love to make ties with a great business and your restaurant could be one.

You can find many food bloggers/ influencers who’d wanna come to your restaurant and have a free meal. They’d make a short video (vlog) or a post on their social media about their experience which’d reach their strong follower base. 

This can also increase your business page’s follower base. From there, you could publish relevant and interesting content to make them pay a visit to your restaurant.  

Implement remarketing and Paid ad campaigns

Restaurants are location-based businesses that require targeted campaigns to get you the right customers. Now, there are a lot of channels to advertise online like display advertising, Facebook, Google Ads and much more. These tools allow highly-specific targeted marketing campaigns that feature high quality ads. 

With remarketing, you could specifically target your potential customers who’ve already interacted with your brand online. 

Such specific campaigns usually cost less and vary depending on the channel, in contrast to mass advertising using traditional methods. So if you’re looking to invest in affordable, online paid campaigns leverage the power of digital and gain more guests for your restaurant business!

Parting shot

A highly competitive restaurant industry needs a smart and robust digital marketing plan to achieve your marketing goals. Everyday the digital realm keeps changing, keeping it challenging to crack the new codes of online marketing. At any rate, being consistent and adapting to new methods, experimenting tools and being up to date about the best practices in the industry will garner your restaurant the guests it deserves. Keep in mind the above strategies to effectively grow your business online, in the right way. 

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