The ultimate guide to marketing your restaurant in 2021

For the past year and few months, a lot has changed, and we mean a lot. This pandemic has changed much of how we do things, i.e., work, study, shop, and eat, with our lives focusing on digital now more than ever. Many businesses and industries have been affected, one of the many that got severely affected – restaurants. But as restrictions are starting to ease, and with that, things are getting a bit back to “normal”, it’s time to adjust to these changes, and get your restaurant thriving again. Check out these next few points for things to focus on when marketing your restaurant this year.

1. Personalized marketing

In 2021, “the average person is now estimated to encounter between 6,000 to 10,000 ads every single day”.

This amount of marketing messages is incomprehensible. For sure as consumers, we cannot pay attention to that many advertisements, and hence the need for businesses to stand out now is of utmost importance. This is where personalization comes in. Back in 2017, an Epsilon study showed that "80% of respondents indicating they are more likely to do business with a company if it offers personalized experiences". Personalized marketing focuses on using data in order to individualize the messages that are being delivered to target audiences or customers. For example, a long-time customer of your restaurant should not be getting the same messages as a first-time customer that just signed up to your email list. A long-time customer that hasn’t ordered online or visited your restaurant in a while would appreciate a “We missed you!” email, while the first-time customer would probably be more inclined to open an email or message from the restaurant asking for feedback on what they thought of their meal or if the restaurant asked for an online review.

2. Online presence

“90% of guests research a restaurant online before actually going there. This is a practice done more in this business type compared to others. (Upserve, 2019)”

Restaurants can no longer exist without an online presence. Your audience will probably make a quick google search once they hear about your restaurant. Your location, reviews, pictures, and ratings are some of the things your future customers are looking for. Make sure you verify your business on Google, add pictures of your restaurant that are in line with your branding, and always answer customers and reviewers- even when the review is bad! Ask for feedback and take it into serious consideration, make sure your customers feel heard. Another important step while setting up your Google profile is linking it to your website and your own online ordering system (not a link to your restaurant's menu on a food delivery service’s website!), this will help your restaurant as potential customers will have a link leading directly to your restaurant, which helps greatly with increasing traffic to your site. Make sure your website and online ordering system is linked on all social media channels as well!

After taking care of these basics, it’s time to look into content marketing. “Content marketing rakes in conversion rates six times higher than other methods”. Make sure to create content that your customers and future customers will find interesting and relevant to your restaurant, all the while keeping an eye on search words and using terms that will help your SEO. Even if your restaurant is just starting out, this method has proven successful as, “small businesses with blogs get 126% more lead growth than small businesses without”.

3. Social Media presence

Social media comes hand in hand with having a strong online presence. Creating and maintaining a social media presence across platforms is crucial. Here are a few points to keep in mind:

  • Customers and future customers expect quick answers and engagement on social media. For example, “50% of consumers expect a response on social media within 30 minutes. However, only 50% of companies meet this expectation. (Eptica, 2020)”.

  • Treat each platform differently but keep all the messages, pictures, and videos in line with your brand identity, this includes your website and online ordering system. For example, beautiful pictures with great hashtags work perfectly on Instagram, witty and funny comments and trending hashtags do well on Twitter, and beautiful, high-quality videos will add a great feel to your Facebook page.

  • Video! As stated by Business Insider: “Video will account for an overwhelming majority of internet traffic by 2021”, so it’s time to create high-quality and amazing videos that highlight your brand’s core values. For example, if you own a family pizzeria, create a video highlighting the fresh ingredients used, the family recipe sauce, and the great atmosphere of dining in your establishment. P.S: try to also highlight the hygiene measures and cleanliness your restaurant is holding in high importance as this is now one of the important factors that makes a customer return to a restaurant.

  • One thing that can’t be ignored in 2021, is TikTok! Create short videos and engage with your followers using this platform that is currently booming.

  • User-generated content is another perfect way to engage with customers and followers. Encourage and give incentive for user-generated content and repost, retweet, and share the content your customers come up with! Check out Sweetgreen’s repost of a tweet that was a year old, super clever!

4. Loyalty programs

Saving the best for last, loyalty programs! And circling back to our first point, personalization can be achieved in a great way also through a loyalty program. For example, make your customers feel special by sending them an e-coupon for a free dessert on their birthday, or have loyal and long-term customers gain loyalty points by inviting their new friends to your loyalty program. It’s word-of-mouth advertising meets digital! Your loyalty program gives you the chance to talk directly to your customers and to also gives them an incentive to visit and re-visit your restaurant, for example, when a customer hasn’t visited your restaurant or ordered in a while, you can send them a coupon for double points for their next order, this will keep your restaurant at the top of their mind the next time they want to dine-in or out.

Quick Recap

Mass marketing techniques may no longer work in 2021, instead, focus on personalized marketing, create and maintain a great online and social media presence and get creative! This will help your brand become more popular by the day and will help you gain and maintain loyal customers.

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