Many industries suffered significantly during the pandemic. While some are rallying back, others are still struggling to get to pre-pandemic levels. The restaurant industry is one that continues to lag behind in recovery as customers are hesitant to return. Here are a few ideas on how to bring more in more restaurant customers with these marketing tactics.

Double down on social media

table reservationsSocial media is still a strong marketing tactic for luring new customers into restaurants while keeping your existing customers loyal. Each social media platform offers a slightly different way to engage with your audience. Facebook allows you to post your menu right on your Facebook business page which is a great way for people to get a sneak peek at what your establishment offers. If your establishment takes reservations, you can also take advantage of the “book now” feature that the platform offers, which can take people directly to a booking page. And don’t forget about Facebook Live! People love behind-the-scenes glimpses, so posting a tour of your restaurant to your followers is sure to increase engagement. When it comes to visuals, Instagram is a fantastic place to post those amazing food pictures for the foodies out there. Instagram also allows videos on its platform, so take advantage of that to increase engagement. Have a last-minute special you’re running or perhaps a last-minute reservation opened up? While several of the social platforms can be used to announce this, Twitter is the best for reaching out for last-minute alerts. For all of these platforms, be sure to use powerful and relevant hashtags to get your message in front of the right audience. If you’re not sure how to pick the hashtags, work with a marketing professional to create a list for you. Be consistent with posting your content. Need a few ideas on what to post about? Try these:

  • Daily specials
  • Highlight a dish
  • Spotlight an employee
  • Share a behind the scenes look
  • Offer a last-minute special
  • Announce an open reservation slot

Here are a few other ways to promote your restaurant on social media.

Be sure to monitor your social accounts to stay connected with your audience. It’s essential you keep up with the activity happening on your social sites. Followers will be quickly turned off if they reach out and don’t get a response in a timely fashion.

Proactively reach out through email

free dessert on birthdayDepending on the content you send out, you can email your list weekly or monthly. If your content is timely, you could email more often; otherwise, a once-a-month email blast is fine. Email marketing is great to share discounts, promote deals, announce an event, share recipes, offer quick meal prep suggestions, or highlight an employee. Restaurants that do well with more frequent email blasts are those that offer weekly specials, discounts, or coupons. Struggling to get people to sign up for your email list? Showcase “subscriber-only” discounts on social media and encourage people to join. Offer a one-time discount for new subscribers. Include a referral link in your restaurant newsletters to motivate contacts to share your email with their friends, colleagues, etc. To motivate your subscribers to refer a friend, offer them a gift back. The gift could be a discount, a coupon, or a free dessert. Email programs like Constant Contact allow you to enter a subscriber’s birthday and automatically send them a birthday note, discount, or other offers on their birthday. As with your social media, any email marketing you do should be very visual with appealing images of food or your restaurant.

Offer a loyalty program

loyalty cardIt used to be that you had to depend on punch cards to track how often people patronized your restaurant. While you can still use those (people still love them!), there are several apps that you can sign up for to offer a loyalty program. Here’s a list of a few of them:

Loyalty programs are a great way to entice old customers back and attract new diners too. Everyone loves to be recognized for being a loyal customer!

Be sure to market locally

local SEOBe sure your website is optimized for local search marketing. Most consumers are searching online to find what they need locally; people will often search for where to eat based on where they are. Local search marketing and local search optimization are extremely important in today’s mobile-focused world. Make sure you set up and manage a Google My Business profile to show up on maps in Google. Do the same with Bing and Apple. Work with a marketing consultant who can help you do this if you’re unsure how to start.

These are a few simple ways to bring more customers into your restaurant. Looking for even more ideas? Check out Wordstream’s 26 Restaurant Marketing Ideas: How to Market a Restaurant. It’s chock full of great ideas! Rather have someone handle the marketing for you? Contact us! We’d love to help you bring more diners into your restaurant!

Patty Hughes
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