Restaurants and the internet have a love/hate relationship. The handy maps, easy online reservations and ALL the beautiful photos that guests post highlighting the food and stellar vibe – that’s the love. The feedback from 2007 that can’t be deleted, Yelp (yea, we said it) and the ENDLESS string of sites that must be updated when your hours change – that’s the hate for the internet. Emotions aside, few restaurants can succeed without a digital presence. So, what’s the recipe for growth online? One ingredient – consistency. It’s a consistent presence, consistent image and consistent communication. Here’s a glimpse at the Balanced digital marketing strategy for restaurants.
It may seem obvious, but the number one battle online is consistent presence. Google and Facebook are known for their constant updates that allow for a more personalized experience and better search results – great right? Kind of. Google and Facebook are CONSTANTLY cross-referencing other sites and when they find inconsistencies the pages are flagged, and you enter a blackhole of the unknown. Dramatic but true, Facebook Jail is real. Maybe you spell out “street” on Google but abbreviate it on Facebook to “St.” – they mean the exact same thing, but this inconsistency will impact searchability and any map associated with your restaurant. The internet thrives on consistency! Most of the time, tiny differences in address or phone number are the reasons for being a Page 10 Google search listing versus Page 1. Do people really click all the way to page 10 of a Google search? NOPE!
Our solution – have a dedicated database with the “master store listings” and use it daily. A simple Excel sheet will work well. Use this one source for EVERYTHING. Copy and paste the address and phone number from this database to Google, Facebook, Yelp, Twitter, Favor, EVERYTHING! It probably sounds ridiculous but one day when you’re setting up your Yelp page at 2AM, you’ll thank us for this. You may have one store now but the Entrepreneur in you has multiple locations in sight, or you may already have four locations and are working to build a corporate office. Either way, the “master store list” should live somewhere that EVERYONE in the organization can retrieve information from. Important note – designate an admin. No one else can make changes without the approval of the admin, no one.
The “who” that consumers see when searching for your restaurant is very important and must also be (wait for it) … consistent across platforms. We are firm believers in websites. Not all restaurants have a website but the best-known do. Websites can house all the important details of your concept – how it started, online ordering, menu (everyone is going green) and catering/events opportunities too. Google loves websites because they get “clicks” and Google lives on clicks. A Website develops the image of your restaurant that can transcend to social media and other platforms. A website is multigenerational while Facebook and Instagram speak to specific ages individually. We see a website as a foundation for not only the digital strategy but the overall success of the concept. Just get the website – you’ll thank us.
The website will be the main user of the “master store listings” document – the website will house that information for the world and potential guests to see. Ideally, changes made to the website would then be made to other platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Yelp and so one but that would make the internet too easy. Nope, most of the time, each platform must be manually updated so again, “master store list” document to the rescue.
The image the website creates can be shared on social media and other platforms. Photos are a major driver for traffic to the website, especially photos generated from guests. The fancy food blogger that posted about a recent visit to your restaurant will do wonders for your website and social media channels. User generated content or photos/posts from guests that visit your restaurant is the best way to grow a following and establish a consistent image.
A consistent image goes hand and hand with consistent communication. You must talk about your restaurant often and EVERYWHERE. Communicate through email, social media and community involvement. Find out who your best customers are and thank them for their loyalty. Communication is a huge factor in the success of any digital strategy. The more places you share your message (website, Facebook, Yelp, etc.), the more places Google has to cross-reference. Google gives consumers the opportunity to provide “feedback” on a business/restaurant listing with written reviews and photos. It is EXTRA SPECIAL important to respond to any feedback. Not responding is a sure-fire way to get you on Page 10.
Consistent communication doesn’t have to be repetitive. Reposting a photo the restaurant was tagged in on Instagram or sending an email about an upcoming fundraiser for a popular local charity keeps your fan base talking. Constant communication is necessary to build any relationship in life, restaurants and their following are no different.
If any word stood out to you here, it is probably “Consistency”. Your digital strategy is not something to take a chance on or let your neighbor’s “techy” son handle. Lots of boring data is involved in developing a digital marketing strategy for restaurants that works. Good thing the Balanced team thrives on data and is ready to create a digital strategy for you!
Put simply, we are your partner. We help find balance in the crazy and exciting world of restaurant. Our clients are some of Austin’s favorite eateries. We help hospitality/restaurant clients with bookkeeping & financial services, human resources, marketing, operations and all the fun in between.
Ready to get started? Us too. Contact us today