The fallout of the Coronavirus pandemic has been swift, merciless and devastating for restaurant owners and their staff. Government-mandated shutdowns forced eateries to shut their doors to dine-in staff, cutting off a vital segment of customers.
In the midst of the mass layoffs occurring at restaurants across the United States, there are restaurants that have made adjustments to ramp up marketing efforts and sales.
Effective restaurant adoptions and marketing tips include:
- Curbside pick-up and contactless delivery services
- Converting their menus into multiple digital formats
- Paying more attention and constantly updating their online profiles
- Testing call-to-actions on their website
- Gathering more reviews and properly responding to every one of them
- Better utilizing social media platforms
- Investing in paid advertising
- Personalizing and sending more segmented eblasts
- Expanding services
- Developing their own online ordering platform
Some restaurants that have adapted to the new normal are offering things they have never offered before, and they are doing well. So well that they may never go back to how things were pre-COVID.
The key to making these ventures successful is getting the word out to customers via effective coronavirus marketing strategies like these below.
Assuming you already have a website, the next step is to make an online menu available on your site. It is essential to keep the menu updated and to publish it in a format that is easy for visitors to access and read - especially on a mobile device.
People are impatient. They are not going to wait for your webpage to load or spend a lot of time trying to find it or access it. Most will access it via their phone or tablet.
This last point underscores why providing an updated, accurate phone number on your website is important, especially right now. The customer views the menu and decides what they want. The only next logical step is to call and order right? Make your phone number clickable so they can quickly place their order.
Update Your Basic Information Everywhere
Coronavirus has brought with it a myriad of operating changes for restaurants including:
- New hours
- Service availability
- Precautions established for COVID-19
Posting these changes everywhere is paramount:
- Your website
- Powerful online directories such as Google My Business
- Social media profiles
- Storefront signage
Creating and distributing signage at your brick-and-mortar location is definitely imperative, but there is something that can make even more of an impact.
Update your Google My Business listings. Why is this piece of online real estate so important? This business listing is key to spreading the word about your restaurant to a local audience. The free business profile included is designed to put your establishment in the best possible light with information that people are actively looking for.
A complete profile on Google My Business highlights a listing replete with valuable information about your restaurant, the best ways to place orders and critical customer reviews. Customers can get all of this valuable data in one place via a quick Google search.
Furthermore, Google My Business draws customers to your website by providing these pieces of information. Why? Getting the information they need most motivates customers to seek out your services. Remember, people want an easy, fast and convenient experience. Make it seamless by updating your website as well.
Place Your Call-To-Action Front & Center
Now is not the time to be shy about inviting customers to take action! Provide a call-to-action (CTA) on every single one of your webpages. At least one of these CTA buttons should be displayed prominently above the fold, where customers can see it the instant they land on your website.
If your primary CTA is “Place Your Online Order,” add three to four other CTA's near it that invite customers to review your to-go menu, catering menu, daily specials, upcoming events, etc to increase your chances of one of them resonating.
Collecting positive reviews is an effective marketing strategy you should always practice, but doing so is more important than ever right now. With all of the restaurants jockeying for the same small pool of carry-out and delivery customers, a low or even sub-par star rating can sink your business faster than any virus could.
- 68% of people trust online opinions from other consumers.
- 95% of consumers read online reviews before choosing a restaurant.
Online reviews are the modern form of peer-to-peer recommendations. It is not just the reviews your customers post that matters. Your response to them is equally important. Consider that 45% of consumers say they will post about a positive interaction if a brand responds well to a complaint on social media.
Take the time not only to ask for reviews, but also to respond to both positive and negative reviews in a thoughtful, courteous and professional manner. The small investment in time will reap great dividends in building customer trust and loyalty.
Get The Word Out
Organic marketing is effective for making customers aware of your restaurant, but at a time like this, it should not be your only tactic. Facebook gives you a captive audience of consumers who could see your ad in their Newsfeed or any other number of places. You can choose from a large variety of Facebook ad types to find the types that offer the most benefits for your purposes.
There are many Facebook ad types that are specifically targeted at capturing and engaging local audiences. They are a potential gold mine for your establishment when executed correctly.
Perfect Social Graces
Think about where you spend the majority of your free time online. We are willing to bet it is on one social media channel or another. From creating and sharing TikTok videos to falling down the rabbit hole of adorable cat memes, the vast majority of people spend hours each day on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
Therefore, you should allocate some of your marketing time and spend to managing and beefing up your social media accounts. Doing so involves:
- Remaining active on your social media channels every day
- Interacting with your followers in a positive, professional and engaging way
- Posting information relevant to your industry that is not directly related to your business; customers do not want to get assaulted with blatantly promotional material all the time
- Occasionally posting new menu items or promotions; the emphasis is on occasionally
Active, positive social media profiles will show customers your business is trustworthy and cares about them.
Communicate In A Personalized Way
We have all received our fair share of spam emails or poorly designed emails. We know how quickly we send them to the trash. However, a targeted, personalized email or email drip campaign can supercharge engagement, clicks and conversions.
Personalizing in an effective way goes way beyond inserting the recipient’s first name. You need to appeal to them based on where they are in the buyer’s journey and marketing funnel.
It is also critical to leverage their interactions with your brand as valuable data you can mine to speak to them in a powerful way.
When you take these steps, you can create email campaigns that drive your target audience to action and get the money rolling in.
Don’t Put All Of Your Stock Into Third-Party Delivery Services
While the convenience of third-party delivery services may seem alluring, using them will cost you a pretty penny - 20% plus delivery fees is the average. Even if you opt to work with one of the companies that is conferring fees during the coronavirus outbreak, you will get slapped with a hefty bill in 90 days. These companies also hold up desperately needed cash flow since payout is generally 30 days later.
Don’t ignore them entirely though, some have their advantages as well such as bringing in a new base of customers that you may not have gotten any other way. However, if you decide to use them, don’t give them prime real estate on your website or spend your time and marketing budget on promoting them.
Remember, third-party delivery services are supposed to bring people to you. Not you to them and possibly/hopefully/maybe back to you. If you spend marketing dollars on them while also paying the fees they charge, then it is essentially costing you double and killing your profit margins.
Expand Your Services
Uncertain times give you the chance to expand your services to find new sources of revenue you never thought of before. Some restaurants are creating special packages that contain enough food for an entire family. Some are delivering alcohol directly to customer's homes. Give your customers a way to make meals at home fun and festive, as well as convenient and easy.
Essential businesses that have been permitted to remain open during social distancing could use catering services. Seek out their business as an additional source of income. Take the proper safety precautions while serving them, of course!
Create A Simple Ecommerce Platform
If you lack a budget for an ecommerce platform, conduct a bit of research on the options available from credit card processors. Most offer a free platform you can set up and run yourself. They are simple yet effective.
Let Us Help Your Restaurant Make A Full Recovery
The team at Tag Marketing has been helping restaurants rebound and thrive for about 20 years. We have been there, done that, in the trenches with restaurant owners through other challenging economic times. Our marketing specialists possess the expertise, experience and resources to place you solidly back on the road to success like we have done for our client Cesar's Killer Margaritas (all the example images above).
We provide the services you need to survive this time including:
- Full website development and maintenance
- Google My Business and Yext services
- Reputation management
- Organic SEO
- Content creation
- Pay-per-click advertising
- Social media marketing
- Email campaigns and contact nurturing
- CRM and online ordering setup
- In-depth reporting and real-time analytics
- And so much more!
Ease the burdens on your shoulders. Let Tag Marketing help keep your restaurant afloat and carve out a bright future. When you entrust us with your marketing, you can rest easy.
Not ready to talk to us yet? That's okay, download our FREE ebook that's full of the top marketing tips collected from the best marketing agencies around. These strategies helped their clients and can help you was well.