Just like any other sector, the restaurant industry needs to attract new visitors to grow and succeed. Amazing dishes, wonderful flavours, and eye-catching logos will only get you so far. Sure, these things are important for a successful, sustainable virtual food brand. But if no one knows your food brand exists in the first place, all of your efforts behind the scenes will be for nothing.
Fortunately, there are online tools you can use to improve your restaurant marketing - and that’s what we’re here to discuss. In this article, we’ll provide you with 7 tips and tools to effectively market your restaurant.
But first, let’s delve a little deeper into why restaurant marketing tools are essential in the first place.
Why restaurant marketing tools are essential
A restaurant marketing tool is anything that promotes your food or virtual brand. You can use multiple marketing tools at once to reach a wider customer base across different channels, increase brand awareness, and (hopefully) increase your revenue.
Here are some of the reasons marketing tools can help your virtual kitchen succeed:
- To streamline your marketing activity. With smart restaurant marketing tools, you can automate a lot of your marketing activity. For example, you can automate customer emails, internal notifications, and social media posts. This means you spend less time on repetitive marketing tasks and more time growing your restaurant business.
- To track progress in real-time. Marketing tools provide real-time insights into the performance of your marketing activity. You can see how things are going, whether there’s room for improvement, and make changes to maximise performance.
- To learn from the results. Using marketing software means that you have a record of all your marketing activity. Analysing this data helps you improve your marketing efforts going forward to see better results.
There are a lot of marketing tools for restaurants to choose from, so it’s hard to know which ones to use. Don’t worry - we’ve outlined 7 of the best restaurant marketing tools (along with some marketing tips) to help your restaurant succeed.
7 restaurant marketing tools and tips
1. Use a restaurant CRM
A customer relationship management platform (CRM) is a centralised hub for all your customer information. It stores their personal information (such as names and contact information), order history, dietary preferences, and more.
With all this information, you can start to build guest profiles and track trends across your food orders.
Let’s say you’re running a Mexican virtual restaurant. You store all your customer orders in your CRM, and you can see that most customers order enchiladas. You can then use this information to inform your marketing strategy.
For example, you might decide to promote your enchiladas on social media, or offer a discount when people order multiple enchiladas at once.
What we’re trying to say is that CRM data is valuable for restaurant marketing. It shows you who your customers are, what they want, and how to improve your marketing activity to get the best results.
2. Work with a delivery franchise partner
Our first tip for marketing a restaurant is to work with a delivery franchise partner. With an expert team alongside you, you’ll be in a strong position to launch a virtual brand and successfully manage your marketing activities.
Take a look at Peckwater Brands as an example.
When our partners work with us, they choose the virtual brand that best suits their existing operations. Then, we deal with all the marketing in the first 12 weeks to help maximise exposure (which includes designing your branding and promotional materials).
After everything is live, we’ll continue to analyse local customer data and market trends to make sure your virtual restaurant provides customers with food they actually want.
Find out more about how it works.
3. Utilise social media
Social media is a great way to increase your online presence and reach a wider audience. It allows you to connect with potential consumers, giving them a glimpse of your food and encouraging them to engage with your brand.
Common social media platforms include Facebook, Instagram, and Tik Tok. Here are some of the ways that hospitality brands are using these platforms to increase customer engagement:
- Posting high-quality images and videos of their food
- Posting images of seasonal, daily, or weekly menus
- Reposting customer content (which builds trust with their followers)
- Showing behind-the-scenes shots and videos to add some personality to their brand
- Sharing updates, such as changes in hours or additional locations
These are just some examples you can incorporate into your own social media strategy. To get the best results from your social media, it’s often a case of trial and error. As time goes on, you’ll have a better idea of what your followers will respond to.
While you probably don’t have an entire marketing team at your disposal, there are plenty of simple-to-use social management tools to give you a helping hand. Social software such as Hootsuite and Sprout Social can help you analyse, automate, and improve your online presence.
4. Design a user-friendly website
Put yourself in the shoes of your customer for a second.
Imagine that you’re trying to find a local Chinese restaurant to eat at this evening. You Google ‘local Chinese restaurants’ and click the first link. The website is slow to load. When it does eventually load, it’s hard to navigate. You can’t find the menu, and there’s no clear option to book a table.
Would you stick around? Or would you leave and find another website that’s easier to use?
To prevent customers from looking elsewhere, it’s important that your website is quick to load and easy to use.
Not to mention, it’s also good for search engine optimisation (SEO).
If your site is easy to use, it’s more likely that visitors will stick around to use it. The longer they stay on the site, the more Google thinks your site is worth looking at. As a result, it bumps it higher in the search rankings.
An easy-to-use website is also particularly important for virtual brands and host kitchens. 23% of consumers in the UK say that ease of using an online app is the most important factor when choosing where to order from.
The good news is that you can use a third-party delivery provider to give your customers a simple and easy way to order. Look at our partners as an example.
When using one of our virtual brands, we set our partners up on delivery platforms like Just Eat, Deliveroo, and Uber Eats. These platforms make it easy for local customers to find your virtual brand and place an order.
5. Incorporate email marketing
Email marketing involves using emails to promote your restaurant to your subscribers. You can notify patrons of your latest offers, updates to your menu, and keep customers engaged with your brand.
One of the most useful elements of email marketing is automation. With an email marketing platform (like Mailchimp, for example), you can automatically send emails when visitors perform a certain action (also known as a trigger).
Let’s use an example to demonstrate how it works.
A potential customer visits your website. While browsing your digital menu, a pop-up appears on the page. It offers them 10% off their food bill if they sign up to your newsletter. They provide their email address and subscribe to your emails.
This is the trigger for your email automation.
As soon as they hit ‘subscribe’, they automatically receive the first welcome email with the discount code. Following this, they’ll also receive a series of carefully crafted emails in the coming weeks. Each email aims to encourage them to place an order and buy your food.
And that’s pretty much the gist of it. Email automation allows you to nurture potential customers without having to manually send each email. As a result, it frees up time for you to focus on other areas of your restaurant - like launching a virtual brand, for example.
6. Incentivise online reviews
Online reviews play an important role in a customer’s decision to visit a restaurant or order takeaway. In fact, a recent survey found that 76% of consumers say that online reviews play an “important” or “very important” role in their food purchasing decisions.
This means that you need a solid roster of online reviews to encourage new customers to try your food. But first, you need your existing customers to leave online reviews.
This is where incentivising comes into play.
By offering an incentive to leave a review, your customers are more likely to actually do it. Research from Power Reviews suggests that an incentive would motivate 73% to leave a review.
So what can you offer to entice customers to leave online reviews?
Well, there are a few options to choose from. Here are a few examples to give you some inspiration:
- Send a discount code to use at your restaurant in the future
- Offer a free side, drink, or dessert with their next order
- Provide loyalty points that contribute towards a large discount or free meal
Not only do these incentives motivate existing patrons to leave a review, but they also encourage them to come back and order from you again. It’s a win-win.
7. Create a loyalty program
There are a lot of different loyalty schemes to choose from. Here are some examples that might work for your restaurant:
- A points-based scheme. A points loyalty system is a simple concept. Customers collect points when they spend money at your restaurant. When they have a certain amount of points, they can redeem it for credit or items on the menu. It’s a great incentive for customers to return and buy from you again. The more money they spend, the closer they are to getting freebies in the future.
- Family and friend referrals. Customer referrals take place when an existing customer recommends you to a friend or family member. If that friend or family member then buys your food, the previous customer receives a reward (usually a discount or free item with their next order). Referrals are ideal for hospitality brands that are new to the market. They help you reach a wider audience, and they encourage your existing customers to come back for more.
- A subscription program. A subscription program involves customers buying a membership. Within this membership, they get access to unique discounts, offers, and early access to new menu items. It’s a great way to reward your loyal customers and develop your relationship with them.
Work with Peckwater Brands to market your virtual brand
The art of marketing is all about promoting and selling products and services. Marketing tools can help you manage your marketing activity - but as a kitchen operator, it’s still hard to find the time to manage the ever-evolving elements of marketing.
That’s where we can help!
At Peckwater Brands, we manage all the marketing activity for your online restaurant. All you have to do is choose the virtual brand you want, and we’ll take care of the rest.
Get in touch with the team to find out more.