Four Effective Ways to Use Digital Marketing to Grow a Restaurant Business

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The advent of digital marketing has made it possible and affordable for even the smallest business to market their business to a wide audience. This is particularly true in the restaurant business, where the cyclical nature and low profit margins can make many traditional marketing methods, such as newspaper and television advertising, prohibitively expensive. Today, small and medium-sized restaurants can compete effectively with large chains, thanks to social media, mobile apps and localized searches.

Ways digital marketing can help your restaurant business explode

  1. Harness the instant communication possibilities of social media. Few businesses experience slow periods like restaurants do. Whether it's a Monday night, the evening of the Super Bowl or just a lull in business, such periods can be nerve-wracking to owners who know the cost of the food in the kitchen waiting for customers. One easy and effective way to feel your empty tables is to post pictures of your specials and delicious food offerings on Facebook and other social media sites and explain that there is currently no wait for a table. You'll likely be surprised at the power of a picture.
  2. Focus on local. Another great way to capitalize on digital marketing is to make sure that your restaurant is optimized for local searches. That means that you've completed and verified your Google profile and have your address and other contact information clearly listed on your website and social media pages. That will help out-of-town visitors find your establishment when they do a local search for restaurants near where they are staying.
  3. Take advantage of customer loyalty. Online review sites are especially important to restaurants. Sites like Yelp! and Google+ help potential patrons get a feel for what you offer and what others are saying about your restaurant. Unfortunately, dissatisfied customers are much more likely to post on these sites that happy customers. You can work to change that out-of-skew ratio by simply asking your customers to post a review. While sites like Yelp! are often anonymous, you can also offer an incentive, such as a drawing for a gift certificate, for comments on your social media pages.
  4. Develop your own mobile app. More than 18 billion mobile apps are downloads each year around the globe, and an increasing number of these are commercial. The advantages are obvious. With an app, you can communicate directly with your customer base without the competition lurking in the background (via search results and social media posts.) This comes as close to having a customer's full attention as you can get in digital marketing. This is also a great place to promote special events, seasonal menu items and changes to hours or other essentials.

Owning and managing a small restaurant business doesn't mean that you can't get the word out effectively about your stellar service, food and atmosphere. With social media, local web searches, mobile apps and other digital tools you can bring in new customers and visitors from out of town that wouldn't otherwise be familiar with your eatery.