How to Get Traffic to Your Restaurant with Digital Marketing

Updated: Jan 17

The restaurant industry today is extremely risky and over saturated resulting in many restaurants to fail within their first year. With high startup costs, high operation costs and tons of competition it means restaurants need to get customers fast in order to survive. Many factors go into making a restaurant successful. These include the quality of food, taste, customer service and the look and cleanliness of the restaurant. However one crucial factor that oftentimes costs restaurants the success of their business is marketing. Most restaurants do marketing but more often than not the marketing they do is not effective.

Outdated Marketing Methods

We have worked with countless restaurants that have spent ridiculous amounts of money on marketing such as newspaper ads, mailers and billboards without getting any return on their investment. These methods used to work great so why are they providing such poor results now? The answer is simply because these once effective marketing methods are now outdated and competition is too high. For example 20 years ago there might have been three burger joints in the area so if Bob opened his burger joint and used these methods they would be effective because the customer had very few other options meaning very low competition for Bob and enough market share for him and his competition. Fast forward 20 years to the present and there are now 20 burger joints in the same area. This means that there is very high competition and more availability than there is demand. Now this doesn’t mean these older methods of marketing are completely useless now. They are useful but for a different purpose. The classic marketing methods are more useful to retain an existing customer base. For example someone who already tried Bob’s burgers already knows it's a great burger so they don’t need to be blown away anymore by Bob’s ads. They just need a reminder/incentive to go back to Bob's restaurant. In this situation a discount mailer promoting Bob’s specials for the month would be effective.

Modern Marketing Methods and the “WOW” Factor

So at this point we understand that classic marketing methods are more useful for customer retention than gaining new customers. This leads up to the question how does a restaurant effectively gain new customers?. The solution for this question is a combination of modern marketing methods and the “WOW” factor. So what is the wow factor? The wow factor is when a customer see’s something that blows them away and creates an urgency for them to try or purchase the product. More importantly it is the key to success when it comes to a restaurant standing out from the endless amounts of competition. The “WOW” factor ties in directly with digital marketing. Going back to the outdated methods of marketing lets say Bob’s burger joint has extremely high quality sauce made in house and meat freshly ground up the same day. Now it’s one thing for a potential customer to read this on Bob’s mailer but it’s another thing for the customer to see Bob making the sauce and grinding up the fresh meat and slapping it on the grill. This is where the “WOW” factor and digital marketing tie in. Digital marketing allows for Bob to show his customers how unique and mouth watering his food really is almost like they are right there with him.

Ad Format

So how does Digital Marketing allow restaurants to create the “WOW” factor? The main component that allows digital marketing to create the “WOW” factor is ad format particularly on social media platforms. Digital ads come in all sorts such as picture, text, picture with text and most importantly video. These days you can have all sorts of video ads for your restaurant. You can have a standard 30 second tv style ad or a full length video or even a 5-10 second video that plays while people switch through stories. The reason video ads are so effective for restaurants is because they show your potential clients exactly what makes your food better than other food and entices them to try your food. For example seeing a picture of a burger is much less effective than watching a short video showing the fresh meat being grinded up and the patty sizzling on a grill.

Going Viral

Going viral is definitely no easy task but if done properly you can get extreme interest and traffic to your restaurant. One key component to going viral is being unique. A standard everyday burger might be exciting or sharable for your viewers however a burger with a real gold bun or a burger with three patties and unique toppings will definitely attract attention and will lead you viewers to share your content and tag their friends. The key is to create a product that is crazy, unique and appetizing.

Saving Money with Digital Ads

As mentioned before older non digital methods of marketing can be extremely costly. One particular reason for this is because you are marketing to people that don’t have interest in the type of product you are selling. For example if you have a restaurant that specializes in pork dishes you don’t want to advertise to people who don’t eat pork. With old school methods such as mailers the people in the area who you are advertising to that don’t eat pork will still receive your mailer which costs you money to send out. The beauty of digital ads are that you can target who the ads are being sent to. This means that you can exclude vegetarians being shown your ad for your steakhouse and you can ensure the people who have shown interest in the topic of steak and meat will be shown your ad. This ability to target your ads will highly prevent wasting your ad budget on people who will not convert into sales.

Reviews and Business Listings

Reviews and Business listings are a form of digital marketing that is almost always free. A high number of people check reviews before going to a restaurant. Listing your business on Google and Facebook will not only give your customers a place to leave reviews for you but will also let new customers find you. We highly recommend that you encourage happy customers to leave a review. Perhaps use an incentive such as a free drink or side on their next visit in exchange for leaving a review.

At Mr.Web we specialize in helping restaurants with their digital and non-digital marketing. If you have any questions or want to know how digital marketing can help your restaurant feel free to reach out to us for a free consultation.

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