Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

Restaurant Best Practices for Email Marketing Engagement

August 13, 2014

When you consider that 91% of all U.S. consumers use email every single day, and that emails prompt purchases 3 to 1 over social media, there’s no doubt that email marketing remains a powerful tool for restaurant businesses. That said, there’s an art to sending emails that your restaurant customers will actually open. Here are a few tips for creating engagement with your consumers through your email marketing campaign.

Tailor Restaurant Emails to the Individual Customer

The first and most important aspect of a successfully engaging email campaign is making your messages custom-tailored to the specific individual you are messaging. This is more than just including his or her name in the subject line. This customization also includes different messages and layouts based on factors such as age, gender, purchase history, click-through behavior and location. A recent survey reports that segmenting emails increases open rate as much as 39% and decreases unsubscribes by an average of 27%. Today’s email programs make it easy to segment your marketing messages, and given the advantages of doing so, there’s no reason not to include this level of targeted marketing in your email campaign.

Design Your Emails for Mobile & Social Compatibility

A second major factor that makes or breaks customer engagement in terms of emails is whether or not the email is mobile-friendly, easy to use and easy to share on social channels. Avoid large graphics that don’t render well on smartphones—especially if those graphics contain key details of your advertisement. Make your content clear and to the point. If there is action that can be taken (getting the customer to click-through somewhere) ensure that the bugs are worked out, the process you’re asking them to do is seamless and simple and that your message is easy to share with their friends. Even better—offer an additional incentive for sharing the offer with their own contacts.

Analyze Your Metrics to Fine-Tune Your Restaurant’s Email Marketing Campaign

You’ll hear it everywhere you look in the business world: analyze your metrics. Email marketing is no different. The only way you’re going to be able to tell which messages are working for you is to analyze your data. Use the information that you garner to fashion even better, exclusively targeted messages to your customers. Find ways to alter your approach to those segments that aren’t performing as well. Remember that open rates are just the beginning of understanding your numbers. Technology now enables us to follow the effectiveness of our email offers all the way to restaurant visits.

There’s no doubt email marketing can be a great way to drive revenue and customer engagement while having a high return on investment. Ensure that the emails you send are relevant to the consumer and sent at a frequency that makes sense for what you’re offering. Remember that being inundated or bored are the top reasons people leave mailing lists. Keep your messages targeted, timely and valuable to the consumer. Engagement is key to email marketing success.

Twitter & Instagram Social Media Tips For Restaurateurs

June 2, 2014

Every restaurant owner is aware of the potential power of social media to help drive traffic and build strong relationships with community members. Using social media effectively, however, is a skill that must be built. Twitter and Instagram can be particularly powerful for restaurant social media campaigns. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you make the best use of these powerful mediums.

Keep Your Personal and Business Social Media Accounts Separate

There are a couple of reasons why it’s smart to separate your personal and business social media accounts. The most obvious advantage is that keeping your business accounts separate allows you to delegate the work of keeping them current to someone else. Your personal accounts should be used both to promote your restaurant’s posts, as well as to develop your own unique voice and personal relationship with your followers. Your personal feed is an opportunity for you to post other things that are of interest to you, and for your customers to get to know you on a more personal basis. It’s also important that you write your own tweets for your personal account—it doesn’t come off as authentic if it’s not really your voice.

If you have multiple restaurant locations, allow each team to manage their own social media personalities, community and campaigns. Take the time to educate your teams so that they really understand what you are trying to do with social media, and empower them to represent the restaurant’s brand in a fun and authentic way.

Last, but not least, always take the time to proofread your posts –both business and personal –before you publish them. Like everything else that you post to the Internet, what you say tends to lives forever.

Frequently Post Appealing Pictures to Instagram & Twitter

Images are a powerful form of communication. Social media platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest are built solely around the sharing of images; posts that contain images in Twitter and Facebook feeds generate buzz far faster and more efficiently than words alone. Therefore, it pays to ensure that you are posting high-quality, appealing images to all of your social media accounts, and doing so frequently.

What kind of images should you post? New dishes, obviously, but also new ingredients, your prep processes, any special events, etc. If you have the ability to hire a professional photographer, do it. If not, consider creating a work-trade agreement with a photographer interested in trading food for service. Don’t underestimate the power of a good picture to sell out a new dish that very evening. You’d be surprised at the traffic one good photo can generate, as well as how many people will end up checking your Instagram feed to decide what they want to eat, rather than looking at the menu itself.

Don’t Be Helter-Skelter About Your PostsPut a Social Media Plan in Place

Last, but not least, developing a plan for the management of your restaurant’s social media campaigns is paramount. Work out what you are going to post, who is going to post it and when they are going to do so. Ensure that everyone is on the same page about how to respond to customer comments and represent the brand. Find a nice balance between sharing all the fun things that happen during the day(in and out of the restaurant) without overwhelming everyone. Due to their brief and visual natures, Twitter and Instagram can be powerful sources of traffic and relationship building that restaurateurs should be sure to take advantage of. Remember that upbeat authenticity is the key to a successful social media campaign, no matter which platform you’re using.

Restaurants Host Classes as a Creative Way to Develop Relationships and Encourage Loyalty

May 16, 2014

As a restaurant operator, building a relationship with your customers that encourages loyalty and traffic is paramount to your success. One easy and fun way to do that is to host classes about the thing you do best: food (or drinks!). If you’ve got someone on staff with a little charisma, these classes can become cornerstones for bringing new clientele into your restaurant. They can also help strengthen your relationship with consumers who already give their patronage.

Restaurants Teach Customers How to Make The Secret Sauce

Most restaurants have an item or two that they are particularly well known for. It’s no surprise that customers who love it would also love to know how to make it for themselves. Whether you decide to reveal how to make that specialty item that everyone drools over is up to you. Alternatively, you can simply host monthly food classes, featuring a few courses and some drinks.There’s no shortage of opportunities for how your restaurant could put together a fun and engaging food class for your customers’ enjoyment.

Food prep is another area in which to consider hosting a class. Take butchering and meat preparation, for instance. There is a certain segment of the populace (think bachelor parties, for example) that would jump at the chance to do a 2-3 hour demo on how to professionally butcher and grill an assortment of meats and fish. Especially if you included a burger meal in the restaurant afterward and the option to purchase at a discount whatever was butchered in the class. 

Restaurant Mixology Classes Teach Customers to Drink with Flair

Another easy and fun area for restaurants to share their expertise lies in the arena of drinks and cocktails. Mixology classes that teach customers how to make, say, “The Top 20 Drinks Everyone Should Know How To Make,” provides instruction on how to properly taste spirits.Or, even simply showing them how to properly set up a bar can make for fun engaging afternoons that generate a lot of both on-site and referred business.

Avenues to Market Restaurant Classes

Although hosting food classes in your restaurant could improve your sales and traffic, the main purpose is to strengthen your business relationship with your customers; building loyalty and customer engagement. As such, you’ll want to keep that in mind as you look for places to promote your class opportunity. While traditional forms of marketing, such as radio or print ads, are effective, other forms of marketing such as community billboards and local class listings can be equally so. Social media can also be particularly helpful in spreading the word and getting people excited about your new class. Everyone loves to post pictures of themselves doing something cool.

In sum, hosting classes in your restaurant can be an easy way to connect with your customers. You could put on something big, with a lot of bells and whistles, or you could do something grass-roots and casual, according to your restaurant’s particular flavor. Either way, focus on creating a fun and memorable experience that customers will leave telling their friends about!

3 Tips to Rev Up Special Offers and Successfully Introduce New Menu Items Through Social Media

May 2, 2014

One of the best aspects about social media is that it allows you to communicate with your restaurant’s customers instantaneously. This makes introducing new offers and menu updates a cinch. If it’s done correctly, social media can be a powerful tool to get your audience talking, induce incremental visits to your restaurant and build a loyal customer base. Here are three tips that will help to rev up your social media efforts, whether it is to introduce new items or simply better engage your community.

Design a Web Based Restaurant Menu, Optimized for Mobile

The most critical aspect of a successful online campaign, social media or not, is of course having a website that is properly designed and optimized for the web—and these days, that means optimized for mobile web viewing as well. Make sure that your menu, in particular, is web based and not a PDF. Web pages are easier to share on social media than PDFs, and they are easier for search engine bots to categorize and return as a search result. Social media sites can also pull more information, such as pictures, titles and descriptions, to include along with the post from a web page than it can from a PDF.

Smartphone use is, in some ways, driving the growth of social media, and it’s also critical that your webpages are properly designed for mobile if you want to properly utilize this form of marketing. Make a paired-down, to-the-point version of your site that is easy to read and takes customers to the information they’re looking for with as little hassle as possible.

A Good Picture of Your Restaurant’s Food Is Worth a Thousand Words

Nothing gets people interested in a new item more than a good picture of the taste-bud stimulating delight that awaits if they visit your restaurant. All social media networks have a strong visual component; some are designed exclusively around the sharing of images (Pinterest or Instagram, for example.) Posts that get shared are almost always those with a good picture. What this means is that it’s worth it for you to invest in a little professionally done food photography of your menu offerings. Send them through your social media platforms and post them on your website. Make sure to include sharing buttons to let people easily pass those mouth-watering photos around.

Take it a step further and install a “photo op” where people can take fun pictures of themselves at your restaurant and post it to their own social media sites. Or, consider rewarding people for posting their own images of themselves or the food in your restaurant to their social media channels.

Partner Your Restaurant with Other Businesses to Promote New Items

Another great way to rev up interest in new menu offerings is to promote them by partnering with a business, group or well-known individual in your community. For example, you might ask a local celebrity to describe his or her favorite dish and then create a version of it in their honor that you can promote. In another example, you could partner with a local charity and donate a portion of the specially created menu item to a fundraiser on their behalf.

The options are truly unlimited, in terms of utilizing social media to create buzz about your menus and service offerings. The key is making sure that what you’re trying to share is interesting and of benefit for the customer to know, is visually appealing and is optimized for easy online and mobile viewing.

3 Restaurant Marketing Trends to Watch in 2014

February 18, 2014

Marketing in today’s world can feel like a fragmented endeavor, what with all of the various options that are available. Traditional media marketing through television, radio and print remain important cornerstones of successful restaurant campaigns, but modern marketing options through social networks and digital and mobile platforms are equally critical. Rather than despairing over the fragmented nature of all of these options however, restaurant operators should embrace them as an opportunity to shine in multiple avenues and look for ways to implement integrated marketing and branding plans that build consumer awareness in new ways. Here are three restaurant marketing trends you will see a lot more in 2014.

Utilizing Restaurant Industry Applications and Refining Social Media Interactions

Smart phones now account for some 64% of all mobile phones in the U.S. and that figure grows steadily year by year. Consumers increasingly expect to be able to use their phones to interact with your business. Restaurants around the country are rolling out mobile-coupon and mobile-loyalty platforms with great success. Along with payment, loyalty, ordering and reservation functions, several restaurants are also developing games that align with brand messages or give food rewards to players to entertain and engage users. There is as much fragmentation within the type of device on which an application runs as there is in marketing avenue options. So, until there is an ‘ultimate device’ that everyone uses, it’s best for restaurant operators to keep versatility as top priority when developing and improving their applications. 

On the social media front, restaurant operators need to be more mindful than ever about how they look in the eyes of the public, and be prepared to deal with crisis should it arise. Previous years have shown us how quickly a brand’s reputation can get damaged through social media by careless responses from moderators regarding customer concerns. With a number of hot topics, such as minimum wage, poised to make headlines in 2014, restaurant operators should have a response plan of action or think about adjusting their cultural identities to best turn politics to their advantage. 

Old-Fashioned Restaurant Marketing Still Works, Especially on T.V.

With the rise of digital and social marketing, it can be easy think that you can let traditional media marketing fall by the wayside. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Despite the increasing popularity of digital and social marketing, television, in particular, remains a highly influential form of advertising. In fact, 68% of consumers surveyed in September of last year said they take action at least some of the time after viewing a TV commercial. The only thing that inspires a higher action rate than that is recommendations from friends and opinions posted online.  This underscores the folly of neglecting traditional forms of media marketing. 

Restaurants Co-Brand for Greater Reach

There is one final trend to watch in 2014 that we’ll discuss here. That trend is the potential that can be unlocked by partnering with the right companies and getting your research and development teams to collaborate. Such unions can be wildly successful for both businesses. Think of Taco Bell’s Dorito Locos Tacos, Cinnabon lending its signature flavor to Burger King’s breakfast products, as well as bottles of vodka, and McDonald’s and Kraft’s McCafe-branded coffee scheduled to hit grocery stores this year. Looking for ways to partner up and collaborate with other businesses in your area is a smart way to create a win-win situation for everyone, and you can count on seeing more such unions in the upcoming year.

Media marketing strategies will continue to evolve with technology and consumer demand. To be successful in the coming years, restaurant operators should focus on building integrated marketing plans and recognize that multiple media avenues are opportunities for creatively reaching and engaging customers.

Customers Expect Online Ordering In Restaurants

December 11, 2013

While we can thank the pizza industry for helping online ordering to gain wide-spread popularity, today’s customer has come to expect online ordering options from all of their favorite restaurants. Considering that online orders have a lower labor cost and yet tend to have higher than average checks, it’s no surprise that so many restaurants are making the move toward putting solid online ordering platforms in place. 

Online Ordering Streamlines Your Customer’s Experience

The popularity of ordering from restaurants on a computer is typically driven by two primary factors: the desire for a speedy, streamlined experience and/or the desire to avoid human interaction and potentially frustrating experiences. Customers jump at the opportunity to avoid long lines and wait times, by far preferring the ability to just whisk in, grab the food, and head back to the comfort of their own abodes.

Ordering online also has the added benefit of ensuring that the order is placed exactly right – with all of the customer’s special instructions clearly printed for employees to see. Combine those factors with the increased transaction speed for placing an order and it’s no wonder customers are ordering from their favorite restaurants online in record numbers.

Having Access to Your Online Menu Caters To Your Restaurant’s Most Loyal Members

It’s a fact that your restaurant’s regular patrons often order the same thing every time they frequent your establishment – people are habitual creatures. A number of restaurants have taken this understanding and applied it to the design of their online ordering platforms. They do this by providing the option to create a user profile and save all your favorite orders for one-click future repeats.

Other restaurants reward their most loyal members through their online profiles as well, letting members accumulate points or other rewards as a thanks for their regular patronage. While this can be a nice touch, customers have been shown to want an online ordering option regardless of whether or not they are rewarded. The perks of speed and efficiency can be enough in and of themselves.

Research Supports the Desire for Technology-Based Self-Sufficiency in Restaurants

A study conducted by the National Restaurant Association in October found that 63 percent of adults had used some form of restaurant-related technology in September of this year alone. The study also found that more than two in five adults use smartphones or computers to locate restaurants, find directions, view menus, and place orders.

Furthermore, 50 percent of all adults and 75 percent of adults aged 18-34 said they would use a smartphone or other mobile device to place takeout and delivery orders if the option were available in their favorite restaurant.

When you combine the customer’s desire to have online ordering options for their favorite restaurants with the fact that all the customer metrics (in terms of satisfaction, retention, and frequency) tend to be better with digital orders, it only makes sense to put an online ordering platform in place if you haven’t already. If you do have one set up, make sure that it is designed to make speed, customization, and functionality paramount.

Local Online Listings: Cheap and Easy Online Visibility for Your Restaurant

November 7, 2013

There are a thousand things you could do to get your restaurant better online visibility, and if you’ve got the money, it’s well worth it to hire someone to do those thousand things for you. That said, there are a few things you can do on your own which will automatically boost your restaurant’s online presence. A very simple one is to ensure that your restaurant is listed in all of the online directories available. There are three tiers to consider.

Getting Your Restaurant in Online Listings, Tier #1: Data Aggregators

A data aggregator is a business which compiles information on individuals or businesses into consumer reports and then sells that information to others. There are a number of data aggregators out there, but well known examples include Acxiom, InfoGroup, and Localeze.

All of these providers push their data to numerous sources, including local search engines and directories. Some of them will let you claim and update your business listing for free; others will charge, but it’s worth your time to claim your restaurant’s listing and to ensure that your information is accurate because information from database aggregators weighs heavily on online visibility.

Getting Your Restaurant in Online Listings, Tier #2: Search Engines

All of the major search engines have business directory listings and it’s wise to ensure that your restaurant is accurately listed in every one of them. Google has Google Places, Yahoo has Yahoo Local, and Bing has Bing Local. It’s free to claim or submit your information to these sources and since search engines represent the largest consumer usage and feature their local listings first in search results, it’s wise to have a presence there.

Furthermore, it’s smart to keep an eye on your listing once created. Along with GPS navigation right to your doorstep, search engine business listings now typically have the option for consumers to leave reviews about your business on these sites as well. These reviews are visible to everyone and are often the first thing people will see when they search for you, so it’s important to keep an eye on them and address anything that could adversely affect your establishment’s reputation.

 Getting Your Restaurant in Online Listings, Tier #3: Online Business Directories

Last but not least, you’ll want to claim or submit your information to the variety of online business directories that are out there. Many of these directories are designated to be replacements for phone books or Yellow Pages, and listing your information within the directory is typically free. Well known examples include,, Superpages and Supermedia.

Aside from ensuring that your listing is visible to users of these sites, adding your listing here serves the dual benefit of building backlinks to your company’s website – which, in turn, also boosts your online visibility.

Even if you are already listed in a number of online directories, it’s wise to not only look for more, but also to ensure that your information is accurate. If you’re a franchise, spend some time focusing on local listings and include your geographical location in your information so that it will come up in search results for local users.

Of course, there are a ton of other things you can do to boost your online visibility, but ensuring that you’re listed in online business directories is a simple and easy way to start.

Why Your Restaurant Needs a Google Plus Presence

October 18, 2013

Google’s social media platform, Google Plus, currently boasts around 500 million users worldwide, second only to Facebook in terms of user popularity. While it’s smart for your restaurant to have a presence there for the same reasons it’s good to be on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, there are other reasons for having a G+ presence that are even more important.

Get More Visibility for Your Restaurant Across all Google Products with a G+ Profile

The first reason it’s smart to set up your business’s Google Plus profile is that you will automatically gain more visibility across all of Google’s products (Google Maps, Google Search, Gmail, YouTube, Google’s Android platform, Zagat reviews, etc.). Google is big on integrating all of their products to function as a complete ecosystem and obviously they have a vested interest in seeing their social platform be a successful venture. As a result, G+ information frequently shows up first in search results, making it in your best interest to have a well-built Google Plus profile presentation.

However, simply having a G+ presence will not automatically boost your search engine rankings per se. The magic really starts happening when you post frequently, interact with other G+ pages, include descriptions and hash tags and give Google additional relevant content to index. 

Google’s Reviews are the First thing People see When They Search for Your Restaurant

While the function that Google Plus serves in terms of search engine optimization is important, the function that it serves in terms of reputation management is perhaps even more critical. When someone does a Google search for your restaurant, the very first thing they see is a link to Google Reviews from consumers who have something to say about your establishment. These reviews can often make or break a consumer’s choice about whether or not to give your restaurant their business.

While you can’t control negative reviews (beyond doing everything in your power to prevent a poor customer experience in the first place), you can use your Google+ profile as a way to demonstrate that you’re open to hearing people’s feedback and are willing to address any concerns your customers might have. Furthermore, you can use your profile to build relationships with your customers and encourage them to leave positive reviews for others to read. All of this conversation becomes visible to the public through your G+ profile.

Leverage Google Plus Business and Local Pages for Your Restaurant

The final note on using G+ effectively is the fact that Google has set up specific profile types for businesses to use. Restaurants will most likely be best served by building a G+ Local page, which is specifically designed for businesses with a physical location and includes Google maps, reviews, and ratings from Zagat as part of the viewing experience. These pages also allow you to post content, photos and videos, interact with other pages and customer profiles, and even create ‘hangouts’ where you can interact with consumers or pre-record information you want stored on your profile page. It only takes a few minutes to get your Google+ presence up and running and the automatic boost in online visibility it affords makes it well worth your time.

Social Media Demographics and how They Pertain to Your Restaurant Marketing Strategy

October 14, 2013

When you’re building your online marketing strategy, social media can play an important role in the overall success of your campaign. As of May 2013, 72% of American adults online are using social networking sites of one form or another. Facebook continues to pull the biggest crowd, claiming a whopping 67% of U.S. online adults, while Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram use continues to steadily rise.

That said, each different social networking site tends to draw a different demographic of users, so it’s important to understand who your primary audience is when designing your restaurant’s social media campaign.

Restaurant Social Media Strategy #1: Understand Who’s Using Social Networking Platforms

Statistically speaking, women are only slightly more likely than men to use social media (74% vs. 70% of online users). Similarly, urban dwellers are more likely than rural folk to participate in social platforms (74% vs. 69%). The 18-29 year-old age range is by far the largest group of social networkers, with some 89% utilizing social media in one form or another.

As you might expect, the percentages steadily decline as age increases with 78% aged 30-49, 60% aged 50-64, and 43% over the age of 65. In terms of race and ethnicity, Hispanics hold the greatest percentage of social media use at 80%, followed closely by African-Americans at 75% and whites at 70%. More than 75% of all social media users, regardless of demographic, have a household income of less than $30,000 a year. Being aware of these statistics helps form a more clear idea of how to target the audiences you want to bring in your door using social media.

Restaurant Social Media Strategy #2: Take a Closer Look at Who’s Using Which Forum

It’s instructive to take a closer look at exactly who is using which of the multiple social media platforms. For instance, while Facebook continues to be the most used social platform overall (with more than 2/3 of all online adults saying they have a presence there), it is especially common among the younger crowd – with the vast majority of users being under the age of 50.

While Twitter also has the largest following in the younger than 50 crowd, those between the ages of 18-29 are by far the most active. Urban residents are significantly more likely to use Twitter than those in both suburban and rural areas. Hispanics and African-Americans are actually about two times as likely to use Twitter than whites.

Pinterest, on the other hand, tends to draw more whites as well as those with higher incomes and more education. Women are also five times more likely to use Pinterest than men, which is the biggest gender difference of any social media platform.

Last but not least, Instagram seems to be most popular with those in the 18-29 age range, more so than any of the others. In fact, this group tends to be twice as active as even the next youngest age group. African-Americans are more than twice as likely to use Instagram than whites.

What All These Demographics Tell Us About Designing Restaurant Social Media Campaigns

The take away point here is that it is important to know who you are most likely to be talking to when you start your social media campaigns so that you can structure your messages accordingly. For instance, the Millennial generation (those between the ages of 18-35) tend to be drawn to coupons, deals and discounts more than any other group. They love happy hours and home delivery options, and are more likely to choose locally-owned restaurants than any other demographic.

Gen-Xers, on the other hand, (currently 36-46 years old) currently frequent restaurants more than any other age group. Time and efficiency is important to this demographic, as is pragmatism and practicality, so marketing messages that are straight-forward and direct are what will resonate most with this generation.

Understanding who is most likely to be using the various social media platforms out there helps you to create more targeted and meaningful campaigns. Taking some time to think about which demographic groups you are trying to appeal to and where you are most likely to find them, will go a long way toward the overall success of your restaurant’s social media campaign.

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