Driving Business in the “New Normal”
The impact of the COVID-19 has stretched far and wide. The economic crisis that accompanies this pandemic has hit the restaurant and hospitality industry particularly hard. The financial burden of being without guests for months has put a strain on everyone while putting some out of business. As restaurants reopen, evaluating their new financial situation and determining what their business looks like in this new reality, is a formidable task. We all have had to shift how we think about our businesses while attempting to stay agile and flexible to thrive now and into the future. These digital marketing tips will help you make the most of the hand that has been dealt to us all. Contact us if you have any questions about optimizing your website or online presence, Hudson Creative is happy to help and would love to talk with you!
Here are our top 5 digital marketing strategies for restaurants, post-pandemic:
1. Reset Your Marketing Plan
However you establish your restaurant’s marketing plan (a formal bound booklet, scribbles on a napkin, or budget-breakdown one sheet), you no doubt scrapped whatever that plan was for 2020 and have had to probably retool 2021’s plan as well. If you’re thinking “We do not have money for marketing,” or “Marketing is not something we should be focusing on now,” then you’re not working to consider this time as an opportunity to regain revenue and regrow your business. There are plenty of things you can do for little to no cost that have a major impact on how potential guests find your business and become future customers. So, explore the internet, talk to your industry friends, join webinars, use free resources, make connections and build up an idea of how you’re going to get “butts in seats” this year and furthermore into 2022. Remember: while your business may look quite different than it did before, you can come out of this situation stronger.
2. Update Information on Online Listings
Online business directory listings provide crucial information to your potential customers. Consistency across all your listings (we work on dozens of listings for our SEO clients) dramatically improves how search engines, like Google, rank your website in search engine result pages (SERPs). This is a key piece of Hudson Creative’s Search Engine Optimization service, and one of our proven tactics to increase the number of people who see your business online and visit your website. An online listing can be a highly visible directory like Google My Business, Facebook or Yelp, or lesser-known networks like Acxiom or ShowMeLocal. Make sure to keep all your major listings updated with the latest information (i.e. temporary closures, new hours, or takeout/delivery offerings). If you are having trouble accessing, claiming ownership, or making the most of your key listings, contact us! We have the knowledge and resources to help you improve your online presence to drive more business.
3. Consider Your Restaurant’s Takeout & Delivery Options
As individuals, companies, and governments sort out what this new normal looks like, one thing is certain: takeout and delivery will continue to grow as an important revenue stream for restaurants. Be sure to carefully consider your options for online ordering providers and decide if/how this will be a part of your business. Fold promotion of takeout and delivery into your marketing plan with things like email blasts, website updates, loyalty programs, in-restaurant promotion, and online advertising, especially if your focus is on moving orders from third parties with high commission rates to your own “native ordering” platform that doesn’t cut into your profit margin as much! Takeout and delivery is a more competitive space than ever, many restaurants are now part of the game for the first time ever, so you have to support this revenue stream with proper promotion if you want it to succeed. Check out this case study for how we helped double a fine-dining restaurant’s online orders in a matter of days.
4. Over-Communicate Safety Procedures
Offering information on how you are providing a safe experience for guests and workers is a crucial part of building customer confidence in your restaurant. Most people will appreciate the information, few will fault you for over-communicating and erring on the side of caution when it comes to the health and safety of your patrons. Consider all the ways to communicate your safety protocols and where to put this communication: your restaurant’s website (home page, FAQ page, dedicated “COVID-19 Safety” page), third-party listings (i.e. Google My Business, Yelp, etc.), and in your restaurant.
5. Optimize Your Website
One thing that has not changed: people go online to discover restaurants and make their dining decisions. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) ensures that people looking for a restaurant like yours or a restaurant in your area get to your website as opposed to your competitor’s site. SEO is about building momentum for the long-term, sustainable growth of the business. Right now is a great time to improve your website’s SEO, so your site is optimized for diners searching for places to eat as they return to engaging more frequently with their local restaurants.