Digital Marketing To Do List for Restaurants

A new year is here and the world around us changes every day when it comes to keeping up with marketing trends and technology for your restaurant business. Digital marketing is always changing and evolving, so it’s important to consider new tech and trends.

In this post we break down the top items you’ll need to focus on right now to improve your top line revenue this coming year.

“No one plans to fail, they only fail to plan”

Start this year with a solid restaurant marketing plan.  Creating a road map of where you currently are and where you want to be is crucial to long-term success.

1. Goals – Have a Purpose

This is the #1 area where most businesses fail in their marketing efforts. It’s like driving your car with no destination in mind. It sounds silly, but a majority of businesses are not planning properly and setting goals, then tracking their progress towards the goals.

I’m not just talking about top line revenue goals like, “We need to gross $3 million this year.” Yes, that’s a goal and it’s a great start, but how are you going to get there? Especially if you only did $2 million in 2019?

So where can you improve?  Can we set specific goals to grow the business?  Examples are:

  • Increase our private event or catering lead generation by 20%
  • Increase our email list subscribers by 500 per month
  • Grow Facebook followers to 10,000
  • Grow Instagram followers by 1,000 per month
  • Increase online reservations by 20%

2. Tracking and Return on Investment (ROI)

What is a lead worth to your business? What is the lifetime value of your customers?

You learned to set your goals above. Now let’s run programs to meet those goals and track which pieces of the programs are getting the best results, for a profit.

If your analytics tell you that spending $30 on a pay per click ad with Google Adwords generated a $2,000 catering event for your restaurant, how much would you continue to spend on that ad?  The answer is “All of it until you are sold out!”

Because it’s working, you can see it in the tracking, so scale it up.  All digital marketing has the ability to be tracked down to the goal you want to achieve.

We all have those moments when we fell for a salesperson and bought the ad we maybe shouldn’t have. Maybe it was $500, or $1000 or $5000 spent, only to think later, “Did I get any increase in business from that ad?”  The sad thing is most likely NO, you didn’t. So let’s stop wasting money on things we can’t track for ROI (Return on Investment).

Old school ad formats are dying for a reason. They can’t be tracked and linked to your goals (above).

Newspaper = dead.
Radio = no results (people can’t take action).
Billboard = your ego (wanting the see your business name when you drive down the street).

Which nets you the most leads or sales? Paid Search/Adwords? Facebook posts? A Facebook ad? Google searches (SEO)? Instagram posts?

Do you even include a trackable link in your social media posts or ads?  Did you know you can?

Setting up the tracking is actually pretty easy once you learn the tricks.  Then it is all about staying disciplined to always make sure your team is following through.  You can see exactly what platforms, ads, or websites are driving traffic to your business.

DIY with Google Analytics and this Campaign URL builder tool.

3. Mobile first!

Google and all your customers think and act on mobile first. The majority of your customers are on mobile devices all day versus desktops.

Google knows this and split their index into mobile and desktop search results. They are putting priority on mobile first. If your website is not mobile friendly, you are going to plummet in search results on mobile phones this year. Get a mobile responsive WordPress website designed.

Is your website mobile friendly? Test it with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Testing Tool

4.Hire a Photographer

This year you need quality photos of your food and drinks and interior.  If you want to make a difference on social media and digital marketing, you need great pics!  Spend a few bucks and hire a pro.  Your iPhone with the flash on will not cut it.  These photos are a representation of your brand, so make it count.

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5. Invest in Instagram

You need to be more aggressive with Instagram this year.  It is the fastest growing platform and they are releasing new features every day.  Take the amazing photos you gain from hiring the photographer and post 1-2 times every day on Instagram.

Instagram posts alone will not improve your revenue.  You will need to invest in paid IG ads and retargeting.  This is one of the best ad platforms available.

6. Outsource Some of The Work

These tips sound simple but there is one HUGE problem. Your time!

It would be crazy to try and take on all the heavy lifting yourself.  You can’t be an expert in everything, so be an expert in running your business.  Outsource the rest.  Most restaurants outsource linens, food delivery, liquor inventory management, overnight commercial cleaning services, and so on.  So why not outsource some or all of your marketing to experts?

There are new marketing methods, platforms and tricks coming out every day.  Are you on top of the latest?  Do you have time?

It might be best to shop around to some agencies who know what they are doing. Most can do this for less than the price of an entry level marketing hire and net you 10 times the results.

Just make sure they are focused on results for your specific goals. You want to hold everyone accountable to meet your marketing plan. Remember the agency needs to show ROI too!

It takes some time to get up and running. There is a lot of up front work to just set the systems in place before they start generating sales. Know the investment is worth it and give it time to work.

Next Steps

Take action and have a plan.

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Written by Brian Nagele

Brian has been an influencer in the food and beverage industry for over 20 years. He not only loves to eat and drink at restaurants on a regular basis, he also knows the business inside and out.