COVID-19 Recovery Series: Managing Digital Marketing for Restaurants

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For restaurants, it’s important to stay in touch with customers now and as you begin to reopen and adjust to the “new normal” after this COVID-19 pandemic. Your customers are as eager to come back to your restaurants as you are to start serving them again.

Just because customers can’t have dinner with you doesn’t mean they still can’t enjoy your food. Communicate clearly with your customers about any delivery or takeout options you have. As restaurants begin to open for reduced capacity catering services, take out orders are likely to continue to be a anchor for the business in the near term.

Engaging with your customers in any way possible will keep your brand in mind and get them excited about your reopening. Communicating with your customers should be a mix of what you can do for them, what you have available to them, and the steps you take to keep them safe.

Below are some tactics to consider when creating and implementing your digital response strategies.

Strategic communication on social media

Social media usage and engagement has been on the rise since the lockdown began (increases can reach 61% in some studies), meaning your restaurant’s social channels are a great opportunity to connect with your loyal customers. and get new customers to try your food. But reopening your restaurant doesn’t mean restarting your social media accounts and posting similar content that worked well before the coronavirus. Here’s what to know as your restaurant’s marketing increases:

  • Relevant updates:
    Post updates on any change in your availability. Encourage online ordering by posting photos of popular entrees with links to your take out menu.
  • Paid advertisements:
    Since screen time and engagement have increased dramatically, supplementing your organic posts and content with paid ads is a great way to expand your reach and start repopulating your marketing funnel. Use advertisements to promote special offers and take out or delivery options.
  • Spotlight on Food and Drink:
    Host live videos that allow your social audience to engage with your team as they would in person in your bar or restaurant, for example with a flagship video of your bartenders making signature cocktails that people at home can follow and prepare themselves.

    This same approach can be used to showcase your chef when making popular entrees or appetizers. Another engagement format that works well is for the chef to host a ‘cook at home’ series where the most popular menu items are created using a live video tutorial. If you do, be sure to give your audience a few days’ notice and an ingredient list so they can prepare. Encourage your audience to post the results of their own cocktails or menu items, including the best and the worst of them with small prizes handed out like a free appetizer or cocktail.

  • Creative challenges:
    Social media challenges are another fun way to get your customers to interact with your restaurant or bar. By offering your own challenge, it puts your restaurant name at the forefront of your customers’ minds. Whatever your unique style / selling point, you can create a challenge around it. However, it’s important to be mindful of your tone and not challenge anyone to do anything that might violate social distancing and mandates currently in place, otherwise you risk a backlash that could hurt your brand.

Website content strategy: special offers and encouraging online conversions

In the coming weeks and months, restaurant businesses will need to put more emphasis than ever on communicating their cleanliness and social distancing. Anyone looking for a restaurant will need to be fully convinced that it is safe before considering a seated dining experience again.

  • Take out orders:
    With significant social distancing restrictions for restaurants and bars likely to be in place for some time, combined with consumers’ reluctance on the safety of dining in public, take-out is now an essential way. to maintain a viable business until you can completely reopen your restaurant seats.

    Restaurants need to view take out as a fundamental aspect of their service and this is something restaurants will need to embrace and get to grips with as quickly as possible. Updating your website to entice customers to call for a pickup or delivery order is the first place to start. Make sure this option is visible on your site and easy for visitors to follow.

    Having a smaller selection menu can also help streamline your take-out operation, especially if you haven’t been equipped before to handle take-out delivery. When choosing a clean menu, choose your most popular items which are also the most reliable from a feed cost and margin perspective.

    Consumers will understand if your menu is different from what you used to offer, but they will understand less if their order is wrong or takes too long to prepare and deliver. Also consider which menu items travel well and how you intend to pack and transport your food. While presentation is less important with take-out, it is still a factor in the dining experience, just as dressing is important with in-person meals.

  • Grocery orders:
    Allowing customers to buy groceries from you (i.e. meat, produce, bread, dairy, sanitizer, etc.) is another great way to generate income. and help your local community. This option can be for curbside pickup or delivery to allow limited contact.
  • Gift Card Incentives:
    Gift cards are a good way to instantly increase your income when you register the sale in advance, no matter when / if the gift card is used in store. It also fosters a community spirit to support local businesses and makes an easy birthday or anniversary gift. Gift card purchases can be further incentivized by offering add-ons every time a gift card is sold, for example, spend $ 50 on gift card purchases and get a free appetizer or cocktail
  • Maintain open communication:
    Using a combination of social media platforms and your website, maintain consistent communication with your guests. Also, make sure your Google My Business page is updated with the correct hours of operation and phone numbers if those have changed since the coronavirus.

    You should be aware of any website that displays your menu, making sure it is updated to the most recent version. If you’re using a centralized system like Yext and SinglePlatform, make sure those platforms have the correct information that can then be passed on to all of the major directory and review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor.

  • Precautionary measures:
    Keep clients up to date on how you are handling the adjustment to this ‘new normal’. Notify customers of any adjustments to hours of operation, standard offerings, and capacity mandates as we navigate this pandemic.
  • Health and Safety Notice:
    Make sure your customers know what you are doing to help prevent the spread of germs. Things like reduced hours to spend enough time on sanitation measures, limiting the number of people in the dining room, increasing the space between diners, etc.

    This can be done through a combination of pop-up messages on your website, emailing, social media posts, or even a more detailed landing page. Your updated procedures can also be printed on inserts for inclusion in take out orders.

Convincing someone that your restaurant is low risk will require frequent and repeated messages about how your business is operating safely and will likely include positive content generated by the customers who come to dine with you. Make sure to monitor social channels for positive feedback and repurpose that content on your own social channels and website (with permission from the content owner).

For more information on developing your digital marketing recovery plan, contact Vizergy experts Where visit our blog for more helpful tips.

About Vizergy® digital marketing

Vizergy serves the global hospitality industry with conversion optimized website design and highly competitive tools to maximize revenue. Our formula for success includes cutting-edge technologies, proven digital marketing programs, and the best professionals in the industry. At Vizergy, hotel marketing is not only our mission, it is our only objective.

For more than 20 years, Vizergy has relentlessly developed and deployed the best technologies and marketing talents to serve thousands of hospitality customers with excellence. The company deploys complete travel lifecycle marketing solutions, from responsive website design and development to proven and award-winning digital marketing programs, booking solutions, media planning and deployment. Vizergy’s platform has long been touted as the # 1 digital marketing system for hospitality customers, easy to deploy, turnkey, and SMART, enabling customers to win in the complex and competitive hospitality industry. today.

For more information, please visit www.vizergy.com.

Contact Person: Ryan Ridge | Vizergie | +1.904.389.1130 | [email protected]

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