Businesses in the hospitality industry have faced significant struggles over the past few years. Most restaurants were forced to get creative to maintain their customer base during the COVID lockdowns. Thankfully, the pandemic is slowly dying down, and in most areas of the world, restaurants are again free to do business. However, customer habits have changed, and people have quickly gotten used to ordering food online or preparing meals at home. This makes getting people interested in visiting your restaurant more difficult than ever. To help you stand out from the competition, here are the latest restaurant marketing trends to follow in 2023.
1. Have a Strong Online Presence
Along with the change in customer shopping and ordering habits, we’ve also seen businesses shift their marketing approach. Most businesses have chosen to focus solely on digital marketing to reach a wider audience and attract more customers. Of course, there are various marketing strategies you can pursue to appeal to online users. However, the thing most of them have in common is leading potential customers to your website, where most conversions happen. This means that if you want your marketing to be effective, you also need to have a polished website that visitors will enjoy using.
Some restaurants believe it’s enough to have a single-page menu in place of a website. Or even worse – the menu is a static .pdf, and users can’t even click on anything. Unfortunately, that sort of web doesn’t incentivize users to drop by your website often to see what’s new. If you want to increase your online visibility, here is what you need to focus on when developing your website:
Nowadays, most online users will access your site from their phones instead of their computer’s browser. However, the percentage skews even further towards mobile users when it comes to restaurants and online food orders. Therefore, your site must be optimized to work perfectly on smaller screens.
A Responsive Design
Improving load times will significantly reduce your bounce rates. Additionally, try to remove any unnecessary features to ensure your site is responsive and offers an excellent user experience. People looking for eateries probably won’t wait more than a few seconds for your site to load. Therefore, you must ensure that pages are quick to load and that navigation is simple and intuitive.
Run an SEO Audit
SEO techniques and design guidelines can help your site pop up in user searches. Running an audit can help you pinpoint the weak aspects of your web design that need improvement. Once you have a fully optimized website, you will quickly notice an improvement in your organic traffic.
2. Embrace Social Media
Although your website should be your central hub for converting leads, most users prefer to interact with brands on social media. Creating business profiles on several social media platforms is an excellent way to boost engagement. As part of your social media marketing, you can even contact niche influences to increase your reach and get your posts in front of a new audience.
Another essential element of social media marketing is producing content specifically suited to the needs of each platform. If you are struggling to make the most of your profiles on social networks, you can contact professionals with experience in social marketing to help you set up and optimize your business profiles. Remember to cross-link to your various profiles and always lead users back to your website. Various social platforms can limit what you post while you have full control of your site.
3. Engage Users in Discussion
Unfortunately, simply posting pictures of food on your social media accounts won’t get you very far. The algorithms that promote profiles to users on social networks are based on audience interaction. Therefore, you must learn how to foster brand engagement. Here are a few restaurant marketing trends you can use to engage users in discussion:
- Become a conversation starter by posting open-ended questions. Give your customers something to talk about and get them excited about the new services you are launching
- Let users vote on new additions to your menu. This approach can give customers a sense of ownership and get them excited about visiting your restaurant
- Hold contests and promote the winners by tagging them and posting pictures. You can reward the contest winners with free dining in your restaurant and then take photos with them when they visit
- Invite users to participate by creating a brand-specific hashtag. User-created content will significantly reduce the effort it takes to engage your audience while simultaneously boosting your visibility on social networks
4. Give Users a Reason to Visit Your Website
Most restaurants treat their website as a necessity, so it’s no wonder customers aren’t excited to interact with those sites. However, by posting informative and entertaining articles, you can make visiting your website a routine for your customers. Consider posting in-depth articles on food preparation and cooking advice. Share small secrets on what makes your meals so tasty or how you created the perfect cocktail. This type of content will let you stand out as a leader in your field. Your customers will see your website as an essential source of information and recommend it to others.
5. Personalize the Marketing
Digital marketing has come a long way from “Hey, this is what we are offering.” Modern audiences don’t want to hear about your promotions. Instead, they want to be entertained and informed. If you want your marketing to resonate with your audience, you need to get them to care. Your best bet at creating an emotional connection with your users is by personalizing the marketing to match their needs. However, that is often easier said than done.
First, you should have a way to collect data on how users interact with your brand. We don’t only mean which meals customers are ordering. You should also include what visitors click on when they browse your website, rejected orders, and customer complaints. The best way to gather this information and boost marketing personalization is with CRM data. Implementing a Customer Relationship Management platform can allow you to rely on solid data and make informed business decisions. You will know exactly what your users are interested in, and you can use that information to personalize the marketing you are targeting them with.
6. Have Loyalty Programs
Implement ways to reward your most loyal customers. Some restaurants even have loyalty cards but fail to inform their customers before they meet the criteria for a reward. Explain to your employees how much you rely on the repeat business of your customers and get them to promote the loyalty programs. By showing your customers that you care, you can turn them into brand ambassadors who can spread positive word-of-mouth.
7. Embrace New Trends
Besides applying proven techniques to promote your restaurant, you should always be on the lookout for new restaurant marketing trends to follow in 2023. Here are a few trends which we expect to gain more popularity in the future:
- The evolution of online ordering. Allow users to place orders before they get to the restaurant to reduce wait times and improve customer turnover
- Additional pickup and delivery options. The pandemic forced many restaurants to implement curbside pickup. Explore various ways of delivering food to your customers
- Experimental menus. Have experimental dishes with a limited-time availability. Consider adding the most popular ones as permanent options to your regular menu
8. Engage With the Local Community
Most restaurants rely on business from customers in their local area. This can be a critical factor to consider when calibrating the target audience for your online marketing. However, we suggest adopting an SEO strategy to make your restaurant more visible on local searches. Create and update your Google Business Profile, where you can post pictures of local events. Ask satisfied customers to leave you a review by including a QR code with a link to Google’s review page. By boosting your local SEO, you can get on Google’s map pack, which can drive more local business your way.
Businesses must stay creative and find new ways of getting attention in a saturated marketplace. We’ve outlined the most popular restaurant marketing trends to follow in 2023 to help you stand out from the competition. It’s time to start cooking!
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