5 Ways Marketers Can Use Digital to Drive Visitors to Their Restaurants
Leverage your social media fans to increase foot traffic.
Photograph by Unsplash
Digital strategies provide some of the best opportunities to drive foot traffic and in-store sales, yet many marketers under-utilize their potential. Digital activities are often un-prioritized or sometimes completely ignored.

Here are 5 things you can do immediately to take advantage of your digital channels:

1. Improve the areas of your website that are restaurant-related.

It’s likely your web visitors are already on the lookout for information to help them decide to visit your restaurant.

• Make sure your branch locator is up-to-date and easy to use, especially for mobile users. Can it be easily located on your header or navigation bar? If not, potential customers might get turned off and go elsewhere.
• Improve individual menu highlight pages on your website. They reflect the desirability and attraction of your offers. Check if you have uninspiring design elements, jumbled directories or bland listings.
• Make sure all the information your customers need are found on these pages. This means your address, contact details and opening hours (at the least).

The best pages provide:
An interactive map
Driving and transportation directions
Parking information
Access and mobility info for persons with disability
Good photographs
In-store events
Social media links
Basic staff information

Add additional information that customers will find useful. Unleash your creative juices and find a way to make your content so interesting that viewers would want to visit your restaurant.

2. Optimize for Local Search

There are big opportunities for restaurants to optimize their site for local search. Your specialty menu is unique so people looking for it on their mobile devices are most likely in the vicinity. They may need just a little push from your page to make them dine at your place.

For example, a family shopping for clothes at a store nearby decides to have lunch. When they search for restaurants on their mobile, Google and other search engines will automatically list dining places in your area. If you’ve done local search optimization to put your restaurant on page 1, then you have the best chance for that family to click your site and see what’s on your menu. They are customers to be had if you make the effort.

Confirm this for yourself. Go to your branch and search for restaurants on your mobile phone. Does your business come up in results? Are you on the first page? When you click to your site, do you land on the right page?

3. Offer Click and Collect Items

If you don’t offer Click and Collect, it’s time to start now. You don’t need to have an online payment system to do this. You can offer discount coupons or other items that customers can redeem at your store when they visit. Local research have consistently reported retailers getting 15% to 25% additional sales when they have this facility.

You don’t have to be a multi-city operation to benefit from this type of promotion. While there are some advantages due to economies of scale, even single-location restaurants can do this promotion effectively and profitably. You likely already have the digital channels to implement click and collect. If not, there are many ways to get one easily and on budget.

Tip: Take payment online and not on collection. You don’t need to ask for full payment to get customers to collect their order.

4. Mobilize Your Social Media fans

Fans you already have are ready to engage with you. You have their permission to market to them.
• Motivate them to visit your restaurant by offering a social coupon. One that can be shared with friends, downloaded or printed out then brought to your restaurant for redemption. It’s one way to take an online interaction into real world sales.
• Post positive experiences that your customers had on social media. Show your viewers what a great time they had dining at your restaurant. People will readily empathize with positive experiences when they see them.
• Your business benefits a great deal when social media viewers see people having meaningful life interactions at your place. Share these moments at your restaurant on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram to create positive buzz about your restaurant on your customers’ social data feeds.
• Keep your fans updated on any in-store promotion or event via email and social media. Highlight any perks or exclusive offers that can only be redeemed in-store. Best results are achieved when you target your posts based on your fans’ demographics, location and purchase history. This is particularly effective if you have multiple branches and you’re having an event at only one branch. Emphasize this event in your email or post to people in that area to get the best results.

5. Measure What Works

It’s very important to implement a method of tracking the success of your digital marketing strategies.

• Rather than using number of page visits, impressions or likes, focus on metrics that lead to actual sales. These measurements should be based on specific customer actions.
• Where did your web visitors come from? How do you differentiate online visitors who just came to see from those who are actually looking to buy?
• Who are your loyal customers? What are their favorite orders? What brings them to dine at your restaurant again and again?
You can get accurate answers to these questions by measuring the right metrics from the torrent of data available at your website. And if you’re using Google Analytics you get the added benefit of getting them for free.

Tip: Time spent on your site is a good indicator of interest for your offers. See which pages visitors lingered the most. Find out how visitors came to arrive at these pages.

What’s important for marketers is to leverage the data they capture in the right way to improve in-store visits and actual purchases. Don’t get caught in big data hype. Focus on context and buyer behaviors. It’s only through improved decision making that business owners and marketers begin to see a return on their investments.