5 Ingredients for Restaurant Marketing ROI
No matter the cuisine or customer that your business serves, as the owner of a restaurant or bar, you’re always on the lookout for ways to get (and keep) more people in the seats. Running a successful business isn’t just about combining good food and drinks with a pleasant atmosphere. You need to thoughtfully allocate your marketing budget and ensure you’re tapping the right opportunities that will lead to a solid return on investment.
While you might be dipping your toe in the social media waters or considering adding radio advertising to your marketing mix, how do you know what will be most effective?
The exact recipe for marketing ROI depends on your particular business, but here are five proven ingredients to include in your restaurant marketing.
1. Target Audience Research
A major factor of marketing success is knowing who your customers are (current and prospective), where they are, what they like, and how they behave relative to your offering. You’ll want to research your current customers and examine your competitors so you can better understand your position in the market. If you own a pizza place in a university area, for example, you’ll want to not only research the younger, student demographic that frequents your establishment during the school years, but the local customers who are there year-round as well, plus the other food/drink options they have to turn to.
Apply this information to increase your chances of getting found online. For instance, to show up when people are looking for “fast food delivery in Chicago,” make sure that language and sentiment is reflected in your keyword strategy. Knowing what you know about your product/services and target customer, you can:
- Work relevant keywords into your website to boost on-page SEO and show up in search results.
- Use PPC advertising to drive users from relevant sites and searches to your online offers.
- Focus on the social platforms and message strategy that align with your audience.
2. Website Optimization
Your website is essentially an additional storefront for your restaurant, so making sure it’s professionally designed and optimized for mobile is important to maximizing your restaurant marketing ROI.
Aside from making your website visually appealing and easy to navigate from any device, ensure your content loads quickly. This is particularly relevant to restaurant owners that want to visually showcase their cuisine (and most do). Websites that have too many large graphics or videos that take longer to load drive people to competitors once they get tired of waiting.
And if that’s not important enough, Google is now taking website load times into search ranking considerations—meaning so slow load times will drive away traffic and hurt your search rankings. Make sure you test your website and content load times, and not just after a site launch or update. There are even free applications designed to help you do so, like Google’s Test My Site, which gives you a quick glimpse of your website’s performance and tips to improve it.
3. Ongoing Experimentation
Even though there is no magic recipe to improve your marketing ROI, there is always something to learn from trying new things. Does your restaurant mainly rely on a single customer base? Have you ever conducted A/B testing with your email subject lines, CTA buttons, or Facebook Ads? When was the last time you revisited your marketing plan, anyway?
Maybe you’ve focused on a single media platform, like radio, and you’ve been pleased with the results. Consider that research shows advertisers can experience a “kicker effect” on ROI when adding media platforms to their strategy. The more channels you add, the more opportunities you have to build a unified creative approach, prime your audience across channels, and maximize the investment you’ve made in your campaign. By being open and willing to try different platforms, technologies, and channels, you could potentially broaden your reach and attract new customers to help you achieve sustainable growth.
Determining marketing ROI is about quantifying the impact of your marketing efforts—taking steps to understand what’s working and what isn’t so you can make adjustments and improve. In other words, it’s not enough to determine which channels and platforms in your marketing mix are performing and which aren’t. You have to also do something with that information.
For example, Facebook Ads might be a great tool for your restaurant. But if you fail to take advantage of built-in tracking and reporting features to understand what content is delivering and what isn’t worth the investment, you’ve only taken the first step. If people tend to engage more with video content or how-to posts, focus more on those efforts. If they’re not clicking on discounts or coupons, don’t put the dollars into Facebook Ads supporting them.
5. Commitment to Continuous Measurement
Simply put, measuring and tracking ROI should be an ongoing process because the drive to improve should never end. If improving ROI is your goal, it’s necessary to look at marketing expenses not as a cost, but as an investment of both time and dollars.
Improving your restaurant marketing ROI is not as straightforward as a one-size-fits-all recipe, but there are some key ingredients to success, including willingness to experiment, accountability, and a continuous-improvement mentality. By adding the key ingredients explored above to your marketing plan, you’re well on your way to perfecting your marketing recipe.