2020 was a challenging year for businesses across various industries, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As people all over the world fear for their lives and safety, most people opt to stay at home, following quarantine and lockdown regulations.
Given this situation, the business landscape changed drastically. Main streets of cities are empty, more and more brick-and-mortar stores are closing, and people are then shopping from the confines of their own homes.
One of the badly hit industries in the food and beverages. According to Statista, there was a staggering 65.91 percent decline in the number of seated diners among U.S. restaurants. Like other businesses, restaurants resorted to digital solutions to survive and continue operation.
Although social distancing and COVID-related protocols have seemed to relax over time, the influx of customers of food businesses has not returned to their pre-COVID number. Competition in this industry is more fierce than ever and having a strong digital presence ensures you stay on top of the game.
Check out these digital marketing strategies you need to consider to help your food business stand out among competitors.
Digital Marketing Ideas for Your Food Business
#1 Foodie Photos
With the growing popularity of Instagram, particularly among the younger cohorts, it is pretty evident that visual content is highly in demand online nowadays. Food porn is alive and having high-quality, drool-inducing photos on your social media pages and restaurant website.
Consider hiring a professional photographer to capture excellent quality photos of your dishes. You may also go DIY with your smartphone. After all, even the cheaper models can capture good quality photos.
#2 Loyalty Program
A strong loyalty program helps your restaurant survive the stiff competition in the food business. It is crucial to establish a meaningful connection with your customers, and you can do this through a loyalty rewards program. Customers would want to feel special after all.
Consider partnering with online food apps and offer visitors free purchase or discounts. You may also consider going old school and hand out coupons. Keep in mind, though, to observe social distancing regulations when handing them out.
#3 Google+ Account
A website and pages on social media platforms are not enough these days. Having a Google+ account is a must for businesses. You increase the chances of your restaurant being discovered by new customers when your information is readily available on Google. Now and then, people would look up online restaurants nearby.
When your restaurant has a Google+ account, your store will also appear on Google’s Knowledge Graph, as the latter collects most of its information from Google+. Since your restaurant also appears on Google’s Knowledge Graph, you get to enjoy more prime search without having to spend any cent.
#4 User-Generated Content
An excellent way to build a more personal and intimate engagement with your customers and potential ones is to create user-generated content. This shows that you appreciate your customers, and this, in turn, will result in die-hard devotees of your restaurant business.
You may start this by hosting a photo contest for your customers. Have them share their favorite meal at your restaurant and post these entries on a dedicated content page. Award the random lucky contestant with a free dinner or other prizes.
#5 Develop a Brand Identity
It is not just food that businesses in the food and beverage industry are selling — nowadays, the concept is just as important as how good your food is. Furthermore, building the brand identity of your restaurant significantly boosts your social media performance.
You need to understand your target patrons to build your brand around their interests. Does your restaurant attract health-conscious individuals, or does it have a chill bar kind of vibe?
#6 Sleek and Functional Online Menu
A sleek and mobile-friendly website design is also a must for the success of your restaurant business. As mentioned, customers tend to look up your business online before doing business with you. A few second delays could discourage customers from navigating your website further.
Usually, customers check your menu online before visiting or ordering from your restaurant. Do not make it a hassle for them to find your menu. Ensure that you publish high-quality, easy-to-read, and updated menus on your website.
Each year new trends come up. What worked two years ago may not work as well as today. Thus, you need to develop keen insights on what modification or variation to implement each year. Though there is no definite formula for the perfect digital marketing strategy, you may revisit old, tried and tested ones or dive in and follow the latest trends.