Update Your Summer Menu Online Before You Miss Out on More Business

Americans blow more money dining out in the summertime than the rest of the year, a new survey from MarketWatch finds.

87% of Americans spend more money on dining out in the summertime than any other time of the year. This includes both local dining and eating out while traveling on seasonal vacations.

According to statistics released by Capital One, dining at a restaurant is a top priority for spending in the US. In fact, 65% of people’s budget, up to 77% for millennials, is going towards dining experiences.

Consumers look at menus online before choosing a restaurant.

Knowing the importance of menu information to your customer’s journey, we examined 1.2 million menu views from more than 950,000 unique locations across all of 2017 and 2018. From that study, we discovered that June into July represents the last increase in menu views until October.

People are dining out in the summer and they are looking at menus on sites like Google, Yelp and Facebook before they ever even get to your website. If you are not in control of and updating your online menus in all the places people are searching for where to eat in the summer, you are losing customers to your competition.

Update your restaurant’s menu online now, before the summer begins and every time you add or subtract an item on it ensures that customers will be able to find your restaurant when they are making plans to spend money at restaurants over the summer.

 

Here is more info on U.S. Summer dining trends that can help you plan to attract more customers into your restaurant during the warmest months of the year.

 

Need to up update your Summer menu on sites like Google, Facebook, Yelp, TripAdvisor and more?

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How to Boost Incredible Restaurant Revenue with Catering Menus

While restaurant industry growth creeps along year after year, a new study shows that the catering business is booming.

According to Restaurant Dive, catering grew 50% faster than overall restaurant sales in 2018. Catering allows you to reach a new audience of businesses and party planners with the same menu items, kitchen, and staff you already have — and best of all, you know the exact costs and profit margin of catering orders!

Don’t let this explosive opportunity pass by.

Create a special catering menu to reach customers who are looking to make large repeat orders. Customers can fall in love with party platters of your deli sandwiches, hot pasta dishes or passed hors d’oeuvres while you could add up to 18% of your total sales. Not to mention, if they love it they can come back to your restaurant even after the event is over.

If you already have a catering menu, make sure it’s complete and up to date online.

Restaurant Dive’s survey found that 61% of restaurants said their catering orders came primarily business-to-business (B2B). When customers plan an office event or party, their first step is to look for catering options on search sites like Google, Yelp or Bing. In the midst of their busy work day, B2B customers need to be able to find the information they need, when they need it, or they’ll choose a more convenient catering option.

An accurate online menu allows potential customers to discover your restaurant and explore your options before they decide to order.

Only 20% of online searchers look for a restaurant by name: instead, customers are looking for the options they need, like “catering near me” or “party catering with delivery.” Without an online menu, you lose opportunities to be discovered by customers.

Unfortunately, creating and posting your menu to your website isn’t a one-time effort. Your online menu also lives on other third-party sites like TripAdvisor, YP and Foursquare who pull your information and post it on their websites, which can spread old information about discontinued menu items and pricing.

Customers will get frustrated if they find an out-of-date menu on sites like Google, and call to order without knowing your prices have gone up. To make your restaurant easier to find online, you need to update your catering menu everywhere, every time you tweak a price or add a new dish.

SinglePlatform can help you get your catering menu and all your menus online in all of these places in only a couple of minutes.

With one convenient platform, you can quickly log in and make a change to update all over the web, or just send us the updates and we’ll do the work for you. Your catering menu is a powerful tool to attract new customers — make it easy for event planners to choose you.

Get Started Today

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Super Bowl Sunday Restaurant Tips

Arguably America’s favorite unofficial holiday, Super Bowl Sunday is in just two short weeks. Millions of people will be tuning in, either at home or at a bar, to cheer on their favorite teams or just enjoy the commercials. Last year, 103 million viewers were watching the event, which pales in comparison to the amount of food consumed on the day. Statistics show that over 1 billion wings are consumed, 4 million pizzas eaten, and 50 million cases of beer cracked open on game day.

If you’re a pub, grill, sports bar, pizza parlor, or sandwich shop, you should be prepared for an influx of in-house diner and delivery orders on February 3rd. We’re giving you tips on how you can prepare for a profitable Super Bowl Sunday at your business.

football with football players in the background

Offer Specials

Let’s face it, people are always looking for a good deal. Especially when it comes to special events, consumers tend to do research ahead of time to find the perfect spot to celebrate. You need a differentiating factor that will help you stand out from other local pubs and restaurants. A great way to appeal to guests is to offer hard-to-beat Super Bowl Specials.

Two for One or Buy-One-Get-One Free

Buy-one-get-one concepts work well because people feel like they’re getting more bang for their buck. Plus, Super Bowl fans will most likely be coming with fellow sports fanatics to watch the game. Offer the two for one discount on different items, like draft beer, baskets of fries, or slices of pizza. If friends open up one tab, they can take advantage of the deal together and feel like they’re getting a great discount.

Discounted Pitchers

friends watching super bowl game laughing and doing cheers with beer

Large parties will benefit from pitchers of beers, soft drinks, and other beverages. It’s a cost-effective way to quench the thirst of the crowd. With the Super Bowl game lasting a few hours, people will be looking for refills throughout the night. Instead of ordering one drink at a time, pitchers help keep the party going; pitchers also reduce frequency of your waitstaff having to run to tables for refills.

Beat the Clock Deals

Why not add more fun and games to an already entertaining event? With Beat the Clock, you can increase prices on participating items with each hour. This will inspire guests to get there early and start placing orders. Whether you choose to increase draft beer prices by fifty cents every hour, or increase the price of a bucket of wings by one dollar every sixty minutes, this event will raise the stakes and create some urgency.

football field with players running and large crowd

Game-Determined Discounts

Although the commercials and halftime show add to the revelry, the main event is the football game itself. Get involved by offering discounts based on the current status of each quarter. If one team is in the lead, offer 50% off a certain beer of your choice. Choose another brand of beer to discount for the opposing team’s victory. You can even include food items in the deal. Let’s say the Kansas City Chiefs make it to the Super Bowl – offer a discount on BBQ wings if they’re winning after the first quarter.

If you’re in a city of a Super Bowl team, create a special game day menu with the most well-known items from your region. Even if you’re not, you can create a menu that has signature food items from both cities.

Hand Out Prizes and Offer Games

Prizes

people sitting with football gear helmets and football

Super Bowl Sunday is all about fun and games, so create your own. Put together gift baskets or hand out gift cards to the person with the most festive fan gear. Make things interesting by awarding one lucky winner a mystery prize at the end of every quarter. If you want to make the crowd more rowdy, partner with a beverage company and hand out some swag. Throwing free t-shirts and towels into the crowd will increase the energy during breaks and commercials.

Games

two people playing mini foosball at restaurant

Let’s face it, not everyone is interested in the Super Bowl. Still, that doesn’t mean they can’t come to your restaurant or bar for a fun time. Designate an area for games, like giant Jenga, cards, and indoor cornhole (if space permits). Friends can gather around for some friendly competition and keep the party going.

Marketing

To get the best turnout, market all of your Super Bowl Sunday restaurant offerings ahead of the game. Make a splash on your social media pages, update your website to include any prizes, special events, or discounts, and send out an email to your mailing list about the event. The more eyes you can get on your event before it happens the better.

In your email communications, give customers a chance to receive a free drink or appetizer. Just let them know that if they show their server the email, they can receive a beer or select appetizer of their choice. This can also help you gauge readership of your restaurant’s emails.

Gear Up for Delivery

people eating take out pizza and drinking soda

Some people would much prefer to watch the game on their TV at home than in a crowded bar or restaurant. But, that doesn’t mean they won’t be hungry! Online orders have grown 300% faster than in-house dining traffic in recent years and aren’t projected to slow down. Do you have a solid strategy for fulfilling online orders, along with traditional take-out calls, and a full dining room? Dedicated delivery apps, like Seamless and Caviar, can help you with operations and transactions. To learn more about them, check out our blog on online ordering tech.

Delicious Food to Their Doors

As Super Bowl Sunday nears, don’t forget to consider the customers that will be ordering takeout meals. Consider creating Super Bowl specials like large meal deals and party packs. As mentioned above, people host parties and invite family and friends over to enjoy the game; they’ll be looking for value on food and drinks in order to feed large crowds.

Popular packs include wings, pizzas, and appetizers for one competitive price. Throw in a few liter bottles of soda to sweeten the deal and give customers more for their money. If you have an offer they can’t refuse, people will keep you in mind for future Super Bowl festivities.

Inspire Feedback

If you’re delivering food to homes, consider adding some restaurant collateral with the receipts. You can hand out information cards that have your social media handles, website, phone number, and address. Use this to also ask customers to leave reviews online in order to build up your online reputation. Consider throwing in some coupons, like 10% off their next meal, to inspire repeat business.

Some people also love good old fashioned paper menus, so include one on every delivery. Next time, they may just call you on the phone to place an order so you don’t have to worry about fees charged by a middle man.

In Closing

fully stocked bar with spirits and liquor

In order to score a touchdown at your bar or restaurant this Super Bowl Sunday, you need to prepare ahead of time. Think about your discounts and offers for the day, decide if you want to host a special event or hand out prizes, and keep delivery orders in mind. Along the way, remember to post on social media and other marketing channels to get the word out as much as possible before February 3rd.

What are your business’ plans for Super Bowl?

Valentine’s Day Restaurant Marketing Ideas

Ahh Valentine’s Day – the holiday of love. Some people, well, love it and some hate it. Still, it’s a popular day for dining out for many people, whether on a date or celebrating anti-Valentine’s Day with friends. You should be thinking about your restaurant’s plan for marketing your holiday offerings to ensure you have a full house of diners.

Today, we’re giving you some Valentine’s Day marketing ideas to think about ahead of February 14th.

Let’s Discuss the History

We all know Valentine’s Day is about love, hearts, Cupid, and those cute little cards you used to get in elementary school. And you may know something about the history of the holiday, which is steeped in hearsay, traditions, and legend. The origins aren’t clearly set in stone, but historians believe it began in pre-Roman times. And no, it wasn’t about romance; in fact, there was a lot of blood and gore.

Lupercalia, a traditional Roman festival, took place in Rome in February with the purpose of evil spirit cleansing. There were animal sacrifices and other rituals that went along with it. Years later, St. Valentine, a Christian martyr, was executed by emperor Claudius II for helping Christian couples wed. I guess you could say he died in the name of love…

Today, the likes of Hallmark and American Greetings, along with other candy and gift stores everywhere, have capitalized on the holiday, turning it into a celebration of love. And people have been persuaded to use February 14th as a proclamation of their love; people in the US spend around 19 billion dollars on the holiday. Although some couples might choose to cook at home on Valentine’s Day, a lot of people will be heading to restaurants for a special night out.

Below are some ideas to help you spice up your Valentine’s Day offerings at your restaurant.

Incorporate Heart-Shaped Menu Items and Colorful Influences

It’s not everyday you see a heart shaped pizza or dessert, but you do on February 14th. If you’re creating a special menu for Valentine’s Day, think of how you can incorporate the heart shape into your presentation. It’s easy to do and can be achieved with virtually any menu item. A simple cookie cutter can turn a bed of rice into a heart. If you make homemade pasta, you can craft it into the shape. For dessert, create heart-shaped cookie ice cream sandwiches (or let your guests build their own).

Aside from heart-shaped items, create a menu that is unique and colorful. Red, pink, and white are all colors associated with the holiday. Think about how you can get creative with menu items or go extreme and ONLY have food made with those colors. I mean, who doesn’t love a good penne vodka sauce and red velvet cake for dessert?

pasta dish with tomato sauce and tomatoes

Whatever you’re planning, it’s essential to get your Valentine’s Day menu online early. Diners will be weighing their restaurant options and making reservations ahead of time. You don’t want to be overlooked because you’re not offering a special meal or deal for the holiday.

With SinglePlatform, you can create a specific holiday menu to post ahead of February 14th. This way, guests will know that you’re serving a different menu with unique items. This is especially important if your usual a la carte menu won’t be available. You should set expectations so diners know they can only choose from the Valentine’s Day menu for the night.

If you’re doing a set pre-fixe option, be clear about the pricing and all inclusions as well. Plus, as soon as the holiday is over, you can remove the menu to eliminate confusion. To learn more, contact us.

Give Them Something Extra

tray of champagne glasses being handed out

As we’ve said before, the dining experience isn’t just about the meal, it’s about the entire event. Make the visit to your restaurant memorable for every guest by doing something unique. Last year, I dined at Trademark Taste & Grind in New York City for Valentine’s Day. I already knew they had a pre fixe menu, which I was impressed with, but they also had a craft cocktail experience that caught my eye.

cocktail glass with craft cocktail

Of course, there are tons of restaurants in New York City to choose from, but this one added a little something extra, which is why I chose it. And the added touches definitely made the date memorable!

Upon arrival, guests were given a list of spirits and add-ins and asked to design their own cocktail. You could choose something fruity, floral, or spicy, and the bartender would make the drink specially for you.

Plus, they allowed all guests to head over to their sister restaurant, Refinery Rooftop, afterwards for a complimentary champagne toast. With the views of the Manhattan skyline and the impressive decor, it definitely gave the night a special touch.

You can incorporate craft cocktail making into your event, or choose something different that will make guests say wow. A complimentary dessert, a special parting gift upon exit, or a take-home version of the menu with recipes will add an extra element of surprise. Think of ways you can offer your guests something extra on February 14th that will inspire them to come back and dine with you for other occasions.

Ask for Music Requests

vinyl record music playing on record player

There are plenty of sappy love songs out there to make a very long Valentine’s Day playlist for your restaurant. You can, of course, choose the music yourself, but you may also want to get your guests involved. If you’re looking to make things interesting, ask for every guest’s song request when they arrive (or even add a field to your reservation form to compile a list ahead of time).

Load your playlist with all of your diners’ favorites and play the songs throughout the night, or opt to hire a local pianist or live band to cover the songs. You’re sure to get people excited when they hear the song they chose streaming through the dining room; you may even bring back a memory or two for couples enjoying the night at your restaurant.

To take it to the next level, hand out pamphlets with the complete playlist as diners exit. If they heard some new songs they liked throughout the night, guests can always download them later.

Give the Homebodies a Reason to Celebrate

Not everyone likes to go to crowded restaurants to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Some people opt to stay home and cook or order in. Don’t you want to cater to this population as well? If you already have an online ordering system in place, it’s easy! Update your online offerings with any Valentine’s Day specials you have for take-out so customers can take advantage of holiday-specific items. Throw in a free appetizer or dessert to each delivery order to make the experience even better. You can even put the receipt in a restaurant-themed Valentine to keep with the sentiment of the holiday. Attention to detail helps make your restaurant more memorable.

Ahead of February 14th, make sure you’re well-equipped to handle delivery orders as well as a full house in your dining room. Nothing puts a damper on a Valentine’s Day celebration like the late delivery of cold food.

Send an email or text message ahead of time that promotes your Valentine’s Day delivery option. You can get creative with it and come up with a clever communication like “Don’t think dining out is romantic? We get it. Stay in & order your Valentine’s Day dinner from The City Bistro. Oh, and get 10% off your order on February 14th. Now that’s sweet.” The more prepared you are to handle requests, the more successful you’ll be.

Host An Anti-Valentine’s Day Party

friends laughing and drinking during restaurant gathering

If you’re looking to go rogue this holiday, go all out. Instead of the typical romantic dinner, offer up an Anti-Valentine’s Day Party. Plenty of single people will be looking for places to go to hang out with friends and your restaurant could be the hot spot. Make sure you’re marketing your event ahead of time by posting on social media, updating your website, and sending out emails.

If you’re looking to put a funny spin on things, decorate your restaurant in black (it is opposite day afterall). Create a menu with witty anti-love titles, like the Loner’s Lobster Bisque and Pizza Party for One. Craft cocktails with the same sentiments are sure to go over big (Love Potion Number NO, for example).

Ditch the romantic love songs for a more upbeat, fun playlist for your guests to enjoy. Riffing off of the popular conversation hearts, you can even put out humorous conversation cards to get people talking to each other (you never know, your anti-Valentine party may spark a new friendship or relationship). Creating an inviting and entertaining atmosphere can help people who otherwise loathe the holiday to think of it as a way to have some fun.

In Closing

couple cheers with red wine at dinner table

February 14th commemorates love, and is a popular day to dine out for couples, and singles, all around the country. If you want to do something different than your typical Thursday night in the dining room, there are plenty of ways to include special touches for your guests. From unique menu items to decorations and setting the tone, any little element of surprise can help make diners feel appreciated this Valentine’s Day. Doing anything special at your restaurant for the holiday? Tell us below!

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The Ultimate Guide to Restaurant Online Marketing

When opening up a restaurant startup, you’re focused on the location of the building, the food you’re going to serve, and training your staff to ensure they’re up to par. Similarly, you should be narrowing in on your online presence and how to best market your new business. Even if your restaurant has been around for years, its online discoverability should be of utmost importance to you.

However, with the responsibilities and pressures that come with owning and operating a restaurant business, you may be too busy to put a laser-focus on your online marketing and visibility. But, don’t fret. We’ve created this in-depth guide on how to maximize your restaurant’s online marketing so you can start getting discovered by new diners.

The Facts

Let’s start off with some statistical data to put your restaurant’s online presence in perspective.

Did You Know:

93% of people view menus online before dining out

man on computer looking at restaurant menus

It’s true! Think about it – if you were the diner instead of the restaurant owner, wouldn’t you want to know what the menu options were before getting in your car, driving to the location, and sitting down? With the technology available at our fingertips today, there’s no reason why your menu shouldn’t be available to consumers online on search engines and other discovery sites.

There are 260 million searches with some variation of “restaurant near me” EVERY MONTH

People are hungry. Food is the fuel that gets us through each day. It’ll never go out of style. And people are looking for places to dine out, or order in, every minute of every day. And they’re looking for local restaurants for quickness and convenience. You should strive for your restaurant to be discoverable based on menu items, keywords, and location. The “near me” factor isn’t just a coincidence, it’s the result of the customers’ innate yearning for convenience, quickness, and satisfaction.

80% of consumers lose trust in a business if their online information is inaccurate

woman on a tablet

This statistic shouldn’t come as a surprise. Wouldn’t you be disappointed if you were looking forward to going to a new local restaurant and plugged the address you found on Google or TripAdvisor into your GPS, only to arrive at the wrong location? If you give potential customers wrong business hours, an old phone number, or outdated address, you’re sure to lose their trust.

Just these three statistics paint a clear picture of how important an accurate and visible online presence is for your restaurant. And there are plenty of other data points that we’ll get to later. For now, let’s define online presence.

Online Presence

woman in office behind table working on laptop

Sure, at first “online presence” might sound like an umbrella term, too broad to define, or maybe even care about. But, it’s a crucial piece of your restaurant’s marketing pie.

When you heard the phrase online presence mentioned above, you probably said to yourself “yeah, I have a website for my restaurant” or “we have some good reviews on Yelp.” But, just those scattered pieces here and there don’t form a cohesive presence for your brand.

Online presence encompasses all of these elements – your search visibility, your branded website, social media channels, online reviews, your menu, and key business information (name, address, phone number, and hours of operation). All of these online marketing efforts fit together to create a well oiled machine (or, in this case, a beautifully presented dinner plate) known as your online presence.

When pondering your restaurant’s online presence, here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • Is my menu up-to-date across platforms people are searching on?
  • If diners in my area were searching for “restaurants near me” would mine be visible?
  • Does my website encompass my brand’s persona and give customers the information they crave?
  • If someone searches for my restaurant, is the correct business information available?
  • Is my restaurant consistent on the social channels that matter?
  • Do I have a solid strategy for handling online reviews?

I know, I threw a lot at you at once. But, we’ll break all of these elements down throughout this post. Let’s start off with SinglePlatform’s bread and butter, online menus.

Online Menus

old restaurant menu

Some of you may remember the old days, when you’d have to wait until you were in the diner booth or upon the bar stool to be introduced to a restaurant’s paper menu. Just then you’d be able to peruse it for daily specials, entree options, and a list of cocktails. Sure, there was a bit of mystery and surprise to it, but that all fell by the wayside when you scanned the entire menu, front and back, and didn’t find a single item you’d consider eating.

Today, people are hungry for information well before making a reservation or stopping by a taco shop for a quick lunch. They want to be briefed on the cuisine type, menu items, and price before stepping foot inside a place. And they want this available from a search performed on a smartphone or laptop computer.

As a restaurant owner or operator, what can you do to satisfy the masses? It’s simple. Give them the information they want, when and where they want it. But, how?

Online Menu Management

viewing online menus .jpeg

This is where the concept of online menu management (our bread and butter) comes in. Posting your menu as a PDF on your website just won’t cut it. Remember earlier when we mentioned that over 260 million searches are happening for some derivative of “restaurant near me” every month? Couple that with the fact that 93% of online experiences begin with search engines. And what do you get? The realization that brand new customers won’t just stumble upon your restaurant’s website by chance.

Instead, these new customers will find you through search queries on sites like Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Foursquare, OpenTable, and plenty of others. These discovery sites will then either inspire them to make a decision to dine with you, or at the very least encourage them to head to your website to do some more digging.

But, since these are the websites and apps where people are discovering you, you want to provide the pertinent information they’re seeking, like your restaurant menu and business details, right then and there. Don’t risk losing new customers by failing to provide the information they want and need.

The Execution

Getting your menu and essential business information on these sites and apps where people are researching new restaurants is crucial. You can try the DIY approach, but we don’t suggest it (we’ll explain why in a moment).

Yes, you can create and maintain a presence on these discovery sites separately, and we’ve even written up some how-to guides on claiming your business on different sites:

But, when it comes to the maintenance and upkeep of your menus and other business information, time and effort adds up, and boils over, quickly. Not to mention, most of these sites have established strict boundaries and will only work with third party providers when it comes to online menu management.

Let’s Do the Math

calculations do the math

To put the amount of work managing your online presence yourself would entail, we’ve done some calculations. Let’s say you change your menu seasonally 8 times per year and are listed on 20 different discovery sites. If it takes an hour to make all of these updates each time (and it will most likely take longer), you’ll spend over 400 hours a year just updating your menus online!

And that doesn’t even factor in the time spent checking the accuracy of your business information on all of these different sites and apps. Let’s face it – no busy restaurant owner has time for that.

Working with a menu management company takes the responsibility off of your plate by doing the work for you. It’s our job to get your menu and other information across a vast network of search, travel, review, social, and navigation sites and apps.

Plus, companies like SinglePlatform make the manual updates for you. You just send us your new menu by email, text, fax, or carrier pigeon and we do the rest. And we also push data to these sites on a daily basis to ensure your information isn’t overwritten by unverified sources.

Take a look at what our customers have to say:

Midtown Cafe

midtown cafe breakfast food

Randy Rayburn, owner of Midtown Cafe, is a SinglePlatform customer. He changes his menu seasonally and needed a better way to manage his menus online. Randy said,

“SinglePlatform has been a valuable tool in growing my business. It is critical for updating our seasonal menu changes to our existing clients and potential guests.”

Mandolin

mandolin raleigh charcuterie

Mandolin of Raleigh, North Carolina’s owner, Sean Fowler, echoed similar sentiments. Mandolin has their own farm on-site and is also a seasonally-driven restaurant concept.

“Our menu changes constantly, so it would be next to impossible to keep it up-to-date everywhere. SinglePlatform takes care of that.”

For more information on how we can help you, get in contact with us today! But for now, let’s move on to our next topic, the “near me” factor and searchable content.

Online Searchability

woman in a cafe on her phone

You’re well-aware that your menu needs to be in the places people are searching. But, this goes deeper than just having it available to prospects. Having your menu available as searchable content is key.

Menu management companies will get your menu into this digestible format so you can be discovered for specific menu items. I’ll quickly break down how this works.

Search engines, like Google for example, love searchable content. They have “crawlers” which are Internet bots that are constantly searching the Internet in order to index web pages. These bots are looking for relevant keywords and information that will point Internet searchers in the right direction when searching for something specific.

Let’s say your potential customer is craving spaghetti. They’ll search for “spaghetti near me.” If you have that item on your menu, and are in a reasonable proximity, you’ll be found for that menu item because your menu items are crawlable.

From there, researchers can easily navigate to your online menu or seek directions to get to you.

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singleplatform restaurant menu gigino italian food menu

If your menu was just living in a PDF format on your website, you wouldn’t appear in these menu item based results. PDFs are difficult for crawlers to read and index, which means you’re losing opportunity to be discovered.

Being discoverable through searchable content is a must, especially when millions of “near me” searches are happening month after month.

So you’ve worked with a menu management company to get your menu distributed online, way to go! What’s next? Let’s talk restaurant website.

Your Restaurant Website

cafe owner on laptop

Websites were a novelty in the late 1990s, but are nothing short of a requirement now. I know we’ve talked a lot about your online presence outside of your own website, but it matters too!

Think of your restaurant’s website as a customer’s virtual look into your storefront. I’m sure you keep your dining room tidy, have added decor to boost your curb appeal, and make sure your staff is both friendly and informative. Your website is your chance to do just that online; show off your brand, let people know what your restaurant is all about, and provide information people care about finding.

[Looking for easy ways to create a stellar website? Click here.]

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The importance of your website comes after someone has already discovered you via search. Or, if it’s a loyal customer, she may head straight to your site for the updates she’s seeking.

Regardless of who lands on your homepage, you should always make sure your website is up-to-date with the latest menus, has appealing photos of your restaurant and food, and clearly communicates what you offer. Customers and potential guests will appreciate your understanding for sophisticated web design that clearly lays out the essentials.

You should also focus on your restaurant website’s SEO, which will help boost your online visibility and rank in search results.

What is SEO?

seo

[SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It’s defined as the process of affecting the online visibility of a website or a web page in a web search engine’s unpaid or organic results. Basically, SEO helps your website rank higher in search results.]

A few ways you can rank higher in search results using SEO is using relevant keywords (like chicken tacos and margaritas if you’re a Mexican restaurant offering those items), having content on a blog, and linking to outbound sites. To learn more, read the blog we provided a link to above.

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And don’t forget about your website being mobile-friendly in order to be easy-to-use for everyone, whether they’re searching on a desktop or smartphone. Consumers spend more than 5 hours a day on mobile phones and 63% of online traffic is from mobile. If your website does not load properly or is too slow to load on mobile phones, you’ll quickly lose the attention of potential guests, leading them to close out of your website and go elsewhere.

That probably seemed like a long to-do list for your restaurant’s website. And you’re right, it was, because like we’ve said plenty of times before in this post, online presence matters!

The Execution

Don’t worry, building a website doesn’t have to be difficult. There are plenty of companies that offer easy-to-build websites using drag and drop features. SiteBuilder, Weebly, and Wix are just a few examples. If you have a larger marketing budget, you can hire a web designer to do the work for you. Do some research, check out designs, and calculate the costs to decide which option is right for your business.

Or, you can enlist a company like SinglePlatform to take the job on. We recently launched SiteSync, which allows us to help you build your perfectly branded business site, and ties in with the rest of our SinglePlatform features to create an impressive brand presence. It’s an easy and cost-effective way to ensure you’re representing your restaurant right!

I think it’s about that time to get social. Read on for the importance of social media for your restaurant and how you can execute an effective social marketing strategy.

Social Media as a Marketing Tool

instagram restaurant marketingChances are you’re already using some social media channel to market your business. And if you’re not, you should start right now! Social media is a driving force, with billions of people accessing these platforms everyday. But, that’s not to say that you should create a handle for every single social channel out there. For a hospitality-driven business, some channels are better suited than others in order to drive brand visibility.

Regardless of what social channel you’re exploring, make sure to create a voice and personality for your restaurant brand. Social media is called “social” for a reason; you want to be conversational, fun, and human. Don’t be stiff or standoffish on platforms that are all about interaction and personality. We talk more about social media advice in our Are You Making These 5 Restaurant Marketing Mistakes blog. Check it out!

For now, let’s explore the social platforms your restaurant should be utilizing.

Facebook

Facebook is a no-brainer for your restaurant business. With 1.47 billion (yes, BILLION) daily active users, it’s the most popular platform out there for all age brackets. Plus, Facebook has robust capabilities for you to create a business page to keep customers in-the-know.

Besides allowing for your basic business information and photos, you can place a call to action button at the top of your page for customers to contact you with a click of a button. Facebook also lets customers post reviews and check-in with geotagging.

Easily post updates about specials, events, and new menus as well. Spoiler alert – you can do your Facebook social scheduling and posting through SinglePlatform’s revamped Social Media 2.0 tool.

Facebook Ads

Facebook has advertising capabilities to help you reach targeted audiences in your area. After identifying your target customer, you can create an audience within Facebook, set a budget, and come up with your creative for the advertisement. From there, track the performance to see if the ad is worth continuing to run. You may have to make some tweaks in order for it to resonate better with your audience.

Facebook also allows you to place a Facebook pixel on your website so you can track who has visited your website and do some retargeting to them.

To get some more insight on advertising with Facebook, check out their success stories.

Instagram

Instagram has 500 million daily active users and 1 billion monthly active users. The photo-centric platform is known for hosting aesthetically pleasing images and viral videos that are discovered with the use of hashtags and geotags.

Instagram is an ideal social channel for restaurants because of the popularity of food photos. The hashtag “food” has about 300 million posts associated with it! Use this to your advantage and make your photography an integral part of the storytelling of your brand.

instagramming a restaurant dish .jpeg

Plus, images on Instagram get 23% more engagement than those on Facebook. And brands (like your restaurant) get 10x more engagement on Instagram than on Facebook.

Instagram Tips

Instagram is a great discovery tool for your restaurant. Here are some tips to help you #win the Instagram game.

  • Post Often
  • Use Geotagging
  • Only Post High Quality Photos
  • Have a Branded Account
  • Use Relevant Hashtags
  • Interact with Followers
instagram photo restaurant.jpeg

Encourage guests to geotag any photos taken at your location so their followers, and other Instagram users, can discover you in other places than just your branded account. Make sure to post high-quality photos that will inspire people to engage. Blurry, unappetizing photos won’t get you much traction.

Post consistently to keep followers engaged, use appropriate hashtags for discovery, and utilize features like IGTV and Instagram stories. If you don’t post often, your content won’t be seen regularly by your followers.

Remember, you’re utilizing Instagram to tell your restaurant’s story. Don’t leave followers in the dark by ghosting your account. And don’t ignore followers, either! Engage by responding to comments and following users back. Get creative by testing out different concepts for photos and see what works best for you.

Instagram Ads

Gone are the days when Instagram was a photo sharing app in its infancy. Today, Instagram’s power is leveraged as some of the most powerful advertising a brand can do. If you have the budget for it, test out Instagram ads. Set target audience and location parameters to make sure your content is targeted to the right audience. This will help you reach a larger audience outside of your follower base, thus increasing your online visibility.

Twitter

Although Twitter is less popular than the aforementioned social sites, you should still consider it as part of your social strategy. With 335 million monthly active users and 500 million tweets occurring per day, there’s still some action to be seen. We suggest using Twitter primarily as a customer service resource for your customers. Monitor the platform to see if guests are tweeting at you about any issues or concerns they have. You can quickly respond and address any issues right there.

Twitter

Of course, you should also keep guests in-the-know about any menu updates or events with Twitter. You can use SinglePlatform’s social tools to schedule recurring tweets, which is perfect if you’re running weekly or monthly specials. 74% of Twitter users say they use the network to get their news; become a news source for your patrons by keeping them informed about what’s going on at your restaurant.

So that just about covers it for the social segment of this online visibility guide. As mentioned, if you have any questions about how SinglePlatform can help you achieve your social media goals, contact us! We’d love to hear from you.

Next, we’ll talk about online customer reviews and how to handle them in order to manage your restaurant’s reputation.

Online Reviews and Your Restaurant’s Reputation

woman on laptop looking at online reviews

Online customer reviews of your restaurant are inevitable. Today, review sites are soapboxes for customers wishing to voice their opinions. And reviews are treated as the modern day word-of-mouth, with people reading an average of 7 reviews online before making a decision.

Clearly, online reputation management is a must. Although you may not be pleased with all the reviews your restaurant receives, the unsolicited feedback can’t exactly be stopped. Although you can’t prevent reviews from being made, you should have a plan for addressing them, positive or negative.

Positive Reviews

Let’s focus on the positives first. Do you need to respond to positive reviews? We actually wrote a blog about it that you can check out here. The short answer is, yes you should. When people post reviews, they do so because they want to be heard. And the worst thing you can do to your customers is ignore them!

And this makes sense! Positive reviews are essentially free advertisements for you. In fact, 73% of consumers trust a local business more after reading positive reviews, so these reviews can be the deciding factor of whether someone chooses to dine with you or not.

Spread the happiness around by responding to your happy customers. When responding to customer feedback, try to tailor it to the comment that was made; customers will catch on quickly if they see you posting the same scripted response. Of course, you should come up with generic responses that can be used, but try to alter them to make them diverse and personal (address the reviewer by name when possible). Your customers will appreciate that you took the time to acknowledge and respond to them.

Negative Reviews

Negative reviews are elephants in the dining room, you just simply can’t avoid them.

Let’s face it, not everyone is going to be 100% pleased with their experience at your restaurant every time. And that’s alright, as long as you know how to handle the situation. This takes us back to the age-old notion that the customer is always right; it remains true even after they’ve furiously pounded on their keyboard to leave you a scathing review.

Don’t just ignore negative feedback and pretend it never happened. Face it head on, address the situation, and do what you need to to make it better.

Some quick tips on handling negative reviews:

  • Be prompt, don’t keep an angry customer stewing for too long
  • Be kind and apologetic, not defensive
  • Add personalization, address them by name
  • If you’re going to offer a discount, do so offline (ask for an email or phone number)

For more tips on handling negative reviews, check out this blog.

SinglePlatform’s Review Monitoring & Review Intelligence

Online reviews about your restaurant exist in multiple places – from Google business reviews to TripAdvisor feedback, to Yelp reviews and content on OpenTable. It may seem overwhelming to have to keep tabs on each review on each site. But, we’ve got something to help you with your online reputation management. SinglePlatform’s Review Monitoring & Intelligence tools were created with business owners in mind.

Review Monitoring

review monitoring

Our Review Monitoring solution gets all of your online reviews in one easy-to-use management system so you can monitor customer feedback from all around the Internet. Plus, we alert you via email when a new review is posted so nothing slips through the cracks.

Filter reviews by publisher source (for example, if you only want to focus on TripAdvisor reviews) or star rating (to only focus on your one star reviews).

Review Intelligence

review intelligence

We also take online reputation management a step further with Review Intelligence. This technology allows you to filter reviews not only by star rating, but by category so you can gain additional insights on what you are stellar at and which areas of your restaurant are in need of improvement. Categories, like Food & Drink, Service, and Atmosphere, can provide you with laser focus on your strong points and weaknesses. An overall star rating by category also gives you a quick snapshot on how you’re doing in each category. Having this information lets you make business decisions faster.

Want to learn more? Head to our features page and get in touch to discuss how we can help you take control of your restaurant reviews.

Tying it All Together

restaurant online marketing .jpeg

You did it, you made it to the end of The Ultimate Guide to Restaurant Online Marketing. We hope you’re feeling more informed and inspired to get your restaurant in front of more customers to win more business!

After taking all of that information in, you may also be feeling overwhelmed. Truth be told, the breadth of your online presence is quite large;  it encompasses everything from having your menu searchable online to keeping up with various social channels (and everything else in between!) Although creating a solid online presence for your business is a large undertaking, it is essential to the growth and prosperity of your restaurant.

Luckily for you, there are companies and resources out there to help you along the way. And if you want to take baby steps to make incremental improvements, that’s okay too.

Getting Started

You can start off by doing your own QA of your online presence. Perform queries on search engines to see what information about your restaurant is available, take a look at your online reviews, do an in-depth analysis of your website, and check out the current state of your social media accounts. Knowing the current state of all these elements will help you better plan for the future.

abstract modern restaurant.jpegOf course, we believe that getting your menu and other business information in the places people are searching is the most crucial part of your restaurant’s online marketing. This is what truly influences your business’ online visibility to new customers.

If you’re ready to get seen by 4x more diners, we invite you to get in contact with us today! We’ll show you an in-depth look at our product and services and what they can do for you. Request a demo to begin!

If you’re still at the forefront of your journey to a better online presence, take a look at some of our other blogs. We’ve got tons of restaurant marketing tips, industry trends, and other advice for you to gain more insight.

Here at SinglePlatform, we wish you the best of luck in the future success of your restaurant business!

3 Winter Brunch Ideas to Use at Your Restaurant

Brunch. Do your ears perk up just from hearing the word? This bridge between breakfast and lunch is a weekend dream and a popular social outlet for friends to catch up over eggs and mimosas. If your restaurant offers a brunch option, you already know it’s a great way to rake in some extra profit before the weekend dinner rush.

But, just like anything else in your restaurant, you want to keep your brunch fresh and exciting to inspire repeat business. We’re giving you three winter brunch ideas to use at your restaurant this season.

The History of Brunch

outdoor restaurant with customers ordering brunch

Before we dive into some winter brunch ideas, I’ll give a brief history of how brunch got its start. According to the Smithsonian Magazine, brunch began as a way for families and friends to convene for a meal after church. The phrase “brunch” was first seen in print around 1895, and was described as cheerful, sociable, and exciting (which still rings true today).

Brunch rose to greater popularity in the 1930s when Hollywood’s elite stopped along their train routes for a midday meal. And then, after World War II, it became an activity of respite for both men and women, as more women joined the workforce during the war.

Despite the time period, it’s clear that brunch has always been seen as a way to gather with friends and family, to enjoy a lighter meal, and to take a break from an otherwise busy work week.

And although the brunch rush may be tough to pull off for restaurant workers just coming off of a busy Saturday night, it is a popular treat for consumers who are willing to pay for the experience. Plus, as mentioned, it’s a great way to bring in additional revenue to your restaurant.

Winter Brunch Ideas

Alright, now that we’ve covered the history, let’s dive into the ideas! How can you warm up your brunch offerings for winter? Here are three ways:

Introduce New Menu Items Inspired By Cooler Temperatures

butternut squash soup with bread in a bowl

Releasing new menu items gets your customer base excited to try new things. Quarterly changes to your offerings help to keep your brand fresh and allows you to incorporate seasonal ingredients. Although you may have core brunch items you want to keep year-round, like a signature omelette or classic pancakes, try swapping a few dishes out for something more winter-focused.

A warm oatmeal bowl filled with hearty fruits and grains is a healthy option to include for the colder months. French toast with a winter compote of pomegranate and mascarpone puts a new twist on a classic breakfast order. And to incorporate lunch items, introduce a new soup and sandwich combination with classic flavors like tomato bisque paired with a turkey and cranberry club, or an Italian wedding soup with a pesto chicken panini.

To sweeten the brunch deal, you can even throw in a free offering to each table. A warm loaf of bread or basket of muffins can help appetize your guests and give them a glimpse of the deliciousness that will come next. Plus, it’s a low-cost way to provide more value to the meal.

Swap Mimosas and Bloody Marys for Winter Warmers

wooden table with cider and coffee on display

Okay, maybe you don’t want to get rid of the classic brunch cocktails completely, but add a few more to the list that are season-specific. If you serve bonafide brunchers, they’re probably tired of drinking traditional mimosas each week. Keep your loyal clientele engaged and excited. Change it up with a pomegranate champagne punch, a hot toddy, or some mulled wine to soothe the soul. These flavors won’t appeal to everyone’s palette, but you still have your tried and true backups to satisfy the rest of the crowd.

Punches and ciders are great for bottomless brunches because they can be batched ahead of time and served quickly. With table turns and a limited time frame in mind, you want to be as efficient as possible. Plus, no guest likes an empty glass, especially when they’re being timed.

When it comes to non-alcoholic brunch beverages, entice diners with winter specials like peppermint mocha lattes, spiced chai teas, and fun milkshakes like marshmallow and dark chocolate. With enough variation, there’s something appealing for everyone.

Bonus Tip: If you already have a loyalty program, consider making brunch part of it. For every weekend brunch attended, your guests can get points. After a certain amount gained, they can enjoy a free brunch entree on you!

Entertain the Crowd

live band performing at a restaurant

Introducing new types of entertainment keeps customers engaged during the meal. This varies with each restaurant concept, of course, but there’s sure to be something to fit every atmosphere. People who are dining out want the full experience, not just a simple meal. And attending brunch definitely proves that. Guests don’t just join you because they want a few eggs; they come for the unique menu offerings, the ambiance, and the chance to get together with family and friends.

You can take your brunch to the next level by securing recurring entertainment. Scour the surrounding area for an impressive local band and feature them throughout the winter. Maybe you want to make your brunch a DIY craft gathering; invite guests to make a different take-home treasure each week, like a wall painting, a planted pot for spring, or a signature winter cocktail with a recipe card. Something that they can bring home with them will help them remember the awesome time they had at your restaurant.

DIY flower jars with potted plants

If you’re a family-focused establishment, consider hiring a children’s entertainer, balloon-maker, or caricature artist. If you’re a sports bar or a brew pub, make sure the sought-after weekend sports games are streaming. On the higher end of fine dining? A simple cellist or pianist can help set the tone.

Even something as simple as a brunch raffle to win a restaurant gift card or branded item basket can get your crowd excited about your restaurant. Ask all brunch attendees to throw a name and email address into a hat. Announce the winner via email each week. This is a great way to stay engaged with your guests after the meal.

In Closing

aerial view of a brunch spread with juice pancakes eggs and chicken and waffles

Brunch is a popular meal with a long history. And it’s also a great way to earn some extra profit during an otherwise slow time of day. If you offer brunch at your restaurant, you should always think of ways to keep it fresh and appealing. Whether it’s a new seasonal menu or incorporating creative entertainment during the meal, there are plenty of ways to keep customers coming back for brunch.

9 Tips to Write Engaging Restaurant Blog Posts that Increase Sales

Blogs can be a powerful marketing tool for a restaurant. We talk about them in our Content Marketing 101 blog as well. When people are looking for a new restaurant to try out, they turn to the internet. Blogs are great for showing off what your restaurant does best, whether that is featuring fun events, new items, great photos of your food, or stories from staff and customers.

Here are nine tips to write engaging restaurant blog posts that increase sales.

Plan It Out and Post Consistently

“You should have a plan before you begin posting. Don’t just write about what you feel like, do some research and see what keywords and phrases your customers are using online. Once you’ve got some ideas and are ready to begin posting, be sure to post at a pace you can maintain consistently,” recommends David Behling, food blogger at EliteAssignmentHelp.

Once a week is a sensible starting place for a restaurant blog. Don’t worry if you feel like you have more things to say, you can always write posts and then have them set live later on your schedule.

Talk About Recipes

People are always searching online for new recipes and having yours available can be a great way to get some buzz and some new patrons. Not only does this give you a chance to brag about your amazing cuisine, you’ll also get to help out a potential customer. Give them a taste of what you’ve got to offer and then just wait for them to come in and try out the real deal.

Consider Local Interests

“Blogging about local-specific interests can be a great way to make your restaurant stand out. Think about some local foods and traditions and integrate them into your menu,” writes Jane Smith, content marketer at BigAssignments. People love an establishment that takes pride in its community, and they also love unique takes on local niche foods.

Write About Special Events You’re Opening

People are always looking for a fun new event to attend, and it’s not always easy to find one. Plan out some fun events at your restaurant and then write about them in your blog. Not only will your regulars love it, but you’ll get some new fans once the event is over. One good way to approach this is to write a blog post with the top five things to do in your town, and then have your event as one of those ideas.

Feature Your Employees

It never hurts to ask your employees for ideas on what to blog about. Spend a few minutes picking their brain and you’ll probably get some new ideas and perspectives. If they’re open to it, ask them what they like best about the restaurant or even just what they like to do for fun. Most important of all, ask them what their favourite dish you offer is. Your customers will love getting to know the people that make and serve them their food, and your employees should have fun too.

Answer Common Customer Questions

Keep track of the most common questions you receive from customers, or better yet, ask for some feedback on your social media. Make a post or two in which you answer these questions. Ask your staff for their input as well, they are the ones who interact with your customers and have their finger on the pulse. For every person who asks a question in person, there are many who are wondering about it, or asking online, so these kinds of posts can be very helpful.

Feature New Menu Items

People get excited whenever there is something new, especially when one of their favorite restaurants has something new on the menu. If you have a new menu item, be sure to share it on your blog and create some buzz.

Write about the process and inspiration that went into creating the new dish. A blog about a new item is also a great way to remind old customers why they loved your restaurant in the first place and will inspire them to pay an overdue visit.

Make Your Blog Visually Appealing

The way your blog looks matters. It’s best to go with a clean, simple design that doesn’t distract from your writing. If you have an established look then try and keep your blog consistent with that.

One of the most important aspects of a restaurant blog is having quality visuals. Don’t just describe your food, post appealing photographs of the dishes you’re talking about. Did you just host a really fun event? Put up some photos and prove it. Don’t forget to include photos of your restaurant full of people enjoying themselves.

Use Some Online Resources to Help Write Your Blog

Before you get cracking on those restaurant blog posts, you need to make sure your writing is as good as it can be. These online writing tools can help you improve the quality of your writing:

  1. ViaWriting, WritingPopulist, and Grammarly – If you find grammar a difficult thing to grasp, you’re not alone. These grammar resources can help make sure you’re not leaving any grammatical mistakes in your posts.

  2. Essay Writer and UKWritings – These online proofreading tools, suggested by UKWritings review, will make your editing process a whole lot smoother and easier.

  3. AcademAdvisor and StateofWriting – Check out these blogs and read through their useful writing suggestions. It never hurts to mix things up and try out a new strategy.

  4. EssayRoo and BoomEssays – Try out these editing tools and see how much better your blog posts are as a result. They are dependable and have been reviewed at AustralianReviewer.

  5. MyWritingWay and LetsGoandLearn – Use these writing guides and make sure you are following a complete, well-rounded writing process. Good writing takes time and effort, so it’s good to use a guide.

Conclusion

Blogs are an amazing way for restaurants to inform people about what they have to offer, as well as build buzz and excitement. They provide a great platform to do things such as answer FAQs, announce new menu items and events, share recipes, and post photos of your venue and dishes. Follow these nine tips to write engaging restaurant blog posts that increase sales.

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