Tips to Utilize Facebook to Drive Your Restaurant Marketing

Social network web site surfing concept illustrationWhat are the different ways a restaurant can advertise through social media?

Social media has been one of the hottest topics in marketing for the last few years and isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.  Having a strong social presence is going to be important for any brand but there are ways to utilize these platforms for your restaurant brand no matter how big or small you are (and no matter your budgets).  Luckily, anyone from McDonald’s to the little mom and pop diner down the street can take advantage of Facebook’s paid advertising offerings.  Facebook offers a multitude of different campaign objectives that are a great fit specifically for restaurant marketing.

Looking to drive restaurant visits?

There’s two great options for you if you’re trying to get consumers into your restaurant – the Store Visits objective and the Reach objective.  Both options give you the opportunity to promote your location, show your restaurant on a map, and have CTAs like “Get Directions” or “Call Now”.  Giving the consumer the information they need to get to your location is a great starting point for driving restaurant visits.

The Reach objective is more focused on driving awareness and reaching as many potential customers as possible while the Store Visits objective is focused on actually confirming that someone who has seen your ad visited your location.  This reporting aspect of this offering isn’t available for all advertisers but can be great validation for your advertising efforts if your brand can take advantage of it.

Looking to drive online orders?

Facebook’s Conversion objective is simple to implement and can increase your reach for online ordering if your restaurant offers that feature.  With the placement of Facebook’s pixel you can gain great insight to some of your on-site metrics and then optimize your Facebook campaign to those metrics.  For example, you can track online orders and pass back the revenue to determine which of your ads is driving the best ROAS.

Outside of tracking purchases, you can also set up the pixel to track any online actions that are important to you.  If you want consumers to visit your store locator once they are on your site, you can set up the pixel to fire when they land on that page.  All of these metrics will be available to you within the Facebook UI to help tell the overall social marketing story for your brand.

Looking for your customers to engage with your brand?

Some restaurants like to focus on getting new page likes, post likes, comments, and shares from their audience and can use the Post Engagement objective to optimize campaigns for these actions.  This starts with having great content to share that people are going to want to engage with.  A timely message around an upcoming holiday or a great image of your top-selling menu item can really resonate with social audiences.

Facebook has a long list of other campaign objectives and is always working to bring new ideas to advertisers so it’s important to stay up to date on new social trends.  In addition to Facebook, all of these objectives are also available on Instagram which is growing in popularity especially among millennials.

About Sean Baker

Sean Baker has 18+ years marketing the restaurant industry. He is the President/ Partner at IMM, a digital ad agency located in Boulder, CO.
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The Potential of Voice-enabled Devices for Restaurant Marketers

Communication with voice assistant in a smart home

How devices like Google Home and Amazon’s Echo are changing the game for marketers.

Burger King has been getting a lot of press recently for their newest ad attempting to hijack Google Home devices. Now, as with anything buzzworthy there are those that liked it and those that hated it.

What I want to highlight instead is that this showed a new level of understanding of the current technology and consumer behavior climate. While it didn’t please all consumers, it definitely triggered a discussion of how brands can better integrate themselves into the Internet of Things (AKA IoT), specifically, voice-controlled devices such as Google Home and Amazon Echo.

According to an eMarketer report from February 2017, while the U.S. consumer ownership of voice-enabled devices is still only about 10% between Amazon and Google Home – there is a 63% awareness of both products.

Additionally, we know from Amazon Echo’s huge holiday sales surge that there is increasing demand for these devices – in fact, eMarketer forecasts that by 2020 there will be 7 million Echoes shipped alone. I think it’s safe to say that you could easily double that to account for Google Home devices to get to 14 million voice-enabled devices sold and activated within the next three years. While still a relatively small percentage of the population, the growth rate is not to be ignored.

But how does that tie back to restaurant marketing? Well, just like how the advent of the smartphone changed how marketers needed to engage with their consumers in a mobile-first environment; Google Home and Amazon Echo require marketers to adapt again and start to think about how to engage through listening and responding with contextually relevant information.

Specifically, restaurants should take a page from Burger King and start to think about how they can better leverage this shift in consumer behavior – albeit with less of a controversial splash.

For starters, getting your online ordering ecosystem integrated with simple voice commands seems like a no-brainer. When you think about it, it is a behavior that is not so far-fetched from how we used to order food over the phone. And it also leans nicely into the convenience factor that typically drives online ordering in the first place. Being a first-mover restaurant brand in this area will certainly help to attract that younger Millennial audience that all restauranteurs are looking to hook, as well as provide another reason for your loyalists to ‘call’ on your restaurant again.

You may also want to move toward ‘quick menus’ – something that is easy for an Alexa or Google to read and tell a consumer as to what the top items are, so they don’t have to feel like they need to open up their computer or mobile phone to check. Thinking forward a bit, these types of integrations will also become critical as systems like Alexa become integrated into the cars themselves, and consumers want to order some dinner on their way home from work.

Ultimately, the potential of voice-enabled devices for restaurant marketers really is boundless at this point, and the door is open for brands to get in there and start doing it right.

About Gina Lee De Freitas 

Gina Lee De Freitas has 15+ years marketing the restaurant industry. She is the Chief Operating Officer/ Partner at IMM, a digital ad agency.
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Reaching Non-Millennials through Restaurant Marketing

Senior Couples out for LunchHow taking a different approach to each generation can help your overall restaurant marketing strategy.

For the last few years, the growing trend among all advertisers has been to resonate with the coveted audience of Millennials. Whether it means focusing on advertising channels where Millennials are active, creating messaging focused on the Millennial lifestyle or highlighting attributes that Millennials find appealing, we’ve all seen examples of brands trying to reach this audience as effectively as possible.

That begs the question though, “What about the rest of the population?” While Millennials make up over a quarter of the U.S. population, that leaves 75% of Americans being somewhat neglected by many advertisers. Luckily restaurant marketers don’t have to completely change their current strategy to reach the rest of the population.

Why you shouldn’t neglect non-Millennials

Recently, Millennials have finally taken over Baby Boomers as the largest adult generation in the United States. There are still large differences in spending power between the two generations and even more differences when you also compare them to members of Generation X (those born between 1965 and 1980). Both Gen Xers and Boomers spend more overall each year than Millennials (who actually spend more on dining out). Now, while Millennials spend a larger portion on eating out than any other generation, there are more dollars to vie for among Gen Xers and Boomers.

Generation Z and why they matter

Another generation to take into consideration is Generation Z (the post-Millennial generation), many of whom are still in school and don’t have much spending power at all yet. However, it’s important to remember that they are the children of Gen Xers (or older Millennials) and are still very impressionable given their young age. Since they aren’t spending their own money, making connections with their parents will have a major impact on their future spending habits. It is expected that Gen Z will be even larger than Millennials in years to come and there is no doubt that marketers will shift their focus to them next.

What to do now

Once you have accepted the fact that ignoring non-Millennials isn’t a great marketing strategy, there are a few options for what to do next. For one, you can use these insights to inform your overall media plan. Gen Xers and Boomers watch more TV and listen to more terrestrial radio, and if your focus has been on Millennials, you’ve likely been focusing on reaching them via mobile devices. This just so happens to be a great way to reach Gen Xers too, as monthly smartphone usage is comparable between the two generations, although Millennials watch more video on their smartphones.

Messaging is another great way to differentiate between different generations. Millennials will want to hear about your unique flavorings (think ingredients like Sriracha) and want to know where their food is coming from. On the other hand, your Gen X customers may be more interested in your classic offerings like burgers but are still willing to try something new. Taking a good look at your CRM data can help you determine what is working for each generation and then you can take next steps from there on how to resonate best with each one.

About Sean Baker

Sean Baker has 18+ years marketing the restaurant industry. He is the President/ Partner at IMM, a digital ad agency located in Boulder, CO.
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Add To-Go or Delivery to Boost your Restaurant Marketing

to go .jpg

Coupling to-go or delivery with online or mobile app ordering opens up an entirely new area of restaurant marketing.

The Goldman Sachs 2017 restaurant sector outlook paints a grim picture for the category. According to their statement, the category headwinds are driven primarily by a decrease in consumer discretionary cash flow from 4.4% to 3.9%. Rising and uncertain healthcare costs, as well as rising energy costs, mean that the typical American diner will have fewer occasions to dine out and will end up spending less because they simply have less to spend.

The full-service chains seem to be most at risk due to the combination of rising minimum wages, potentially higher food costs resulting from reductions in free trade and the decrease of consumer discretionary cash. This has the potential to create a perfect storm for the category.

But how can a full-service chain weather all of those challenges and succeed in 2017? Assuming your operations are running efficiently, you should focus on building a robust to-go or delivery business.

Why does a delivery or to-go business help? First, it helps because you can increase your trade area without investing heavily in additional locations and infrastructure. Second, you will be more convenient for customers who feel like they are saving money by dining at home. Third, to-go and delivery orders are measurably higher than comparable in-restaurant checks.

Finally, coupling to-go or delivery with online or mobile app ordering opens up an entirely new area of restaurant marketing. No longer is success measured in just in-restaurant benefits. Now, it’s about true customer convenience.

There are certainly considerations associated with these capabilities such as delivery driver insurance, ensuring food travel, customization of orders, etc. However, given the substantial headwinds outlined above, the upside is well worth the investment and could be what puts full-service chains in a position to win against fast food.

About Sean Baker

Sean Baker has 18+ years marketing the restaurant industry. He is the President/ Partner at IMM, a digital ad agency located in Boulder, CO.
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The Importance of Search in Restaurant Marketing

search.jpg

How to make the best of your overall search strategy

Google processes over 3.5 billion search queries worldwide every day. These range anywhere from questions about health and history to searches for the latest viral cat video. In large part due to expanding technology, we now live in a world where we constantly “need to know,” “want to go to,” and “want to buy” – and have the ability to do so from our fingertips.

It’s important to have a strong grasp on both your organic and paid search strategy to ensure you are helping your customers find the information they need then ultimately getting them into your restaurant.

Keep Your Local Listings Up To Date

With the growing usage of mobile devices and the ease with which users can search on smartphones, local listings play a critical role for restaurants. Nearly 20% of all searches come from a mobile device and have location intent. It can be assumed that this figure is even higher for the restaurant industry. Users need to know your hours, address, phone number and other information before they can even make their way to your restaurant.

Another local listing factor that can often be overlooked is your restaurant’s reviews. A staggering 88% of consumers say that they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, and your online reviews have an impact on your restaurant’s organic search rankings.

Luckily, there are a number of tools out there to help you wrangle all of the information about your restaurant(s) across a variety of search engines and websites. If you’re strapped for time, Google My Business is a great resource that will allow you to get pertinent information correctly conveyed to consumers searching specifically in Google.

Be There for Hand Raisers

If someone is searching for your restaurant, they likely have intent to visit and should be at the top of the list of people you want to be speaking to. Search ads give you the opportunity to not only speak to that consumer but also drive them to the site content you’ve designated to be most important.

You can also reach consumers looking for generic terms like “restaurants near me” in an effort to gain market share from your competitors by appearing at the top of the search listings (and by spending some money to get there).

The “Need it Now” Phenomenon

As I mentioned before, we live in a world where we need to know everything right this minute. Half of local smartphone searchers will visit a store within a day of making that search. In the restaurant industry, Google sees nearly 50% of restaurant searches happening within an hour of the user going there.

The search process doesn’t stop once a decision has been made, as Millennials especially are known for looking up information about their food while they are in the restaurant.

All of these facts should be making you think more about your search presence in the restaurant vertical, and if you’re really providing the value that consumers are looking for and could be getting from your competitors.

About Gina Lee De Freitas 

Gina Lee De Freitas has 15+ years marketing the restaurant industry. She is the Chief Operating Officer/ Partner at IMM, a digital ad agency.
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Restaurant Marketing: 3 Technologies Restaurants Should Be Running Toward, Not From

augmented .jpgHow restaurant marketers can get in on the technology revolution.

Fresh from CES, our minds are future-focused with dreams of driverless cars and robot house-helpers. While consumer goods are setting the new watermark for modernization, the restaurant industry is lagging behind. There isn’t enough discussion around how the movement in artificial intelligence can impact the future of the dining industry. Restaurant marketing innovation has typically been focused on food and ingredient advances. That thinking is suddenly too narrow as consumer behaviors and expectations are shifting for everything, including dining experiences. It’s time for restaurant marketers to make some bets on technology.

Here are some thought-starters on how restaurant marketers can get in on the technology revolution:

Artificial intelligence
Robots are here. They’re smart, they are fast, and they are reliable. What about beta testing some robots for bussing tables Or how about lending an extra hand to the waiters with things like water refreshes or that extra ketchup request? The pure novelty of getting smart robots inside the restaurant is going to attract current and new diners alike. And, as is always the case with technology, the investment required for the robots is only going to get cheaper over time, ultimately leading to a competitive advantage.

Virtual reality
Until now, VR has been mostly reserved for the entertainment industry, but why should they get to have all the fun?  Do you source your ingredients from Italy? What if you could allow your guests to experience what it’s like to be in Italy and to get a small taste of how the country’s culture inspires what they are going to eat. Or, how about giving your guests the ability to experience the kitchen and see the chefs hard at work?

Augmented reality
Close cousin to VR, and the backbone of the Pokémon Go phenomenon of 2016 and Snapchat filters, AR is here to stay and restaurant marketers should embrace this new technology. Are you a health-focused restaurant brand? What about an app that allows diners to view their food and see all of the ingredients with an AR overlay? How about the ability to play games while in the restaurant and earn points for playing, therefore increasing frequency of visits?

Restaurant marketers must get in on the technology bandwagon to stay relevant in consumers’ minds. The approach you take to integrating new innovations depends on your business strategy, but if you are not considering AI as a focus, may already be behind!

About Gina Lee De Freitas

Gina Lee has 15+ years marketing the restaurant industry. She is the Chief Operating Officer/ Partner at IMM, a digital ad agency.
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Target Millennials With Your Modern Day Restaurant Marketing

millennials .jpgIn a world where Millennials rule, efficient methods of restaurant marketing must cater to a more educated and stimulated audience.

Millennials are driven by creativity and the desire for a personalized experience; look at their Instagram feed and you’ll see the reflection of their ‘unique selves’.

Being the ‘special unicorns’ that they are – a term coined by the Huffington Post in 2013 – Millennial expectations often exceed reality: they feel entitled to quality experiences. Due to this, restaurants need to be constantly putting their best foot forward in terms of appearance and reputation. This all starts internally, within the very walls of the restaurant itself. ”Cleanliness is next to Godliness” has never been more true when looking at the following list of reasons that disparage repeat restaurant visits from these ‘special unicorns’.

Based on a survey conducted by Harris Poll of 2,034 U.S. Millennials, the top five factors that turned diners away from a restaurant were:

  • Dirty surfaces
  • Unpleasant/foul smelling orders
  • Unkempt/dirty restrooms
  • Slippery/dirty floors
  • Entryway/exterior cleanliness

It seems a bit rudimentary that a restaurant would host a clean dining environment, however this is made even more important considering that Millennials love to ‘gram’ their food. With expectations already set for a quality experience, clean dining is monumentally important. Additionally, the décor must also feed into the overall dining experience. By creating an environment that is out of the ordinary, a restaurant can turn dining into an event.

Further, the dimensionality of the dining experience by incentivizing guests to engage with the restaurant through photos. Create a hashtag, repost pictures taken by diners and encourage creativity through individualized recognition on the restaurant’s owned Instagram. Certainly, these ‘special unicorns’ will not be able to resist a restaurant marketing tactic such as this – a tactic that embraces, plays to, recognizes and encourages their creativity and uniqueness.

Creativity can be further played to by capturing the process of day-to-day activities done in the front of house/back of house arenas. Share the experience of the work and passion that goes into the restaurant – share the things guests never get to see and create a real human connection out of the work that is constantly done.

Through utilizing Instagram, restaurants can capture Millennials in real time with authentic content, while also playing to their creativity and sense of special uniqueness. Restaurants are able to further employ individualized attention to their guests through the platform of Instagram by encouraging guests to photograph their experience with the intention of reposting their photo.

About Gina Lee De Freitas

Gina Lee De Freitas has 15+ years marketing the restaurant industry. She is the Chief Operating Officer/ Partner at IMM, a digital ad agency.
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Your Online Restaurant Marketing Can Help Build Lasting Customer Relationships

Cafeteria Good Food Critic Review Tablet Technology ConceptUse social media and online marketing to connect with your customers.

When people hear the word ‘restaurant marketing,’ words like BOGO, table tents and Happy Hour specials start to come to mind. While all of those things are great tools for encouraging your guests to dine with you, they are a one-to-many vehicle for communication.

Here are some really easy and quick ways to start building a personal relationship with your guests:

  1. Social Platforms – Are you present on the usual suspects such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Snapchat?

Social is so rich with information on your guests and what they like and don’t like about your restaurant and the general zeitgeist. Think about surprising and delighting some of your best influencers with their favorite menu item (which you would know because you are paying attention). That guest will be yours for years to come and encourage others to come with.

Try reposting and tagging photos that your customers are sharing of your food. This will show that you are paying attention and appreciate their business.

  1. Email Marketing – Sure, some have shunned their inboxes for short-form texts, but according to eMarketer there are still over 240MM email users with median ROIs of 122% – the inbox is not dead, folks. 

The great thing about email is that your guest has raised their hand and said they want to engage with you on a deeper level. The last thing you want to do is screw that up by offering generic newsletter updates and offers only.

Get personal here – this is an area where your guests are OK with you looking at the data and providing a custom experience. Does your guest prefer beer or hard liquor? Do they have kids, if yes, how old are they? What is their kid’s favorite menu item? Don’t know? Well, there is still time to start down that journey with your guests.

  1. Content Marketing – Today, advertising and marketing is all about exchanging value with your guests. Bring them in to your world by sharing stories and they will likely share some back.

Showcase your staff and their stories – the ‘why’ behind their passion for working at your restaurant. Talk about the chef and the cooks and what excites them about food. Make the experience with your restaurant more than transactional and your guests will view it as a relationship not easily replaced by the cheaper and more convenient competition down the street.

In the current age of digital and social media, one-to-one conversations are happening and if you aren’t already taking advantage of this change in consumer behavior then your competition has probably snuck in and started doing it for you.

About Gina Lee De Freitas

Gina Lee De Freitas has 15+ years marketing the restaurant industry. She is the Chief Operating Officer/ Partner at IMM, a digital ad agency.
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How Technology is Changing Restaurant Marketing

Hand holding mobile with Order food online with blur restaurant

Technology is changing the way consumers order in restaurants.

The world is becoming more and more automated and, as a result, so is the restaurant industry.  Gone are the days of servers taking orders with notepads. Now, servers have digital pads to take orders and send them directly to the kitchen. Some establishments even allow consumers to order directly from their table without needing to wait to place their order with a server.

So, as technology continues to advance, how will the restaurant dining experience continue to evolve as well? Will a robot take your order?

There are several different pieces of technology available now – including everything from reservation apps to table top ordering and more.

Reservations can now be made at the tap of a button with a multitude of apps before they even get to the restaurant. Some restaurants even incentivize guests to book with them by rewarding reservations with loyalty points. This technology allows the restaurants to fit more seamlessly into the consumer’s multitasking, fast-paced lifestyle, while providing value for them.

Continuing to put the consumer in charge of their dining experience is key. Some establishments are now offering the ability to order directly from the table. Forget about sitting there waiting for the server to take your drink or app order. Simply enter your order into the table top tablet whenever you’re ready and “poof!” it’s sent to the kitchen or the bar.

But does it make sense for your establishment?

First, take a look at your guest traffic.

Do you have the volume of traffic to support the technology infrastructure? Are your guests looking for control and quick-turn service or is it more of a leisurely environment? Does it seem authentic with your establishment and the type of service you deliver? Are your guests technologically savvy? These are all good questions to ask yourself before jumping off the deep-end into the pool of technology.

It doesn’t make sense to do them all right away – you have to dip your toe in first. Start with one that you think can most immediately solve a business need.

Is your bartender also taking reservations or hostesses also bussing tables? Maybe start with a reservation or no-wait app and see if that helps improve the customer experience and service time.

Is your hostess also taking drink orders while a line of people wait at the door to put in reservations? Try starting with a table top device to send drink orders to the bar so guests get drink orders faster.

This can also help with table turn times, allowing you to increase yield. Also, because guests can put in drink orders faster, this could potentially increase check size and simultaneously shorten the length of time at the table – which may allow for faster table turnover.

Simply start off with testing the waters of what works best for your establishment and building from there. That way you can stay on top of the technology game and give your customers more control of their experience at the same time.

About Gina Lee De Freitas

Gina Lee De Freitas has 15+ years marketing the restaurant industry. She is the Chief Operating Officer/ Partner at IMM, a digital ad agency.
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Use Your Restaurant Marketing to Drive Online Orders

online orders.jpgHow restaurants can drive additional transactions without actually getting butts in seats

While getting butts in seats is a goal of every restaurant, not all consumers are looking for a sit-down dining experience. Luckily, many restaurants now offer online ordering (OLO) as a dining option. Having a great OLO program can not only drive more transactions for your restaurant, but it can also tailor them to changing consumer needs and bring in new customers. Here are a few ways you can improve your restaurant’s OLO program.

Get the Word Out

Many restaurants don’t make it well known that you can order their food online. With the change of consumer habits, digitally advertising this offering can provide major benefits. There are two approaches you can take here: increase awareness and drive online sales.

First, make sure people know that you offer online ordering – use search link extensions to talk about online ordering, use standard banner ads, find influencers to blog about their OLO experience with your restaurant and more. The options are pretty endless, but the point is that you need to get the word out that you offer online ordering before people will start ordering online.

Once there is some awareness around your offering, use strategic advertising tactics to drive orders. One of the hardest parts of restaurant marketing is proving that it is working and that your efforts are getting butts in seats. OLO changes that because you can attribute orders to the creative, advertising channel and targeting strategy that helped drive that order.

Set Yourself Up for Success

It is important that consumers can easily order online or else you risk turning people away from your OLO program. Your website should mimic the in-store ordering experience and be easy for everyone to use whether they are digitally savvy or not.

Many restaurants are also turning to mobile apps to improve their OLO experience. In an increasingly mobile world, consumers are already well-versed in using apps. It’s important to remember that your mobile app should provide added value to the consumer (save their order for next time they want to make an order, for example) and not exist just because you think your restaurant needs an app.

Offer Delivery

Even though online ordering provides convenience to consumers, there are some people who are going to be looking for an even higher level of convenience through delivery. Currently, most OLO programs still require the consumer to pick up their order in the restaurant. Offering delivery can set you apart from your competitors, but keep in mind that it’s not a profitable option for all restaurants.

Recently, mobile ordering app developers OLO launched Dispatch, an offering that allows restaurants to take advantage of delivery service without taking on the burden of funding a delivery driver.

With Dispatch, restaurants can run their online ordering program exactly as it is today with the simple addition of a checkbox for delivery at checkout. The user then pays ahead, enters their delivery address, and is shown local delivery service providers. The restaurant wins because they can easily take advantage of delivery service through their current OLO site and the consumer wins because they can take advantage of delivery service from more of their favorite restaurants.

So, if you’re thinking about beginning an online ordering effort, or if you already have a program in place, there’s always room for optimization and improvement. Because, after all, butts in seats still count even if they’re at home.

About Sean Baker

Sean Baker has 17+ years marketing the restaurant industry. He is the President/ Partner at IMM, a digital ad agency located in Boulder, CO.
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