According to Statista, at the start of 2018, there were 86,630 registered/recorded enterprises in the restaurant and mobile foodservice industry in the United Kingdom. If you own one of these enterprises, you have probably spent a lot of time wondering how you can outshine your competitors, especially online.
Let’s Talk About Organic Growth
Just hearing the word "organic" in your line of work probably means big business, especially with the newfound focus and awareness of the need for environmentally friendly practices. Organic means big business for many restaurants if they are appealing to the right target audience. But that's enough about food; let's talk more about this word "organic" and how it plays into your online marketing outcomes.
What Does it Mean to Grow an Online Presence Organically?
"Organic growth" – what does that mean? Well, just like with organic produce farming, organic online growth is the type of growth that happens without the aid of human-made external influences. This means that the smart systems and techniques companies pay for to get ahead online are not used in organic online growth strategies. One of the most significant benefits of organic growth and exposure online is that you do not have to pay for it. As you can imagine; getting organic online growth right requires you to have a certain amount of online marketing skill and know-how. Not everyone has this.
Four Ways to Grow Your Restaurant’s Online Presence Organically
Knowing the tricks of the trade so to speak will undoubtedly get you ahead when it comes to organic online growth, but what if you are not an experienced online marketer? Where do you start? To give you a bit of a helping hand, we have pieced together four things that you can do right now to grow your restaurant's online presence organically. And we are confident that these will work for your restaurant.
Ensure Your Website is Mobile Friendly
Too many restaurant owners overlook the importance of regularly updating their website to "keep up with the times". If your website was created some years ago and you haven't tested it on your mobile phone, you might want to do so immediately. If you want to ensure that you are catering to the needs (or demands) of the modern market, you need a website that is geared towards mobile users. What does this even mean? This means that when a mobile user searches online for a restaurant in your area and clicks on a link to your restaurant's website, it loads quickly, displays correctly, and offers mobile-friendly options on the screen.
If your website is not suitable for mobile viewing, it is almost guaranteed that a mobile phone browser will click on through to another restaurant’s website that is geared for mobile. According to Statista, statistics show that between the years of 2015 and 2019, 95 percent of households in the UK owned and used a mobile phone for internet access. You can guess what they are searching for too; social media platforms, communication accounts, leisure and entertainment options (and that includes restaurants!).
Leverage Social Media
Unlike television and radio, social media platforms allow you to communicate and engage with your target audience on a more personal level. With social media, you can actually develop a more intimate relationship with your customers. People love to feel important, and when their favorite brands and suppliers are communicating directly with them; that is precisely how they feel.
How do you leverage social media? You need to be loading fresh and exciting content to your Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn pages reasonably regularly. A restaurant is a relatively easy business to create hype around. Consumers want to eat out, and they love a good special. They also love to look at high-resolution images of delectable meals. Advertise in-restaurant specials, competitions, and even themed evenings. You can also create a buzz and spread the word by encouraging customers to take a selfie with their friends and tag you while at your restaurant. Nothing spreads faster than a photo of friends having a great time.
Get Your Restaurant on Google Maps
If you have ever used Google Maps to direct you from A to B, you have probably noticed that just below the map you are looking at, there are several tabs listed under a heading called "Explore Nearby." The tabs include restaurants, coffee, groceries, more. When you click on "restaurants" for instance, all the restaurants listed with Google Maps that are nearby will be displayed and plotted on the map. Consumers can even take it one step further by clicking on the restaurant listed on the map to read reviews and see pictures. Of course, if you are not listed on Google Maps, you will be missing out on a lot of potential business, especially from people who are new to the area or passing through (tourists).
To add your restaurant to Google Maps, here are the steps:
- Open Google Maps and ensure that you are signed in to your Google account. If you do not have a Google account, you can easily create one for yourself by following Google's support steps here.
- Zoom in on the map and find the location of your restaurant.
- On the bottom right-hand side of the page, click on the "Send Feedback" link.
- Click on “Add a missing place."
- Then, drag the map marker to the exact location of your restaurant on the map and fill in all of your restaurant's details such as an address, contact details, and links to your website.
- Once you are happy with the details, click “Submit."
And that is it. Google will review your listing, and if all is in order, it will be listed – absolutely free.
Collaborate with Influencers
In the restaurant world, you probably think an influencer has to be a food critic who comes in and rips your menu apart online for the world to see. While that could be one option, it is not the only way of collaborating with influencers. First, determine who your primary target market is. What type of person is spending the most money, the most regularly at your restaurant? What kind of interests do these particular people have?
Once you have an idea of their interests, you can plan to host an influencer that this specific group of people respects. If you have a fine dining restaurant that is aimed at foodies with a discerning palate, perhaps you can host a cooking evening where one of the chefs in the industry puts on a demo or does something interesting. If you have a vegan restaurant, you can host a fund-raising event in the name of the animals and the environment. Of course, these types of events where influencers can be seen at your restaurant need to be documented, spread on social media and tagged.
These are just four ways in which you can grow your restaurant's online presence organically, without having to spend any money at all.