Digital Marketing for Restaurant Brands Part 2

In our first post on digital marketing for restaurant brands, we discussed the six courses you need for successful online marketing. We then detailed how to approach two of those six courses — search engine optimization (SEO) and local listings management — to help you build an effective organic web presence.

Today, we’re looking at courses three and four: pay-per-click (PPC) advertising and social media. Both courses play a crucial role in the overall meal, but they require distinctly different ingredients and skillsets.

PPC Campaigns Deliver Patrons to Your Doorstep

While SEO and PPC both fall under the umbrella of search engine marketing, they are mirror images of one another in a number of ways. SEO is an organic strategy that requires substantial time and effort, yet it pays off with long-lasting results. PPC is a paid tool that delivers immediate, in-the-moment results.

Despite these differences — or, to be more accurate, because of them — a successful search engine marketing strategy will draw on SEO and PPC. Just as two contrasting ingredients come together and accent one another’s strengths, SEO and PPC complement each other to form a greater whole.

PPC can also be used independent of SEO, via display ads or social media ads. When building a PPC strategy for your restaurant brand, you’ll need to look at four important things:

  • PPC Channels. Google AdWords, which is the largest and most popular PPC network, gives you a range of choices for where to feature your ads. Google Search and Google Maps are two of the most popular venues for restaurants, though many also find success through the Google Display Network and through non-Google PPC properties, like Facebook and Instagram.
  • Keyword Targeting. AdWords will display ads to users based on which keywords those users are searching for, so the success of your ads will largely depend on which keywords you target. Finding the right keywords — ones with significant traffic and high-ROI — requires initial keyword research, followed by fine-tuning based on your campaign analytics.
  • Compelling Content. Creating an effective PPC ad is a combination of art and science. As with keyword targeting, it’s important that you track and measure your ads to see which types of messaging resonates most with users. If you’re running a PPC campaign through Google AdWords, ad extensions — which allow you to include things like your address, your phone number, or an app link — can elevate your ad to another level.
  • Targeting Your Audience. PPC networks give users the ability to target users in a number of ways. Two of the best targeting methods for restaurant brands are via device and location. Users tend to use mobile devices for restaurant-related searches, and most restaurant customers can be found within a one-mile radius of the restaurant itself.

Beyond the ads themselves, you will also need to craft effective landing pages and establish a workable system for tracking and measuring your PPC campaigns. Depending on the size and structure of your brand, you may also need to coordinate with individual locations who wish to operate their own PPC campaigns, or who want a degree of control over PPC ads within their territory.

#SharePlates: Cook Up Business on Social Media

Social media is a crucial component of digital marketing for restaurant brands, offering a venue to interact directly with your patrons and establish the voice of your company. Despite the importance of social media, some smaller chains underestimate the challenges presented by social media.

Many make the mistake of not defining and refining heir voice, undermining the image they’ve worked hard to build in other areas. Some oversaturate their feeds with promotional posts, missing the opportunity to build a connection with customers. Others simply miss the mark, using slang in forced ways, making jokes that fall flat, or shoehorning trending topics into their posts.

Here are a few different ways that restaurant brands can build a stronger, more effective presence on social media:

  • Focus on the networks that work best for your business. Right now, Instagram and Facebook are the two most important social networks for most restaurants. Food photography on Instagram is a great venue for generating awareness, while Facebook gives customers one-stop place to check out your business before making a visit.
  • Create a mix of engaging and promotional content. For every promotional post, you should have two to three posts that are focused on engagement. Food photography — the more creative and indulgent, the better — does especially well on social media. Another smart strategy for individual locations is to highlight community events and organizations.
  • Build a strategy for brand-level and location-level accounts. Most social media networks pose an issue for multi-location brands, forcing them to create independent accounts for their corporate brand and individual locations. Facebook, however, make this process easy, offering the ability to create an brand-level page with control location-level pages.
  • Help customers find important information. Facebook has become a go-to source of information for users who are researching restaurants. As such, it’s important that you include detailed information on both your brand-level and location-level pages. Facebook makes this particularly easy for location-level pages, with the option to post your hours, address, phone number, website, menu, and more.

Social media is not only a great place to generate buzz and attract new customers. It’s also an ideal venue for interacting with existing patrons and managing your reputation by soliciting and responding to online reviews.

We’ll be talking more about reputation management in Part 3 of this series. In the meantime, we invite you to savor the above information and digest its importance between courses.