Your restaurant won’t survive and thrive without a consistent stream of customers. No matter how much time and effort you pour into making your social media profiles look good, a business without customers is doomed.
The idea behind customer acquisition techniques is to shift the focus from random marketing campaigns and instead create a system which will attract and retain customers.
Ultimately, it’s all about sustainable growth. Here're our top 6 strategies you can start to input today, to ensure long term success.
Understand Short-term vs Long-term Acquisition
Businesses often adopt short-term marketing strategies in an attempt to bring in new customers. At first, this can seem fruitful but eventually the initial spike in business drops. Therefore, it’s imperative to think long term when it comes to marketing strategies. Long-term strategies can include the following:
Rewarding with Loyal
Repeat customers tend to spend more than new customers and reduce the cost of marketing. If your business isn’t currently rewarding regulars, it’s time to change that. This means ensuring there are certain strategies in place to retain customers - strategies should include a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, which sends out birthday emails for instance.
This can also lead to implementing loyalty programs, or an app designed to entice customers into returning again and again, or motivate them to order more.
Understanding Incremental Bookings
Incremental bookings are those you make on top of the bookings you are likely to receive regardless. For example, a usual Saturday evening might have 10 reservations but after a recent marketing campaign, this has shifted to 12.
Knowing where your incremental bookings are coming from is a great way to work out which avenues are bringing in the most customers and worth the cost incurred.
Using Your Indirect Channels to Understand Potential Causes of Incremental Bookings:
- Social Media
Social Media plays its part in marketing when it comes to restaurants, Instagram can do a lot for advertising purposes - recent updates to the app allow businesses to provide booking links directly on their Instagram profiles. Trialling different forms of social media posts, or the frequency of posts can help determine whether or not the costs of marketing via Instagram are paying off.
- Stay Away From Third Booking Sites
While booking sites have the ability to help drive incremental bookings, they can use several tactics to get between a restaurant and their customers. They ultimately want your customers to book through them so they can charge a fee.
Third party sites are known to buy AdWords for restaurant names to encourage customers to book via them, rather than the actual restaurant. These sites attempt to entice you by stating that if you align with them, you’ll receive exposure to a larger customer base.
Down the line, they’ll tell you that for your restaurant to maintain its level of exposure, you must pay for promoted positions, or offer coupons and discounts, which can be advertised to customers.
Google Is Your Best Friend
These days people turn to the internet for almost everything and Google offers two of the most important online services a business can have - Maps and Google My Business. GMB provides anyone who searches your business with a full and customisable listing, which can include pictures, ratings, phone numbers and a brief overview of the restaurant. Whereas having your business on Google Maps means it will appear as a local recommendation when customers search for restaurants in that area.
One of the most important features you can incorporate into your Google business listing is the Reserve with Google and Order with Google buttons. These allow customers to instantly make reservations or orders for pick up/delivery within a few clicks, directly off the Google listing.
RWG and OWG offer the ability to track all the bookings and orders coming in via Google. Businesses will have to already have, or be signed up to a reservation booking system, to integrate these features.
Having a target market is the best way to reach the right customers and cut through the fat when it comes to advertising. Social media for example allows businesses to target specific ages, genders, location and even relationship status (which can be important for example, on Valentine’s Day).
The benefit of this method is you are saving money by limiting your advertising to customers who are likely to connect with what you’re selling.
Target marketing like this is not limited to Facebook, or Instagram and although they have their benefits, their costs can run high. Google steps in again here to provide another quality service, which is digital ad campaigns via Google.
It’s imperative to remember when running a campaign to a specific market, that you should be overhauling the whole advertisement. Presentation is important and effective communication, as well as branding, is essential.
Push For Website Bookings
While Google, social media and third-party booking sites can all play their part in obtaining that successful booking, your ultimate goal should be to bring customers to your website. Third-party booking platforms for example, don’t leave much room for letting your brand shine. A restaurant’s website is the best way for the business to truly reflect who they are, what they’re about and the services they offer.
A sure-fire way to make a booking via your website simpler, is by adding real-time reservation widgets - there are plenty of options when it comes to reservation widgets, ultimately whatever works best for your business.
Just ensure everything you do with your website and website booking platforms is also optimised for mobile devices!
In the end, how you want to incorporate these strategies is up to you, but it’s important to consider all of these options, as they will help you weigh up if your current strategies are worth the cost.