The pandemic has brought a change in the restaurant industry. Here are some of the best post covid restaurant marketing strategies to increase your sales.
How The Pandemic Has Changed The Face Of Restaurant Marketing
The restaurant industry has been hit hard across the whole world since COVID. A similar trend was noticed in the UK restaurant market, with the decline in business during the first lockdown.
The year-over-year change of seated diners in restaurants in the UK was 32% on February 20, 2022, as compared to 2019.
The sales dropped almost 90% below the average level, which led to a loss of £25 billion.
The pandemic has also brought a structural change in the global restaurant industry due to the massive shift in consumer habits to order food online.
Google search for ‘food delivery’ hit a record high in April 2020.
Therefore, restaurants can no longer just rely on foot traffic to keep their businesses going. They need to adapt to digitalization and use the latest technologies to be on the top.
Here are some of the best post-covid restaurant marketing strategies followed by the restauranteurs in the UK which helped them to increase their sales volume:
1- Focus On Online Orders
Due to the high risk of contamination while eating at restaurants, customers started ordering food online. Although, the percentage of off-premise sales post lockdown was not as high as it was during the crisis. However, there has been a significant shift to off-premise dining.
The market share of online food shopping is likely to increase from 18.6% to 23.4% by 2024.
In addition, it is much more convenient to order online with just a few clicks than dining in at restaurants. Therefore, catering to the audience who orders food online has become essential to increasing sales.
As a restaurateur, you should be ready to implement changes in your operating system. You can partner with food delivery applications to meet the customer’s demand. You can even develop your online ordering platforms by integrating with open-source APIs, such as POSist.
Besides, you can partner with food aggregators, such as JustEast and Deliveroo. However, the commission charged by these aggregators is on the higher side compared to other online ordering platforms. It is because they bring online orders and help build your presence among the customers. Moreover, they provide delivery staff to deliver food from the restaurant to the customers.
If you run a small restaurant, you can pool your resources with other restaurants in your vicinity to start a delivery service of your own. It will help you to maintain your revenue.
2- Optimise Your Menu
Making the menu compact and customer-friendly is essential to reduce unnecessary inventory costs and make it easier for the customers to order.
Additionally, you need to review the dishes on your menu and remove those not in demand and make no sales. Each dish on the menu should have enough potential to generate revenue. First, focus on value items, then on upselling.
Monitor the emerging food trends in the market, such as clean and healthy food, paleo diets, or plant-based protein.
As per Lumina Intelligence, around 30% of consumers are looking for ways to strike a balance in their diet between animal and plant-based products in the UK. The same report also shows an increase in the trend to offer menu favourites as a vegan option from 2.4% to 5.6% in 2020.
You should be ready to make price adjustments according to market trends and ensure that the items are competitive under the new market conditions. Find the right balance of special offers and high margin dishes, for example, appetisers, slides, desserts, and beverages.
In addition, it is a more intelligent move to expand your restaurant dine-in or delivery services and try catering services. This will improve your revenue, increase the cash inflow, and you will be able to reach a wider audience, expanding your customer base.
Provide catering services to parties, corporate events, charity events, government functions, or any occasion. Introduce a specially crafted separate menu for catering services on the website so that customers can easily access them.
3- Market On Social Media Platforms
You can use social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, to increase your social media presence. Since almost everybody is on at least one social media platform these days, promoting your restaurant will increase your reach.
Around 95% of mobile users conduct restaurant searches using their smartphones. Moreover, around 75% of smartphone users access restaurant info on the go while 33% of tablet users primarily access restaurant content at home.
Therefore, even if you offer excellent food quality, your sales figure will not increase if people do not know about your restaurant.
Your presence on these social media platforms is a must to be discoverable by customers. You could also design your websites stating the details of your services with an option to order online by the customers.
Here are the steps taken by the restaurants to leverage social media platforms:
- Restaurants are connecting with their customers in front of the screen and behind the scene. They take customers to the kitchen through Instagram live and show them how hard the employees are working to deliver hygienic food to their customers.
- They are also reposting customers’ experiences with food and service on their webpage, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
- Restaurants are launching an engagement campaign to let people know about all the facilities they offer.
Therefore, you must use these platforms to reach a wider audience and increase sales.
Here are the ways to better your social media game:
- Optimise your official page to get in front of your target audience and boost posts in their newsfeeds.
- Update your social media handles and provide information, such as open hours, address, and contact details to enable customers to quickly get in touch with you.
- Take online bookings directly through Facebook by adding a ‘Book Now’ button to your page.
- Create events on Facebook that your potential customers can attend.
- Upload images and videos that will get guests craving your food items.
- Use geotagging and hashtagging to capture the attention of new audiences.
4- Use Digital Marketing
Your restaurant website should be on the first page of Google search. It will help you bring more walk-ins and delivery orders.
Digital marketing is one of the best ways to acquire more customers online.
Here are some of the best tips to optimise your restaurant business for the online audience:
- Search Engine Optimization: SEO is one of the top tactics to acquire more organic traffic to your restaurant website. You can leverage SEO to bring in more visitors from local searches on Google.
- Influencer Marketing: Another method is to partner with influencers related to the food industry. These influencers are mostly food bloggers with large followers on different social media platforms. They can promote your restaurant by posting captivating images of cuisines and posting positive reviews about your restaurant on their profiles. Collaborating with micro and local influencers work exceptionally well to expand the restaurant’s reach.
- Email Marketing: Emails remain one of the best ways to generate repeat orders. Email marketing for restaurants is one of the most cost-effective forms of online marketing that help to bring in more revenue. Using content marketing and SEO, you can bring more people to visit your website. You can collect the visitor’s email id and persuade them to subscribe to your email list. Once your email list reaches a considerable number, you can start emailing your subscribers, informing them about the new offers to generate more sales.
- Google My Business Listing: More and more businesses are registering on Google My Business. Listing on this platform makes the restaurant more optimised for ‘near me’ searches. ‘Near Me’ searches are the most common form of searches used to locate food businesses. Ensure that contact details like name, address, and contact number are correctly mentioned on your Google My Business profile. Also, focus on requesting your customers leave reviews and ratings about your restaurant on your Google My Business profile. Better customer reviews will help your business show on top of the Google local search results for ‘near me’ searches.
- PPC Advertising: Another significant channel of restaurant marketing is Pay Per Click advertising. You can partner with PPC advertising agencies to promote your restaurant website with keywords that your target audiences use to find restaurants in your target area.
5- Incorporate Digitised And Cloud Kitchen
Digitising the kitchen helps handle multi channel orders in the minimum amount of time. Handling a large volume of dine-in and online delivery orders can be seamlessly managed to eliminate any discrepancies.
You can use a sound POS system to track every order’s preparation and delivery status. Each procedure becomes systemized, allowing the restaurant to serve more customers, decrease food cost and table turnaround time, thereby increasing revenue.
This system also aids in inventory management, customer relationship management, and personalised marketing, which helps in optimising the operations and ultimately increasing the revenue.
You can also adopt the cloud kitchen model, a commercial kitchen that prepares and cooks food purely for delivery and not to be eaten on the premises.
The global cloud kitchen market is likely to reach $71.4 billion by 2027, with a CAGR of 12.0% from 2021 to 2027.
Another model is the multi-brand cloud kitchen, where several different operators work out of the same space. They use separate work areas but share some facilities, such as storerooms and fridges. Therefore, restaurants can use cloud kitchens to outsource preparation and cooking processes.
6- Experiment With New Marketing Strategies
Restaurants have tried many innovative marketing strategies post-pandemic to attract their customers. Some of the methods have worked exceptionally well and resulted in a drastic increase in sales.
For example, many restaurants have introduced ready-to-make kits to help customers recreate the authentic taste of their restaurant at home.
You can also use this strategy to market your best dishes to the customers and get feedback on the new additions to the menu.
Some restaurants have also started to sell merchandise other than foods and beverages through their websites. This strategy not only helps in generating revenue but also helps in building a brand by selling merchandise with your branding on it.
In addition, restaurants have distributed free food to health workers or other frontline workers.
You can also deliver a thank you card with the delivery as a token of gratitude to your customers. You can also send colour books with every delivery or dine-in, which children can use when schools are shut down.
The Initiative by the UK Government
The flexibility of laws by the UK government and government initiatives like ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ have helped the restaurants’ sales to increase from pre-covid time.
Here is an example of a restaurant accepting ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ vouchers.
The UK government announced a subsidy of 50% on all dine-in at restaurants registered under ‘Eat out to help Out’ from August 3 to 31th of August 2020. It became so successful that some restaurants continued to offer discounts after the campaign ended.
The ‘Eat Out to Help Out program’ was designed to draw diners back into restaurants, cafés, and pubs to reestablish back the hospitality industry of the UK.
Registration for the program began on July 13, and as of August 23, there were 84,000 registered individual restaurant premises across the UK. The value of the claims reached that point totalled £336 million.
The government earmarked £500 million for the project, scheduled to run in August. Overall, the program was reportedly well-received by the public and the hospitality industry itself, with restaurateurs quick to reclaim their money from the government initiative.
You can run such programs for your restaurant to bring more customers to your restaurant.
Covid has changed the way traditional restaurants have been working. Post covid restaurateurs have understood the significance of being digital and using digital marketing tools and platforms to promote their business.
Restaurateurs have taken steps to expand their business from a dine-in model to a delivery model for the survival of their business. They have relied on the power of social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat and learned to use them for promoting their business.
Some businesses have worked together in these challenging times for their survival. They have updated their operation to fulfil all covid norms. Finally, with the support of governments initiative, new-age marketing, and optimization of their process, the restaurants have performed exceptionally well post-pandemic.
If you are looking to acquire more customers online for your food business, get in touch with Digital Restaurant.