Effective Digital Marketing for Food & Beverage Businesses

By Evander Lim

Given the rise of online food ordering and review sites, coupled with a saturated business environment, these are some effective digital marketing strategies that can be used to increase traffic and profitability.


Build a Geo-Specific Digital Marketing via Competitive Analysis

Before any food and beverage owner markets their own brand, it is important that they conduct a market analysis so that they can understand the different types of tactics used by their competitors. The background information will help you to come up with creative marketing concepts and presentations for scaling the business. One of these is to use digital marketing for your F&B business because people tend to check out online reviews before making a decision.

In particular, the types of tactics used to reach their customers. This background info will help food and beverage establishments to come up with innovative marketing concepts. One of the most essential involves targeting at people who check out food or restaurant reviews online, at sites such as Yelp, Zomato and even TripAdvisor, prior to making reservations. Review sites influence dining decisions. Almost twice as many consumers reported reading restaurant reviews compared to doctor/dentist reviews, the next popular category. 34 percent of diners reported that information on a peer review site is likely to affect their decision when choosing a restaurant, according to the National Restaurant Association’s National Household Survey. As proven, online reviews can help make your business to a great extent according to Harvard Business School Professor Michael Luca. He found that a one-star increase in a Yelp rating leads to a 5 percent to 9 percent bump in revenue. Listing at strategic partner sites such as online reservation site, OpenTable or online food take-out sites, SkipTheDishes and Nomme, will also provide you with more keyword search referrals to your website. OpenTable, in particular, is a leading provider of online restaurant reservations that allows sharing of dining experiences. About 24 hours after dining at the restaurant, customers will be invited via email to provide their feedback.

If you have not created a Google Plus and Google Places accounts for your business, start creating one now with important information such as address and contact number listed. This will also boost your Google search ranking with geo-specific information. A search on Google or Google Maps also embed a link for “Google reviews” within the listing for your own website.

Email Marketing

Some people may not know how effective email marketing is since it has been around for a long time. Though some people may think this form of advertisement is outdated, it is still a very powerful tool that can be used for many marketing strategies. That said, here are some effective promotional email marketing schemes:

  • Send customized emails to previous customers to get them to return again. Offer discounts and savings for popular food items to get them to return within a specific period of time.
  • To stimulate the taste and appeal, sending out mouth-watering images of the restaurant’s food can help to generate and stimulate cravings for their most popular dishes.
  • Email gives the owners a medium to keep in constant contact with their customers.
  • E-mail diners thanking them for their visit, encouraging them to review your restaurant online. For instance, TripAdvisor offers a free Review Express option that invites customers for reviews. This creates another opportunity for the restaurant to reach out to their customers.

Don’t Forget – Social Media Marketing

People love to share about their experiences on social media platforms, particularly with food! Often, friends and acquaintances comment on their dining experiences on Facebook or their blogs. Therefore, create a social media account at platforms your clients visit (with food pictures!) and let their posts speak for themselves. This also ensures SEO for your business with more referral links to your website. However, this form of digital marketing will require constant monitoring in order to manage your reputation since social media is public. Hence, make sure you live up to your reputation by responding to postings on these platforms in a timely manner.

What about Mobile Customers?

With accelerating smartphone penetrations, consumers are increasingly accessing information on the go, through apps such as Foursquare or Yelp. Searches on Yelp’s mobile app were responsible for 46 percent of all Yelp searches in 2013. As mobile customers are more likely to look for immediate dining decisions, reaching out to them at the right time becomes even more crucial.

Check-in offers a great way to entice this type of customers. Customers can “check in” to your restaurant on Foursquare or Facebook using their mobile devices. You may even provide incentives, such as rebates or discounts, for diners who check-in to encourage revisits and good reviews.

Find Other Digital Ways Of Marketing

Finally, look into the blind spots - platforms that are less popular as compared to Facebook and Instagram, but gaining in popularity depending on target audience, such as blogs, online magazines such as AvenueCalgary, and Q&A sites. You may also collaborate with Zomato (similar to Yelp) that allows restaurants to link to their Twitter feeds and re-tweet posts. Take advantage of any opportunity to drive customers to your site, where you have full control over your messaging. Yelp also helps you track the number of clicks from its site to your website, offering even more useful data to retarget your potential customers.

Start getting creative too! Denny’s include a survey code on their receipts to attract customers to share their feedback, and collect data for marketing purpose. In doing so, customers are rewarded with free pancakes for their next visit! Starbucks and McDonald’s also require guests to log in with their email accounts whenever they are tapping into their Wi-Fi networks, in order to stay in touch with them. All these strategies combined with quality SEO, and SEM services will give your F&B brand the muscle it needs to establish itself as an authority in your territory!