We have created this guide to help you succeed with marketing your restaurant or food based business online. The new normal means that you have no choice but to have an online presence to keep up with the ever changing market.
This complete guide will show you how to move away from 3rd party apps to owning your customers and their data and increasing the life time value of a client.
I recently saw an interview on the news with a restauranteur who said that 3rd party delivery apps have always been a “necessary evil”. While I mostly agree with that statement, especially the evil part, I think we as an industry have mostly tolerated 3rd party apps because takeout didn’t make up the bulk of our sales. But, recent events have shed light on the fact that restaurants need to ditch restaurant 3rd party apps for good.
But the bigger question is WHY?
Why have we allowed these tech companies to infiltrate our industry, up-charge our customers, steal our ability to re-market to them and then charge us 30% or MORE? When you break it down like that it sounds ludicrous, right? But, as someone who owns a restaurant, I get it. You want to be able to reach more people, having your own delivery driver is costly and you might not know how to market.
During this pandemic we’ve learned a lot. One thing I know for sure…We MUST DITCH 3rd party apps like Postmates, Grubhub and Uber. We can not let them market themselves as the saviors of the restaurant industry. We need to take back our customers and our money and invest in ourselves and in our own businesses. Right now we are facing the largest crisis that most of us will ever face. So are we going to crumble and fail or are we going to stand up to corporations, educate our customers and come through this stronger and wiser? If you chose the latter, then you’ve made a good choice.
So now that you’ve decided to ditch delivery apps, the burning question is HOW?
BUT BEFORE THE HOW… THE WHY?
We’ve already covered some of the main points but here are 6 simple reasons you should start moving away from 3rd party delivery apps now. In the next section we will break down exactly how to do it.
- They take 30% + of your profit.
- They make money on your phone in orders (it’s true!)
- They up-charge your customers – customers pay between $3-$10 in delivery and service fees that go directly to the apps.
- They constantly increase delivery times to make bigger profits.
- They have terrible customer service- it’s difficult for customers to get a refund and often times they leave negative feedback for you.
- They own your customers – it’s impossible to know who ordered or how to get them to reorder again soon. What if you could easily market directly to your customers over and over.
FIRST STEPS TO DITCHING DELIVERY APPS
STEP 1: Create a way to take curbside/delivery orders without apps. If you don’t have an online ordering system check out our comparison chart below of the top POS systems.
STEP 2: Designate someone on staff or hire someone to do deliveries. (you may need to discuss doing your own delivery with your insurance company)
STEP 3: Create systems and process to give the customer a BETTER experience than they would get from a 3rd party delivery service. Quicker delivery, ETA’s via text, sealed bags, hot food.
START TRAINING YOUR CUSTOMERS – HERE’S HOW TO MARKET
If you asked the average person who orders from Postmates or any delivery service, they would have no idea that these companies take 30% of restaurants profits. They would also have no idea that many times they’re paying more than what they would if they ordered direct.
By making these points to our customers via social media, digital marketing and other channels we can begin to educate them to support local. People appreciate honestly and they want to buy from brands that are up front honest and local.
The main reason people use delivery apps is convenience.
If you give them solutions that are equally as convenient, they’ll chose you.
Here are 5 ways you can easily start to teach your customers the best way to order from you!
STEP 1: Post on social media and directly let people know that by ordering from 3rd parties they’re affecting your bottom line. Tacotarian is an example of someone who get this right. And when they post, they get the exact reaction from their customers (fans) that every restaurant wants.
STEP 2: Place a card INSIDE the bags of 3rd party apps taped to a package that says something like “hey next time support us by ordering from us directly! If you do we’ll give you 10% off” on the card have a simple QR code that links directly to your online ordering system. By doing this your educating them on why they should order from you and even rewarding them for doing it!
STEP 3: Leverage your email lists. Do you use your email list? Chances are probably not. But if you have one use it to send the same information to inform customers why they should order from you and show them how easy it is! You can even insert videos to show them the simplicity of it all.
STEP 4: TALK TO YOUR CUSTOMERS! Wow, it sounds kind of old fashioned right? But it still converts, talking to your customers directly or training your staff to talk to your customers is an extremely effective way of communicating with them. If you see someone picking up a postmates or grubhub order for themselves. Quickly chat with them about how easy your own online pickup and delivery is. Have your cards from STEP 2 handy so they can get their 10% off next time.
STEP 5: Check your sources. Double check that all your listings on yelp and google all link directly to YOUR SYSTEM. Yelp and grubhub are known for teaming up and placing a grubhub number in place of yours so when the customer clicks “call to order pickup” grubhub charges you a commission fee! Sounds unbelievable, but it’s not. you also need to be on the lookout for 3rd party apps using google ads with your name on them. The great part is if you train your customers on the importance of supporting local, they’ll spot delivery apps abusing the system and report them for you. It’s happened to me.
BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE
This wouldn’t be the ultimate guide to ditching delivery apps if we left it there. The above steps are the basic things you can do to move away from apps like Postmates, UBER and GRUBHUB. But, let’s pretend you’re an over achiever and you want to really start marketing your business like a pro. Well, we’ve got some online marketing pro tips for you that will gain you more press, more sales, build customer relationships, more organic traffic and not to mention earn you respect in your industry.
Send out press releases to local news and print media. They love to do stories about corporations taking advantage of the little guy. Use the press to your advantage, they’re free and have high exposure to people that might not be on your social media.
What to write in your press release?
The key to getting your email opened is writing a good headline (aka your email subject line). Create a snappy and eye catching headline.
You will need to include these basics in your Press Release:
Release Date: For immediate release – May 20th 2020 or Embargoed until May 25th 2020
Headline & Intro: Recap your headline plus the why. Keep this to a couple of lines
Body: This is where you get into the meat of why you are sending the Press Release. 1-2 paragraphs
Quote: Include a quote from the business owner or manager. It does not matter if you are sending your own press release. “We are delighted to be able to…We are excited about…” -Mrs. Corral said . It is important to get your key message across in your quote as it will be used in articles. If you can only say one thing about what you are doing, this is where you want to talk about the benefits.
Links, Resources & Contacts: Include links to your website and or resources. End with the media contact information – who should be contacted, Full Name, Position, Phone and Email.
Unsure where to send your Press Releases? Google media outlet plus media desk or contact and you will easily find the email address to contact or submit using online form. Have a time sensitive message? Call the media desk and talk to the guys who talk to the producers.
Media Outlets are looking for feel good stories, especially those that help support local businesses.
Pro Tip: Create an email list and contact information to reuse in your next press release.
Blog, blog and blog. Your google ranking is based on search engines crawling your website. If you don’t have any information on your website to crawl, then you won’t rank and people can’t find you. Try to post 3-6 blogs a month on things that people care about. They don’t have to be only about your food. You can blog about your staff achievements, community happenings, new menu items, owner stories and so much more. Get creative with your blogs and find topics that people want to read about. If you’re not sure ask them! Try doing a poll on facebook to see what readers want to hear about.
Google My Business (GMB)
Utilize Google My Business just like you do facebook. Did you know that GMB offers posting capability. You have the ability to post offers, updates and posts in your GMB account. Prospects and existing customers who land on your GMB page have HIGH intent which means they are looking to make a purchase.
Tips to increase your reach and show up in more local search results.
- Keep your operating hours up to date
- Ask for reviews and acknowledge good AND bad reviews
- Make sure your profile is accurate and complete – phone, website, category etc
- Review your profile often as the general public have the ability to make suggested edits
- Integrate your reservation booking system
- Enable Messaging – allow your clients to message you directly from your Google listing
- Regularly post new photos and videos to your profile
- Enable your Menu feature and keep it up to date. You can only use this option if you don’t have a 3rd party ordering app connected.
COVID-19 brought a lot of details to light, one of them being is that most restaurants realized they do not own their own customer data. Restaurants who use 3rd party apps to take orders you will realise that THEY OWN your customers information like their email address. Building your very own customer database of email addresses is much more than just being able to send emails to your existing clients but we’ll get into that later.
When you start to build your email list or increase your current list what type of emails should you be sending to your customers?
- Let them know your are open for business – dine in, take out, curbside pickup, delivery etc
- Educate your customers. Third party apps are using your customers email addresses to communicate with them and the message they are sending to your customers is that they are supporting your business by ordering through their app. So how do you overcome this? Email your customers and educate them on how you prefer them to order – Facebook Messenger, Website, Phone. Let your customers know how they can best support you by not ordering through third party apps. Be upfront, let them know the commission rates.
- Regular Updates – each time that there is a change in how your business is operating you need to send an email. Send emails when you opening hours are updated, changes in protocol, how you are keeping your customers safe, how you are keeping your team safe. BONUS points: create a video to embed or link to your social media talking directly to your customer about the changes you are implementing.
- Promotional Emails – reward your regular customers with special offers unique to them, free delivery, savings and more. Sending regular promotions will increase your email open rate and therefore your delivery rate will increase. WIN-WIN.
SMS – Text Messaging
Text messaging has the greatest open rate compared to email and messenger with an 82% open rate. Texting has proven to have the most engagement than any other marketing channel. SMS allows you to send simple marketing messages with links to ordering from your restaurant.
How to get your customers to opt in to your SMS marketing:
- During the checkout process ask them to opt in for email and sms offers and updates. They are already providing this information so a checkbox will work nicely
- Individual promotional website pages or pop ups. Get 10% off your order by opting in.
- Include marketing flyers in your food orders and in your restaurant – text YUMMY to 88888
- Contests & Sweepstakes. Enter to win dinner for two or other similar offers. Create a unique keyword to text,
- Facebook Ads. This is for advanced users, you can create Facebook lead ads where the aim of the ad is collect the users information such as email and phone number.
Once you have your leads flowing into your SMS system, create an automatic sequence that will message your customers. SMS messaging campaigns are simple to create and set up.
Note: SMS marketing is heavily regulated and you need to ensure you are compliant and gain consent to send messages and allow users to unsubscribe.
How can you use your Facebook business page to generate more sales, engage with your current and attract new customers. Facebook is a great way to generate sales without investing marketing dollars.
What should you post on Facebook?
- Live Video. As daunting as this may sound to you (or not), Facebook Live video reach is impressive compared to other posts which means your audience have a greater chance of seeing your video. Live Video can be something as simple as hey, hope everyone is doing okay, this is how we are managing COVID-19 in the restaurant, how you can order and support the restaurant and ask your community to share your posts to help spread the word. Or if you are feeling more inspired and prepared, why not do a live cooking show? Bonus points…do it with your customers. Sell prepared meal ingredient boxes and allow your customers to cook your famous dish along side you.
- Behind the Scenes (BTS). BTS videos is your customers insight to how your kitchen and dining room operate. You can create short videos of kitchen prep, how you lay a table, how to make a sauce, create a plate of wow looking food, taking orders, how orders go from customer to plate. The list of content you can generate is endless and your customers will love it!
- Pre Recorded Videos. They can be used for just about anything in your restaurant. They can be as short as a boomerang 5 second video or longer food demonstrations.
- Team Member Highlights. This can be done using graphic images and videos. Introduce your team members to your customers. They may already know the front of house or waiters but what about the chefs, kitchen staff, owners and people who manage social media and non facing people positions.
- Food Pictures. This may sound like I am stating the obvious here but post pictures of your delicious food. It does not need to look like a magazine shoot. Talk about your food, why people love it and what makes it so special.
- Promotions. Create unique promotions that are specific to Facebook so you can track your marketing efforts.
How often should you post?
This answer is different for everyone. Some people post once maybe twice a week, others post daily and some will post multiple times per day. What works for one restaurant will not work for all restaurants. You will need to test what works best for your restaurant and watch your reach and engagement and see how you can improve.
When you see posts that perform well, create more posts like that. Posting less often works better than stick to that frequency and the same is true for posting more often.
The answer lies in your analytics.
If you want to level up your Facebook game, create a Facebook Group for your customers where you can connect with them and build a raving loyal audience. Facebook groups have higher organic reach compared to Facebook Page posts.
If you are not on Instagram now, you need to be. Instagram was first created to allow people to share pictures of their food, it was the initial purpose of the platform.
Why Instagram is the way to go? Your customers are on Instagram. Your customers are constantly sharing and posting pictures of their meals in Instagram Stories and Feed Posts. You have the opportunity for your customers to tag your restaurant AND you have FREE content to share on your own account.
What to post in your Instagram Stories?
This is where your brands personality comes out to play. Stories is your sandbox where you can test what content performs best, what your audience likes and most importantly – have fun!
Because Instagram Stories only last for 24 hours you can post more content and content that you wouldn’t necessarily post in your feed. Share the posts your customers tag you in. Customers tag you because they want to be seen and they want to see you share their content.
Use Instagram stories to tell stories, whether that’s behind the scenes, showing how food is prepared, you talking to your customers and more. Test what works best for your restaurant. Remember it will be gone tomorrow from your feed. And content that you are super proud, save them to your Instagram highlights to live on on your Instagram page.
Key Features to use in your Instagram Stories
Hashtags. Use the hashtag sticker to let Instagram know what is in your picture
Location Sticker. Tag your area, not necessarily your location but your intersection, town, village. Keep it precise so you increase the chance of being found in the explore feed.
Giphy. Use fun gifs in your stories that relate to your post. Bonus points – create your very own gifs to use in your stories.
Polls. The best way to engage with your audience. Ask fun poll questions, see what your audience prefers and use this data!
During COVID-19 Instagram have developed new stickers for you to use such as shop local, gift cards and food orders. The food order sticker is only compatible with 3rd party apps.
What to post in your Instagram Feed?
This is where you want to put your best foot forward and create delicious content. The content should blend well and all use the same filter. You can create a blend of text graphics, food pictures, team pictures, ingredients, customer testimonials and pictures.
The key for frequency in your feed is to post consistently. If you consistency is twice a week stick to twice a week, if it’s daily, post daily and so on. Again you will want to watch your insights and what performs best for your account.
Hashtags are essential for your feed post. You are allowed to use 30 hashtags per post and you will need to strategically use a variety of different hashtags for your post. To keep it simple, create hashtags for each segment of your post.
- Hashtags related to your post. Describe what’s in your picture, this will be the higher amount of hashtags you use – #burger #beefburger
- Hashtags related to your town or city – #toronto #lovetoronto #torontofoodies
- Hashtags related to your location – #downtowntoronto #cityplace
- Hashtags related to your industry – #beeflovers #veganlovers #burgerlovers
- Hashtags personalised to your restaurant – #bobsburgers #bobburgerlovers
Facebook & Instagram Ads (Paid Traffic)
Costs are low, higher return on investment, higher customer itv, engage, find similar audiences, build relationships, talk directly to customers. Put money behind your social posts, Email audiences
Accelerate your marketing results and your return on investment with Facebook & Instagram ads.
What type of content should you be promoting?
The best place to start is by promoting current Facebook & Instagram posts that perform very well organically. By putting some advertising dollars behind your well performing posts means your costs for reaching a bigger audience will be lower compared to other posts without good ‘social proof’.
Instagram Stories are performing well with promotion codes with a link directly to order. Keep your creative super clear and simple for the end user to understand.
Short videos of 15-30 seconds perform and convert well. Video content not only rocks at generating sales for your restaurant but its bigger benefit is for building audiences. When you create a video native or in an ad posting you can build audiences of people who seen your video. You can then retarget these people and create audiences that are similar to your audience.
Facebook likes graphics that contain a low amount of text in the image (20% ti be exact!). Facebook will allow you to run a graphic as an ad with larger amounts of text but Facebook will charge you more to reach your audience if the image has a larger amount of text.
Pro Tip: If you want to include more text in your image then you can turn your image into a moving graphic or video using apps like Canva.
This ad from Pizza Hut has more than 20% text but their messaging is on point so their ad is likely to perform well. Message is clear and more importantly is the CALL TO ACTION IS CLEAR.
Keep your promotion codes unique to your platform or ad so you can track what’s working best and converting into paying clients. After your ads running for 72 hours, review your ads performance. Ads that are not performing can be disabled and the ones that are performing well you can increase the budget (of around 25%) or duplicate this ad (create a new ad) and place a larger budget.
I am trying to keep this simple so you do not get overwhelmed. The simple rule about amending your ad spend budget is to not make changes less than 72 hours apart and not by more than 25%. By making big changes to a well performing ad can mean that your ad will restart the learning phase and your cost per ad will increase significantly.
Messenger Bots (Facebook Messenger)
Messenger bots are the future and they work amazingly well for capturing customer data, increase sales and provide an awesome customer experience.
There are many types of Messenger bots in the industry but we are going to look at Facebook Messenger bots powered by Manychat.
How exactly can you use a messenger bot in your restaurant?
Here is a list of how you can use them…we could go on and on. If you can think of a way it could be used, you can create it. That’s the beauty of messenger bots!
- Take orders – allow customers to place orders, pay for their orders all within Messenger. Orders can be placed for take out, pick up and delivery. See demo here.
- Promotions – send and deliver promotions to customers and prospects inbox. Two for One, BOGO, Special Offers etc
- Birthday Celebrations – Wish your customers a Happy Birthday on their Birthday. Deliver a personalized message with their Birthday Gift or just warm wishes.
- Wifi – send the wifi details to your customers while getting their information as they opt in to your messenger bot
- Reservations – allow customers to book reservations directly in messenger without having to speak to anyone. Send confirmations and reminders PLUS follow up messages to ask them how their experience was & ask for reviews
- View Menus – take contactless to the next level and display your menus right within messenger.
- COVID-19 regulations – communicate how your restaurant is handling COVID-19. What they should expect to experience with the additional measures you have implemented.
- Loyalty programs – Create loyalty programs within messenger, number of visits, purchase tracking etc
So what next?
Firstly there is a lot of information here, click here to get this guide sent to your inbox so you can return at any time to read it. It will also show you how you can use blogging to capture information and use a messenger bot 😉
Next, focus on your ordering system and developing operating processes and procedures to streamline how everything will work.
Then, DELEGATE!!! This cannot all be done on your own. Get your team on board! Who is a natural in front of the camera? Who has a way with words? Who provides awesome customer service. Harness the talent you already have and allow them to OWN their responsibility for the marketing segment you assign to them.
Do not be afraid you do your own marketing. Now is the time to pivot while your customers are looking to support you.