Restaurant Digital Marketing: Going Beyond the Basics

A promotional image for the Restaurant Digital Marketing Conference

The first Restaurant Digital Marketing Conference in the Philippines was held at Enderun Colleges in Taguig City last October 23, 2013. The conference’s panelists and speakers included several experts from the restaurant and digital marketing industries, such as Michael Rastas (Managing Director of Myfoodtrip.com), Rosario Juan (Social Media Strategist and CEO of Commune), and Abe Olandres (Country Head of Nuffnang Philippines).

In a short interview with Adobo Magazine, Hans Roxas Chua, CEO of e-Learning Edge, said that the conference was inspired by two things:

  • The restaurant industry’s unique needs – Restaurants have very specific needs when it comes to digital marketing. Restaurant owners have to know what their patrons are looking for and how to address their needs.
  • The state of the hospitality industry in terms of online engagement – The hospitality industry is one of the most active segments in other countries, but according to Chua, the local industry “could be better” in terms of online engagement.

The conference covered the many important topics, including digital marketing trends in other countries, restaurant websites, email marketing, blogging, social media, mobile marketing, and PPC advertising.

Key Points for Restaurant Owners to Remember

1. Restaurant websites are about more than just menus
Many local restaurants use their websites solely to display their menus and location maps, but a restaurant’s website can do so much more than that. With the right web design, site structure, and content, restaurant owners can use their websites to handle bookings, take orders, build a database for their patrons, and build a community around their brand.

A screenshot of Bel 50’s website

Local restaurants can learn a lot from foreign restaurants’ websites, like Bel 50’s.

A restaurant website should have the following elements, based on our own experience and an interview with IMMAP board director Coni Cruz:

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO): The website must have a local SEO strategy to be visible in search engine results. This should also cover the optimization of food photos and other media like PDF-format menus.
  • Clear, organized information: Patrons should be able to find important information on the site easily. This includes opening hours, branch locations, payment information, and promo details.
  • High quality images: The food photos displayed on a restaurant website should be high quality, as they can significantly affect a visitor’s first impression of the establishment.
  • Reviews: Reviews and ratings are especially important for restaurants. A restaurant website should have an integrated review management system to encourage users to provide their feedback, or should at least display user-generated comments and reviews.
  • Contact forms: All restaurant sites should have a working contact form to allow patrons to send in their inquiries or make reservations.

2. Restaurants can also benefit from direct marketing
We included email marketing and lead nurturing in our list of things local companies miss in digital strategy, and it’s true for many restaurants. Any restaurant business can get more exposure and nurture a loyal customer base if they have a great e-newsletter, or post promos on deal sites like CashCashPinoy.

3. Bloggers can significantly improve brand awareness for restaurants
Many “foodies” have review blogs where they talk about their dining experiences. Reaching out to popular food and lifestyle bloggers can give restaurants more exposure on social media, and can even provide opportunities to run promotions or earn advertising space.

4. Social media is an important element of a restaurant’s marketing campaign
Having a sound social media strategy for Facebook and other networks can significantly improve a restaurant’s local presence. Facebook is especially important for local restaurants, especially with the implementation of Graph Search. (You can read more about this in our previous post on using Facebook to boost your local business’ presence.)

A combination of digital and traditional strategies is necessary when it comes to marketing for local businesses like restaurants. Many local restaurants handle their traditional campaigns very well, but have a hard time keeping up with digital trends in SEO and internet marketing. If your business is in need of an effective digital marketing campaign, talk to us today.

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Karen de Castro

Karen de Castro

Karen de Castro is a Marketing Copywriter for TrueLogic. She graduated from UP Diliman and worked in a major television station in the Philippines before coming to TrueLogic. When she's not writing PRs, blogs and other marketing collateral, you will find her in the kitchen, cooking and baking different concoctions and aspiring to become a chef. Traveling, photography and music keep her imagination active.
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