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Effective Internet Marketing for Your Restaurant

There was a time when we relied on print ads or word of mouth to promote our company.  We pay for flyers, advertisements in newspapers and magazines, yellow pages and radio ads that hardly anyone remembers.   These days, we cannot rely on such tools alone.  In an age where everyone is focused on their computers and the internet, restaurant owners need to jump in and compete.

To date, restaurants in the United States is estimated to be at 945,000, with a total approximate industry sales of $850 billion – that means there is, indeed, a lot of income opportunity in the business.  The last Internet Usage Statistics reported by Nielsen/Net Ratings say that there are 220 million internet users in the U.S.  Such figure represents 72.5% of the U.S. population.  Meaning, majority of your consumer market have access to the Internet.  And if you want to get an ample share of that market, you should increase your restaurant’s presence online.   Here is effective internet marketing tips for your restaurant:

1   Get listed online. Google and Yahoo have free online business listings — sign up and be searchable.  For Google, you can go to google.com/local/add.  Click on list your business, and give them details about your restaurant.  For Yahoo, the link to open is listings.local.yahoo.com.  Click on the sign-up button, and fill-out the information form about your restaurant.

2   Create a website.
Enlist professionals (a copywriter and website designer) to build a website for your establishment.  Important pages in your website include your company history, business philosophy, menu, contact information and business hours.  Now that you have a website, your next target is to make sure people are aware of its existence.  Some effective internet marketing tips that would drive traffic to your restaurant’s website are the following:

Know the importance of keywords. Your copywriter and web designer know this, but it’s important that you should know, too.  Internet users use words to search for information.  So if your restaurant has an Italian theme, the keyword you should use is “Italian restaurant,” or to be more specific, “Italian restaurant in Pasadena.”  You can also make use of your specialty dishes, since customers might have search phrases like, “restaurants that serve couscous in Pasadena.”

How many keywords can be used in an article?  Search engines normally set it at a 1% to 2% density, as it rejects excessive use of keywords in an article.  That means if you have a 400 word article, your keywords should be four to eight, strategically placed in your page.

Create blogs about anything related to your restaurant – new recipes, interesting trivia about your specialties or current restaurant news in your area.

Produce short videos about your restaurant. If you have a special restaurant theme, you can have a video of your wait staff wearing their special aprons and carrying your specially designed trays. A quick film demonstrating how to create your restaurant’s specialty dish also works, or a short clip showing tips on how to cook simple dishes–anything that would attract your customers into checking out your website.

Make sure your pages load quickly.  Hungry customers wouldn’t have the patience to wait for your website to appear.

Submit your website to the three biggest search engines. One of the most effective internet marketing ways to bring more customers to your restaurant is to submit your website to Google, Yahoo and Bing — google.com/addurl/?continue=/addurl; bing.com/webmaster/SubmitSitePage.aspx   and siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com/submit/.

Create a keyword-rich page. The thing with keywords is it sometimes takes out the sense out of our pages.  Hence, we can’t really use them as much as we want.  To solve this, write blog or articles that are key-word rich, like “why people love to eat couscous,” or “top couscous recipes.”  You can also talk about your restaurant theme, focusing on your waiters’ special uniforms and aprons, or stories about the special trays that your restaurant uses.

3   Build social media pages. Make use of free social networking websites like Twitter and Facebook in promoting your business. These sites are perfect for connecting with the people in your community—you can update them on your promos, let them know of your daily menu and events that you plan to have in the future.

4   Take good care of your existing customers by direct email.
Yes, getting their email addresses (and making them read your mail) is indeed challenging but direct email is one effective internet marketing method that you can do. You can give incentives to entice your patrons in filling –up your forms completely – full name, postal address, email address, occupation, special dates like birthdays and anniversary dates- most of them are quite hesitant to do so.  Incentives can be a free slice of cake, free drink coupons, etc.  (You can charge these to marketing expense—this is a whole lot cheaper than those TV, radio and yellow pages ads.)

Once you have the email addresses, you can easily send catchy direct emails regarding promos.  Make sure the details of your promo or updates are already seen in the email’s subject box, to make sure that your customers know the details even if they don’t open your email or in cases where your email is filtered as spam.   Your aim is just to inform them, anyway.  And if they’re interested enough to really take time to open the mail, that would be a huge bonus.

These email messages can be  promos, restaurant updates, surveys, emails promoting your website, or simple birthday or anniversary greetings,  preferably with free coupons that would entice them to come visit your restaurant again.