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How Are Smart Restaurant Owners Using Digital Marketing?
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Savvy restaurant owners are rapidly increasing their use of digital marketing tactics, according to a new study conducted by Hospitality Technology. Social media outreach was by far the most popular online marketing tactic, used by nearly nine out of 10 restaurants in the poll (89 percent), up from 77 percent last year.

What other marketing tactics are restaurants using?

  • Nearly three in 10 (29 percent) use daily deals, up from 27 percent last year.
  • More than one-fourth (27 percent) use location-based marketing, up substantially from 16 percent last year.
  • About half (47 percent) use loyalty programs, up from 42 percent last year. And 11 percent integrate their loyalty programs with social media, up from 7 percent last year.

What social media sites are restaurants most likely to use? As you might expect, Facebook tops the list, used by 94 percent of companies in the survey. Next came Twitter (77 percent). Surprisingly, just 53 percent of restaurants polled use Yelp.

YouTube is used by almost half of restaurants and Foursquare by 42 percent. The social site seeing the biggest change was Pinterest, whose usage rose from 17 percent last year to 28 percent.

Mobile is also going strong for restaurant owners. More than half of restaurants in the poll have a mobile site; by 2015, Hospitality Technology predicts, that number will rise to 85 percent. Nearly three in 10 restaurants have a mobile app.

What abilities are restaurants offering on their mobile apps?

  • Menus: 96 percent
  • Restaurant search/location finder using GPS: 65 percent
  • Nutritional information: 52 percent
  • Integration with customers’ social media accounts: 48 percent
  • Ordering food: 43 percent
  • Coupons: 35 percent
  • Ability to pay: 35 percent
  • Reviews: 26 percent
  • Loyalty program access/signup: 22 percent
  • Customer surveys: 22 percent

Keep in mind that this survey included mostly larger restaurant chains, so your small business may not be keeping pace with what their locations are doing. However, it’s still a good benchmark to keep in mind as you plan for the future. While you may not need to show nutritional information on your mobile app or website, for instance, it would clearly be smart to provide customers with the ability to access your restaurant’s loyalty program, or to deliver timely, targeted coupons to spur them to drop in and dine.

You can obtain the full report here.

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