5 Website Marketing Lessons Small Restaurants Can Steal From Big Restaurants


Restaurant Marketing

How are you doing your restaurant marketing?

Collectively, big restaurants spend billions on advertising each year. Since a significant percentage of that advertising budget is dedicated to online efforts, these restaurants have learned exactly what works and what doesn’t.

While smaller restaurants don’t have huge budgets to throw at their online marketing efforts, the good news is you can learn a lot from what’s already working. So to see where your attention should be focused online, let’s take a look at five important website marketing lessons:

The Present and Future Are Mobile

In just a year, the percentage of overall web usage done on a mobile device has grown from 14% to 25% (tweet this). Since people are spending more and more time on their mobile devices, restaurant websites have to function well on all screen sizes. Otherwise, any marketing efforts are going to be held back.

The importance of mobile is why all websites built on the Restaurant Engine platform feature a responsive design. This type of web design automatically resizes to screens of all sizes. The significant role of mobile is also why large chains like Buffalo Wild Wings really started focusing on mobile marketing in 2011, and have continued to increase their efforts in each subsequent year.

Don’t Be Afraid to Mention a Competitor

As a restaurant owner, you believe in what you serve to your customers. So if you have a competitor who serves a similar item but you know yours is better, don’t be afraid to have a page on your website that explains why (tweet this).

That’s exactly what Taco Bell did when they decided to enter the fast food breakfast market. Since McDonald’s is the king of this market, Taco Bell used their website and other mediums to launch multiple campaigns that positioned them directly against McDonald’s. And even though Taco Bell has only been in the breakfast market for a few months, it appears they’re already chipping away at McDonald’s dominance.

Entice Customers with Freebies

Website Marketing Restaurants

Embrace what is unique about your restaurant.

One of the reasons it’s so important to use your website to build an email list is because having this connection to customers can allow you to entice them to stop by for a visit. Whether you’re launching a new item or just want to do a promo, offering a freebie is a great way to get people in the door.

This is a strategy Panda Express uses on a regular basis. They send free offers for new items by email, as well as freebies for days like the Chinese New Year. And since Panda Express has annual US growth of 16.2% and US sales of nearly $2 billion, it’s clear that this strategy is quite effective.


Show Off What Your Restaurant Is All About

You probably have a strong vision for your restaurant. And you also likely have some strong beliefs that have shaped your approach to decisions like the types of food you serve. What’s great about having a website is it’s the ideal place to share this information with potential and current customers.

While plenty of restaurants assume that people won’t be interested in their story, stories are a very powerful marketing tool. That’s why Chipotle has links to both their story and their beliefs about food integrity in their website’s main navigation menu. And as their founder Steve Ells has stated in numerous interviews, consistently sharing that information is a big part of why Chipotle is now the sixth fastest growing food chain in the US.

Engage with Customers

Not every type of business can attract customers who are so passionate about the business that they tell all their friends and family about it. But fortunately for restaurant owners, food and drinks are something that make people really excited and happy. Since good word of mouth is extremely powerful for restaurants, it’s definitely something restaurants should encourage.

Wingstop, which currently has over 500 locations across the United States, uses a significant portion of their website homepage to encourage this type of interaction with the people who love the chain’s wings. They have sections for fan pics and featured fans, as well as a section that shows what people are saying about them on Twitter.

Final Thoughts

There are lots of ways you can successfully use your website to market your restaurant. As long as you start with any of the approaches above and consistently measure your efforts, you’ll be able to continuously increase the effectiveness of your restaurant’s online marketing.

What website marketing strategy has been most effective for your restaurant? Let us know by leaving a comment!

Image: Steve Slater & Alan Light

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