Marketing has always been important to growing a business, and this year marketing matters more now than ever in order to reach customers.

As the hospitality industry slows down due to the coronavirus pandemic, digital marketing tools have become crucial to help restaurants drive business.

Customers will be using multiple methods to find out what’s happening at your restaurant or venues like yours, so it’s important that you make sure all of these online platforms are up to date and share the right information that connects you with the audience that wants to buy from you.

Update your sales and marketing content

All of the content you use in marketing and the sales process needs to be up to date with any new offerings or post-lockdown changes, including:

  • Occupancy limits and dates for increased occupancy for your area, if possible
  • Safety protocols
  • Food and beverage changes or limitations — for example, some venues are pausing buffet service in order to allow guests to maintain social distancing
  • Special packages tailored to post-pandemic limitations, such as microparties or elopements
  • Floor plan options for smaller events — we recommend our partners AllSeated and socialtables to create floor plans
  • Changes to contracts, cancellation policies, and pricing

In addition to the event details, you need to make sure your venue has a good digital first impression. Professional photos or video showing off your space with and without guests, a virtual tour of your venue, customer testimonials (video, text, or images with a testimonial quote), and easy-to-consume event packages in a PDF format will go a long way to help sway potential clients.

Promote early and often

When your content is ready, make it accessible to clients and prospects digitally so they have everything they need without leaving their homes.

Add it to your website’s event page and homepage, use popups, and use your blog to tell people you are now booking for the rest of 2020. Share this information via your other digital marketing channels, including email and social media.

You don’t have to be open to start promoting your venue. If you have anything new to share, want to reach out and say hello, or want to post a nostalgic photo of past events, do it! The businesses that reach out now and grab attention will be the businesses that are top of mind later.

Email marketing tips

Here are four email marketing tips that will help you book more events and drive more business:

1. Write an interesting subject line

The subject line is one of the first things email recipients notice in their inbox and it needs to capture their attention. A subject line like August Newsletter is boring and it doesn’t tell your customers what’s in the email and why they should read it.

Try these ideas when crafting your email subject lines:

  • Use urgent words and phrases like last call, act now, book now – this shows customers that they need to open your email and take action right away or they’ll miss out on something.
  •  Use action words like book, reserve, RSVP, try, eat, or taste to give your readers an idea of what they can do with the information in your email.
  • Numbers will make people stop and look when they see them in an email subject line. This works for emails that have a list of information or tips. Example: 5 New Menu Items You’ll Want to Order.
  • Talk about the offers you’re sharing in the email. Customers are always looking for discounts, something new, and anything that benefits them or makes their lives easier.
  • Try keywords that your customers are interested in. These could have something to do with the type of food you serve – like comfort food, Italian, seafood, or cocktails. You could include keywords about your activities such as live music, trivia night, or virtual cooking class. And you should try words that describe your event packages – weddings, holiday parties, or cocktail party.
  • Make your subject lines short, and at least 50 characters or less. Anything longer will get cut off on a mobile device and your message will get lost.

2. Always include a call to action

The point of sending a marketing email to your customers is to get them to do something: go to your website, book an event, come to the restaurant to try something on the menu, or anything that will drive more revenue back to your business.

Don’t miss the opportunity to make something happen. You need to add a call to action to all of your emails. Most of the time, it will be a button that links to the action you need them to take, but don’t be afraid to include that same link in the text as well.

3. Keep your email content short

Your customers aren’t going to scroll through a long email. People don’t have a long enough attention span to read blocks of text whether they’re on their phone or a laptop. Stick to your logo, an image, a paragraph of information, and a call to action.

4. Create content that benefits your customers

No matter what marketing content you’re creating, make sure that is has something that appeals to your customers. Ask yourself “Why should my customers care?” Yes, you need to promote your restaurant but make sure you’re including language about why your email topic would matter to your customers.

Pull your list, choose an email service provider, and get started

If you’re a Tripleseat customer, follow these steps to use Tripleseat as a Customer Relationship Management tool (CRM) by pulling a list of email addresses from your Tripleseat database to target with email marketing.

Next, check out our Marketplace to find an email service provider that fits your marketing needs. We partner with Constant Contact, Fishbowl, and Mailchimp – it’s easy to upload your Tripleseat email list to any of these providers.

Then, use these four tips to create a great email that will stand out and help you drive more revenue for the rest of the year.

Social media marketing tips

Here are a few examples of social media posts your restaurant should be sharing to help drive business during reopening.

1. A new header image

Change the header image on your Facebook page, Twitter profile, and LinkedIn company page to reflect what you’re offering right now. It’s like a billboard for your profile that tells your customers exactly what they want to know.

2. Reminders about your offers

Share posts that include everything your customers need to know about your offerings and services, including events, catering, takeout, delivery, and more. Include your hours, phone number, links to delivery apps, notes about menu and cocktail availability, info about discounts or coupons, gift cards, and anything else that would influence your customers to make a purchase. Don’t assume your customers have seen every post about what you offer— keep reminding them by posting several times a week.

3. Your menu

The changes you make when reopening your restaurant most likely include a reduced menu. And some menus change a few times a week due to the ingredients available and other factors. If you have menus that change weekly, daily, or seasonally, make sure to regularly update your followers with the current menu for dining in, as well as delivery and pickup, happy hours, to-go kits, virtual tastings, prepared items, quarantine grocery kits, essential items, ready-to-heat family meals, cocktails, ready-to-make appetizers, and grocery items.

4. Food photos

The best way to get your restaurant noticed on social media is with food photos. Let’s face it — most of us who are staying at home are indulging in comfort food and thinking about our next meal. Share images of food being prepared by your chef, as well as the finished product to let your customers know that your delicious menu items are available for dine-in, takeout delivery, catering, and more.

5. Behind the scenes

Create content that gives your customers a great behind-thescenes experience that will motivate them to book with you and grow your revenue.

  • The kitchen: Customers who dine at your restaurant may be interested in seeing how exactly their favorite dishes are put together before they are placed in front of them.
  • The bar: There are many creative routes to show off your bar experience, but simply taping your bartender as he or she makes your specialty cocktail and posting it as an Instagram or Facebook story is a great place to start.
  • The team: Highlight your team with employee spotlight photos and posts on your feed so that customers get to know your staff as well.
  • Your events: Use photos and videos to show off the event spaces, employees prepping for events, event room setup, and guests arriving at the event.

Keep it going

These tips might seem a little overwhelming at first, but it’s important to create a consistent stream of email marketing and social media marketing messages to keep your customers in the know and drive repeat business. If you start slow and block off time during your day to nurture your marketing program, it will become a part of your schedule, creating these messages will become a priority, and you’ll learn what’s working, what’s not, and how marketing can get customers in your door.

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the Fall 2020 Issue of Seated magazine.

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