10 Approved Tips for Restaurant Marketing During Coronavirus You Should Try

As a service provider keeping your business open during coronavirus can be a challenge. How do you navigate through this crisis when food and people are a vital aspect of your livelihood.

We understand the major do's and don't that restaurants have to take by helping our restaurant and food-based clients at Wishpond.

So we decided to create some tips for online marketing that restaurant owners like yourself need to help you keep your restaurant open during this crisis.

These tips are practical and easy to start with or without a marketing team, so roll up your sleeves and put on your apron to learn about the ten approved tips for restaurant marketing during COVID-19 you should try:


1. Share Your COVID-19 Safety Protocol

During the crisis, a lot of brands were taking steps to ensure that they placed their employee's and customers' safety first. That's great, the only problem is, if you don't share it with your customers or online community, no one will know.

To change that, start sharing your COVID-19 safety protocols on social media, your website, and even on your printed material. Inform customers that your staff and work stations are sanitized, and any order taking place will be handled with the utmost care.

A COVID-19 Safety Protocol reassures buyers that you're taking this crisis just as seriously as your customers and provides peace of mind as well.

Don't just stop there. Create content that helps to answer your customer's most basic COVID-19 questions when it comes to food and your restaurant. Questions like:

  • How your employees are practicing social distancing.
  • How you ensure that your supply chain doesn't contaminate your finished product and more.
  • Why it's mandatory for anyone who enters your restaurant to wear a mask?

For more, check out Mayo Clinic's Guide on COVID-19 safety: Tips for travel, restaurants, and the gym.

Restaurant Marketing Tip

Your safety protocol should include your daily procedure to handle sanitization, use of mask/gloves, along with opening hours, and postponed services such as dining in that will help stop the spread of the disease.

Add images such as your staff practicing these protocols and handling food correctly with all of your COVID-19 safety-related messages.

Since 65% of people are visual learners, according to the Social Science Research Network, one of the best ways to drive the message home is through visual content.

After all, we're more likely to remember content with images and video.

2. Explore Online Delivery Options

One of the best restaurant marketing ideas that are sure to increase sales is to offer online delivery options or get listed on food apps.

Digital ordering and delivery have been growing 300% faster than dine-in traffic since 2014.
Mintel.com found that around 63% of consumers agree that it's more convenient to get delivery than to dine out with a family. Not to mention 9 in 10 US food delivery service users say it makes their lives easier.

This survey was done before the coronavirus outbreak, so as you can imagine, those numbers have drastically increased, especially now that restaurant doors are closed for dining.

People are forced to stay home, and you have to come to them. Before you had the option of choosing takeout and delivery, now it's almost mandatory for restaurants to provide this option or risk losing their business.

If you're unable to provide delivery directly, join a food delivery app like Grubhub, Uber Eats, or Door Dash.

Restaurant Marketing Tip

If you offer delivery, be sure to let customers know on your website, social media accounts, and printed materials. No one's going to order if you don't tell them.

Spread the word via email, ads, and even with influencers. Keep in mind that other restaurants are doing the same, so you might want to think of adding incentives, discounts, and reviews to entice your competition's customers to your store.

3. Move Your Business Purely Online (For Now)

Again another mandatory feature to keeping your business alive is to reinvent your business model to fit online. For some business owners, you've been practicing this for a long time. While for others, you have some catching up to do.

If you didn't have an online presence before, it's going to be even hard for you since there's so much more active and competitive food brands and restaurants online. That's the truth.

If you are online now, you need to step up your game just the same.

When it comes to keeping your business active online, your most significant assets are leads. Lead are potential customers that are interested in your company but haven't made a purchase as yet. Noticed, I said, "leads" not "followers on social media."

You can attract leads with a lead magnet, and when you start getting leads, it's called lead generation. Without it, even if you've successfully given over to the dark side, I mean online, you'll just be an empty store with no one inside.

Start focusing on how to create lead magnets! Once you've collected enough leads, start marketing, retargeting, and promoting to them to turn them into lifelong customers for your restaurant.

Ready to start a lead generation campaign?

Book a free call to learn how our team of marketing experts can help you attract and convert high quality leads into paying customers today!

Lead Generation is important because once COVID-19 starts to slow down and things begin to go back to normal, you won't just be going back to the same customers but a new community of customers you've connected with online.

Restaurant Marketing Tip

Lead magnets aren't mystical creatures; in fact, you may have been using them online but not to their fullest capabilities, here are examples of lead magnets you can try:

  • Website Popup
  • Landing Page for Special Offers
  • Collecting Emails from Online Deliveries
  • Giveaway & Contest
  • Marketing Campaigns

For more help on lead generation start with Wishpond's Local Lead Generation: The Complete Beginner's Guide.

4. Keep Active on Social Media

Marketers like me have been shouting this from the rooftops for days. The brands that have listened are now benefiting from the long term investment during COVID-19, and now you can too.

Granted, it will take time and effort. Being active on social media is no easy game.

It takes a good social media strategy, checking in during peak times to engage and answer questions and an ad budget to promote your business.

Sprout Social found that around 64% of consumers want brands to connect with them.

People are at home consuming social media more than ever before. They expect brands to be active and providing information and entertainment to see them through this crisis. Not to mention, approximately 80% of all Instagram users follow a business on Instagram. Followers are ready and willing to engage with businesses on this and other platforms.

Restaurant Marketing Tip

When you're trying to keep active on social media, one of the most important and overlooked feature brands should take a look at is your social media ROI.

Your ROI, otherwise known as return on investment, helps you to measure the amount of time, money, and activities you've invested in your social media. This helps to keep you on track to your goals while ensuring that you improve in essential areas of your social media strategy.

For more on staying active on social media for your restaurant:

5. Start Running Social Media Ads

The COVID-19 lockdowns have to lead to massive increases in social platform usage, and in some cases, significant shifts in when people are active. So much so that Sprout Social released a report on How COVID-19 has changed social media engagement.

Brands are churning out content like crazy, but an oversite is that most brands have withdrawn their ad budget because of fear recession and putting their focus on other marketing efforts. Now more than ever is the time to craft the perfect social media ad to drive customers to your store to order food or use your delivery services.

Here's a free Facebook and Instagram Ad Guide to help you navigate through this crisis and keep your business going.

Restaurant Marketing Tip

Place your ads where your customers are always active, like Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. The most important aspect of an add is :

  • Having a great ad picture or video
  • Having a clear call to action and button
  • Having a reasonable ad budget

Social media ads also have features that allow you to target people who are local or in a close radius to your restaurant so that you can increase your brand exposure and make ordering easy.

For more, here are the 6 Best Facebook Ads for Restaurants.

6. Use Email Marketing for Retargeting

If you have a list of past customers or people who didn't complete an online order for delivery, then it's time to send them a retargeting email campaign.

What is email retargeting?

This is sending a follow-up email to people who have purchased from the past, or who started the process but never completed it. It's up to you to get them to come back to your restaurant (virtually) rather than going off to another brand.

One of the best ways to get customers back to your restaurant's website or online platform is to send them an email with an incentive. This could be a discount, free delivery, or tempting them with an extra portion with their purchase.

At Wishpond, we have hundreds of email marketing campaign templates you can use to retarget your customers and get your business back on track.

Restaurant Marketing Tip

Make your emails mobile-friendly. Around 53% of customers open emails on their smartphones. Your restaurant email marketing should look good on a small screen.

Learn How to Win at Restaurant Email Marketing: 5 Best Practices & 7 Content Ideas.

7. Create Combo Packages that Suit the Times

Your restaurant isn't the only business trying to overcome the struggles of COVID-19, and it impacts on the market. Why not do a co-promotion or partnership with a complementing company.

For example, couples are stuck home, but that doesn't mean they wouldn't like a date night package from a restaurant providing them with their favorite meals, candles, and flowers to celebrate in style at home.

You could also partner with gyms to prep meals for weight loss and fitness. Don't box yourself in when there's an opportunity to service and expand your community (while making a profit). There are the bakery's now offering baking kits for customers to try at home. It's not business as usual, but it is business nonetheless.

Restaurant Marketing Tip

Be innovative with how you can serve your customer better and keep your business going. The old ways of marketing and business will leave you behind. If you're not sure what your customers might like, ask them or reach out to your employees to keep their eyes out for ways your restaurant can continue to provide services.

8. Be Transparent & Honest Online

People want brands to be honest and transparent. It's a fragile time where customers are switching brands based on what they've done to help others and their customers effectively. People are beginning to see how helpful or tone-deaf brands really are when it comes to being online or serving them.

Being transparent doesn't mean sharing every single detail of your business with customers, but it does mean you need to add a human element to it so they can relate to you better.

Brand trust is more important than ever at a time when only 34% of consumers say they trust most of the brands they use. On the other hand, once trust is won, 62% of consumers will stay loyal. Brand transparency creates trust.

Restaurant Marketing Tip

The best place to build trust with customers is through employee advocacy. Employee advocacy essentially means transforming your employees into your startup's brand ambassadors on social media by allowing them to share content about your startup on their social media accounts.

Here are 10 Ways to Transform Your Employees into Social Ambassadors

9. Run a Giveaway to Entertain Customers

People are bored at home, so why not spice things up with a giveaway. It's perfect for everyone, your company gets attention and a boosted online presence, and your followers get the chance to try your delicious food.

At Wishpond, we've helped to generate over 100,000 leads for business just like you. We reviewed thousands of contest and giveaways, and we found that the best contest for restaurants were sweepstakes, hashtag contest, and bonus entry contests.

Restaurant Marketing Tip

Creating a contest isn't hard. You simply need to choose your platform, a great prize, clear and concise rules, and a start/end date. Wishpond offers a wide range of contest features and tools you can use to start creating your own right away.

You can also check out these restaurant giveaway guides below:

10. Prepare for Post Covid-19 Marketing

As much as preparing for COVID-19 is essential, preparing for after COVID-19 is just as crucial for your restaurant marketing. When customers are ready to leave their house, and things go back to normal, take note of the things you should continue to provide and do online that will keep your business ahead of the rest.

“After COVID-19” is when the real work begins because people will be more conservative with their spending and going out. They've gotten so used to cooking at home, so you'll have to come with new ways to get them outside.

Restaurant Marketing Tip

If you need more help with your business, don't forget to check out Wishpond's COVID-19 SOS Marketing Series. We share expert advice from the world top marketers, sharing their best tips and tactics for service providers and eCommerce stores.

Summary

Marketing during COVID-19 has turned a lot of brands on their head. Some are still learning to navigate through it all while others are flourishing.

It's altogether new territory for marketers and business owners alike.

When you're using all of these tips be sure to stay in the loop with the latest news and updates so that your content reflects it. There's no room for mistakes, only improvements.

Here's a quick recap of the ten approved tips for restaurant marketing during coronavirus you should start using today:

  1. Share Your COVID-19 Safety Protocol
  2. Explore Online Delivery Options
  3. Move Your Business Purely Online (For Now)
  4. Keep Active on Social Media
  5. Start Running Social Media Ads
  6. Use Emails Marketing for Retargeting
  7. Create Combo Packages that Suit the Times
  8. Be Transparent & Honest Online
  9. Run a Giveaway to Entertain Customers
  10. Prepare for Post Covid-19 Marketing

Written by Victoria Taylor

Victoria is a Marketing Generalist at Wishpond specializing in all things digital marketing and social media marketing. In love with blogging and Taco Tuesdays. Follow her on Twitter @vicknwsbest.