The restaurant business is built on world class service and repeat customers. That’s why you hire and do what it takes to keep the best staff you can find, and you make sure that every single customer leaves raving about the great time they had at your place to all of their friends and family. According to a recent study by Thanx, 25% of your customers account for 64% of your revenue over time. That means that your returning customers are where the big bucks are, and they are how you keep your doors open and the lights turned on. Traditional methods of retaining customers over time are all well and good, but in the 21st century it often takes a little something extra online to complete that experience and ensure many happy returns. Here are some rules to live by when it comes to using your website to drive repeat business:
Use Your Website to Generate Social Media Subscribers
Reaching out to customers via a followup email, direct message, or other social media channels is an excellent way to transition to a repeat business relationship rather than just a transactional once-and-done occasion. However, it can be tricky getting those email addresses, Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook followers signed up and on board so you can start establishing a sense of community among those who have patronized your restaurant. Make sure you have social media badges clearly marked on your site, and offer promotions or coupons for signing up on social media, a well as tweeting or posting subscriber-only discounts once in awhile. The more your connect on social media and have meaningful content that links to your restaurant’s site posted or tweeted, the more likely customers are to feel like your place is their place.
Never Underestimate the Power of Email
Set up promotional offers for customers who subscribe to an e-mail newsletter. Email is still one of the strongest engagement drivers in marketing, and it is definitely not something to ignore when it comes to building that strong repeat customer base.
Remember to A.B.B. (Always Be Blogging)
When it comes to your website maintaining a steady stream of meaningful content that your subscribers and customers won’t simply swipe left and ignore, you need to keep content fresh and relevant. One of the best ways to implement fresh content is to blog consistently and often with articles that are relevant to your followers. Focus on topics like the holistic wellness effects for many of your key ingredients, how your style of cuisine has superior health benefits, discussing popular dining and dating trends, and even home cooking tips that are all easily scanable. With the right headlines, blog posts can drive a lot of site traffic via links on social media. Inspiring your customers to come in for that favorite dish or appetizer is often easier for them to rationalize when they have recently read or scanned something about it online. It also doesn’t hurt to offer a small discount or promotion/free sample if they mention the blog during a specified time period either. Keep posting and offering the occasional special, especially when adding new menu items that have a rich history, and you will start reeling most foodies right in through the front door.
Make Certain All Website and Social Media Posts are Visually Appealing
When posting any visual information on your site for dishes you prepare or offer, it is very important to use a vivid, high quality photograph in appropriate lighting. Liberally post these photos on your blog, share via Instagram, via Twitter, and via Facebook. Generate a hashtag for your restaurant and encourage customers to tag and share their own photos of their meal. Once you have their username, you can easily send them small promotions or coupons via social media private messaging, and be sure to repost and give them a shout out on your own social media feeds as well. Everyone loves seeing their content on other feeds, so this is a virtually free and easy way to get publicity and make your customers feel like they are a part of something special. If you get some really good content, you can even feature individual customers in blog posts relevant to what they snapped and shared, further increasing their social media exposure and making them feel more like a valued contributor than just another diner.
Ultimately, if you stick to these basic principles, you can make your website the hub of a thriving community of customers who love your food, but love the experience of dining with you and all you make them a part of even more. Focus on that personal touch via your website, and you can rest assured that you will start seeing far more familiar faces coming back week after week in no time at all.