One of the main goals for any restaurant is to retain long-term, repeat customers. Factors like food quality and branding are essential, but so is the all-around customer experience. That’s where omnichannel marketing comes into play.

Hubspot, one of the world leaders in marketing software, defines omnichannel marketing quite nicely:

“Omni-channel, also spelt omnichannel, is a lead nurturing and user engagement approach in which a company gives access to their products, offers, and support services to customers or prospects on all channels, platforms, and devices.”

Many restaurant owners started their businesses to share their food with the world. Marketing may reasonably be out of their immediate skill set. 

These businesses may want to turn to a fractional CMO who can develop a sound marketing strategy and advise moving forward.

Let’s take a look at what omnichannel marketing looks like for the restaurant industry as well as how you can implement it for your own establishment.

Importance of Omnichannel Marketing for Restaurants

As a restaurant owner, your goal should be to create a welcoming, frictionless experience for your consumers. 

This means streamlining customer service, ordering, and much more. Customers expect personalization, convenience, and consistency. 

It is one of the crucial hospitality marketing strategies. The unfortunate events of the past year include employee shortages and shipping woes, making it all the more important for restaurant owners to apply omnichannel marketing to their businesses should they want to survive and thrive. 

More than ever, it behooves a restaurant to have multiple entry points for a customer to find them. 

The pandemic introduced delivery and in-app ordering to a lot of establishments. If they weren’t prepared for the incredible amount of new technology they had to learn, they likely drowned in red ink. 

The same awaits any restaurant owner trying to avoid this critical component of their customer acquisition process. 

Why Omnichannel Marketing?

Omnichannel marketing is defined as the seamless user experience as potential customers move through multiplatform touchpoints toward a purchase. 

This kind of marketing uses various technologies, all of them feeding into one another to drive your customer towards a sale and beyond.

Here’s an example of this at play in a restaurant:

Let’s say a customer finds you on Instagram and then clicks your bio link to watch a behind-the-scenes look at your kitchen on YouTube. From there, they jump to your website to place a reservation or get directions to your physical address, where they give you an email in exchange for a discount. This is what a typical journey through an omnichannel sales funnel looks like. 

Omnichannel marketing isn’t simply a band-aid to begrudgingly implement due to a global emergency. 

This type of marketing is the next level, taking advantage of advanced technologies to provide potential customers a direct pathway towards the holy grail of brand advocacy. 

Here are a few pointers to help get you there.   

Branch Out Your Brand

You should already know your “why,” i.e., your reason for getting into the restaurant industry. (A quick primer on Simon Sinek’s “Know Your Why” framework.)

If you’ve done your marketing homework, your restaurant’s brand messaging will be an extension of your mission statement, bleeding into every element of marketing, from social media captions to menu items. 

Start by combing through all your current channels–social media, website, email, everything–and ensure all your messaging is consistent. 

If you’re featuring a weekly special or new menu item, this should be plastered in the heading area of each channel, paying specific attention to the respective call-to-action (CTA). 

Each platform has its own pathway to a conversion or sale, but the ability to leap to other platforms seamlessly turns a marketing funnel into an omnichannel funnel. Therefore, make traveling from social media to your website, and vice versa, as easy as possible. 

Just because someone discovers you on Facebook doesn’t mean that’s their preferred purchasing platform. 

If they have DashPass, for instance, your customer will look for a link or button to get to your menu on DoorDash so they can save money on delivery–make this as easy as pie (excuse the pun), and you’ll reap the rewards. 

Repeat this process, linking each channel until there are no “dead ends” in your customer acquisition funnel.   

Diversify Your Tech

Marketing is inherently tied to the development of technology–it’s a fact. Email marketing wasn’t a thing until email was invented, and the list goes on. 

Start by evaluating your current use of technology, taking note of any areas in your customer journey where you’ve had issues. 

Your troublesome segments (e.g., infrequent returning customers, looked at the menu online but didn’t purchase, etc.) are experiencing some sort of friction, likely caused by your misappropriation or lack of technology. 

Update your Point of Sale systems to include touchless purchase for those using Apple Pay and similar services. 

The major delivery services (DoorDash, Uber Eats, GrubHub) should also seamlessly integrate into your system and be just as easy to understand for your staff as for your customers.

Analytics are a massive component of omnichannel marketing. Look at your data. Where are your customers congregating? Do you have a presence on these platforms? 

It’s not necessary to be a prolific producer on each site. It is necessary to recognize the blind spots in your customer’s journey and then build a bridge to recurring business. If at any point your customer asks, “How do I get to the menu?” you’re doing it wrong.   

Tie It All Together

To see if your omnichannel approach is ready to launch, walk through the customer experience yourself, asking your staff to do the same. 

Start on one platform, let’s say Facebook, and begin browsing with the goal of a reservation or in-person visit. 

Do the CTAs on each page and platform have clear direction and next actions available? 

  • Is there any friction when jumping from one platform to another? 
  • Are there multiple options to purchase at each stage of the journey? 

These are the questions you should be asking as you roam your funnel, looking for weak spots.

Finally, make sure your in-house experience aligns with your digital branding efforts. A branding kit is essential to guide your messaging, so be sure to refer to that whenever you get stuck. 

Remember: consistency is key. 

Your potential customer should immediately recognize your brand whenever they see your unique messaging or CTAs, no matter the platform they’re on (think: the immediate recognition factor of McDonald’s golden arch). 

Omnichannel marketing will become overwhelming if you try to take this all on yourself–it’s not possible to solo this endeavor, so don’t try. Take time to see who on your staff is good at what and hire out to new positions if necessary. 

Chances are, you have many of the pieces required to make omnichannel marketing work for your restaurant or foodservice business. 

It’s just a matter of turning those scattered bits into a well-oiled machine.

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