Restaurants need to ensure they have a prominent digital presence.

Valentine’s day is often a busy time for restaurants as many couples opt for a romantic night out to celebrate. OpenTable marks the day as the most popular reservation day of the year globally, with reservations on the network going up 500 percent on average.

Especially amid the pandemic, more customers are using Google to search for local restaurant menus and promotions for Valentine’s Day, and information on safe indoor dining, curbside pickup and other COVID-19 related precautions. In fact, 87 percent of people turn to Google to search for new restaurants, review, menus and more, ahead of any other site.

To maximize the amount of people seeing your restaurant through Google, restaurants need to ensure they have a prominent digital presence. Incorporating a digital marketing strategy that keeps customers in the loop on Valentine’s day specials, hours, reservations and COVID-19 policies can increase sales and satisfied customers. When looking to implement digital marketing strategies for the upcoming holiday, restaurants should leverage the 80/20 rule—focusing efforts on the 20 percent of the digital marketing tactics that yield 80 percent of the most impactful results. With this in mind, restaurants should:

Keep their Website Updated Consistently

Restaurant websites should be continually updated with specials, hours of operation, safety protocols and more. They should have a clean, uncluttered feel for customers to easily navigate between pages. As more customers are searching for and looking at restaurant websites on their phones, the page needs to be mobile friendly and optimized. This means fast-loading and easy to navigate on a phone’s screen.

By maintaining a website that’s consistently updated with restaurant news and more, Google can then recognize that restaurant as a credible referral when people are searching online, creating more traffic to the website.

Especially amid the pandemic when customers are more concerned with their safety while dining in a restaurant, occupancy protocols and precautions, COVID-19 safety measure like social distance and mask wearing rules must be clearly shown in the restaurant’s digital space. 

Ensure their Valentine’s Day Menu and Specials are Prominent Across Platforms

Whether serving up a special Valentine’s Day prix fixe menu or romantic carry out options, your restaurant offerings need to be easily accessible to customers looking for local dining options. By sharing your menu across all digital platforms including your website, review pages and social channels, customers have ample opportunities to interact with it and make a buying decision—whether that be in-person dining or ordering food for delivery. By creating unique and timely menus that are clearly displayed, customers searching for restaurants on Google are more likely to see your restaurant offerings pop up and get a sense of your restaurant before they even arrive or place an order.

Welcome Any and All Customer Reviews

Positive reviews act as a mini marketing campaign for your restaurant—they do the work for you of making sure positive experiences are shared online and with other customers. Having reviews visible welcomes other customers to leave their own feedback, thus creating a cycle that continues to get the word out for your restaurant for free.

Customer reviews can seem like a small aspect of digital marketing, but they can reveal a lot about how well a restaurant is running at all aspects. Analyzing reviews shows overall customer satisfaction and the kind of customer service your restaurant provides, especially on busy nights like Valentine’s day. Reviews allow other customers to get a sense of past experiences which they use to decide if they want to try out that restaurant themselves. Restaurants soliciting and welcoming reviews from customers creates a loyalty, which keeps them coming back.

Leverage Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Tools

A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is a key tool to helping restaurants stay connected to their customers and create more profits for the restaurant. Collecting a customer’s demographic data, email address, contact information, social media details and more, CRM allows restaurants to use that data to solicit reviews, communicate regularly on special’s and menu items and run promotions through email and text. CRM keeps restaurant’s top-of-mind with existing customers and should be a focus area in any digital marketing plan. With popular dining holidays like Valentine’s day, CRM is the perfect way to reach out to repeat customers by email or text with specials, deals and more.

With many wanting to venture out for a romantic evening this Valentine’s day, ensure your restaurant can be found online when customers are looking to dine out or carry in for the holiday. With simple digital marketing tips, restaurants can create a wholistic digital presence that reaches more customers and informs them of your restaurant’s menu, specials, hours and more.

Steven Clayton is the CEO of NetBlaze. He worked in the Information Systems field for 19 years, holding many roles including: CIO for a public company and ended his corporate career as a Vice President for a Fortune 500 company. Since then, he has started and/or co-founded six different startups, four of which are in business today, and running profitably—including NetBlaze. His companies employ more than 60 people all around the world.

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