Creative Ways Restaurants are Retaining Customers and Building Brand Interest

The pandemic has forced restaurants to shift everything from their operations to their marketing strategies

In addition to implementing contactless payment and mobile menu browsing solutions, here are some creative ways in which restaurants are retaining customers and building brand interest in these rapidly shifting times.

Picture perfect

The concept of “Instagrammable food” is nothing new, but just because the enthusiastic sharing of favorite meals on Instagram has been around a while, doesn’t make it any less effective as a tool for building your online brand. 

Social posts shared by your guests remain one of the most effective ways of bringing other guests through your front doors. The best way to let people know the beauty and quality of your fare is through the eyes of past visitors. Encourage your guests to share pictures of their meals by giving them hashtags to use, or offer drinks or discounts to randomly selected sharers.

While your website and other marketing materials may show and tell about your food, it’s much more impactful to actually see others enjoying their meals. When people see their friends enjoying themselves, they want to get in on the fun.

 But don’t just wait for customers to share photos that may not be of the highest quality. It’s also important that you create your own, high-quality images to showcase on your website and throughout your social media.

Show off your decor and your storefront, feature beauty shots of your top dishes and be sure to have some fun with hashtags—whether using existing popular Twitter hashtags like #ThrowbackThursday or inventing your own, hashtags are a great way to guide people to your posts and have some fun with fans.

Loyalty programs

It’s a proven fact that if you reward loyal customers, those customers are more likely to stay loyal—and they’re more likely to tell others about how great you are. According to a Customer Engagement Technology Study conducted by Hospitality Tech, 45% of diners say that they’re more likely to select a restaurant if they belong to its loyalty program.

Not up to committing the time and investment necessary to create your own loyalty program? Another great option is to partner with online food apps. Partnerships with online apps like Belly, LevelUp, and others encourage visitors to check out your restaurant through customer loyalty programs and gamification, which offer visitors a discount or free purchase for visiting a certain number of times.

Online reviews

56% of restaurant owners think online reviews are more effective at bringing in customers than traditional advertising. Of course, it’s true that online reviews can be a double-edged sword, but you can’t hide from them just because someone might say something negative.

Sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor are becoming more influential every day, and if you encourage your customers to leave an online review, the results can be even more customers coming through your doors (and leaving more reviews). It’s word-of-mouth advertising on steroids, and it can make a real difference in your business.

Of course, no matter how great you are, not all reviews are going to be good. This is why it’s vital to follow the review sites and engage with your online reviewers. Thank the good reviewers and work hard to make things right for those who report a bad experience. A less than stellar review can easily be forgiven if it’s evident that you’re doing your best to remedy the situation.

Just because the world seems to be turning upside down on a regular basis, strategies like those listed above continue to be effective ways to keep your name in front of the dining public and to keep those loyal customers coming back for more.