It comes as no surprise that the pandemic played a crucial role in accelerating the digitization drive by several years—at least. As dynamics continue to change for consumers, there is going to be a consistent rise and dependency on information as well as actionable data for retailers. Consumers have become accustomed to the digital space, and now they expect Amazon-like interfaces from not just retail. They want to see it from restaurants, too.

Just like the many other changes that we’ve all faced over the last two years, hyper-local marketing tactics have shifted drastically. Yet, it remains the best way to maximize your revenue potential at each restaurant location. Restaurants now have to market to online customers in addition to their dine-in guests, so this requires a careful balance between delivery/online growth against in-store dining for a positive net impact. We must continue to serve the guest in front of us while delivering a similarly remarkable experience for the “invisible” digital guest.

With the rise of online customers in the restaurant industry, here are four tips and tricks to navigating hyper-local marketing in the new digital space:

Meet customers where they are.

The pandemic has created a new needs state for an off-premise, single diner, which was previously a very small percentage of guests. According to Google Ads & Commerce Blog, searches for “local” plus “business(es)” have grown by more than 80% year over year, and two out of three dining consumers said they used Google search to find food and beverage information during the pandemic. Additionally, according to Google’s consumer insights study, there has been a 900% increase in “near me” searches. Customers are not only looking for something nearby, but something that will cater to their ordering preferences.

Provide an unmatched guest experience for all types of orders. 

With the rise in off-premise ordering channels, we are now seeing what I like to call the “invisible guests phenomenon.” This is when we have digital orders coming in at a significant volume, all while some guests are still dining in what seems like an almost empty restaurant. It can lead to a negative guest experience because team members are heads down, focusing on “invisible orders.” At the end of the day, guests will remember your brand based on the experience they had. So, we have to minimize the “invisible guest phenomenon” the best we can while maximizing the high influx of digital orders.

Have a robust tech stack.

Digital channels are now at the forefront of restaurant marketing. In the hospitality industry, we’re taught to serve the guest in front of us, so with this rapid change in the consumer space, some found themselves scrambling. At Naf Naf, we already established a good tech stack using Olo as our POS system and affinity program Punchh that both create an ecosystem that allows us to be in front of our guests in terms of communication with both the consumer and the supply chain.

Additionally, it’s become increasingly important for Naf Naf to understand and address each of our restaurants individually. This ensures the most positive experience for our current and potential diners. Whether individuality is fueled by accurate Google My Business data, a highly localized marketing message or simply ensuring a customer is directed to the nearest restaurant, technology partners like Hyperlocology can help achieve this.

The details in customizing orders driven through these platforms plays a critical role in the overall satisfaction of our customers. Having a strong tech stack has become an integral component to brand survival. Gain an understanding of your consumers’ behaviors through affinity and CRM programs that can provide you with data that will allow your brand to evolve alongside your guests.

Stick to the three major marketing strategies.

Your restaurant should have three major strategies when it comes to local marketing – attract new guests, steal a competitor’s guests and engage your existing guests. If you’re not doing one of these three tactics in your marketing, you’re doing marketing wrong.

The first two have long been at the forefront of hyperlocal marketing, but the latter is a must-use strategy in today’s digital age. While attracting new guests is fundamental, building their loyalty is imperative for the long term. You can get more out of your existing guests and keep them coming back in a number of different ways. This could look like offering more limited-time menu items, using social media to keep in touch, providing personalized service and much more.

Get good at Google.

Google is the leading search engine worldwide, with more than 90 percent of the market share, so it’s crucial that your restaurant optimizes its Google My Business listing. 86 percent of people look up the location of a business on Google Maps and Google is now the biggest and most trusted source of restaurant reviews. Provide detailed information about your locations and companies as best you can and have a unique and attractive business description. Explain how your business is different and make sure any of your relevant keywords from an SEO standpoint exist in those first 100 words. Add high-quality pictures and make sure your hours, address and phone numbers are all correct, in addition to ensuring your primary category of your restaurant fare or business is set right. Lastly, do your research and explore other platforms to learn what strategies work best for your company’s online presence.

When it comes to hyperlocal marketing, your strategy needs to cover the entire consumer journey from discovery to completing a transaction. The guest experience will always be at the focus of marketing, so you have to creatively determine how to elevate it through digital enhancements. In today’s consumer environment, guests want to be reached at the touch of a button. So, the best way to ‘wow’ them is with a killer hyperlocal marketing plan that gives them exactly what they want, when they want it. You’ll have fans in your markets that will turn into repeat customers for life!

Devin Handler an award-winning branding and growth veteran with over 20 years of experience. He currently serves as Vice President of Brand Marketing at Naf Naf. Prior to joining Naf Naf, he led marketing for GARBANZO Mediterranean Fresh as Vice President of Brand and Menu. Previously, Devin served as Director of Franchise and Field Marketing for QDOBA Mexican Eats, growing the brand from 200 units to over 650.

Fast Casual, Marketing & Promotions, Outside Insights, Story, Naf Naf Grill