Despite the immeasurable challenges posed by COVID-19, restaurants around the world have been stepping up their digital game.

While digital marketing has been used in the restaurant industry for decades, it has now become an indispensable part of their business strategy. The coronavirus pandemic, among other factors, is forcing many food establishments to rethink their marketing tactics and find new ways to connect to their customers. If you want your restaurant to thrive in today’s business climate, going digital needs to be on the top of your priority list.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the top restaurant digital marketing trends that are taking off in 2020:

Email Marketing Automation

It’s no secret that email marketing is the holy grail of digital marketing communication. Not only is it a cost-effective way to streamline your restaurant’s marketing efforts, but it has an average ROI of 4,400 percent, which translates to $44 for every $1 spent. 

Plus, you have plenty of creative freedom to build email campaigns that will resonate with your potential customers, including:

  • Welcome emails: These emails represent the most-opened and most-read marketing emails in the world.
  • Personalized discount emails: More than 70 percent of email recipients will open emails that contain discounts or special offers.
  • Online order follow-up emails: Following up is crucial as nearly one in every four Gen X diners order online more than three times per week.


Branded Videos

If you really want to take your restaurant marketing to the next level, then you need to get visual.

Using video content is a powerful way to help get your business recognized online. Recent studies show that a whopping 76 percent of adults make a purchase after viewing a marketing video.

With branded videos, you have the chance to really showcase your delicious menu items, share the ins and outs of your restaurant operations, and feature happy customers to drive more foot traffic into your eatery.

The best part is that your video can be shared easily across social media, email, your website, and other platforms, giving it ample opportunity to be seen and shared by your audience.

Text-Based Notifications

Sometimes, long lines at restaurants can obstruct waiting areas and ward off potential patrons. To combat this, many eateries have implemented text-based notifications, which send a text alert to customers when their table is ready.

The good news is that restaurants can also leverage text messaging for marketing purposes. Whether you’re a fine dining establishment or serving fast food, there are several marketing campaigns that can help promote your business.

Here are a few examples of ways restaurateurs can serve their customers via SMS:

  • Offer specials, coupons, and other time-sensitive offers.
  • Deliver booking, order, and payment confirmations.
  • Send happy hour alerts.
  • Run trivia contests and promotions.


Free WiFi for Customers

Digital marketing is influencing almost every aspect of the dining experience.

With data plans becoming ever more expensive, there’s no faster way to turn one-time customers into repeat diners than with free WiFi.

Connectivity reigns supreme, especially as more than half of guests factor in free WiFi when determining where they want to eat.

Aside from meeting customer expectations, here are a few of the added benefits of offering free internet access:

  • Increased foot traffic: Complimentary WiFi attracts everyone from the 9-5 professional to the casual weekend warrior.
  • More time and money spent: More than 50 percent of businesses claim that providing free WiFi has resulted in higher sales.
  • Free brand awareness: For patrons who are taking pictures of your food, providing courtesy WiFi will make them more inclined to tag your restaurant on their social media posts, thereby giving you more exposure.


Food Delivery Services

Still reeling from the fallout of COVID-19, restaurants need to rely heavily on serving customers through delivery, carry-out, and/or curbside pickup. So it’s no wonder why online food ordering software has been increasingly popular over the last few months.

In addition to making the food ordering experience quick and easy, food delivery partners remain a popular choice for restaurants as it allows them to serve a wider array of customers. To ensure you make the most of your online food ordering software, be sure to upgrade your POS system, assess your kitchen line, and train your staff on new protocols.

Make Your Restaurant Stand Out with Digital Marketing

Now that you have a solid grasp of the top digital marketing trends in the restaurant industry, it’s your turn. Put your restaurant on the map by finding the right tools and strategies to boost your marketing reach. With a combination of patience, innovation, and the right approach, you’ll start growing your profit margins in no time.

Stewart Kuhlo is the Performance Marketing lead for DoorDash’s B2B Growth team, where he focuses on expanding Merchant selection using paid media channels, ranging from paid search and paid social, to content partnerships, and direct mail. He is passionate about taking a Merchant-first approach to educate potential partners about the benefits of DoorDash to grow their business and improve margins, through engaging stories and data-driven outcomes.

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