In order to grow one’s business, the amount of money one invests in any marketing effort must be less than the total amount of money returned from that effort. We can all agree on that. If you own a local restaurant, are a restaurant marketing agency, or a consultant you are most likely pitched on various marketing products & services everyday.
Companies like Reach Local may have called or pitched you with their offering. Reach Local claims to help small businesses so that whenever someone searches for something related to your business in your local area, say, “Italian restaurants,” an ad for your business will appear alongside the results. If the searcher clicks on the ad they will be taken to a branded landing page or directly to your website.
This is fine, but ONLY if you have some way to quantify how many of those clicks turn in to customers. Otherwise it’s a flat out waste of money. With local search engine marketing companies, you will usually be required to set a monthly budget–and you can guarantee that they will spend every penny of it regardless of whether or not it results in a positive ROI for your business.
Here are a few suggested solutions to avoid this issue:
- Hire an search engine marketing professional, someone who you can speak with over the phone or meet in person from time to time to measure results and discuss optimization strategies.
- Require weekly reports, including ad-spend and estimated ROI projections (use Google Analytics for this).
- Setup a web-based online ordering system on your website or if you’re are a higher-end dine-in restaurant, set up an online reservation system (OpenTable is the biggest in the space right now).
- If the visitors coming to your website aren’t ready to place an order or reservation, consider offering to send them coupons via text messages or email. This will also allow you to capture their contact information which can be used for gaining and retaining them as customers for the long run. In addition, the ROI for this is quantifiable.
When it comes to online restaurant marketing, the web is still relatively new and there are numerous players rushing into the space, aggressively working to grow sales. To avoid flushing money down the drain, do your homework, and always watch the numbers!