It’s the age of digital but how do we engage?
Customers live online. They get inspired for meals out on social media, consult reviews on Google and download apps for rewards. So to grow your customer base, it’s no longer about just being online – it’s about creating a presence and cutting through the noise.
Below are seven of the most popular platforms that customers use when it comes to deciding on hospitality venues along with tips on what you can do to engage with new customers.
You can download the complete checklist for free here.
While many cafes have Facebook that they use as substitutes for a website, the importance of a website can’t be underestimated.
Unlike a lot of other aspects of being online, your website is 100% in your control. You can tell your story the way you want to, feature exactly what you want to emphasise and omit what you don’t want to.
What are the best practises for your website?
✅ Include the essentials: contact info, menu with pricing, promos, reservation, delivery, etc.
✅ Consistency in layout, design, tone of voice with your brand
✅ Ensure that it’s mobile-friendly
✅ SEO: optimise your website for Google so people can find you
2) Google listing
Website and google listings work hand in hand. While the website tells your story, Google Listing gives a snapshot of your story.
In fact, quite often, customers may go to your website only after looking at your Google listing (and reviews, more on that below) so always keep your Google Listing up to date. And best of all, especially for such a powerful platform, it costs nothing!
3) Online reviews
Online reviews are a big part of your cafe’s ability to reach new customers. Often spoiled for choice, new customers heavily depend on online reviews to make their decision. And there is no escaping them, they appear within your Google listing.
The three key areas when it comes to online reviews:
✅ Engagement and responds – this shapes the opinion potential customers have of you
✅ Growing positive reviews by incentivising existing customers
✅ Managing negative reviews – how you handle negative reviews can make or break your reputation with potential customers
Learn more about managing negative online reviews and more in this free checklist.
Even if your cafe or venue doesn’t have a website, although we strongly recommend that you do, a social media presence is absolutely necessary. This is where your customers are and this is where you need to be to engage with them.
But what do you do once you have a Facebook Business Page?
✅ Tick the essential boxes: select the right category for your business, upload your profile picture (logo) and cover photo (something more enticing), add your restaurant menu, etc.
✅ Create engaging content: photos, videos of staff & venue, testimonials, contents & more
✅ Advertising: use geo-location targeting and audience insights to reach the right people
At this point, it’s of little surprise that Instagram was a game changer for not only cafes and restaurants but for the entire hospitality industry.
We’re visual eaters and Instagram is a visual platform. There is no better way to draw out cravings and attract new customers than with delectable images of your food. But it goes beyond that. You can have the best photos but if no one is viewing them or engaging with them it’s all for naught.
✅ Do your hashtag research, it is essential to being discoverable
✅ Use branded and non-branded hashtags (e.g. #soulcafe vs. #breakfast)
✅ Geo-tag your posts
✅ Embrace different formats within Instagram (stories, IGTV, contests)
6) Loyalty apps
While it’s necessary to engage with new customers, your most valuable asset is your loyal customer base. The ones who come in daily to grab their first coffee of the day. It is crucial to hold on to your regulars and keep them coming back.
A tried and tested way to do that is by rewarding their consistent behaviour with loyalty programmes. And with most loyalty apps, you can also send personalised rewards to customers who have not returned to your venue for some time.
7) Table ordering
And finally, table ordering. While this is not so much about getting new customers into your venue, it’s about increasing margins and engaging with your customers after they’ve left your venue.
Data collected across hundreds of venues has reflected a steady increase in average transaction value per customer when using table ordering apps. Most table ordering apps also allow venues to capture customers’ details so you can start email campaigns for special events like birthdays or send alerts on specials and promos.
Download Free Checklist
Download this free checklist to access a step-by-step plan on how you can engage with existing and new customers on these 7 platforms.