While the concept of online marketing can seem strange and almost unnecessary for the food and drink industry, there are a whole range of benefits that can come from having a good online presence.
In this post I want to cover some of the most useful options available and how these can be applied to your business to help increase your exposure and ultimately lead to more customers coming through your doors.

You’ll need a website

Before you attempt any sort of Internet marketing you are going to need a website. This shouldn’t be a problem as most businesses nowadays have realized the need to have a website and have already got this step covered. But after investing time and money into a website to represent your business, doesn’t it seem wasteful not to get it in front of your potential customers?
That’s where the next step comes in.

Try out search engine marketing

Millions of people use search engines every day, and you want to make sure that anyone looking for your business can find it. Far too often websites are never seen because they just aren’t promoted online. You don’t want people to visit after seeing your URL on promotional material; you have already placed yourself in front of these people. The people you want to get in front of are the potential customers at the time they are looking for you.
A quick test of your visibility is to go to a search engine and search for your business type and location, for example, “pubs in London”. Are you listed on the front page? Are you above your competitors? This is what your potential customers are seeing, and there is a great deal of value in getting yourself in front of them when they are looking.
There are multiple options for getting in front of these people; paid-for online advertising, natural results, and business listings. For maximum coverage all three of these can be used, but it’s definitely worth doing a bit of research for these to see which tie better into the needs of your business.

Get customers signed up to an E-mail newsletter

Search engine marketing should start to drive customers to your website, and once they get there you want to be doing as much as you can to get them through your doors. Providing potential customers with the option of signing up to get special offers via E-mail is a great way to help convert traffic to customers.
Once you have their E-mail address you can use this to keep customers updated with the latest news and special offers, helping to entice them in, and hopefully keep them coming back for more.
It’s important not to abuse E-mail marketing though. Nowadays, with so much junk mail going around, you need to be offering customers something of real value; otherwise it’s far too easy for them to unsubscribe and you’ve lost a very rewarding connection.

Connect to people with social media

As well as encouraging customers to sign up to your newsletter, another method of marketing yourself is via social media. While this is still a very new form of marketing, there are literally millions of people online using these social networks, all of whom can be targeted in a very specific and interactive way.
It’s worth experimenting with these networks to see the effect they have on your business. Many pubs and restaurants have implemented social media marketing successfully, and the nature of these networks allows your message to spread rapidly. When customers interact with you, your business is exposed to your customers’ network in turn, helping you to spread your reach rapidly and get exposure for your latest offers and promotions.

Get a real response to your promotions

The combination of the above methods can really help to provide a great platform for you to launch your promotions and get maximum response.
With increased traffic to your website, a list of people receiving your message via E-mail, and a network of people listening to your updates, you have a real opportunity to get a response like never before from all of your promotional efforts.
A lot of online marketing methods are very inexpensive compared to traditional advertising and provide impressive and targeted ROI, helping you to reduce costs in other areas and make those special offers even more enticing.
So while you may think that online marketing for a pub or restaurant is not a path worth following, it’s almost vital these days that your online presence helps you to tap into the large market that’s constantly growing.  So give it a go and get a head start while you still can.

About the author: This is a post from Ben who works at The Waterman Pub, it’s the perfect environment for anyone looking for pubs in Warwickshire putting on plenty of events throughout the year.