The government’s ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme to encourage customers to dine out at restaurants during August, has been a huge success.
The latest Treasury figures show that diners used the 50% off scheme more than 64 million times in its first three weeks – equivalent to nearly every person in the country enjoying a meal out.
And according to restaurant booking website OpenTable, the number of diners visiting UK restaurants between Monday to Wednesday is 61% higher than the same time last year.
But with the Eat Out to Help Out scheme finishing last month, how can you keep the momentum going at your restaurant and encourage customers to continue to dine out?
By following these three simple steps in your marketing strategy, you’ll be able to build on connections made as a result of the scheme and encourage new customers to visit your business.
1) Create an irresistible exclusive offer
Due to the popularity of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme with customers, many restaurants are choosing to extend the discount through September to help bring back stability.
Brands such as Pizza Pilgrims, Carvert and Burger & Lobster have all confirmed they will be continuing the 50% offer into this month.
However if your restaurant is not in a position to foot half of customers’ bills, there is an opportunity to get creative with alternative offers for customers to enjoy instead.
From happy hours to kids eat free, complimentary sides or discounted soft drinks, consider how your food brand could continue to entice customers into choosing your restaurant with an engaging incentive.
2) Get social with engaging content
Improve the success of your exclusive offer by taking it online. Through using social media, your restaurant will be able to build on current customer relationships whilst reaching new audiences through targeted posts.
Running an exclusive offer or promotional campaign on social media will take your restaurant to the next level, driving brand awareness and boosting table bookings along the way. Running a campaign on a social platform such as Facebook or Instagram gives you access to insight on your followers and you can also receive immediate feedback on how your campaign is performing.
Don’t forget to use relevant hashtags in your posts to allow others to find and follow your content, and any images or videos used in posts will need to stand out on news feeds – especially if using Instagram.
Social advertising also offers extensive ways of reaching your target audience. When used efficiently, it can be an impactful way of maximising the reach of your marketing campaign, directing followers to your website and keeping followers updated on your restaurant without being too costly.
To keep the momentum around your food brand after any promotions end, create a social media strategy to develop a structure to your future posts, planning competitions, campaigns or content in advance.
3) Email marketing campaign
Use the gathered data throughout August to continue to connect with customers, if they have opted to receive marketing communications when placing a table booking.
With an email marketing campaign, you’ll be able to encourage customers to return to your restaurant through creating informative content, personalised offers and incentive-driven loyalty schemes.
Email marketing is an important channel for your restaurant’s marketing strategy, as it offers direct communication with your audience.
Keep your message engaging and your copy short and friendly, sticking to relevant information only. Ensure you’re using delicious images of your food and a clear Call To Action (CTA) button to optimise conversions.
If you’re struggling to encourage customers to return to your restaurant now that the Eat Out to Help Out scheme has ended, setting up a loyalty program is a good way to capture their interest and repeat custom. The more personal or exclusive the offer or loyalty reward, the more it will help your customer feel valued and persuaded into choosing your restaurant over your competitors.
Get expert advice, creative ideas and tailored guidance for your restaurant from Eat Marketing and ensure you keep the momentum going.