Are you a restaurant owner, operator or marketer wondering how to get new customers? Perhaps you have some fierce competition locally and are noticing more empty tables as a result. Or perhaps certain times of day have become increasingly quiet over time, since you opened shop. At the end of the day, paying customers are the reason you are in business, so ideally you want as many as you can fit through the door, each and every day. With this in mind, how can you find them and how can you get them eating in your restaurant?

An introduction to Facebook for marketing

Facebook is an easy solution and if used right for your business, always delivers. It is one of the most powerful channels out there for online advertising and so it is really important that you are using Facebook marketing for your restaurant. Whether you are a small pop-up smoothie stall or a sizeable, full-service restaurant, Facebook Marketing will help you to not only find new customers, but to also keep existing customers coming back for more. It’s not even that hard to wrap your head around.

Facebook is huge, with a reach of over 2.3 billion active users worldwide. That is a large number of people that your business could potentially reach out to with news of your products or services. You can do this through the use of Facebook Ads, which are highly customizable and therefore a great tool for Restaurants as they allow you to reach out to your target customers.

There may be 2.3 billion users out there, but to get good sales leads, or in your case, to get customers through the front door and eating, you want to consider the location, demographic and interests of those seeing your ads. However hungry someone is, they are very unlikely to travel halfway across the country, from London to Manchester for instance, in order to enjoy your Tuesday lunch special, however delicious it is. Using this example, you would want to concentrate on marketing and lead generation in Manchester itself predominantly, which Facebook lets you do very easily, and then possibly try and appeal to visitors to the area too through a slightly different marketing push.

So, what tips can we provide to help you when it comes to approaching Facebook Marketing for your restaurant:

Consider your Audiences; Interested, warm and cold leads.

Your current customers are without a shadow of a doubt your most interested audience. If you have a sale on or a special promotion coming out, they are the most likely to be interested and so if you are looking for an immediate increase in business, this is where you should start. You can upload any email or online ordering lists you have into Facebook Ads Manager in order to match the information with current Facebook users, with the intention of targeting them with your restaurant’s ads. These ads are likely to get a lot of interest as they have already bought from you once, and they will most probably be the lowest-cost ads you’ll run.

If you do not have someone’s details, but they visit your website through Facebook, you can install and use a Facebook ad pixel on your website, which will add them to a separate contact list so you can target them with an ad too. If set up correctly, you will build a large target audience of people interested in your restaurant over a matter of months.

In order to make your life easier and increase conversion rates, you need to create a warm audience list too, effectively including people who know who you are and what your restaurant has to offer but may not have actually visited your restaurant yet. Perhaps those who have interacted with your Facebook page or posts would be warm leads within this warm audience, or those that have clicked on your ad but got no further.

Cold prospects, or newbies, by contrast, do not know about you or your restaurant yet. These people require more time, effort and money to market to and the return on investment (ROI) is therefore less and harder to justify. These new customers, however unaware of your existence, are incredibly important and you need to consider how to advertise your restaurant to them. It’s very unlikely that you can rely solely on return customers.

When running ads for these new customers, or cold leads, you should consider targeting the local people in your market that show interest in what you have to offer. For example, if you run a city centre sandwich shop, you might want to look for people who work nearby, in the city centre, or who have shown interest in certain categories on Facebook such sandwiches themselves or in competitor companies such as Subway or Greggs. Perhaps you are quite a funky pop up sandwich shop and therefore you want to concentrate more on appealing to a certain age bracket with your ads. A lot is possible with Facebook marketing.

Who else should you target?

In order to get a better understanding of who to target when it comes to making your Facebook Ads you should develop buyer personas based on your top customers. Facebook will help you to analyse your current customers and then in turn create audiences based on the information found. Facebook Audience insights allows you to learn more about your current customers themselves including demographics, geography and buying behaviour. This will help you tailor your message when putting ads out there. Facebook Lookalike audiences are a great way of casting your net wider, and expanding your reach using the information you have learned from analysing those in your current audience. It finds people who are similar to those in your current customers audience and shows your ads to them. How cool is this?

Going back to targeting new customers, it is vital that as a restaurant, people are aware of you, and one incredible thing that Facebook targeting allows you to do is target people located in a particular area, including those that are only visiting. It uses location data in order to do this. Everyone needs to eat after all and visitors to a location are no exception. If they meet your targeting criteria, they will see your ad and hey presto, you might well fill another table on the fly.

Where does email marketing come in?

It is a well-known fact that email marketing lists can get outdated and stale over time. Email addresses change and customers move or just lose interest in your restaurant as time passes. Anyone who works in digital marketing will tell you that this is perfectly normal and in fact, the primary reason that email open rates tend to drop over time.

Facebook, on the other hand, keeps your lists nice and fresh when dishing out your ads. Visitors are tracked and audiences created for up to 180 days at a time only. The fresher the audience, the more likely they are to be interested after all. If someone from London saw your ad for your sandwich shop in Manchester whilst visiting for the day, they aren’t likely to be interested in going the following week, once back in their home city, as the Uber ride there and back would be extortionate.

This being said, email marketing still plays a very big part in running a successful marketing campaign for any business. For instance, email marketing helps you to build your Facebook custom audiences. All email marketing messages should include a call to action (CTA) for the recipient to follow. The CTA could be a link to more information on your website perhaps, or a link to a landing page containing promotional offers. Whatever the destination, as long as your Facebook ad pixel is installed, you’ll be able to add customers to Facebook audiences with specific interests.

You can also allow customers to opt in to your email list when they land on specific web pages through your ads, resulting in your email marketing list growing with people who have taken steps to request more information and offers from you. These are already warm leads and potential customers.

Extend your reach even further than Facebook

One great benefit of using Facebook to market your business is that any ads you put out there aren’t limited to Facebook itself but can target people on Instagram too. Instagram is owned by Facebook and so all the same targeting capabilities are there. Instagram is a great platform for sharing great visual content. It is mostly dominated by a younger audience so if your restaurant is aimed at under thirties, it is even more valuable to concentrate on advertising here.

As well as Instagram, your Facebook ads can also be shown to people via the Facebook Audience Network, which is a collection of mobile apps that serve up ads using similar targeting and measurement tools as Facebook itself.  Why not extend your reach even further?

To conclude

With all this in mind, you can start to build a picture of how important Facebook marketing is for business. Use it to not only put your restaurant out there but to target the right audience for you with the right message at the right time. After all, Facebook is as popular as ever and has a massive audience of active users available to target with your ads. Take advantage of this.

Getting stuck into Facebook Ads manager may seem daunting and you may not have the required skills or assets to create the perfect ads, but there is no need to tackle it alone. There is plenty of help out there. Why not use us here at SocialTrend? We are the top marketing agency in Manchester, specialising in Facebook along with other areas of lead generation marketing. We could well be the Facebook ads agency you’ve been looking for! What’s the harm in getting in touch?