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Free Advertising Ideas for Online Retailers and Restaurants

Imagine this: you’re serving dinner to customers on the weekend, and there is no single table vacant. Customers are praising your food, passing plates, and ordering lots of delicious dishes. Additionally, you have a solid reservation list for a month. Restaurant owners often dream of this scenario, but few realize it.

The same applies to online retailers. Irrespective of business size and type, running a business is no easy feat. From assisting customers in resolving their issues to maintaining inventory to promoting a business in the digital world, there are multiple things to consider for consistent business growth. So what specific steps are you taking to grow your restaurant or retail business? Are those steps costing you more? Are those steps decreasing your profitability? 

The Internet is no secret when it comes to discovering new restaurants, writing reviews, looking at menus, and making reservations. Today’s digital world makes it difficult for restaurants to market themselves effectively. Because there are plenty of marketing channels and customer’s preferences also keep evolving. 

An average of 80% of restaurants closes within the first five years of operation. Unexpectedly, the quality of food or décor won’t affect the rating either. It is primarily their location that causes restaurants to close. People will not come in in a prime location if they don’t know you’re there, but it’s quite expensive to stay there.

So if you don’t have the best location, how can you make sure people know where you are? Yes, keeping customers coming back to your restaurant and online store requires creative marketing ideas! Here, cost-effective marketing ideas come to the rescue.

Low-budget Marketing Ideas That Work For Restaurants and Online Retailers

The importance of restaurant marketing cannot be overstated. When you’re on limited resources, it can be hard to find unique marketing ideas that work well for every type of business. Business owners on a limited or negligible marketing budget can use these new no-budget (or low-cost) marketing ideas to attract and engage their current customers. Let’s get started. 

Pay Attention to Local SEO

No doubt, the idea behind promoting your business on the Internet is to spread positive words about your products and services. But before going international, you need to attract local patrons. If your business reputation is good within the local market, it will become easy to expand your business horizon without any limits. 

Hence, Local SEO is important, whether you are running a restaurant business or an online store. You will have little chance of getting clients if you do not appear in local searches. If a user searches for a keyword like “best pizza,” they should see your local pack, also known as the top three locations on Google maps.

Because they are among the first results displayed, these top three restaurants are more likely to receive traffic from users. And users will find all the relevant information. If you are offering an online ordering facility,  details related to delivery platforms such as website and app, reviews from customers, etc. will also be reflected over here. 

Hence, get started with Google My Business listing because it will show your customers when you are open, photos shared by customers, a digital menu, and much more. And, yes, this is completely free. 

Word of Mouth – Let Your Customers Promote You

You will always have free advertising from your customers. Social networks have made them more valuable than ever before as a source of referrals through word of mouth.

Business owners should encourage their guests to post to Instagram and use hashtags to maximize customer social media accounts. For example, if you are occupied with an online clothing store, you can let your customers post pictures of their ordered clothes on Instagram with the hashtag that includes the name of your brand along with a discount or a free starter.

This will encourage other customers to buy your products and drive more traffic to your website and application. 

Provide a Unique Customer Service

A strong customer base is a key to a successful business, but how to make a solid customer base. The simple answer is customer service. According to Microsoft, 96% of customers admit that customer service is an important factor when it comes to deciding brand loyalty. 

Word-of-mouth promotion is one of the oldest and most effective ways to promote a business at no cost! But it will work only when guests receive exceptional service and food. For your guests to return to your restaurant and recommend it to their family and friends, you need to offer a wholesome customer experience. 

It doesn’t cost anything to impress customers with friendly staff, hygienic surroundings, and prompt service. If you are engaged with an online business, you can also leverage chatbots as they can assist customers round the clock and help you gather important customer data. 

Encourage Customers Curated Content 

Your customers’ sharing on social media is one of the best ways to gain a following online. Don’t fall into this outdated way of thinking; some restaurants discourage diners from using their phones while they dine. Promote taking pictures of food, cocktails, or yourself in front of a funny statue on the bar by posting signs.

Create opportunities for guests to share. Add word bubbles to the chalkboard wall when they enter. Incentivize shares by offering rewards. Let your guests know which social networks your restaurant uses; give them a hashtag to use in their posts. Your hashtag should be included in a contest that you run.

Getting exposure through your restaurant’s customers’ posts on Instagram and other social networks is free! Offer them something special for their awesome contributions by sharing their posts on your profiles. 

A good way to get your restaurant more exposure is to encourage your customers to interact with your brand online. A viral approach can also increase your restaurant’s business since this method improves the likelihood of going viral. Share your creativity online with your community. Make them excited with your funny tip jars, cozy atmosphere, and tasty meals.

Leverage Blogging Platforms to Reach New Customers

“Content is king.” No matter how superior your product and service are, you won’t survive in this digital world without informative and quality content. The benefits of blogging for your brand include lead generation and an improvement in search engine rankings. 

Massimo Chieruzzi puts it this way, “Content Marketing offers an unfair advantage over the long time. Anyone can raise more money and outbid you on paid channels. But SEO takes time and effort, once you dominate your niche, competitors will have a really hard time beating you.”

The content strategy of a successful blog is clear. The reason for this is that readers of your blog increase your site’s search engine authority, which can help your business rank higher than its competitors. To keep your audience engaged on your blog, make sure you have an editorial calendar that organizes your blog.

These topics could include:

  • Cooking tips and recipes tutorials
  • The history of your business
  • Ingredients you are using on your signature dishes
  • Happy customer stories
  • Guest posts from local customers 

SMS Marketing

Source: MobileMonkey

No doubt, living in the instant messaging apps, some find SMS marketing outdated. But it’s a myth. A business owner should use SMS marketing because it is a newer marketing channel. By sending text messages, you can communicate with customers, of which 90% are read. Additionally, a study shows that 64% of consumers believe businesses ought to text them more often.

You can entice more customers to your business through SMS marketing. But make sure your business also offers some value like the ability to make reservations, make payments, visit customer reviews, and much more. 

It can be used as a personal communication channel or business tool. It has a low learning curve and almost no barriers. Some marketers mix this with push notifications, but it is different. Here you don’t need to download the app to receive real-time messages. Text messages can be sent and received without downloading an app by anyone with a mobile device.

The only caution? Your text message recipients must opt-in to receive your messages.

Get Social with Social Media Marketing

Sometimes, it seems like social media marketing has made the world smaller as it was never before. From connecting with lots of people to making connections to promoting products and services to running an ad campaign, brands are harnessing the power of social media to grab the attention of maximum eyeballs. 

As Fishbowl’s chief analytics officer told CNBC in an interview, “social media gives smaller, independent, and regional [brands] a chance to speak out.” In other words, social media is one of the best tactics that allow brands to get noticed in front of billions of folks without paying a single penny until you opt for paid advertising. 

Moreover, if you are having a Shopify store, you can link it to your existing social media accounts to boost sales and revenue. If you are active on various social platforms, going with social media management tools such as Buffer, Hootsuite, etc. offers you myriad other benefits as well. However, You don’t need to use multiple social media accounts, the best platforms are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. As you can see, billions of people are actively using these platforms to connect and share. 

Market Your Online Business for Free 

Promoting a restaurant or retail business, no matter whether it is your first or tenth pop-up can be difficult. You don’t need to pay a dime to market your business: there are many free options available. When most people hear the word ‘marketing,’ they think of expensive marketing strategies and excessive spending. You can market your business for free, however. This post highlights seven free marketing strategies that you can use right now to drive traffic to your online business. 

Author’s Bio:

Nirav Parmar is an online marketer and blogger having hands-on experience in crafting creative content. The skills he poses in creative writing is fantastic as his ability to write engaging content attracts the readers. His enthusiastic approach to researching the facts related to the topics is phenomenal. He knows all the latest trends of delivery business, strategies to digitalise SMEs,  changing market dynamics etc.