Are You Retargeting? How Mastering It Amps Up Your Restaurant Marketing

By Tim Hilton, Foodable Industry Expert

Advanced Digital Marketing Series:  Part Three: Are You Retargeting? How Mastering It Amps Up Your Restaurant Marketing  

Digital marketing can be frustrating. You’ve invested time, money, and effort into setting up a website, mastering social media, search engine optimization, and maybe even ventured into paid search and conversion optimization. Even with all of this you might still find your customers are leaving your website before they make a booking or hire inquiry, sign up to your membership program, or take any other desired action. But all is not lost just yet.

Ever been searching for something online and, as if reading your mind, ads start appearing on websites you visit showing exactly what you’re looking for? This is what’s called retargeting (or remarketing, depending on who you ask), and is one of the most powerful, not-so-secret tools of many digital marketers.

How it works is pretty simple: You place a piece of code on your website, this puts a “cookie” on the browser of your website visitors, which is then used (by advertising platforms) to place your ad on a multitude of different websites, search engines, and social media platforms they in turn visit. Contrary to traditional static advertising banners, retargeting allows you to show potential customers specific ads online based on their behavior when they visited your website.

As with most digital marketing tactics, their primary use has historically been within e-commerce and has often been overlooked by smaller businesses, however, there are definite applications for remarketing in the restaurant industry. With customers researching up to five different places to eat online before making a decision, it’s easy to see why wanting your name out there as much as possible has great potential to generate more sales. Top-of-mind awareness aside, the majority of people who visit your website never actually take action, so the ability to remind them to do so is clearly advantageous.

Retargeting is a form of pay-per-click ad program (more on that here), meaning you pay each time a user clicks on your ad. There’s plenty of networks out there offering retargeting, with Google AdWords and Facebook being two of the biggest. When it comes to displaying your ads you once again have a few options as outlined below.

Website Retargeting and Mobile Retargeting

These are the most common forms of retargeting displays ads on websites for your past visitors. Using AdWords’ Display Network, for example, gives you access to more than 2 million partner websites and apps.

Search Retargeting

Similarly to the above, search retargeting displays your ads on search engine results pages for keywords and search terms related to your business, just as a standard AdWords campaign would.

Social Media Retargeting

Growing in popularity is the ability to show your retargeting ads on social media platforms like Facebook. This is especially relevant for restaurants that have a strong presence and social media following.

Email Retargeting

Email retargeting works a bit differently. Using AdWords, you can upload a list of past customers or newsletter subscribers, for example, and use that audience to display ads to, not only on other websites but also Google owned services, such as Gmail, YouTube, and Search.

Being able to reach your prospective customers at so many touchpoints has huge potential, but how do you put this into practice in your restaurant’s digital marketing strategy? You can obviously target all your website visitors, but below you’ll find a few more specific ideas to get you started.

Target Abandoned Bookings

If you have a booking form on your website, you’ve probably noticed that the amount of bookings you get versus the amount of people who visit the page don’t usually match up. Here’s your chance to get back some of those lost bookings. By targeting people who have visited that specific page, you’ll be able to remind them or show ads with special offers and other incentives to get them return and complete their booking.

Increase Reviews

Retargeting is a great way of increasing reviews — and subsequently, your ratings — on sites like Yelp, Google, and Facebook. If you have a page that your past or existing customers can visit (such as a booking confirmation page), you can use this condition to serve them ads encouraging them to leave you a review.

In-Venue Tie-in

If you’re running a competition or event at your restaurant consider, handing out printed cards with a link or otherwise promote a specific page on your website. Much less obnoxious than asking for an email address, once they’ve visited this page, you’ll have a custom audience to create a retargeting campaign for.

Private Hire

If you offer function room or private area bookings at your restaurant, set up a dedicated page on your website. The visitors to this page who might just be weighing up their options, or who get distracted before completing the inquiry process, can then be displayed your ads when searching for your competition online.

These are only some of the many retargeting applications for restaurants. With people being offered more options than ever, it’s important to establish prominence in an ever-crowded digital space. Used correctly, retargeting might very well be the secret weapon you’ve been missing from your digital marketing arsenal.

Bonus pro tip: Should you not yet feel ready to venture into retargeting, I suggest enabling the cookie on your site anyway. That way you can start gathering a list of potential customers now to use at a later date.