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How digital marketing can help your restaurant during the COVID-19 pandemic

by | April 1, 2020

Profile photo of blog author Kevin Olson, content writer for Capitol Tech Solutions

Digital Strategies for Restaurants During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Restaurant puts up COVID-19 notice.

There is no doubt that all types of businesses are being negatively impacted by the recent COVID-19 pandemic. In order to fight the spread of this virus, various cities and states are enacting shelter in place orders, which have an even larger impact on businesses, especially those that are in the food service industry. The recent shelter in place order in California required that restaurants eliminate all in-restaurant seating, but allowed drive-through and or pick-up/delivery options to remain in place.

Capitol Tech Solutions has had the privilege of working with Pushkin’s Bakery during this pandemic. Pushkin’s is Sacramento’s exclusive wheat/gluten and dairy-free dedicated bakery with several locations. They have immediately taken the necessary steps to ensure that they follow all of California’s shelter in place orders, while also still serving their customers to the best of their ability. In order to do this, they have shifted from primarily serving their food in-restaurant/bakery, to curbside pickup and even local/nationwide shipping.

Along with this, we have worked with Pushkin’s to develop new digital strategies to help them during the pandemic. Our first step was to work with Pushkin’s to create an easy-to-use Shopify website for customers to place orders online. Customers can order cupcakes, cookies, pastries, bread, and even order a completely custom cake, all from the comfort of their home. The customer selects a pickup date/time during the checkout process, Pushkin’s receives and fulfills the order, the customer pulls up to a Pushkin’s location where they are then greeted by a Pushkin’s employee with the order in hand. More recently, we have worked with Pushkin’s to get their proprietary flour blend up onto the website and ready for delivery. Because of the website, they are now able to ship their flour out nation wide, reaching people who may never have had the opportunity to eat at Pushkin’s. Their website has allowed Pushkin’s to expand their business into new areas all across the country.

So how can Your Restaurant Adapt to COVID-19?

Obviously, your restaurant may not have the ability to ship food products across the country; however, you can still utilize your website to help keep your restaurant afloat during these uncertain times. There are many food ordering apps that exist, and your customer could always call in to order, but bringing that business in using your existing website could be a much better option for your business. For instance, food ordering apps like Postmates, Uber Eats, Door Dash, etc allow customers to order online, but they take a large percentage of the sale.

Website platforms like Shopify provide you with so many tools and plugins to help your business be successful. Like we mentioned before, Pushkin’s utilizes a Shopify plugin that allows customers to create fully custom cakes. This same plugin could be utilized for your restaurant. For example, if you sell cheeseburgers, your customers can select what items or condiments they want on their burger, what they want to remove, add a side of fries, select whether they want to pick it up or if your restaurant has the ability to deliver the food then your customer can choose to have it delivered, and then they checkout. Here’s the best part: you keep all of the profits from the order.

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Utilizing Social Media to Keep Your Customer Informed

Try and utilize social media as much as possible. It is important to update your customers every day about what is going. Pushkin’s has done a great job with this digital strategy. Because they are adding items and features to the website on almost a daily basis, Pushkin’s will send out multiple posts or stories each day to let their customers know what’s new. Pushkin’s active engagement on social media also motivates their followers to post about Pushkin’s on their own personal accounts. Pushkin’s will then share these posts with their followers thanking them for their support. Pushkin’s active engagement on social media has created additional support for their bakery. People want to support local restaurants, so it’s important to engage with your followers on a daily basis.

Newsletter Announcement

Newsletters can be very effective when you need to send out an update regarding your business. It might be a little trickier for restaurants because it’s harder to collect emails; however, you can use a website to start gathering emails. There are several ways to gather customer emails. First, you can have an option on your site where people can enter their email to stay up-to-date on your restaurant. The best way to get people to do this is to entice them with something that benefits them. For instance, you can use this message, “Sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date on all new food items and discounts.” Next, you can have a checkbox at checkout that allows customers to ‘click to signup’ for your newsletter. Lastly, you can require that customers use their email in order to check out. We recommend that you not use emails that are gathered this way for monthly newsletters; however, an occasional important announcement is not bad. For instance, an announcement regarding COVID-19 would work.

A large list of emails can be used for more than just a newsletter. You can use them for other various marketing tools. Maybe you want previous customers to discover you on Facebook. Restaurants have partnered with Capitol Tech Solutions to run a Facebook page like campaign targeting those specific customer emails. We have also used those email lists to run retargeting campaigns to get customers back to a website or drive them back to a restaurant.

Optimize Your Restaurant’s Digital Strategy

These are uncertain times for the entire restaurant industry. Contact Capitol Tech Solutions to get started developing a customized digital strategy to help your restaurant reach more customers and expand sales during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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