Search engine optimization, text messaging and social media can help pizzeria owners reach customers
People are staring at their screens, and viewing everything from friendly texts to pandemic puppy posts to dinner suggestions. Advertisers that want to be included in this mix are moving beyond traditional print and TV ads and boosting their digital marketing strategies. According to Mintel, digital advertising revenue in 2021 totaled an estimated
$162 billion, a nearly 16 percent increase from 2020.
Pizzeria owners are leveraging text messaging, search engine optimization and online review management to better engage with customers and measure the effectiveness of these campaigns. These days it’s not enough to post a discount and fun photos on a business’s social media pages, and pizzeria owners must figure out how to get the best return on investment.
Search for pizza
According to Google, pizza was the top-searched dish on Google Maps every month in 2021. For pizzerias, the challenge is to stand out among the many “pizza near me” search results. “A lot of large chains are bidding on those keywords,” says Christian Jones, senior vice president of marketing and client development for Hawthorne Advertising in Los Angeles. “Those are expensive because you have to outbid them at $30, $40, or $50 per click, for someone to click through and buy a $30 pizza.”
Instead, pizzeria owners should differentiate themselves with a specific descriptor, such as wood-fired, vegan, authentic Neapolitan, even 00 flour dough. People who search using these keywords have a very high intent to buy. “You are capturing that niche when someone is looking for you,” Jones says.
Social media is also a big part of businesses’ digital marketing plans. According to Nielsen’s annual marketing report, which surveyed global marketers, 64 percent of respondents said social media is the most effective paid channel, and are spending the most on TikTok and Instagram. When choosing a platform, opt for one that is suitable, not just popular, Jones cautions. “If you are a fine dining establishment is TikTok right?” he says. “Probably not, but if you are a fun, youthful restaurant or chain and you’ve got things to say and to show that you are engaging, it might be.”
Everybody’s a Critic
Another way to boost the chances for success with online searches is to make sure the establishment’s profile is up to date. Many pizzerias changed their hours or limited their menus during the pandemic, so it’s important to update that information.
“We call it local presence advertising,” says Brock Berry, CEO and co-founder of AdCellerant in Denver. “It means making sure they have a website, making sure they have a Google business profile page, their social media pages, all the kind of basic things a consumer will use to essentially make a purchasing decision.”
These purchasing decisions are usually quick, and online reviews can help. Having no reviews might make a customer look elsewhere, Berry says, and even negative reviews can be helpful if one responds to them effectively. “The business owner reaches out and says, ‘I’m sorry you’ve had this experience, since COVID started we have had challenges, we are doing our best, here is a free pizza, we appreciate it if you take that review down,’” Berry says. “The person might say, ‘I get it, they reached out to me, they are willing to give me some food, I will take that review down.’”
According to a survey by the platform Popmenu, restaurants are planning to step up their digital game to attract and serve guests in 2022. Many experienced increased sales and efficiency through tech usage in 2021, and 51 percent plan to automate more online operations over the next 12 months while 41 percent plan to automate more on-premise operations.
“We’re seeing greater investment in more personalized outreach, at a higher frequency, through automation,” says Justin Krivanek, vice president of marketing for Popmenu. “For example, more restaurants are using interactive menus that enable guests to like, review and share specific dishes. When a guest takes an action like placing an order or writing a review, it automatically triggers a remarketing campaign that is based on the guest’s behavior and preferences.”
An example of a remarketing campaign is if a guest leaves a review that the restaurant decides to publish, it could then trigger an automated text or e-mail that says, “Your review put a smile on our faces. We hope 10 percent off your next online order puts a smile on yours!”
That’s just one part of what digital marketing looks like today. Krivanek says restaurants are taking many actions towards updating their digital marketing. They are investing in SEO-driven websites so they come up higher in Google search results, and leveraging their online menu as a marketing asset with a more engaging, dynamic approach. They are posting several times a week on social media and sending mass texts and e-mails every week, if not more often. They’re also using on-premise tech such as digital waitlisting to gather guest information for remarketing. “Every digital touch point with a guest is a revenue opportunity and restaurants are taking full advantage of it,” he says.
Ordering by text is another trend. “Restaurants’ need for digital ordering and text marketing has skyrocketed,” says Chuck Moxley, senior vice president of marketing for Mobivity. “Even as the pandemic wanes, consumers expect these options, and make choices where to order from based on being able to order digitally and communicate via text.”
Citing a report from Gartner, Moxley notes that the open rate on a text message is 98 percent, while the open rate on an e-mail is about 20 percent. Also, Mobivity’s own research found that text subscribers visit stores more frequently than non-subscribers, and once a consumer joins a restaurant’s text messaging program, the spend and visit frequency increases 23 percent.
“You want to ensure your pizzeria is one of the brands they’re already engaging with,” Moxley says. “After the logistics are nailed down and you start building an opt-in database, you can refine the nuances, like ensuring the tone of the text message is lighthearted with an exclusive offer and call to action.”
Nora Caley is a freelance writer who covers small business, finance and lifestyle topics.