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As the commercial world increasingly moves to online channels to reach customers old and new, there is a vast and growing spectrum of internet marketing options. These range from the older and more traditional methods, such as SEO and email marketing, to the latest trends in AI, mobile messaging and chatbots. 

With so many ways to market online, it can be hard to know which will be the best way to reach the audience that your particular business needs. But for restaurant owners, one of the earliest methods for connecting with customers online is still proving to be a winning strategy, making it one of the more predictable and reliable channels to invest precious marketing budgets. 

This proven, time-tested strategy is Pay Per Click, also known as PPC. 

PPC first emerged around 2002, as an evolution from the original google AdWords system. Even though it’s viewed as one of the older and more traditional forms of online marketing, there’s a reason it’s still so popular and prevalent: it works. 

Despite the younger and trendier contenders for your marketing spend, PPC is still a powerful way to reach your potential customers online. There are a number of good reasons why it’s still going strong, despite the many changes in the online business world, and it can be particularly effective in certain sectors, such as the hospitality industry. 

So here are 5 reasons why using PPC for restaurants and pubs is still a great online marketing strategy. 

1 Perfect timing

One of the biggest advantages of PPC marketing is the timing of when your customer sees your business. With PPC, your ad is not only placed front and centre for the people who are searching for your services, but it appears at the very moment they are actively seeking what you offer. 

Unlike many other forms of online marketing, for example, social media marketing or email marketing, PPC connects you with potential customers when they’re looking for somewhere to eat, rather than when they’re browsing their social feeds for entertainment or checking their email for work. 

This opportune timing is one of the reasons PPC is so powerful, and it’s particularly effective in the restaurant sector because it matches the ways that the majority of hungry diners search for venues and food outlets. 

2 Fast results

While both PPC and SEO rankings can get your business in front of your customers at an optimum moment – when they are actively searching for a solution or information – SEO is notorious for taking a long time to see results and a decent return on your marketing spend. 

PPC on the other hand can deliver almost immediate results. When you pay for the top spot in the search results for terms such as ‘italian restaurant near me’ or ‘vegan food London’, you can expect to see clicks through to your website within days of setting up your campaign. 

3 Cost-effective

In terms of seeing a strong ROI for your advertising spend, PPC remains one of the most cost-effective online marketing options. And unlike some types of online advertising, it’s easy to see some fast results from a manageable budget, without needing a huge initial outlay or lengthy (and expensive) ongoing campaign. 

The bidding system used in PPC means you can set limits to what you’re prepared to pay for clicks from particular keywords, based on what that traffic is worth to your business. Being able to manage your marketing budget closely and still expect a worthwhile ROI make this choice of online marketing an appealing option for businesses of all sizes. 

4 Precise targeting

With PPC, it’s possible to achieve a sophisticated level of customer targeting using keywords, i.e. the search terms people use when seeking information online. 

While you can effectively use PPC to target potential customers around the globe, for restaurants, opting for narrow targeting is a proven strategy for reaching the right potential customers for minimal cost. For example, ranking for ‘best bistro York city centre’ is likely to help you reach more local diners looking for a specific type of restaurant nearby than a more general term such as ‘good food Yorkshire’. 

Targeting highly specific (niche) and long-tail keywords (over three words) using precise locations make it particularly powerful for bricks-and-mortar businesses, compared to online shops and services, who have to compete with the global online marketplace. 

5 Tangible, measurable results

A major benefit of PPC is that you can see exactly which ads are effective and delivering the right traffic to your website. Unlike more general brand awareness campaigns, the effectiveness of a PPC campaign is very easy to track, measure. 

Being able to see precisely if and how your ad-spend is working for your particular service offering is a significant benefit for any business owner. When you get clear data and analytics for what’s effective, you can then make informed decisions about where to spend future budgets as well as what might be improved. 

PPC is undoubtedly one of the fastest and most effective options for reaching your audience online. And for restaurant owners aiming to connect with potential customers in an increasingly noisy online space, harnessing the power of highly-targeted, search-based advertising is a proven strategy for helping more of those hungry diners to find you.

Andrew Nicholas is a Director and Co-founder of SideDish Media Restaurant Marketing in London, UK. SideDish Media is a Digital Marketing Agency whose passion and focus lies in the food, drink and hospitality industry, helping restaurants, bars, hotels increase their positive exposure online. SideDish Media helps to put restaurants' businesses and brands in front of millions of the right potential customers through specialised targeting methods, to achieve the maximum impact from precious marketing budgets.

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