Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

As 2018 gets under way, every caterer should be busy working on their business to determine ways in which they can become  more profitable. The time-pressure of you working in your business that comes with the year-end should have somewhat eased. Top among your catering business priorities should be how to increase sales and customers in the new year. There are massive opportunities to grow your catering business through a consistent and effective online presence. Here is our list of the top 6 items which you should be including in your digital sales and marketing strategy for increased customers and sales.

Understanding the South African Digital Landscape

Before we get into the top tips for increasing  your revenues and customer base with digital marketing, here is a look at the current digital landscape in the South African market.

In 2017, 28.6 million people (52% of the population) were utilising the internet in some format. 15 million of these users (27%) are active on social platforms and a staggering 75% of internet users access it through  their mobile devices. With such a significant mobile user base, it is imperative that your digital content is at least mobile-responsive and your branding and content marketing are designed and crafted for mobile platforms.

The chart above shows that the average South African is spending approximately 14 hours consuming digital media with TV receiving the least amount of time at 2 hours. It is important for businesses of all types to understand that their audience is no longer accessible through traditional media alone – you must have a component of new media such as Social Networking, Mobile Display Ads and even Search Engine Marketing.

So how do our digital audiences spend their week on their digital devices?

Social media activity is now dominating the use of digital devices with nearly 70% of South Africans’ activities being spent engaged on social media platforms. 41% of digital device activity is on Google or other search engine platforms. This means that your website should play nice with Google and having some Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) will increase your online  visibility. Thirdly, email checking is still a significant activity for most digital device forming 33% of the weekly activities. This means there are still some major opportunities to utilise email and newsletter marketing as part of your digital marketing plan.

The 6 Ways To Increase Your Catering Revenue with Digital Marketing

Now that you have a basic idea of the South African digital landscape, what are some of the ways you can utilise this knowledge  to increase the revenue and profitability of your catering business? Here are 6 tried and tested ways to maximise the digital marketing opportunities available to you.

1. Email Marketing

Email marketing is not dead and it still remains one of the most cost-effective ways of reaching your most loyal customers. Provide your guests with an incentive to join your email marketing list and encourage your staff to continually ask for email addresses. Industry wide, email open rates for the catering industry hover around 17% with 4.5% of people taking action by clicking on a link. One caterer is averaging 32.2% opens and 12.6% click actions with their newsletter! If you’re able to build a strong list it can become an extremely valuable tool to not only build more on-site traffic, but substantially increase your catering presence.

2. Regularly Update Your Website (and Search Optimise it)

We see countless companies that offer amazing catering options–but NO ONE KNOWS! If you offer corporate catering, highlight it on your website with a dedicated page. If someone doesn’t see it highlighted on your website (or menu), they will assume you don’t offer it. Also, if you don’t have a section on your website dedicated to corporate or party catering, the chances of showing up in search results when someone is actively searching are slim. If you want to grow that catering business, invest in creating a catering website that is search engine optimized (SEO) to increase your chances of showing up in the first page. If you don’t have resources to regularly update your website and do SEO, join an online catering marketplace like CaterCamp which focuses on creating the best online presence and online catering experiences for customers. You will have peace of mind that all the details of maximising your online visibility through to order placement are taken care of at a fraction of the costs of a custom job.

3. Target the Right Buyer with Social Advertising

Social media is an extremely powerful tool for the catering and hospitality industry. It allows you to target the exact right buyer, very cost effectively. For example, you can create a campaign that targets office managers, pharmaceutical reps, and outside sales professionals in a 20 km radius of a caterer’s location. This is a great way to target your corporate catering services to the right decision makers and build recurring catering orders. And it’s way more cost-effective than you might think. If your goal is to grow the consumer catering side as well, you can run very targeted ads based on location, interest and even income level. This allows you to target the right social buyer behavior and adjust the message in your ad to meet their interests.

4. Consider Pay-Per-Click Advertising [Google Ads]

This isn’t for everyone and costs vary greatly by your market. But, if you’re in an area that isn’t extremely competitive in terms of Pay-Per-Click (PPC), then this could be a great way to kickstart things. This type of campaign allows you to show up in sponsored results when a consumer is searching for “lunch catering in [city].” The best part about PPC is that you only pay when someone takes action. We have found that the most effective campaigns drive people to a very specific landing page (dedicated to catering) and make it simple and painless to share their order. In order to reduce the costs of pay-per-click conversions even further, consider using an online catering marketplace like CaterCamp. CaterCamp runs regular Google Ads campaigns and you never pay directly for the advertising. You only pay for converted orders that are placed directly through our platform through a sales commision. This way, you are ensured that your business will show up as part of CaterCamp’s Google Ads and you only pay for visibility that converts to sales. What could be smarter and more cost-effective than that?

5. Collect and Display More Catering Reviews

If you’re looking to expand or break into the catering space, online reviews are going to be crucial. Nothing can hurt your catering business more than a few bad reviews that go viral. Take time to proactively build great reviews and testimonials from your happy customers. Once you begin to gather these great catering reviews and testimonials, showcase them on your website, social pages, and other catering sales materials. Positive online reviews also have the chance of going viral and building a great referral stream for your business. Online marketplaces like CaterCamp have integrated review collection and display systems from verified customers. So even if you have your own website, a presence on a dedicated catering community marketplace is a great way to let your work speak for itself to an interested audience.

6. Sell Your Catering Services on an Online Catering Marketplace

If you lack the know-how or the resources to implement some of these recommendations, become part of an online catering marketplace like CaterCamp. Joining CaterCamp is free and we will do all the tough digital marketing work for  you while you focus on delivering a superb food experience. CaterCamp also provides a seamless order placement experience, ensuring order accuracy & a great customer experience for the digital age. Go ahead and make 2018 your year of increased revenues, customers and profits through digital marketing!