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Written by Caroline Cox on Oct 25 , 2021

In uncertain times, these marketing strategies can help your F&B brand power through.

Here, you’ll find:

  • How to gauge the status of your F&B marketing
  • How to use content to grow your reach
  • Creative ways to partner for growth
  • Expert tips on how to market your food and beverage brand

Let’s be real: the last year and a half was a doozy for the food and beverage industry.

Some beloved eateries pivoted to curbside pickup and online ordering. But even those that did their best to accommodate ever-changing rules and precautions didn’t survive.

Those that did know it’s going to continue to take creativity and outside-the-box thinking to keep succeeding. That’s where a strategic marketing plan comes in.

Pull up a chair. Let’s get down to business when it comes to keeping your F&B business afloat in 2022 and beyond, with insight from HawkSEM SEO Manager Carrie Anne Peeler.

aerial shot of people eating a meal together

You can’t underestimate the importance of a well-designed, complete website that keeps your target audience top of mind. (Image via Unsplash)

1. Audit your online presence

Before you can optimize your F&B marketing, you need to know where you stand. For that, it helps to conduct an audit. 

An overall SEM audit can illuminate the status of your online presence, including:

  • How you look on the search engine results page (SERP)
  • What keywords you’re ranking for
  • Any outdated information floating around online
  • How you’re stacking up against competitors

This is also a great opportunity to check that your Google My Business page is claimed, fully built out, and accurate when it comes to things like your location and hours.

2. Build out your website

For the food and beverage industry, you can’t underestimate the importance of a well-designed, complete website that keeps your target audience top of mind.

That means not getting too in the weeds when it comes to the aesthetics of the site, or sacrificing content. “Don’t try to dive into a ‘brand image’ that overpowers the actual offering or service,” advises Carrie Anne.

She adds that an overly styled site that doesn’t include the main core informational pieces people go to your site for — such as menus or contact info — is doing you a disservice.

Remember, SEO is what’s going to help drive people to your site. Without the proper parameters in place, your stylish site will be falling on deaf ears.

Among other elements, an effective F&B website should have:

  • Menus (if you’re a restaurant or bar) 
  • Recipes (if you’re a food or beverage company)
  • Your contact information
  • Visuals that illustrate your product or service

One of Google’s main goals is to serve up pages that provide the information people are searching for. As a result, this gives preference to SEO strategy and creating this type of valued content.

For example, Google has figured out that people searching for “apple” are likely looking for Apple-brand products most of the time, not the fruit. 

In the same way, the search engine tries to show people what they want from food and beverage brands, such as menus, hours of operation, reservations, and nutritional facts, as opposed to a “clean” webpage lacking information.

3. Focus on visuals

Speaking of visuals, the food and beverage industry heavily benefits from the use of eye-catching imagery online.

Approximately 46% of people in the U.S. have either browsed pictures of food or watched food videos on social media in the past month, according to audience targeting company GWI.

As Carrie Anne explains, this industry generally isn’t as focused on things like pillar page content — “it’s more about capturing people and traffic, creating sales-based content, and trying to show up for searches.” 

She adds that including Schema markup on your pages will help boost your SEO. There are plenty of F&B Schema templates to leverage, from menus and reservations to photos and recipes, and more.

4. Tackle local SEO

When you’re looking to increase conversion rates and traffic, as most F&B brands often are, factoring in local SEO is key.

As we’ve mentioned before, local SEO uses regional factors to rank higher in search results to better target local audiences. Not only does this help when searchers are using location-based queries, but it also targets more bottom-funnel consumers.

Make sure your local SEO is optimized by:

  • Keeping your Google My Business page updated and accurate
  • Creating content with local search results in mind
  • Targeting rich or featured snippet placement
  • Having location and keywords metadata and geotagging local images

Pro tip: While regional targeting is important, don’t make the mistake of overly narrowing your audience. Carrie Anne says most F&B companies want to attract a wide variety of customers. Just because you think only millennials are interested in your products doesn’t mean you shouldn’t at least be trying to appeal to Boomers and Gen Z as well.

people eating and drinking in an open-air restaurant

One of the benefits of working with food and beverage brands is the opportunity to have fun with your branding and marketing. (Image via Unsplash)

5. Pay attention to reviews

The data is clear: Online reviews matter — a lot. Qualtrics reports a whopping 93% of customers read online reviews before buying a product. 

It’s important to know what people are saying about your business online. Whether the feedback is positive or negative, do what you can to respond to people who take the time to review your company. 

Thanking someone for a positive review makes them feel heard, while responding professionally to a negative review (and explaining or offering to try to discuss and resolve the issue offline) shows others that you’re paying attention and prioritizing customer experience.

Need more help with your F&B marketing? We’d love to chat.

6. Get creative with content

Blogs aren’t the only content game in town. One of the benefits of working with food and beverage brands is the opportunity to have fun with your branding and marketing. After all, the mission of most of these companies is to bring people together at the table (or the bar), right?

Along with blogging, if that makes sense for you, you can explore other options like collaborating and influencer marketing.

Partner up with a similar, but non-competing, brand in your space for a limited-edition item or a fun event. You can also leverage industry influencers on social media to help get the word out about what you offer without blowing your budget.

7. Explore a variety of ad placements

Your budget, audience, and goals are generally the main factors when it comes to making marketing decisions. With that in mind, see if there’s room to experiment with new areas of ad placement that you may not currently be using.

From paid search and display ads to social media and sites like YouTube, a broad audience means you have a wealth of options when it comes to your digital marketing. Instead of putting all of your proverbial eggs in one basket, trying a few different channels, monitor performance, then modify from there. 

The takeaway

Food and beverage marketers have had to be more agile and flexible than ever these past few years. Now, as the industry slowly returns to some degree of what it was pre-pandemic, those creative strategies can still serve you well for years to come.

Keep the above strategies in mind for 2022 and beyond to keep your business surviving and thriving — no matter what the future holds. Cheers to that!

Caroline Cox

Caroline Cox

Caroline is HawkSEM's content marketing manager. She uses her more than 10 years of professional writing and editing experience to create SEO-friendly articles, educational thought leadership pieces, and savvy social media content to help market leaders create successful digital marketing strategies. She's a fan of seltzer water, print magazines, and huskies.

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