6 marketing scams that Restaurants need to avoid

There are a lot of marketing sharks out there preying on time poor restaurant owners, so we have written a guide to help you navigate the waters to work out if a marketing idea is a scam or not.

Here is our list of Top 5 Marketing Scams targeting Restaurants that you need to avoid!

blog715Poor Quality Backlinks

We had one customer who experienced a decrease in website visits and mo re importantly a decrease in bookings over a period of 3 months. We reviewed the website and his competitors (it is always important to look at what others are doing to track down the cause of a decrease in traffic), but we couldn’t find a reason for the drop in traffic. Looking further, we discovered that the drop in traffic was all from Search Engine results. We discovered that the restaurant owner had gotten a company to provide a large number of backlinks. The backlinks were poor quality and unfortunately that had caused a massive decrease in Search Traffic. Google continually updates it’s algorithm to determine whether a website is providing useful information for Google Users. Low quality backlinks has been a popular way to game the system, but Google has worked aggressively to penalise websites with poor backlinks.

Expensive Template Websites

We have seen customers spend over $10,000 on websites. There simply is no need to pay this kind of money, unless you have an ultra-premium design need, which most restaurants don’t. In fact we have seen many very expensive websites that don’t cover off on the basic requirements of a restaurant website. Here is the list of features you should be looking for as a minimum:

  • Optimised for mobile (50% of customers will be coming from a mobile or a tablet);
  • Take bookings online;
  • Great SEO – we sent an engineer to
  • Allow sending out of marketing emails that are fully SPAM act compliant;
  • Allow restaurant owners to update the menu, add and change pages quickly and easily;
  • Integrate with Facebook and Twitter; and
  • Provide you with rich marketing reports to help you plan effectively your marketing.

You should look to get a website that is focused on getting you more customers and turning them into repeat customers, not a website that looks great, because we have seen a lot of restaurants with great websites that no one has ever seen because they have poor SEO.

Online Booking Widgets that share customer contact information

If you want to pay to take bookings online on your own website, knowing that there are free alternatives, that is fine.

If you want to share your customers contact details with companies like Dimmi who may promote 50% off coupons to competing restaurants in your area to your own customers, that is fine too.

But never sign a 24 month contract without reading the fine print and asking who owns the data. Many restaurants are shocked when they find out that the customers how make bookings through their own website are receiving coupon offers for other restaurants from the company taking bookings. This just isn’t fair and we sometimes see it a couple of times a day. Do you think that if you customers receive a 50% off coupon to a competitor 4 days after eating at your restaurant, it may be one of the reasons that you are suffering from decreased customer loyalty?


Some booking widgets are Free for customers, but not for the Restaurant.

Some booking widgets instantly send your customer details to the booking companies themselves.

Some booking widgets are guaranteed to send offers to YOUR customers for your competitors’ restaurants.

The best thing to do with any 3rd party booking widget is to create a new Gmail account and make a booking at your own restaurant and see what you receive. May restaurant owners are shocked to see the 50% offers rolling in to their direct competitors.

Overpriced charges for Simple Services

Many companies offer scam services like “Google Places” setup and monitoring. These companies can charge as much as $500 setup and $99 per month. How do we know this? We actually had someone come into our offices trying to get us to sign up. He was actually bragging about how he had ‘helped’ a company down the road, who needed their Google Places account set up. We told him to leave in no uncertain terms J  Google Places has been designed by Google to be set up by business owners in 5 minutes. It is not difficult, if you haven’t done it already, set it up now. Your website traffic will increase.

“Social Media Experts” buying fake likes

There are a lot of “experts” out there who will say that they are running active marketing campaigns, and the likes start going up, but the big problem is that whenever you post a great food photo, you get no engagement whatsoever.   Sometimes the restaurant knows that the company is buying Fake Likes, other times they don’t. Either way, the only thing that the restaurant is getting is a large number of likes, which is becoming less valuable today. You want and need to be building a community, building engagement and building brand awareness, all with potential or actual customers – because this is what drives new customers and repeat customers. Anything else is a waste of money.

One great way to check up on the value of your community is to go through the list of people who are liking your page. Check out what country they are from (you probably shouldn’t have too many likes overseas) and see how many other things these people do. Fake accounts tend to have very few friends and other activity, but they like hundreds or thousands of company pages. This is a sure tip off that something is wrong with your Facebook Community.

SEO Experts who guarantee traffic or a page 1 result

This is pretty common and Google states that there are no guarantees. People often guarantee a number on position for obscure search terms (drives no customers to your site) or pay for adwords to get the number 1 position (costs you money) or generate traffic from places like India from click farms (still generates no customers for you). SEO is a process that should be followed because it will make a difference, but any company offering guarantees is more likely than not gaming the system in some way. We have seen some companies which literally sign people up on 12 month contracts in the hope that they will never look at the results that they will achieve.

High priced referral websites

We had one customer who was paying $200 per month to be listed in a “Top 10” website. When we drilled down into their statistics. There were very few clicks coming from that website. We do know that some referral sites are great and refer a lot of traffic and even a lot of bookings, but there are many sites out there that aren’t. Make sure you understand the reports they are sending you and also make sure that it correlates with your analytics and most important your booking reports.

Ways to avoid Restaurant Marketing Scams

This list is what we see as some of the reasons that restaurant owners coming to www.marketing4restaurants.com for help with in their marketing. To avoid being a victim follow these simple steps:

  • Understand the goals for each of your marketing actions;
  • Understand your website’s analytics – they will tell you what is working and what isn’t;
  • Work with marketing experts who specialise in Restaurant Marketing – they are more likely to know the best ways to find you more customers;
  • Benchmark your marketing results against other restaurants – we have shown a great way for individual restaurants to see how they compare with other restaurants and that information is really important;
  • Don’t outsource your Social Media Marketing – Social Media is Social – you, your staff and your customers, so outsourcing it leads to increased costs and decreased effectiveness;
  • Don’t sign a contract – 12 and 24 month contracts are used to lock customers in for expensive payments, great products don’t need contract lock in;
  • Ask other restaurants what who they are using; and
  • Track every dollar spent. You should be able to see what you payments are getting you and if the marketers you can’t explain what they have done, then they probably haven’t done anything.

Hopefully this list will help you better understand how best to spend your hard earned marketing dollars. Marketing budget well spent can make a massive difference to your Restaurant. We see some customers spending aggressively and taking market share from their competitors, but we also see some restaurants spending a lot of money on marketing and getting zero return for it. You need to know the difference.

Is Poor SEO Killing Your Restaurant?

Too many times we see customers with websites that are costing restaurants thousands of dollars every month through poor design, poor messaging and poor SEO. If your website could be improved to bring in 200 extra visits per month and just 10% of those made a booking, and each booking was for 2.5 seats on average at $50 a seat, you would have an extra $2,500 in revenue a month. A 30% food cost, that is $1,750 in profit extra a month. This ignores those customers coming back as regulars – which is more profit.

Remember, if these customers aren’t finding your Restaurant, they are finding your competitors.

Get one of our obligation free 7 point website SEO audits to see what you can get your web developer to fix to increase your revenue today.