In this fourth and final chapter of the Ghost Kitchen 101 series we look at the marketing strategies that empower ghost kitchen brands, help increase their online visibility and enable them to crush the competition.
Without a laser-focused, robust marketing strategy, any ghost kitchen brand will very quickly find itself floating dead in the water.
Ghost kitchens don’t have a brick-and-mortar location where guests can enjoy the whole experience of the brand. As a ghost kitchen brand, you don’t control the dining experience since it happens through delivery, and you have one listing among dozens if not hundreds of other alternatives. The only arena where virtual restaurant brands can compete over visibility is online.
In other words – it’s war.
Luckily, marketing in the digital world is just as diverse and evolved as in the physical world. There are lots of ways to increase exposure and engagement and grow your customer base. Third-party delivery apps, a killer website, a solid social media presence, and email marketing are just a few of the options available to you as a ghost kitchen marketer.
Remember, to win the war for online visibility, you should focus on creating a delightful experience throughout every step in the customer journey – including ordering, packaging, quality of food, and post-meal interactions. All customer touchpoints with you should be pleasant, satisfying, and tied to your ghost kitchen brand.
After reading this article, you’ll be armed with everything you need to know about winning the war for ghost kitchen brand marketing. Let’s gear up.
Table of Contents
Know Your Audience
Knowing your audience is crucial for the success of any marketing strategy. And especially so for ghost kitchen brands that live exclusively online. The more you understand your audience – their preferences, habits, and needs – the more powerful your SEO and marketing efforts will become.
Once you do find the customer base that’s right for you, you then need to do everything you can to retain and engage them and ideally turn them into evangelists for your ghost kitchen brand.
You want to know customers as intimately as possible. Where are they from? How old are they? What are they interested in? How tech-savvy are they? What kind of food do they enjoy eating at different times in the day?
Knowing your customer is not a one-time task, either. Customer needs are constantly evolving, especially following the effect of COVID-19 on consumer behavior. Millennials are now joined by whole new segments of food delivery customers.
On the one hand, this means a more significant customer base, unlimited by age group or location. On the other hand, it implies ghost kitchen business owners need to work twice as hard at defining, finding, and targeting the right audience.
In other words, tracking and analyzing customer behavior should be an ongoing part of your marketing strategy. If this seems like a lot of work, that’s because it is. But it will pay off because knowing your customers will enable you to target the right people with the right information through the right communication channel.
Communicate Your Ghost Kitchen Brand Soul
A ghost kitchen brand is the only way virtual restaurants can create a meaningful connection with customers. Even a great looking website won’t cut it unless it tells a deeper story about the brand’s origin, the philosophy of the food, and the people behind the curtain.
Instead of stock images and cliché slogans, focus on telling genuine stories and sharing remarkable experiences. Keep it honest and straightforward. After being locked up inside their homes for the better part of a year, consumers are hungry for human connection and food experiences that communicate the real soul behind the ghost kitchen brand.
The Ghost Kitchen Website
Whether a ghost kitchen or a brick-and-mortar establishment, any restaurant needs a great website that should be optimized to make purchasing absolutely seamless.
Customers today, especially when it comes to food delivery, expect a certain standard of ordering. If the menu takes more than 10 seconds to find via their phone, they’re most likely just to give up and search for an alternative.
Make sure your website is user-friendly with a good page load speed. Customers need to find the name, phone number, email address, opening hours, and, most importantly, an ORDER NOW button within a few seconds and with the minimum number of clicks possible.
Packaging Is (almost) Everything
Packaging is key to getting people interested in learning more about your ghost kitchen brand. Beyond the food itself, the packaging is the only physical touchpoint a customer has with your brand.
More than that, it is incredibly personal because it brings the brand into the customer’s home. You already got your foot in the door, and now it’s crucial to create a memorable and sensory experience that will impact a customer.
Elements to consider include bags, cups, containers, labels, and menus, all of which should convey messaging and designs that tell your ghost kitchen brand story and make customers want to connect with it.
The quality of the packaging itself is also vital. Flimsy plastic utensils that do nothing to prevent spillage don’t send the message that you treat your food with care and attention.
A container that is nice to hold, keeps food warm, and prevents it from being tossed around will go far in creating the perception that you respect the dishes you offer, making them more appetizing.
A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Customers
Investing in high-quality food photography is key to showing off your ghost kitchen cuisine type and offerings.
For third-party delivery app ordering pages, notice how all the menu items always look amazing. Most home-delivered food doesn’t look exactly like the picture after traveling for 20 minutes in the back of a bicycle on a rainy day. Still, it works, and it’s worth having a professional photo session for this.
For general use, compile an archive of pictures of your chef cooking or plating the food, the food itself, your facilities, and anything else that can help tell the ghost kitchen brand story.
Small, engaging videos are even better. These can be funny, informative, or emotional. Topics can vary from measures you’re following amidst COVID-19 to recipe videos or anything else that will keep viewers engaged.
Another great way to build up your visual cache is to reach out to customers. Ask home diners to share their best food photography with you.
Social Media, Obviously
Social media is the most effective way to engage directly with followers to create a true community. Marketing on social media is a vast topic. Here’s a great article about how to leverage social media to build your ghost kitchen brand for those who want to dive deeper. For now, here are a few quick tips:
- Always create content that communicates who you are as a brand
- Follow local foodies and influencers and engage with their content
- Use geotagging to increase reach and create interest
- Use icons to link directly from the website to your different social media channels and vice versa
Email Marketing for Ghost Kitchen Brands
Email marketing is a highly effective and often overlooked way to communicate with your customers. Use this tool to keep customers updated about new offers or meals on your menu, invite them to fill out post-meal surveys, or offer promotions.
A few rules of thumb to ensure your email marketing campaigns are effective:
- Email on a weekly or monthly basis (do not overdo it or you risk spamming)
- Write clear, straightforward subject lines
- Always include a high-quality image
- Stay on brand, both in tone and message
- Use this opportunity to upsell items
- Always have a compelling call-to-action
Be Sincere about Engaging with Customers
To truly build a relationship with customers and increase word-of-mouth marketing, you need to get serious about engaging with customers online.
It won’t do to have a one-sided conversation via email or on social media. You need to give customers an authentic voice and be ready to respond as though they were standing right next to you, especially when it comes to negative reviews.
Sharing customer reviews and testimonials on social media is a great way to show that you take their feedback to heart. If you’ve upgraded your packaging in response to a customer’s complaint about the food arriving cold, post it online saying thank you for helping us make our ghost kitchen even better.
Engaging with customers on a daily basis is one of the more time-consuming parts of ghost kitchen brand marketing. But it’s also the most important.
Help Cheetah help you
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