Digital Marketing for Pubs: How to Market a Pub Online in 2020


Digital Marketing for Pubs


Digital marketing for pubs is continuously changing so it’s important to keep updated with different marketing trends.

The pub is a staple of English culture. We’ve been drinking in them since 560AD – apparently – and there are now 47,000 of them to choose from in the UK.

Impressive, you might think. Spoilt for choice, even. But as the owner or operator of one of these pubs, how are you going to stand out from the crowd?

The advantage we have over our ancestors is that we have access to the internet. But so many pubs are getting their digital marketing wrong or not even making use of it in the first place.

The purpose of this online guide is to give you a crash course in digital marketing for pubs.

We’ll cover the basics: how to market your pub, where to market your pub, how to get more customers through your door and more specifically; digital marketing for pubs.

We’ll also cover the advanced: how to utilise video, promote offers and get bloggers to attend your venue.

Click on one of the seven topic headings below to jump ahead to that section:

1. Your Website
2. The Power of SEO
3. Utlising Social Media
4. The Shift Towards Video
5. Online Offers = More Customers
6. Inviting Bloggers
7. Advertising on Bloc for Maximum Results

1. Your Website

First thing’s first, you need to have a classy website.

You should really be thinking of your website as your online pub. You want it to be clean and easy to navigate. Your customers should be able to browse your menu, find where you’re located and then go ahead and book a table. Why else would they realistically be coming to your site?

These are the must-haves and you’ll attract new customers by covering the basics well. But you can also go one step further and convert these people into ‘returning customers.’

To do this, you need a hook. They need a reason to come back.

This is your chance to be quirky.

Here’s a tried and tested idea:

At your pub, encourage your customers to put their business card in a bowl once they’ve paid for their drinks. Let them know that you’ll be drawing the winner of a free meal and drinks on the first day of every month and the results will be announced on your website.


Website Example


There’s your hook.

Get creative with it!

Top tip: make sure your website is mobile friendly. Nothing will make a potential customer leave quicker than text not fitting on the screen.


2. The Power of SEO

SEO is a term you’ve probably heard of, but do you really know what it means?

SEO stands for search engine optimisation and, essentially, you’re battling with your competitors to get your pub to the top of Google.

Allow me to explain with an example. I live in Fulham and I’m looking for a pub to visit on Friday night. Obviously I want to go to a good one, so I head to Google and search for the ‘best pubs in Fulham’.

The first results are The Durrell Arms, The Malt House and The Cock Tavern.

Disclaimer: I’ve been to all three and can confirm they’re great, Google isn’t going to lie to me.

But a newbie in the area is naturally going to rank them in that order and assume The Durrell Arms is the place to be. They’ll get customers through the door and in tandem they’ll have more cash in the till. It really is as simple as that.

So what is it that The Durrell Arms is doing to get to the top of Google, you ask?

Well there’s a whole host of factors that contribute to a strong SEO ranking and truth be told, only the SEO geniuses at Google know the answers.


Digital Marketing for Pubs


However, Google does hand out hints from time to time. We know these are three processes you must be familiar with:


    1. Get a Google My Business account – if your pub isn’t listed here, it doesn’t exist to Google
    2. Get links to your pub from other websites – are you listed on DesignMyNight?
    3. Bring a “freshness” to your website – The Durrell Arms continuously updates their Live Sport section


Top tip: always keep the search term in the back of your mind. If you want to appear at the top of ‘best pubs in Fulham’ what are doing to make yourself the best pub in Fulham? Do you have 5 stars on your Google My Business listing? Is DesignMyNight telling their audience you are the best pub in Fulham? Are you letting your customers know you’ll be screening the upcoming football matches?


3. Utilising Social Media

It’s 2020, if you’re not making use of social media, you’re way behind the times.

Social media has become the forefront of digital marketing for pubs in recent years.

You’ll need your pub on the big three: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. This is non-negotiable.

While your website is strictly professional, social media gives you a chance to relax and interact with your audience. You can develop a casual tone of voice, be humorous, provide your customers with free drink offers, promote competitions and advertise events.

Why wouldn’t you follow an Instagram account that dishes out a free pint of Guinness on St. Patrick’s Day to all their followers?


Digital marketing for pubs


It’s also a great chance to show off just how picturesque your venue is. Here’s a pub and a pub-lover that is getting it right:

– The Churchill Arms of Kensington
– Pub in the Park

Top tip: once you’re set up, go one step further and use the advertising tools on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to put your page in front of as many eyes as possible.


4. The Shift Towards Video

Once upon a time, the be-all-and-end-all of digital marketing was email. Gathering as many email addresses as possible and then ramming content down a reader’s throat seemed like a great idea, but declining open rates and non-existent click throughs has forced us to rethink our strategies.

Let’s be honest, unless you’re a hardcore pub-goer, you’re not going to be interested in an email from a random venue, even if it contains the most incredible drinks offer of all time.

It’s all about supply and demand. If you’re not interested in going to a pub in the first place and you’re planning to stay in on Friday night, a random pub 20 miles away isn’t going to get you off the sofa. You’re clicking the delete button, unsubscribing and getting back to Netflix.

That’s why pubs – and businesses across the UK – are now spending their budget on videos instead.

Think about it: you want to make potential customers realise just how great your pub is. A website that is ranking on the first page of Google and a Facebook page with 1,000 likes is all well and good, but now what are you going to put in front of your audience to make your efforts worthwhile?


Video ads


To put it bluntly, the younger generation have grown up with a world of Instagram stories, Snapchat videos and TikTok loops. To speak their language you’ll need to use a camera. That’s what’s in demand.

Top tip: Videos are all about social proofing: you’re letting your audience know just how awesome your pub is. Make sure you show your customers having fun and bring your menu to life with mouth-watering visuals.


5. More Offers = More Customers

Earlier, we touched on the idea of ‘the hook’ when discussing how to get customers returning to your website.

Offers can be a hook to then get these customers through the front door.

There’s no denying it, as consumers we all LOVE a discount. And nothing is more satisfying than getting a good deal and feeling like a winner, however small the win might be.

Now, as the pub, if your award-winning pie and mash is usually £12.99 but you’re offering it for £10 with a free pint on Groupon, you’re going to have a lot of happy customers.

But it’s time to think bigger. These offers are doing more for you in the background than you might think.


Digital marketing for pubs


Firstly, they’re kickstarting word of mouth marketing: your customers are more likely to tell their friends about a delicious meal they’ve eaten at a recession-busting price and, secondly, they might come back and bring these friends along with them next time – this is even better.

Top tip: try listing your offers on these websites and see how you get on, it’s all about trial and error:

– Sizzling Pubs
Money Saving Expert
Voucher Cloud
– Groupon
– MailOnline

6. Invite Food Bloggers

Next up: bloggers. These are your VIPs. You should think of them as the holy grail of digital marketing: get a food blogger to your pub, roll out the red carpet, provide them with the most British fish and chips of all time and wait for the blog post to appear.

The reason bloggers fast track you to the top of the 47,000 is because they provide a human element to your digital marketing. They’re doing your job for you but far better than you ever could: with an honest, unbiased opinion and to an audience that is fascinated by what they have to say.


Food blogger in pub


Top tip: invite food bloggers to come down and sample your menu (for free, of course). Here are three bloggers you could get in touch with to kick things off:

– Boak & Bailey’s Beer Blog
– Hungry, Healthy, Happy
– Eat Like A Girl

7. Advertise on Bloc for Maximum Results

OK, you’re suspicious. You’ve read through six amazing ways to marketing your pub online and you’re thinking there’s surely not one single way that can be better than the rest.

But Bloc really is the best, and here’s why:

Bloc is doing all of the above six things for you and all at the same time. An advertisement on Bloc provides a shot of your website, rather than the full pint, in a small, easy-to-consume amount.

It links out to your website, giving you the SEO boost you’ve been dreaming of.

It IS a social media platform. Bloc has an audience of highly-engaged pub-goers from across the UK. Putting your pub in their stride is going to guarantee more customers through the door.

You can host videos on Bloc. You’ve spent time and money creating a work of art, now do it justice and put it in front of as many eyes as possible.


Bloc Pub Listing


On Bloc, offers are encouraged. A well-placed offer will draw the most attention, make you stand out from the crowd and tip the scale in your favour.

And, finally, the bloggers are using Bloc! If you want to make as many bloggers as possible aware of your pub, advertise it on Bloc and we’ll make sure they see it.

To find out more about Bloc, how to get set up and guarantee more customers through your front door, click here and get started today.

About Calum Ward

Blogger | Journalist | Lifestyle Writer