Google: Last orders for pubs' digital marketing struggles

By Shane Nolan, Google

- Last updated on GMT

Google's Shane Nolan offers his advice for pubs
Google's Shane Nolan offers his advice for pubs
Digital marketing doesn’t have to be difficult and costly as Shane Nolan, director UK & Ireland SMB at Google, explains.

Most pubs have websites nowadays, but if you are looking to refresh yours or create a new one it's important to think about what exactly its purpose will be. You need to understand how you can use your website to improve your business before you can focus on its content and design.

Do you want it to communicate menu or local ale changes, take table/room bookings or simply strengthen your pub’s brand as part of the local or regional tourism offer? A good website connects your visitors’ wants with your business needs, so when it comes to web design, you need to think of the customer experience without losing sight of your own business goals.


If your main goal is to drive restaurant bookings then make sure your menus are prominently featured and downloadable. Update online-only offers such as ‘two for one on mains’ or ‘a free bottle of wine for booking online’ regularly and ensure a reservation phone number appears in a visible location on every page of your site.

If you have an online booking system, make sure it provides reassurance that bookings will be confirmed with an email or phone call. There’s nothing worse for a customer than thinking they have booked online but not being sure whether that booking has been accepted.Having a prominent FAQ section will reduce the number of calls your staff have to take and increase productivity.


Understand how visitors and tourists can find your pub online. Organic Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and paid Search Marketing (PPC) are areas you need to know about, even if you intend to employ an expert.

They have some of the highest returns on investment for your marketing spend. Get these strategies right and you can start automating your marketing, allowing you to focus on improving the quality of your business instead of figuring out how to bring in customers to your site.


AdWords​, which allows you to bid for ad placements based on keyword searches, has helped thousands of small and medium businesses launch into marketplaces and attract traffic to their sites.

Look at Viva la Pizza​, a mobile wood oven pizza business in Europe. Owner Simon Giaccotto primarily operates in Holland but now also travels around Belgium and Germany after Google AdWords helped him achieve a 60% growth in his business.  


Social media​ lets you talk directly to both current and prospective customers, share your content, get involved in conversations, build brand trust, reach more people, grow your sphere of influence, and ultimately understand your customers better.

Remember though that social media isn’t like traditional media - you can’t broadcast marketing messages but what you can do is use the various channels available to share what goes on in your pub in the form of written posts, photos, and videos.

By using social media, you will recruit more loyal punters who in turn will be happy to recommend your pub to their friends.


Email marketing​ is another activity that will build customer loyalty and engagement without breaking the bank. Free and affordable services such as MailChimp and Constant Contact are easy to use and allow you to design attractive layouts while building valuable subscriber lists.

Email marketing also allows you to track and analyse your recipients’ interaction with each message, allowing you to see what is working and what needs improving.


Finally, consider how Google Apps for Work can improve your business.

For managing director John Evans at Welsh hotel the Black Boy Inn​, they help with his admin. The hotel employs 85 people and the payroll is dropped into Google Drive for the accountant to look at, while having Gmail on all devices and using Google Authenticator for security helps his business to run more smoothly.

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