15 Advertising Tricks to Sell Food Online (+examples)

If you sell food online, you have found the right article.

I work in marketing and advertising for a wonderful food company, and we regularly apply many of these strategies to sell food online. 

And today we are going to review some of these advertising tricks used by the best food companies who sell and advertise their food on the internet.

Advertising tricks to sell food online
There are many advertising tricks food companies use to sell food online, here are the 5 most common: 1. Excellent use of mouth watering images, 2. Sell the health benefits, 3. Use plenty of social proof, 4. Give away a free gift with a purchase, 5. Exploit the food’s exotic origin.

Not all of these advertising tricks are used all the time, but chances are high you have purchased food online because one of the advertising tricks was extra impactful.

Let’s now review some of these methods that food companies use to promote their food online.

15 Advertising Tricks to Sell Food Online

Online food sellers face a lot more complex problems than regular food sellers because many of the most important aspects of their product are lost, such as taste, aroma, and texture -- let alone the urgent need of a customer, who is hungry right now.

This calls for an extra effective advertising strategy that appeals to consumers' senses, feelings, shared experiences -- and their ability to wait at least 15 minutes for a DoorDash or Uber eats delivery. 

With that, and if you are in the food andor restaurant business and want to build your marketing strategy, go here for a great article that will help you:

What is the best marketing strategy for restaurants? (Awesome plan)

Below are proven tips and tricks to up your advertising game, appeal to potential food consumers, and drive more food sales.

Here are 15 advertising tricks you can use to sell food online:

1. Mouth-Watering Product Descriptions

Product descriptions are equal to “tasting” in brick-and-mortar shops. 

Write excellent sentences that describe specific aromas, taste variations, and textures. 

Talk of buttery, sweet, floral, and other delicious-sounding words that create word pictures in the customer’s mind.

Let’s kick off #1 with an example from one of the biggest food manufacturers in the US, Tyson Foods, who owns the hot dog brand Ball Park. As we get started reviewing these advertising examples, go here for a great article:

Marketing lessons from the most popular food companies (Top 10 brands)

In the article above we reviewed the biggest food companies and their approach to marketing. Not only is Tyson Foods one the one of the largest food producers in the US, but they are the largest exporter of beef in the US.

They know how to advertise.

With that, here is an example of their home page, above the fold, of how they are doing this.

First notice their excellent, simple, image featuring the product they are selling.

Second, notice their use of colors and how they all work together on the page.

Third, notice their use of language (copy) and how it is speaking to a very clear audience. They know who buys hotdogs, and what time of year it is. They no doubt review their marketing data and analytics and know who is buying at this time of year.

Fourth, notice their navigation bar. Simple, concise, easy to locate the topics that are most important to the consumer, and the only link that is not focused on the customer is “Our story”, which is last -- showing it is least important to the customer.

Fifth, a very clear and easy call to action (CTA). 

Whether you sell chocolates, kale or hot dogs, we could all learn from this simple and clear advertising example.

 2. Offer a Guarantee

One shortcoming of selling food online is that consumers can’t touch, taste, or feel like they would in a regular brick-and-mortar shop. 

Offering a satisfaction guarantee shows that you are confident in your product quality. 

You can easily figure out how to offer money-back, the lowest price, and satisfaction guarantees.

But keep in mind, if you offer a satisfaction guarantee, there are some basic common sense guidelines you do need to follow. Here is the Code of Federal Regulations regarding the use of a Guarantee in your advertising.

The bottom line is this: keep it simple, treat your customers like you would want to be treated and if your product is not what the customer was expecting, or just didn’t like it, simply refund their money and part ways. Start advertising to people and attracting customers who do like your food product.

 3. Use Social Proof Such as Testimonials

Customers are likely to buy from you if someone else already did and is happy with the results. 

Let potential clients that visit your website know that your brand is popular by displaying social media activity and use testimonies of satisfied clients in your advertising.

This is something that should be used 100% of the time.

After all, in most cases, your customers are far better and more believable at reporting the benefits of your food.

 4. Use of Social Media Influencers

Influencer marketing can be a highly effective way of increasing sales for your online food business. 

Influencers usually have a large fanbase, especially on social media platforms. 

For example, you could hire or do a joint program with a prominent food blogger to mention your brand in their videos and post your website links on their social media handles.

Another option is to find local social media influencers to help you grow your social following and to promote your food products. 

This can work very well depending upon how much activity the influencer can generate from their following. This is absolutely worth an advertising test.

5. Buy 1 Get 1 Free (BOGO) or Get 3 for 2

Variations of BOGO’s are very popular and are used quite often.

This is an excellent strategy for incentivising and increasing sales, where you reward consumers for making a purchase. 

For example, if a client purchases a box of pizza, you can offer them a second box for free or at a reduced price. 

This way, you sell more inventory and share the benefits with consumers. Plus, you are providing more value to the customer.

6. A Free Gift When You Buy

Offering freebies is an excellent way of gaining a new customer and retaining customers for their loyalty. 

A good example is offering a juice bottle for every steak purchase at a set price. 

The proper use of free goodies can increase customer satisfaction, increase future repurchase intentions, and even lower return rates. All these items are fun to study once you have some marketing data to review. 

One of the main reasons why “Free” works here is because consumers believe they are getting more goods at a reduced price. Said another way, the customer perceives they are getting more value as a result of the transaction.

Here is an example of how BurgerKing.com uses the word Free to gain customers online:

Burger King is promoting a free Whopper or other sandwich with every initial online order.

This is a proven, time-tested method for not only building a database of consumers, thereby having more control offer your database, but also an ingenious way to use the word Free in their digital advertising.

And we know this is a main company advertising initiative because this offer is placed on their home page, above the fold in the most valuable real estate they own.

For another example of how a giant in the food marketing and advertising business “free” in their digital advertising, go here for a very helpful example:

What is Operational Excellence and Why is it Important?

7. Promoting an Exotic Source of the Ingredients

Foods or ingredients coming from exotic-sounding locations can often provide a unique opportunity in advertising.

This is because people often associate foods from far away lands as being better, or having unique, healthy qualities. 

For example, there is a hairy-looking, small, green fruit similar to a coconut called the baobab fruit. This fruit originated in Africa and has been eaten for 1,000’s of years. Experts say it is highly nutritious, has more antioxidants than blueberries, more calcium than milk, more iron than spinach and 600% more vitamin C than oranges.

If one of your foods contains baobab fruit, this would serve as a point for your advertising plan, assuming your customers would value this.

So, be sure to search for and mention in your advertising any exotic ingredients used in your food. 

Customers are likely to pay more if the food contains rare ingredients that provide a benefit.

 8. Use of Vibrant Colors and Great Lighting in Photography

Superb images go a long way in attracting online food clients. Blurred dark images are likely to turn off potential consumers. 

Furthermore, colors and taste go hand in hand since certain colors often imply specific tastes. Ensure your brand colors reflect the value proposition you sell to the consumer.

Few companies are as effective in their advertising than the brands of KraftHeinz.

For example, here is one of their main banners that they have used for a long time, which means it is working for them.

The image features a very happy customer, using their product with great lighting and vibrant colors -- but all these ingredients support the main message.

It doesn’t get too much better. 

If they were in the direct to consumer business, they could add a call-to-action similar to BallPark Brands or Burger King.

9. Using Intense Positive Emotions

The use of emotions boosts product attractiveness. 

Just look at the KraftHeinz example above. This happy customer is clearly enjoying using the product, and can’t wait to dig into her food.

Ensure your advertising language stirs or suggests positive emotions like happiness and enjoyment. 

A good example is a video of someone dancing or sensually rolling their eyes after consuming food purchased from your store. 

Additionally, positive emotions boost consumer power of recall and association. 

 10. Promoting the Feelings of Youth and Longevity

Value is a crucial selling point in the competitive food industry. 

Health-conscious consumers want to know what value your branded food adds to them. 

Similar to the baobab example above, be sure to mention in your advertising rare ingredients in the meals that boost health, make consumers feel younger, and live longer.

Important note: only do this if you know what you are doing. Making claims and saying things that simply aren't true will get you into trouble. 

If you need help here, please feel free to contact us.

 11. Use of a Coupon with Compelling Language

Coupons allow consumers to purchase food from your online shop at discounted prices. 

Coupons boost brand recognition, boost your success rate and increase your chances of upselling the clients. 

Ensure that the language used on the coupons is as attractive and compelling as in your other advertisements.

Many expert advertisers will start by writing the offer in the coupon before actually writing the advertisement, whether print, online or some other form of media. This exercise helps you to clarify your offer, make a compelling coupon and then mentally prepares you to develop the ad.

For an excellent article on this topic, visit this article:

What is Scientific Advertising? (+strategy)

 12. Selling the Healthy Qualities

We briefly mentioned this topic in a couple different ways above.

But it’s worth repeating because ‘healthy food’ is a huge business offering an enormous amount of opportunity.

With the increase in lifestyle diseases, consumers are looking for solutions in food. If your food has healthy qualities, focus on those. 

Talk about the best nutrients, the possible metabolism-boosting or weight loss benefits, the glowing skin, improved digestion, healing properties, and other health benefits in your advertising.

But again, avoid making any unsubstantiated claims and not being truthful. 

13. Selling the Best Qualities, Such as Organic, Fresh, Non-GMO, Nutritious, Etc

Capitalize on your product strengths by marketing the best qualities. People really like knowing what’s in their food, but they also really like knowing what’s NOT in their food.

Consumers want to know the source of their food and how it was grown for health, ethical and religious purposes. 

For example, Kosher foods are very important to the Jewish community.

If your foods are Kosher certified be sure to put this in your advertising.

14. Share Experiences, a.k.a user-generated content (UGC)

For most consumers, food is more than something to fill their stomachs. 

The food reflects family memories, grand events, cultural pride, identity, and other shared experiences. Express the experiences in your advertising and invite the consumers to share the traditions and memories as their own.

15. Produce Consistent Content

Web content is an important method of brand advertisement for many online brands. Write on topics that address consumer concerns about your food company. 

You can also write about new recipes and gift ideas.

Additionally, by developing helpful content on a regular basis, this gives you more reasons to stay in touch and communicate your food message to your customers.

As we close out this article on the best advertising tricks, it would be very helpful for you to review some of the best financial metrics to keep an eye one. After all, to generate revenue and profits for the company is why you are advertising your business. Her are some food producers financial ratios that are worth your time to review:

Food manufacturing financial ratios (Hormel vs Pepsi vs Nestle)

To see more articles about marketing and advertising your food business, you are invited to review the articles here:

Food marketing articles

References

  1. Key success factors in health-related food marketing: A case study Approach: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Wim-Verbeke-2/publication/254386832_Key_Success_Factors_in_Health-related_Food_Marketing_A_Case_Study_Approach/links/0a85e539c13f4cf6c2000000/Key-Success-Factors-in-Health-related-Food-Marketing-A-Case-Study-Approach.pdf 
  2. 7 Ways to Quickly Grow Your Food Business: http://extension.msstate.edu/content/7-ways-quickly-grow-your-food-business 
  3. Starting a Food Business: Build Your Marketing Chops for Success: https://hospitalityinsights.ehl.edu/starting-a-food-business-marketing-strategy 
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