Online catering orders are a critical first step for many restaurant brands that invest in digital, currently offered by 37% of brands tracked in Gartner L2’s report on the topic.
The space, though, is highly competitive—catering service ezCater frequently takes the majority of text ads listings for important branded keywords. Furthermore, catering continues growing in relevance as search volume for “catering near me” grew almost 2,000% from 2015 to 2019. The term also drew in almost 5% of ezCater’s desktop site traffic in April 2019. Though brands like Au Bon Pain and Potbelly Sandwich Shops offer products ideally suited for catering and feature their own catering sections on their brand sites, they are almost entirely blocked from view in paid search by ezCater. This strategy proves effective for the service, as seven of its top ten highest referring traffic keywords are restaurant brand terms like “jersey mike’s” and “moes,” which comprised 21% of desktop traffic to ezCater in April 2019.5 ezCater surfaced text ads against 46% of Index-branded catering terms like “subway catering,” and closely followed DoorDash against the “delivery” and “order online” variants.
In particular, services like ezCater are challenging, as they can partner directly with local stores. As such, in addition to offering catering on the brand site, restaurants’ central marketing organizations must invest to promote their own catering services so local partnerships with services do not consistently win.