Online marketing should be a part of every restaurant’s overall marketing plan. Every restaurant should have a website and a facebook page. This is an effective way to reach new and existing customers with new advertising campaigns, special promotions, news on new events, new menu items and provide location and hours. This is also a good way to introduce your restaurant to customers and let them view your menu.
Having an online presence is essential in today’s world. What’s become even more important is utilizing mobile technology to increase traffic and bring more revenue to your restaurant. Just about every one of your customers is going to have a mobile phone. Most will have smart phones. Therefore to optimize your online presence your website should have a mobile platform.
One of the simplest and most effective ways to increase traffic and sales is by integrating sms to your marketing plan. All mobile phones can receive sms messages, so this this will target 99% of your potential customer base. By contacting your customer through a variety of methods such as direct mail, email, facebook, advertising in restaurants by posting a sign or table topper, by including a short message on the receipt, radio, print ads and other methods you can to invite your opt-in and receive a text-message coupons. A local Ihop Restaurant executed a campaign where customers were invited to text IHOPFREE to receive a free short stack of pancakes. The campaign was very successful in increasing traffic including many upsells whereby those redeeming the coupon invited friends or family who bought other menu items.
Once you build a list of sms subscribers, it’s advisable not to abuse the list and only send a couple of sms messages per month otherwise people will begin to opt-out. The best thing about sms campaigns is the subscriber usually sees the promotion within minutes of receiving it making it a very effective marketing tool. It also allows you to plan the optimum time for subscribers to receive the message to draw traffic when your restaurant needs it most.
Another way of using smart phones to increase traffic is by featuring a store locator or the ability to view a map in your online mobile campaign. For restaurants that aren’t enfranchised or part of a chain, a restaurant locator may be redundant, but it’s important to have a Google Maps, Google Local, or other local-friendly locator for your restaurant. This will also allow customers to view your menu, hours and download any coupons or special offers. It’s also a good idea to offer rewards for referrals or for those who subscribe to receive sms promotions.
Many restaurants are also using mobile apps to allow customers to make reservations from their smart phones. Open Table is one of the biggest mobile apps that allows customers to find restaurants and make reservations from their mobile phone or tablet. Apps such as Zagat and deF!ND help customers find new restaurants, while other apps let customers place orders for takeout from their smart phone. Apps such as Bookatable allow users to find nearby restaurants, book offers on an interactive map and receive an instant booking confirmation. There are still customers who call to make reservations, but it will save you and your staff much needed time and increase efficiency if you offer your customers the ability to use their smartphones to make reservations online. Other apps include, counting calories, ordering online or even finding the right wine pairing for their meal. In today’s world, speed and convenience are key for customers on the go and dining apps make choosing the right restaurant as easy as making a phone call.
Taking advantage of mobile technology as a strategic marketing tool is crucial in the competitive restaurant industry. This is especially true in a difficult economy where customers are dining out less and looking for special deals. By increasing your customer loyalty base with sms subscribers and increasing your online presence you can significantly boost traffic to your restaurant.