In the saturated restaurant market, it can be challenging to stand out from the crowd, differentiate your brand, and generate meaningful engagement from your customers. At the same time, however, there are more marketing tools and resources available than ever before, and with a bit of research and experimentation, you can use the latest digital marketing tools to communicate seamlessly with customers and boost your business’ success.
While billboards, print collateral, mailers, and in-store displays are still popular marketing strategies, your multi-unit restaurant brand will catapult to a whole new level of success with an effective digital strategy. In this article, we’ll focus on integrating digital marketing through email, push notifications, SMS, social media marketing, and other digital channels.
How Can You Engage Your Target Audience?
A solid digital marketing strategy is essential in building your restaurant’s brand and online presence, but don’t worry; you don’t have to be an expert to start engaging with your audience. Simply getting familiar with your customers’ preferences is a good place to start.
Here are a few easy ways to engage with new and existing customers through digital channels:
- Establish a solid social media presence using engaging photo and video content with relevant hashtags and links.
- Respond to customer comments, reviews, and messages to create a strong following and expand your customer base. The more engagement, the better!
- Seek out and acknowledge customers’ feedback. This is a valuable way to learn about their experience in your restaurant. It’s also an excellent opportunity to identify areas for improvement. Polite, timely responses to feedback can go a long way in strengthening your brand’s image.
- Optimize your website for relevant search terms along with your Google My Business, Apple Maps, Yelp, and other online listings. Especially with your online business listings, make sure your information is always up to date and include relevant terms in your business description. A restaurant in NYC recently went viral for taking this idea to the extreme by naming the business “Thai Food Near Me.” That strategy might be a little too gimmicky for most restaurant owners, but there’s no doubt the restaurant will show up near the top of map searches for anyone looking for Thai food in the area.
Getting the most out of your engagement tools: Email, SMS, and Push Notification Marketing
Whether you’re using CardFree’s suite of restaurant marketing, engagement, and analytics tools or another marketing platform, it’s become easier than ever to incorporate email, text, and push marketing into your multi-channel strategy. Whereas just a few years ago, those channels might be siloed into separate platforms, operators can now integrate these channels into their loyalty or other CMS platform while using customer data and segmentation to send the right message to the right audience.
Leveraging Email Campaigns for Maximum Impact
Although the world of restaurant marketing is constantly evolving, email marketing still stands as a tried and true tool for establishing and maintaining connections with your customers. By leveraging email campaigns, restaurants can create personalized experiences, keeping customers informed and excited about upcoming events, limited-time offers, rewards programs, and more. It’s a powerful, cost-effective way to foster a sense of community and keep your brand at the forefront of customers’ minds.
Here are a few key ways to maximize the impact of your email marketing campaigns:
- Keep your brand voice consistent and your messaging relevant to inform your customers about deals, discounts, or other news you want to share.
- Keep your messaging concise and include images wherever possible. According to Constant Contact, emails with no more than 200 words generate the highest click-through rates, while emails with 1-3 images perform better than emails with no images or more than 3. You only have a few seconds to capture your audience’s attention, so make the most of it.
- Include clear call to action links. Emails with 1-2 prominent links tend to generate better results compared to emails with multiple links.
- If you’re launching a new loyalty program or app, email is the perfect way to introduce your new offer to existing customers. Our partners, Honey Dew Donuts, did a great job with their email introducing their loyalty program with visuals to explain exactly how it works.
- While it makes sense to send certain messages to your entire email list, segmenting your audience allows for more personalized messaging based on parameters such as individual preferences, previous items ordered, order frequency, age, location, and more.
Elevating SMS Marketing Beyond the Basics
SMS, or text message marketing, is one of the fastest growing and most effective digital marketing channels. Customers have historically been a bit more reluctant give out their mobile number and opt into your SMS marketing list compared to email opt-in, but that sentiment is steadily shifting, and if your restaurant can create value with timely offers, challenges, or brand updates, SMS marketing can be an extremely effective tool in your arsenal. Here are just a few stats that illustrate the benefits of SMS marketing:
- SMS campaigns see an average open rate of about 98% — that’s 5X the average open rate of email campaigns.
- The average click-through rate of SMS campaigns is 19%, compared to 4% for email.
- According to Attentive Mobile, 96% of marketers using SMS said it helped them drive revenue.
- SlickText reports that 45% of recipients reply to text messages from brands.
SMS alerts offer an effortless way for users to receive personalized messages, promotions, news, and upcoming discounts. Here are some great ways to integrate SMS marketing into your restaurant marketing strategy:
- Segment your SMS marketing list to target customers in specific geolocations at specific times.
- Advertise promotions and discounts for a specific time frame, which helps motivate people to place an order or book a reservation to take advantage of the deal.
- Send a thank you note with an offer or coupon after first-time purchases to encourage return visits and build brand loyalty.
- Re-engage with customers who have not visited for a while — try sending a personalized “we miss you” campaign with an offer or discount on their next visit.
The Power of Push Notifications in Restaurant Marketing
If your restaurant offers a native iOS or Android app, push notifications are a great way to communicate with some of your most engaged customers. Why are push notifications so powerful and advantageous for marketing? They offer instant alerts for time-sensitive promotions, discounts, or events, and perhaps the biggest advantage of push notifications — they can tap into smartphone geolocation services to send timely messages when customers are near your restaurant. If, for example, your restaurant is located in a busy area surrounded by offices and several competing food options, a timely push notification with a discount code sent to any customer within a half-mile radius before the lunch rush can make the choice of where to eat a lot easier for office workers in the area.
Other advantages of push notification marketing:
- According to statistics, app users tend to sign up for push notifications 60% of the time.
- Push notifications tend to have higher click-through rates compared to email.
- 40% of users interact with push notifications within an hour of receiving them.
- Invesp reports that push notifications boost app engagement by 88% while 65% of users return to an app within 30 days when push notifications are enabled.
In a market saturated with options, the digital landscape emerges as the game-changer for restaurant marketing. From the enduring effectiveness of email campaigns to the dynamic growth of SMS marketing, and the instant impact of push notifications, the arsenal of digital tools is more potent than ever. Crafting a strategy that seamlessly integrates these elements ensures not just visibility, but genuine engagement with your audience.
Whether you choose CardFree’s restaurant marketing and engagement tools or another platform, by understanding the nuances of the tools at your disposal and tailoring your approach to your audience, you’re not just keeping up; you’re leading the charge in shaping a successful and engaging digital presence.