Mobile Marketing

5 Brand New Mobile Marketing Ideas for Restaurants

Restaurant Offers

We previously shared a few creative mobile marketing ideas you’re likely not using. You devoured that article, though it only featured three marketing ideas! Well, we’re back with five more mobile marketing ideas for restaurants. A virtually feast.

Mobile is where you need to be. With the increasing processing power, screen size, resolution, and the general ubiquity of smartphones, mobile marketing needs to be a real part of any smart restaurant marketing strategy.

1. Send mobile surveys to customers.

If you want real feedback from customers — to head-off a potentially disastrous Yelp review and/or to genuinely improve operations — you’ll seek customers’ feedback closer to the time of their dining experience. One obvious way you can do this is to plop down a survey card in front of them. Another is by asking them to complete a survey by tacking that call to action on the bottom of your receipt.

A better way may be to partner with a service that lets you send mobile-friendly surveys to customers via text or email as they leave your establishment — while the experience is still fresh in their head. You’ll have to train your staff to ask for that email address or mobile number, but it’s well worth it.

There are numerous companies that provide this kind of low-cost service. You may already know about Survey Monkey, so take a look at these two for starters: Fluid Surveys and Typeform. Both are focused on clean, mobile questionnaires that can be sent to customers.

2. Use a “disposable” mobile app to promote your LTO or event.

Restaurants are launching mobile apps left and right, despite the fact that too many apps are used once and never again. If you haven’t launched one, or want to test whether your restaurant guests would even be willing to engage with your brand that way, a short-term app could be the way to go.

Disposable mobile apps have a limited life or usefulness. Buffalo Wild Wings has launched several short-term apps that coincide with specific sports seasons, namely NCAA basketball and the pro football. But those were custom-designed apps. You could dip your toes in the water by launching an app that merely displays a fun and unique LTO, offers a secret coupon, and lets users share both with their social networks.

Mobile Roadie

Another huge benefit to going this route? You could pay as little as $50/month since this is a short-term endeavor. Now, clearly you can’t spend three months developing an app that will only exist in the real world for four weeks, so you’ve got to think through this.

There are numerous companies that make it easy to build drag-and-drop, easy-to-launch mobile apps like this. A few: AppyPie, Shoutem, Dwnld, AppMachine, Mobile Roadie and GoodBarber.

Read:  5 Factors for Better Restaurant Mobile Marketing

3. Multiple locations? Send customers on a treasure hunt.

Invite customers to find different clues as they visit your locations, earning entry into your contest or sweepstakes. You’ll want to make sure to follow federal and state sweepstakes laws, of course.

Scavenger Hunt

Of course we’ll point you to a couple companies that specialize in this! Goose Chase and Scavify can make your hunt quest a branded one (with great photo and automation tools built in to declare a winner).

You can avoid asking consumers to download an app or create an account by building a promotion that asks them to scan a QR code or take a photo of something that exists only in your locations, sending those results into a pre-established phone number or email address you publicize. Each entry earns them a shot at a free lunch or dinner, or VIP treatment at the next big game you televise at your sports bar.

4. Text message with guests like you’re a real human!

The newly relaunched Path Talk app offers a feature that allows users to interact with brands via text messaging. Now, finally, at long last, you can engage in 1:1 communications with people via text messaging — not just through mass-broadcast texts. Here’s an intro video:

You can also create an account on Snapchat, Kik, or whatever messaging app is grabbing the headlines the week you read this, and do anything on that platform you could have done on Path Talk.

Each of these messaging platforms deliver small “slivers” of the population. That is a powerful thing — and beneficial to you because you’ll never get a tidal wave of coupon redeemers. So think about what it would mean to activate those slivers with a special offer.

5. Text to win…with a few twists.

Learn from Menchie’s and their recent SMS campaign. Menchie’s CEO Amit Kleinberger was slated to appear on an episode of Undercover Boss on CBS. Rather than bask in the glory of that publicity, Menchie’s simultaneously encouraged its SMS list to text a specific code to the list short code ONLY during the episode. Doing so would unlock a reward.

Menchie's Undercover Boss Promo

Click to enlarge.

Texting to win is one thing, but giving folks a very limited window of time — as in, just one hour — to unlock an offer or promo is an easy addition to that.

What have you launched that’s worked, restaurant owners? What have you seen out there, marketers? Let us know what creative mobile marketing ideas you’ve seen in the while, too, won’t you?

(Scavenger Hunt photo courtesy of Ryan Ruppe.)

About the author

Brandon Hull

Brandon is the original founder of He has helped thousands of restaurants implement innovative marketing strategies, campaigns, and tactics by incorporating new technology, in order to attract loyal guests.