This is a guest post from mobile marketing export Greg Hickman, author of the new SMS Marketing Handbook. He has worked with companies large and small, from restaurants to big brands, helping them craft successful mobile marketing strategies.
As a restaurant owner there are a lot of different tactics that can help drive businesses in today’s connected world. We have email, Facebook, Twitter and paid search, but when it comes to the local nature of restaurants, not much can compete with the power of mobile marketing for restaurants.
I don’t even need to share all of the stats because you already see it every day. Heck, you can observe your own behaviors and see just how important your mobile device is when it comes to finding information.
Yes, adding mobile marketing to your mix means you have to worry about one more thing. Whether you want to manage it in house or work with a trusted partner, it’s something you can no longer ignore.
Well, you can if you’d like to watch your customers visit your competitor more than you.
With the amount of search traffic that drives local business, Google has claimed that not having a mobile website is the equivalent of closing your business for a day.
For every day you don’t have a mobile site….business would be closed another day.
Could you afford that? I don’t think so.
I promise that if you take a little time to understand the tremendous opportunity mobile brings for your restaurant you’ll be rushing to take action. The fact is, and it’s proven time and time again: mobile marketing works for restaurants.
And when you’re ready, here are the first two things you should do.
1. Offer a mobile-friendly website.
As a restaurant having a mobile site is one of the most important entry points to generating business. From reservations to sales, prospective customers are looking for restaurants on mobile and taking action.
A study in mid 2013 performed by SinglePlatform at Constant Contact found that 92% of consumers have searched for a restaurant on a mobile device in the last 6 months.
So it’s clear that customers search for restaurants from mobile but think about the last time you searched for food.
I know for me, the last time I searched “Chinese food” from my mobile device I ended up ordering Chinese food.
The interesting thing about mobile local search is that the intent is much higher. It’s less about discovery and more about trying to complete the desired action.
I want Chinese food, so I search for the closest place that I can get it or a place that will deliver it to me. Either way I’m getting Chinese food as a result of that search.
This isn’t shocking because Google release a study titled , The Mobile Movement: Understanding Smartphone Users that revealed that 9 out of 10 searches on a smartphone result in some sort of an action — whether it’s a visit to the website, a purchase, using a map to get directions, or a call.
What’s promising for restaurants, 55 percent of these actions occurred under one hour from the search.
With that sort of action having a mobile friendly site is super important but if you want it to tie in with your business objectives and known user behaviors—you’ll want to optimize it to enable visitors to take specific actions such as:
- Find you using a map and directions
- Look at your menu
- Subscribe to any offers that enable further marketing
Building a mobile site doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive either. If you want to do it yourself, you can use a tool like Duda Mobile and build your restaurant site in minutes using beautiful and simple templates, or search the NextRestaurants directory for other vendors.
2. Create loyalty and drive sales with SMS marketing.
Outside of having a mobile-optimized website, the next most powerful mobile tool at a restaurant’s disposal is SMS text message marketing.
SMS gives restaurants the ability to communicate with customers faster than any other marketing channel possible.
Over 90% of text messages are read within 3 minutes. Yeah, that fast. Take that email!
That immediacy coupled with compelling, time sensitive offers can drive customers to take action when sent strategically.
First, restaurants should create an amazing incentive for every new SMS subscriber to build their list. This should be looked at as the cost of customer acquisition, because you’re going to quickly make them take action after they’ve opted-in and generate incremental revenue from that new loyalty customer.
Each and every month an restaurant should be sending at least 2-4 messages to their SMS list with varying offers, value and calls-to-action.
Those messages should be focused on 1 of 4 objectives.
- Increase traffic on slow days: As a restaurant, you have to pay to keep the lights on and have employees there so driving traffic on these days is important. Each new customer has a higher marginal value.
- Promote new menu items or events: Creating awareness about a new dish or special can easily be communicated to drive in your loyal customers to try it out.
- Manage inventory: If you have too many tomatoes, you can send out a message that contains an offer that calls for the use of a lot of tomato. That, or you can let them go bad and waste money. Think about using SMS to move inventory of perishable items.
- Build loyalty: If your mobile VIPs get a few messages each month with time sensitive offers that are compelling, they’ll remain in your list and redeem. Keep them engaged and give them a clear call-to-acton to come in.
If you’re new to SMS marketing and want to get started, I wrote a step-by-step handbook that may help you that you can check out here.
Look at your mobile web and SMS program as a sales system.
Your mobile website will help mobile searchers find you and come to your establishment. Your SMS program will get them opt-ed in for future communications to increases your customer’s lifetime value.
Restaurants have a tremendous opportunity to capitalize on the mobile opportunity even if they just focus on these two things. These are the foundations for success when it comes to mobile and growing your restaurant.
Blog photo courtesy of Tatango.