The restaurant industry probably faces the most aggressive competition. Each establishment is forced to stay on top of its game in order to ensure survival in the market. Luckily technology and the internet provide various ways of promoting a brand. This article brings forth restaurant promotion ideas through six different channels.
Text message marketing
Rated as the most effective promotion method so far, text message marketing is fast, convenient and intimate. It is especially useful for getting the word out in a time sensitive situation for restaurants e.g. providing customer support through SMS. Suppose a customer has placed an online order and has not received it yet, 24 hour customer support can be very helpful in identifying the problem, deciding a solution and getting the food to the customer. Similarly, if there is a new entrant into the market that is perceived as a direct threat to the restaurant, what the brand can do is send out weekly offers to potential and regular customers in order to attract them away from the competitor.
Subway uses SMS as an effective tool in order to attract customers on a slow day. When customer turnout is low, they send out text messages with a ‘Buy 1 Get 1 free’ limited time offer (usually 24 hours) which results in a very high customer turnout. Statistics show that customers check their phone every few minutes and many studies have shown that it is the first thing many users do right after waking up. This, coupled with the fact that SMS does not require an internet connection to send and receive text messages, is the reason behind the effectiveness of SMS as the recipients read texts within minutes.
SMS platforms such as ExpressText can be very useful for companies. Restaurants can start sending texts by signing up with a platform and uploading their subscribed contact list. After the list is uploaded all a company has to do is type in a 160 character text message and hit send. SMS platforms provide shared shortcodes and keywords to each business, as well as the ability to track their delivery rate and response rate, thus helping them improve their SMS campaigns to gain more efficiency.
Not many businesses and users may be aware of this, but email marketing can create a high Return on Investment (ROI). Email can be used for various purposes such as sending out invites for events e.g. musical nights at a cafe, inviting regular customers to join loyalty programs and also using it as a medium to promote other channels such as SMS (e.g. Dear John, to remain updated with our offers and discounts, join our SMS campaign by sending ‘foodies’ to 787878’).
Email marketing is as simple as SMS. There are many features that allow for convenience and personalization at the same time i.e. it takes just one click to send a message to multiple recipients but at the same time, the message can be customized to each sender’s name, thus giving the customer a sense of importance. Emails can also be used to retain loyal customers, because it is as important as attracting new customers. The 80-20 rule of business states that 20% of clientele which comprises of loyal customers accounts for 80% of the company’s profit. Thus, emails can be used to send them Birthday greetings, making the customer feel special and thus come back to the business. Technology has enabled businesses to save information such as birthday, age, gender etc. about users once they sign up for campaigns or program. Customers may also receive Christmas and other holiday greetings as a tactical way of making customers remember the business.
Social media is perhaps the best channel for restaurant promotion ideas. Nothing goes viral faster than a delicious looking plate of food. Moreover, it is absolutely free! The only paid content is advertising on social media, and even that comes at an affordable rate. Social media applications such as Facebook, YouTube and Instagram allow companies to air ads within videos. Even larger, well-established businesses have begun airing TV commercials within videos. This goes to show that it is not only smaller businesses that have to resort to these advertising methods due to lack of resources, it is extremely effective which is why all types of businesses have begun to switch to these methods. The reason behind its effectiveness is that unlike traditional methods, ads can be targeted towards customers that have showed an interest in the brand’s products or similar products. This concept is called ‘behavioural targeting’ i.e. customers likes and interests are determined by the links they click on, pages they follow etc. They are then segmented into different groups and ads are targeted to each group or on individual characteristics such as age, gender, location etc. Statistics show that Facebook now sees 8 billion
Apart from advertising, restaurants can promote their brand or franchise by setting up social media accounts and pages. These can be used as a platform to interact with users e.g. a Facebook page is helpful in providing information about the contact number and location of the business, as well as customer reviews that help users decide whether they want to try the brand or not and lastly, to upload updates, menu changes, prices, delivery information etc. Snapchat or Instagram accounts can be used to post live updates about special events happening at the restaurant such as fancy birthdays, wedding receptions etc.
It is a surprising fact but research has shown that consumers are highly likely to trust the opinion of others, even if they may be strangers. That is what Yelp does. Perhaps one of the largest and widely used search engines in the US, Yelp is the place users can go to find information about any kind of business – be it restaurants, spas, nightlife or any other category. Focusing specifically on restaurants, Yelp is a platform that integrates both businesses and users. Restaurant owners can claim their business page on Yelp, thus making it available and easily discoverable for users. Customers can view restaurant ratings, reviews and basic information such as contact number and location on the app just with one single search. This restaurant promotion idea is very useful for creating brand awareness especially for newly established brands that want to build a consumer base. Every time a customer visits a restaurant, they can be asked to review the restaurant on Yelp if they enjoyed the food, thus creating positive ratings and high ranking in search.
Uber Eats is a food application similar to the German-based international application FoodPanda that allows ordering and home delivery. Here’s how it works: consumers can download the app, enter their location and see which restaurants near them deliver. They can choose from the list of restaurants depending on what they prefer. Restaurants who wish to create a profile pay the app/website developers as this is a form of promotion. Suppose a potential customer is hungry and wants to try out a new restaurant, he/she opens their Uber Eats app and decides to try your restaurant because the menu seems nice and the ratings are good. Without Uber Eats, the consumer may never have discovered the restaurant. Thus, this restaurant promotion
Seo refers to Search Engine Optimization. It is a technical term that marketers should be aware of in order to improve search rankings. ‘Local SEO,’ as the name suggests, refers to promoting a brand locally i.e. to local customers looking for local brands. There are a number of ways to improve search rankings and make articles optimized, but the main and most effective way is to use SEO keywords or phrases. This means that for example a person is searching for Chinese food, the webpage writing or article with the most use of the words ‘Chinese food’ will come up highest in rankings. This is specific to Google search engines, as they are formatted in such a way that they rank articles according to optimization. However, businesses need to be careful in order to avoid keyword stuffing. Google does not rank articles higher that use a keyword too many times. The appropriate amount of keywords for a 1000 word article or piece of writing is between 2-5 keywords, depending on the context and category of the topic.
These 6 channels of promoting restaurants are the most widely used and effective platforms in today’s day and age. With the fierce competition in the industry, companies aim to advertise to the maximum number of customers at the lowest possible cost, which is possible through these channels. However, professional and experienced teams should be hired for the best results and Return on Investment.