As a restaurant owner or manager, you need to consider adding mobile marketing to your business plan. If you prepare now, your well-managed campaign has the ability to generate more restaurant visits, build a loyal customer base and increase profits.

Mobile marketing is the use of a mobile device to develop a one-to-one conversation with your target audience. These options include SMS (text message), mobile web, mobile apps, and QR codes (quick response or bar codes). These technologies are transforming consumer experiences as well as expectations.

There are many mobile technologies that are coming to maturity in terms of their development, and smart businesses are finding ways to implement them.

"Ads that cause customers to interact with a restaurant, and take action, are marketing efforts that work," says Cami Zimmer, CEO and president of Campaign Touch in Minneapolis, Minnesota. "That's what mobile marketing strives to do." 

For example:  It's a slow night at the restaurant with only a few reservations on the books.  Your goal—to fill seats. Imagine sending a message to 300 customers at 4 p.m. with a two for one coupon or special. Patrons receive your message at the right moment: dinnertime.

Beyond coupons, hold a contest, give a free meal to a random customer daily, send today's special, send deal alerts, receive take-out orders, and if your restaurant has entertainment, let customers know who's performing nightly.

Text message coupons are permission-based. Give your customers a good reason to opt-in and receive your deals and specials. Offer customers an incentive when they opt-in.

"Mobile marketing has unique advantages," says Tim McCallum, president and CEO of Raze Media in Dallas. "It's immediate and direct. SMS messages are read within four minutes, unlike email that's read four days later."

And most importantly, McCallum says your dollars are being spent to market to people you know care about your brand. This makes it the most effective use of your dollars, unlike other media where a high percentage of your advertising goes unseen by the people you hoped would see it.

"Mobile marketing works," McCallum says. "If you plan well, redemption rates can reach the high 40 percent!"

Plan ahead for a successful mobile marketing campaign. The results mean big bucks for restaurants fluent in the language of mobile marketing.


Ten Tips on Mobile Marketing for Restaurants:


1) Find an expert who can evaluate your situation.

2) Know who you are. Clarity of brand message is imperative.

3) Grow your database first, market later.

4) Investigate all the marketing tools. It's worth your time and money.

5) Give your mobile program time to build. Plan for ongoing one-to-one customer engagement.

6) Show a personal connection. Text-speak is the new language—use it.

7) Give real value in return for cell phone numbers. Always thank customers.

8) Risk being different. One size doesn't fit all when it comes to your customers.

9) Give your restaurant's text number to hotel concierges. When guests ask for dinner reservations, the concierge texts your restaurant to make the reservation.

10) Measure the results of your mobile outreach. Track how many customers opt-in, the number of visits to your website, and the coupon downloads. Then revise your program to accentuate what's working and eliminate what's not.


By Judith Stock

Industry News, Marketing & Promotions