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Results for “Tablet Hell”
Insights
Nov 23, 2022
3
 min read

In an effort to drive sales, some restaurant brands will try any (and every) marketing tactic. Consider doing this instead.

Restaurant Marketing, Restaurant Marketing Strategy

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Faced with a labor shortage and budget constraints, many restaurant brands are looking for a quick marketing solution that’s going to drive ROI. But in reality, what works for one brand may not work for another. Why?

  1. Your guests and their relationship with your brand are unique
  2. The most effective marketing campaigns are rooted in data

As tempting as it might be to test out every marketing channel and tactic at once to see what works, don’t try to boil the ocean. It’s the quickest way to overwhelm any team and, frankly, waste your time and resources.

Instead, consider narrowing your focus to one marketing objective.

Yep, you read that right—one.

Here are a few examples:

  • Move guests from one visit to five visits
  • Ensure every guest tries your most popular menu item within 90 days of their first transaction
  • Drive restaurant app downloads
  • Build up your SMS subscriber audience
  • Motivate online orderers to try delivery
  • Incentivize guests that typically use marketplaces to order direct

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Now you’re probably thinking, how do I pick just one objective when we have countless initiatives?

Start by getting your data in order.

Determine what restaurant data sources you currently have access to, including email opt-ins, online orders, POS transactions, loyalty members, CRM, etc. 

Next, it’s time to analyze. As you look at the data, ask yourself questions like, who are your guests? How do they behave? What is your average guest frequency? What is your most lucrative sales channel? Can you segment guests by lifetime value (LTV)?

By focusing on even one of these insights, you can figure out which marketing channel (search engine, social media, email, SMS, etc.) and strategy have the highest ROI potential for your brand. For instance, is your restaurant app more effective than social media for guest engagement?

If you can’t answer these types of questions because of a limited data set, a good marketing objective would be to connect more of your restaurant systems so that you have a holistic view of each guest. Cross-department collaboration will be key, so make sure your Marketing, IT, and Finance teams are looped in.

Remember, it’s impossible to create a marketable database and treat every guest like a regular if you have disparate systems and no shared understanding of who your guests are or how they behave.

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Once you’ve picked a channel and settled on a plan of action, start executing marketing campaigns. Here’s some inspiration depending on your objective:

  • Drive foot traffic to a slow daypart: Launch geotargeted Google Ads during those hours of the day, bidding on relevant keywords (e.g. Smoothies near me) and featuring an attractive offer.
  • Target cart abandoners with remarketing: Invite cart abandoners back to your website to complete their online order with personalized remarketing ads that follow them as they surf the web.
  • Gather guest feedback at scale: Collect valuable feedback to power your business decisions via automated post-visit surveys. Add a tasty incentive—like free chips and queso on their next visit—for good measure.
  • Grow your social media following: Launch an email campaign featuring your most popular dishes on social media with an invitation to follow along. Drive engagement by encouraging guests to use a branded hashtag on their posts for a chance to be featured on your feed.

After you’ve gained some experience and insight into what works (and what doesn’t) for your brand, you can graduate within each channel. Think of it as building blocks and treat each marketing bucket as a progressive opportunity. 

For instance, if your goal is to increase the number of direct online orders by driving traffic to your website, you could start by launching Google Search Ads targeting people looking for similar cuisine within 10 miles of your restaurant. Once you’ve honed in on the messaging most likely to convert window shoppers into paying guests, set up website retargeting to ensure your brand stays top of mind and invite visitors back.

Whatever your chosen marketing objective, make sure to share your plan—including what you’re testing and why—with your franchisees so that they’re aware and can provide support.

Ultimately, restaurant brands that take a data-driven, hyper-focused approach to marketing will see the highest ROI, not just in terms of sales, but also in terms of guest acquisition and retention. So the next time you’re tempted to do it all, think quality over quantity.

Contact us today to find out how Olo can take your restaurant marketing to the next level.

Main Photo Credit: Jason Goodman from Unsplash

Insights
Nov 16, 2022
6
 min read

Restaurant marketers are always looking for new guests, but we can't underestimate the value of current guests. Learn retention strategies for all stages.

Guest Retention, Restaurant Retention Strategies

Restaurants typically have a handful of loyal regulars who GMs and bartenders know by name, but behind the scenes, restaurant marketers are on a never-ending treasure hunt to find and attract new guests. While there are numerous restaurant guest acquisition strategies that marketers can leverage, it’s important not to underestimate the value of current guests. After all, research tells us that increasing guest retention rates by 5% increases profits by at least 25%.

Since retention is critical at all stages of the restaurant guest lifecycle, we’re breaking down some proven strategies, with frameworks you can actually use.

6 Winning Restaurant Guest Retention Strategies

1. Use Data for Good (Especially When It Comes to Your Regulars)

Personalization is no longer just a nice-to-have. Guests are beginning to understand the power of their data, and increasingly want brands to use it to serve their interests via personalized offers, experiences, and suggested products. Tailoring what you sell to a guest’s purchase history, preferences, and what they have engaged with is a crucial strategy to build restaurant brand loyalty.

Framework You Can Use

If you’re not already looking to retail for inspiration, start now, paying close attention to personalized marketing. When a guest on the waitlist leaves before being seated, treat it like an abandoned cart and send a strategic email to prompt them to return (stats suggest a 48% open rate for emails like these). Make like retail giants and bundle items—when a guest orders tacos, trigger a campaign suggesting the tacos are frequently enjoyed with an agua fresca and salsa trio. Best use case: A/B test different bundles to see what drives higher check averages and visit frequency.

2. Like Rome, Guest Relationships Aren’t Built in a Day

When it comes to those guests you’re just getting to know, winning second and third visits is a leading indicator of a “guest for life.” The means to that end is a structured cadence of personalized outreach—said differently, giving new guests more chances to engage increases your opportunity to build brand loyalty. And, consumer research shows that personalization increases visitor engagement by 55%.

Framework You Can Use

Build a scalable, repeatable framework for your new guests with a variety of ways to engage as they move through the lifecycle. Pay attention to what works, and tweak accordingly. Try this cadence:

First Visit/ WiFi Signup/ Online Order >> Welcome email promoting your insiders' club (the more tailored you can make this to their experience the better, e.g. drilling down by location visited or the channel via which they first made contact)

After Second Visit >> Let them know you’re listening with a triggered survey: “Hey Caleb, how’d we do? Would you recommend us to a friend?”

After 30 days >> Email campaign featuring occasion-based messaging such as “Did someone say Happy Hour? Right this way…”

After 3 months >> Email campaign featuring your most popular dishes on social media with an invitation to follow along and share: “Tag your posts for a chance to be featured on our feed.”

After 6 months >> Seasonal menu reset with an invitation to get involved: “Be one of the first to taste the new dishes on our menu at a special event for loyal fans …”

 

After 1 year >> Anniversary perk “Have this cake … on us. And yes, please eat it too!”

3. Go with the Flow (of Guest Frequency)

The Gartner Group found that the Pareto principle holds true with consumer behavior: 80% of your future profits will come from just 20% of your current guests. It’s worth putting time, effort, and resources into guest retention, but not equally for all guests. The key here is segmenting by value and analyzing each segment’s frequency. With that, you can allocate time and resources according to value, and build outreach aimed to increase their known frequency.

Framework You Can Use

Guests with a high check average may be occasion-based guests with a twice-per-year frequency for birthdays and anniversaries. Send them a personal invite to join for a New Year’s Eve toast or Mother’s Day brunch to increase their frequency to quarterly.

Meanwhile, a segment of high-value guests may have a lower check average and bi-monthly frequency. Aim to get them coming in once a month by sending them an easy-to-use offer that appeals to convenience.

4. Go Outside the Inbox  

To reach guests who have stopped engaging with your brand, try a structured cadence across multiple platforms. Research shows that companies using multiple channels to connect with guests increase satisfaction by 15-20% and boost growth by 20%.

Framework You Can Use

Build a cadence around lapsed guests that includes personalized email, targeted social, and paid search outreach. Keep your automated lapsed guest content up-to-date with regular maintenance. Every six months, pull the entire list and test new platforms. Make sure to track engagement so you know what works.

5. Optimize for Conversion

If you want guests to keep coming back, you need to make sure that all sales channels are optimized for conversion. Otherwise, they’ll choose a different restaurant that meets their needs.

Framework You Can Use

Online Ordering: How easy is it to place an online order and checkout? If your menu is difficult to navigate or the checkout process is cumbersome, for example, your cart abandonment rate is going to be high. Ensure that your online ordering system enables guests to place an order quickly and securely. Bonus points if they can easily reorder their favorite items.

Convenience is Key: Can guests pick up their order curbside or in-restaurant? Is delivery an option? The more handoff options, the more likely guests will follow through with their order and keep coming back. In fact, according to Olo data, brands that enable four or more handoff modes typically see a 12%+ increase in conversion rate.

Google: Can people join the waitlist, book a reservation, or place an online order directly from your Google listing? If not, that’s one unnecessary hoop for returning guests to jump through. Eliminate friction by ensuring your Google listing is fully optimized for conversion.

6. Tighten the Feedback Loop

While 72% of guests will share a positive experience, for every 26 unhappy guests only one is likely to say anything to you. Good, fast, empathic guest feedback management is crucial. In addition, being proactive about collecting feedback is a great loyalty builder—77% of consumers view brands more favorably if they seek out and apply guest feedback.

Framework You Can Use

Build trust with a multi-level feedback strategy. 

When a guest reaches out with valuable feedback in any way (third-party reviews, social media comments, survey responses), it’s essential to engage quickly. Acknowledge their experience and let them know from the beginning that you value their feedback, positive or negative. Take action to fix the problem. Say thank you. 

Continue to build relationships by proactively asking for feedback (automated post-meal surveys work great). When guests reply, thank them and reward them.

For the super loyalist, consider consumer panel special events. “You are an important part of growing our brand and your voice matters.” 

Take a moment for meta-feedback and ask how your engaged guests like to be contacted. Do they prefer a quick text survey, an email, a social form, or an in-person menu workshop? Are they okay being contacted after every visit, or do they prefer a couple of months between surveys? Make sure to contact them accordingly.

This is most effective if you have access to reviews from every source on one restaurant sentiment analysis platform.

In summary, unless you test and implement retention strategies to keep current guests, you’re missing out on the opportunity to maximize their lifetime value and revenue for your brand.

Contact us to supercharge your guest retention strategy and get started with restaurant marketing automation.

Photo Credit: Shirota Yuri

Insights
Nov 2, 2022
7
 min read

The holiday season is one of the busiest times of year for restaurants. Follow these 13 tips to prepare for high-volume days and drive holiday sales.

Restaurant Holiday Sales

With the holidays right around the corner, restaurant brands of all types and sizes are gearing up for one of the busiest times of the year. To help you maximize revenue, guest loyalty, and employee satisfaction this season, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of winning strategies—from menu optimization to ticketed events.

When creating your plan of attack, consider the time investment, resources, value-add, and potential ROI—short-term and long-term—for your specific brand.

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1. Holiday Promotions

Get in the holiday spirit with an irresistible limited-time offer that motivates guests to take action. Fear of missing out (aka FOMO) can be a powerful tool.

Food For Thought: Give guests $20 off orders of $100+, free delivery with a purchase of $50+, or a free appetizer with their first online order.

Level Up: Generate excitement around the promotion on your brand’s social media channels via a holiday-themed countdown or photo contest that incentivizes participation and helps to grow your following.

2. Marketing

Launch an omnichannel marketing campaign across email, SMS, social media, and digital ads to inform new and existing guests about your holiday offerings. This multi-platform approach will increase your brand’s reach and help you meet guests where they are.

Food For Thought: On Dec. 23, ask guests if they forgot someone on their list and need a last-minute gift. Use this opportunity to promote your best-selling cookie cake, gift card, merchandise, etc.

Level Up: Leverage your restaurant CRM to segment guests—high-LTV, big spenders, churn risks, online orderers, etc.—and then personalize communications based on their order history and preferences. A tailored message, served at the optimal time, on a guest’s preferred channel is a recipe for marketing success.

3. Restaurant Gift Cards

Gift cards have been a staple in the restaurant marketing playbook for years, but demand has never been higher. According to research conducted by the National Restaurant Association in 2021, “62% of consumers hope to receive a restaurant gift card for the holidays.”

Food For Thought: Give guests the choice of purchasing a physical gift card that can be sent by mail or a digital gift card that can be sent electronically.

Level Up: Offer a “Give a gift, get a gift” deal to incentivize gift card purchases (e.g. Earn a $10 bonus coupon for every $50 spent on gift cards).

4. Retail Items

Retail can serve as an additional revenue stream, advertising vehicle, and method of strengthening guest loyalty during the holidays and year-round.

Food For Thought: Restaurant regulars go wild for branded merchandise like BBQ sauce, T-shirts, and tote bags. Not to mention, they pair well with restaurant gift cards. Put them front and center in your restaurant, on the website, and on social media.

Level Up: A wine or beer club with membership perks like exclusive events, discounts on food, and priority seating can provide a predictable revenue stream for restaurants. Plus, subscriptions make great gifts at any time of year.

5. Menu

Restaurant brands can put a festive spin on their menu with holiday meal kits, family bundles, and/or seasonal items such as hot drinks and other cold-weather favorites.

Food For Thought: Alleviate the stress of cooking for a crowd with “Thanksgiving-to-go” or appeal to your guests’ nostalgia (and tastebuds) with LTOs like hot toddies or pecan pie.

Level Up: Full-service restaurants can offer an exclusive, holiday prix fixe menu for guests that want an elevated dining experience.

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6. Online Ordering

Given how busy we all are during the holidays, online ordering is a no-brainer for maximizing revenue. Just be sure your digital order management solution can keep up. The right system will enhance front-of-house operations, streamline the order flow, and provide capacity management tools (e.g. throttling, item availability customization, lead time extension, etc.), so your team feels supported and can focus on guests.

Food For Thought: Encourage guests to order holiday favorites like honey-baked ham in advance. Then, recommend menu items that pair well or irresistible add-ons to upsell during checkout and increase average check.

Level Up: Provide a suggested tip during checkout to ensure team members get an extra boost during the holidays.

7. Multiple Handoff Modes

Consumer demand for convenience is at an all-time high during the holidays. Restaurant brands can ensure that every guest has access to their preferred method of ordering by enabling multiple handoff modes, including curbside pickup, delivery, and dine-in.

Food For Thought: According to Olo data, brands that enable four or more handoff modes typically see their conversion rate increase by at least 12%.

Level Up: By integrating third-party delivery couriers to your native online orders, you can grow guest loyalty while opening new revenue channels through a direct digital experience.

8. Catering

Holiday parties present a valuable opportunity to boost restaurant revenue via catering. With many businesses and families gathering to celebrate, brands should consider offering holiday packages for pre-order that meet the needs of guests and also increase brand awareness.

Food For Thought: Promote your Christmas feast or taco party pack—complete with utensils, napkins, plates, reheating instructions, etc.—on your website, social media channels, and digital ads.

Level Up: Create a catering-focused marketing campaign, including email, SMS, and/or digital ads, specifically targeting guests that have placed large orders in the past.

9. Reservations

Reservations play an important role during the holiday season when demand for dine-in soars due to cold weather and the desire to celebrate with loved ones. They can be a source of stress relief for guests who want to plan for an occasion and make guests feel special by eliminating the wait. On the flip side, reservations enable restaurant staff to better prepare for busy shifts and large parties.

Food For Thought: Boost reservations by enabling guests to book from any platform—your website, app, Google Business Profile, social media channels, and beyond.

Level Up: Paid reservations or prepaid bookings are proven to drive down no-shows. Consider introducing a nominal, nonrefundable reservation fee to improve guest show rates and generate revenue.

10. Ticketed Events

Build a community around your brand and maximize revenue at the same time by hosting holiday-themed ticketed events at your restaurant. These events can appear right alongside your regular reservations, piquing interest among repeat and new guests.

Food For Thought: Host an Ugly Sweater Party, Friendsgiving, or a cooking class geared toward achieving guests’ New Year’s Resolutions, and promote the event(s) across your marketing channels.

Level Up: Use your table management solution to create customized floor plans and table assignments before the event, and be sure to accept payments ahead of time to take the guesswork out of your guest list and drive down no-shows.

11. QR Code Ordering

QR code ordering can boost revenue by enabling guests to access the restaurant menu, order, and pay, all from their own mobile devices while sitting at a table. When guests order from a digital interface—without having to stand in line, wait for a server, or stress about indulging in add-ons—check averages and tip income increase.

Food For Thought: To encourage adoption, display eye-catching signage in the restaurant with straightforward instructions for how to order and pay at the table, and designate a team member to assist guests if they need help.

Level Up: Incentivize guests to use QR code ordering during the winter months with targeted marketing campaigns that feature a special holiday deal (e.g. Free dessert with your first QR code order).

12. Outdoor Dining

To extend the outdoor dining season and maintain a steady flow of revenue in winter, restaurants should think creatively about their physical space and offerings. Outdoor heaters, branded blankets, a thoughtful menu featuring warm drinks and hearty fare, and a little bit of ambiance (bistro lights, anyone?) can transform any restaurant patio into a culinary destination.

Food For Thought: Promote an outdoor Winter Ale tasting or turn the parking lot into a drive-in theater with a family-friendly menu.

Level Up: Add a fire pit or an Instagram-worthy backdrop—think flower wall, large mural, patterned wallpaper, or a neon sign—to attract guests and generate buzz on social media.

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13. Make Every Guest Feel Like a Regular

A lesser-known but highly effective way to boost restaurant profit year-round, but especially during the holidays, is by personalizing the guest experience. Brands can thoughtfully tailor every guest interaction, whether dine-in or takeout—no matter which team members are on duty—with an integrated tech stack that ties order history and other guest details in the CRM to the waitlist, reservations, order, and table management solution. In other words, make every guest feel like a regular.

Food For Thought: Alert managers about which table touches to prioritize during a busy shift or have a regular’s favorite drink prepared upon arrival.

Level Up: Send a targeted and timely SMS message to guests featuring an image of your new candy cane milkshake (or another seasonal menu item) that feels like it’s coming from a friend.

Contact us to discover more ways to maximize restaurant revenue during the holidays and year-round.

Photo Credit: Emilie Farris from Unsplash

Insights
Oct 24, 2022
5
 min read

Learn what a Customer Data Platform (CDP) is and how it enables restaurant brands to leverage data across their entire business.

CDP, Restaurant CDP, Restaurant Customer Data Platform, GDP, Olo Guest Data Platform

Despite the last decade of focus on the topic, restaurant brands of all sizes still struggle to collect, analyze, and most importantly, act on guest data to grow their business.

Restaurants face a mix of challenges with their guest data that fall into a handful of categories:

  • Lack of Access: Data is stuck in archaic systems and some tech vendors block access altogether
  • Lack of Integration: Data can be accessed, but, no team has the time or technology to stitch it together (or systems that strictly unify data add another layer of costs)
  • Lack of Actionability: Integrated data isn’t being passed to the tools that Ops, Culinary, Marketing, and/or Finance teams can actually use in their day-to-day
  • Lack of Ability to Test or Experiment: Any combination of the above makes it nearly impossible to test and pilot new strategies—from menu engineering to online and offline restaurant marketing efforts

With the rising importance of technology, many brands were just waking up to the fact that they didn’t have the data infrastructure they needed to succeed.

Enter COVID.

Practically overnight, brands were forced to confront these obstacles as they had to digitize their business and, in many cases, adopt tech solutions that threatened to disintermediate restaurant brands from their guests. This set the stage for the next frontier of restaurant growth, specifically, guest centricity and the ability to build an on-to-off-premise experience that is seamless, personalized, controlled by the brand, and driven by data.

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Definition of CDP

Customer Data Platforms (CDP) exclusively serve the purpose of ingesting data, creating a single view of the guest, and piping that data to end platforms where it can add value.

So how does this new tech category fit into the restaurant tech stack? And is a CDP right for your restaurant?

Start by evaluating where your brand is today and then identify the data architecture that will serve your brand for the next decade.

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Signs You Need a Restaurant CDP

  • Data deserts: “I wish I could do X, but can’t get the data from A to B”
  • Manual workflows: “We will need another person just to analyze X data”
  • Tech-stack dependency: “We can’t implement X until we have Y in place”
  • Vendor lock-in: “We can’t afford to leave X—they just have too much control over valuable data about our guests”

Say Goodbye to Data Silos

Here’s the real revelation of CDP: it’s a single solution to ingest data from any source, merge that data to a single guest record, then send it to the right destination.

With a restaurant CDP, you don’t have to think about whether the vendors you’re working with will give you useful data—your CDP is there to ingest and make that data usable.

To help visualize this point, see the graphic below. While everyone looks at charts like this and gets excited about “dream scenarios” in the top right—without a clean, usable, data foundation, they’re just that...dreams.

Olo Restaurant Data - CDP

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Benefits of a Restaurant CDP

To determine what a restaurant CDP like Olo’s Guest Data Platform could unlock for your brand, start by mapping out your current tech stack, with a specific lens on data sources and destinations.

Sources are any vendor or channel that captures guest data. Examples include POS, WiFi, waitlist & reservations, loyalty, email/SMS, brand website, guest app, online ordering, restaurant payment processor, social media, surveys, third-party reviews, etc.

Destinations are vendors who will help you act on the data. Examples include email and SMS marketing, search and social ad platforms, business insights tools, and even data warehouses.

It’s worth noting that sources can be destinations as well. An example of this is enriching guest data back into your restaurant CRM to fuel more impactful, targeted search, social, and even email/SMS campaigns.

This data source/destination exercise will get you to somewhere like this:

Olo Guest Data Platform for Restaurants
How Olo's Guest Data Platform—a CDP purpose-built for restaurants—works

How a Restaurant CDP Works: The Loyalty Program Use-Case

Imagine you’re a restaurant brand years into a loyalty program offering, yet, your loyalty vendor’s messaging solution doesn’t fully meet your expectations. Or, you want to facilitate personalization based on more data than just what’s within your loyalty/offers solution.

Are you stuck? Marketing leaders at many brands have said they feel that way. But, that doesn’t have to be the case.

By adding a restaurant CDP to your tech stack, you’d be able to—in this example—ingest points, spend, offer, and redemption data back to a centralized guest record that can also include data from web, social, or on-premise interactions not captured by a loyalty solution. Data could then be pushed to the destination vendor best suited to meet your goals. The bottom line is that the added flexibility of a CDP ensures you don’t have to switch one vendor to accommodate another or to adopt a new strategy.

Further, you can push this singular, enriched guest record to a marketing execution platform of your choice. This unlocks the ability to build conditional messaging flows that drive guests further down the funnel to habituation, all based on their unique interactions with your brand.

It's Time to Harness and Act on Restaurant Data

To remain competitive, leading restaurant brands will create data architecture that puts an accessible guest data layer at its core—combined with modular, best-in-class applications to act on the data. This idea is not new to digitally-native companies, like e-commerce, that are disciplined at tracking every step of their guests’ journeys because the needed data architecture is already built into their platform and experience. Now is the time for brick-and-mortar businesses like restaurants to reclaim their guest data and put it to work.

Learn about our Olo’s Guest Data Platform, a restaurant-specific CDP, and contact us to find out how it can take your business to the next level.

Main photo credit: Lexie Barnhorn from Unsplash