As a leading end-to-end restaurant platform, we spend a lot of time talking to brands of all sizes about everyday challenges, goals, and what tech investments they’re making to eliminate pain points and deliver hospitality at scale. These conversations drive our year-round product innovations and shed light on what’s new and next for the industry.
To give you a taste of some of those insights, we’ve compiled a list of trends that will shape restaurant marketing in the coming year. Spoiler alert: Personalizing the guest experience is a common theme.
Keep scrolling to find out what everyone’s buzzing about. Then, download the 2024 Restaurant Marketing Guide for actionable strategies to help you maximize your marketing ROI and do more with less.
Now that AI tools like ChatGPT and Olo’s AI Creative Assistant are widely accessible, restaurant marketers will spend less time on tedious tasks like writing email copy or social captions and more time segmenting audiences, testing, and learning.
AI will supercharge marketers’ creativity and help maximize their output by turning simple prompts into relevant, attention-grabbing headlines, body copy, and CTAs they can easily refine to match their brand’s voice, tone, and style.
Brands will use restaurant marketing automation tools to lighten their load and drive sales across channels. By leveraging automated triggers, filters, and time delays, marketers can make every message feel personal to each guest.
The key will be finding ways to positively influence guest behavior as they move through the lifecycle—such as incentivizing dine-in guests to order online—and using automations to drive them further down the funnel to habituation.
Restaurant marketers will use first-party guest data to tailor communications and promotions to individual preferences, order history, and behavior. Why? Because 71% of consumers expect brands to deliver personalized experiences and 76% get frustrated when they don’t.
By incorporating personalization into campaign strategy—including channel, audience segmentation, targeting, and messaging—marketers can boost ROI, sales, visit frequency, and overall guest engagement.
4. Guest Data Platform
Many restaurants will invest in a Guest Data Platform—sometimes referred to as a Customer Data Platform (CDP)—which connects all types and sources of guest data into individual profiles so they can sort, analyze, and act on those insights instantly.
With a GDP, restaurants will be able to more effectively market to 100% of guests—not just loyalty members—and create conditional messaging flows that turn one-time visitors into regulars.
5. Lifetime Value
As more brands discover that 60% of their revenue is driven by 20% of guests, restaurant marketers will begin to use guest lifetime value (LTV)—the estimated profit generated by each guest based on recency, frequency, and spending—to inform their retention and acquisition strategies.
With LTV, they’ll be able to do things like:
- Determine which channel, offers, and messaging have the highest ROI potential
- Build segments to ensure all guests become more valuable over time
- Create lookalike audiences to reach potential guests who behave similarly and share the interests of high-value guests
- Promote and incentivize behaviors high-value guests are known to exhibit
To unlock and leverage LTV, marketers first need an integrated restaurant tech stack that harnesses first-party data from across the guest journey and makes it actionable.
6. Gamified Loyalty
Some restaurant brands will level up their loyalty programs with gamification to drive engagement, awareness, and sales. These fun challenges reward participating guests with points, prizes, free food, etc.
For example, Olo helped Denny’s launch a gamified rewards program that provides guests with monthly offers and personalized challenges that unlock never-before-seen rewards (e.g., visit four times in one month for a free Grand Slam breakfast).
7. Short-Form Video Content
Demand for short-form video remains sky-high—66% of consumers consider it the most engaging social media content. As such, restaurants will continue to use TikTok, Instagram Reels, and YouTube to boost awareness and engagement, especially among younger guests.
Short-form videos can be a powerful acquisition and retention tool for restaurants when used strategically. In the new year, expect to see top brands leveraging short-term video for things like LTO teasers, brand challenges, behind-the-scenes tours, dish prep, team member intros, and user-generated content.
Key Considerations Before Jumping on a Trend
Before jumping on the trend train, it’s important to remember no two restaurant brands are exactly the same. What works for one may not work for another.
- Data: If your brand is at the start of its digital journey, you may simply need data that is accessible and usable (in other words, a CRM). But if your brand is more mature, a GDP will enable you to unify and enrich guest profiles, send data to business intelligence tools, and leverage LTV across your business.
- Social media: If your high-value guests live on TikTok, short-form video could be your sweet spot. But if they don’t, you’ll want to focus on growing a following on the social platform where they—and prospective guests who behave like them—actually spend their time.
To determine which trends will yield the best ROI for your restaurant brand, you must consider your unique business needs, goals, budget, guest experience, operations, marketing team capabilities, etc.
Get the Ultimate Guide to Restaurant Marketing
No matter the size of your brand or digital maturity level, you can learn actionable strategies for maximizing ROI and doing more with less in our new ebook, Win More in 2024: Your Guide to Restaurant Marketing Success. In it, you’ll find:
- Beginner, intermediate, and advanced strategies for leveling up in four focus areas: data, audiences, content distribution, and loyalty
- Interactive checklists to help you track your progress throughout the year
- Tips for leveraging guest data across your entire business—from your menu to real estate
Click the button below to get your copy.
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