Lofty goals, a tight budget, and a small team. Restaurant marketers are all too familiar with this juggling act. But how do you drive retention and acquisition at a time when guest preferences, the supply chain, and the labor market are also in flux?
By staying hyper-focused on your brand-specific goals, embracing automation, and leveraging what you know about your existing restaurant guests, you can maximize both your time and budget.
Start with these proven strategies for restaurant marketing success:
1. Focus On One Realistic Goal
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Don’t try to do it all. Be realistic about what you can achieve—especially if you’re a one-person marketing team.
Instead of wasting time and precious advertising dollars guessing who your guests are, what they like, how they’ll behave, and what channels they prefer, let your data be your guide. That way, you can concentrate on building strategic marketing campaigns with the highest ROI potential.
2. Automate Your Restaurant Marketing Campaigns
Work smarter, not harder. With marketing automation powered by your restaurant CRM, you can set up relevant, enticing, and personalized guest communications, including email, SMS, and push notifications, that are automatically triggered by events or segment criteria.
Give a Warm Welcome: Promote your loyalty program when guests place their first online order or sign up for in-restaurant WiFi
Cross-promote Sales Channels: Let QR code ordering guests know that you also offer curbside pickup and delivery
Boost App Downloads: Direct online orderers to download your restaurant app for a better user experience
Drive Repeat Orders: Make guests crave your food with a tailored message based on their order history and preferences
Win Back Cart Abandoners: Gently nudge guests when they’ve left something in their cart so that they’ll return to order
Show MVPs Extra Love: Incentivize guests with high lifetime value (LTV) with an irresistible offer based on what you know about them
Gather Valuable Feedback: Survey guests to make them feel heard, learn what’s working and what isn’t, and improve the guest experience
3. Optimize Your Social Media Efforts
Managing multiple social media accounts for a restaurant brand is a daunting task. To stay on top of the workload, consider using a posting tool such as Buffer or Hootsuite, that enables you to create and schedule content in advance for automatic publishing across platforms.
If you’re struggling to maintain a steady stream of posts, user-generated content can be a great resource. Reposting photos taken by restaurant guests is an easy way to show them love and add authenticity to your social feed.
Lastly, be sure to repurpose evergreen content so that you’re not constantly reinventing the wheel. Just remember quality over quantity.
4. Retarget Website Visitors and Social Followers
While guest acquisition is a critical part of any restaurant marketing plan, so is retention. It’s essential to not lose sight of those people who have already expressed interest in your brand: website visitors and social media followers.
By setting up a retargeting campaign, you can ensure that your brand stays top of mind long after website visitors leave your site—without doing any extra leg work. An eye-catching ad featuring messaging that resonates with your target audience can be the difference between someone returning to order or not.
Similarly, you can keep social followers engaged with your brand using targeted ads that remind them why they love your restaurant.
5. Leverage Your Existing Guests
When it comes to attracting new, high-value guests, your best resource is your existing base. By targeting lookalike audiences that mirror the interests and behaviors of your current guests, you can save time, lower acquisition costs, and boost ROI for digital marketing across social media and Google.
Sources for restaurant lookalike audiences can be CRM-based—email list, SMS subscribers, etc.—as well as online orderers, social followers, loyalty members, website visitors, and more.
What’s Next for Restaurant Marketing
Looking ahead, restaurant marketers will continue to seek out new solutions and strategies to optimize campaigns, work more efficiently, and maximize their budgets. Here are two examples:
- Customer Data Platforms: A CDP like Olo’s restaurant-specific Guest Data Platform gives marketers a holistic view of their guests, which they can then use to power hyper-targeted digital ads and personalized communications.
- AI: With the introduction of ChatGPT, the powerful new chatbot tool, the opportunity to do more with less, particularly from a marketing perspective, is sky-high. From writing social media copy to tailoring marketing messages and informing SEO strategy, the applications are endless.
While restaurant brands are faced with a variety of challenges right now, marketers can do more with less by concentrating on attainable, high-impact goals, using marketing automation tools to deliver personalized and timely guest communications, and leveraging existing guests to find and attract new ones.
Main Photo Credit: Kampus Production, Pexels