Jun 23, 2023
 min read

SMS Marketing Strategies and 3 Examples For Restaurants

This article outlines:

Why SMS marketing automations work well for restaurants

Anatomy of an effective SMS marketing automation

Three SMS marketing examples for restaurants

As a follow-up to our post about why SMS marketing matters for restaurants, we’re diving deeper into why SMS marketing automations work, the anatomy of an effective campaign, and three examples any brand can use to drive engagement and sales.

The Power of SMS Marketing Automation

Automation might just be the best tool in the SMS marketing toolbox. Before we get into why, here’s a quick definition: SMS automations are marketing text messages that send automatically, triggered by guest behaviors.

For example, with help from a restaurant CRM, you can set up an automation to send right after a guest dines on-premise or places an online order, thanking them for their business and requesting feedback on the experience.

While mass SMS campaigns can drive results for specific goals, SMS automations have real advantages in driving predictable, sustainable results.


Why SMS Marketing Automations Work for Restaurants

1. They are timely: Because they trigger automatically based on behavior, SMS automations arrive at the right time—whether reminding a guest who hasn’t visited for three weeks of a popular menu item or asking for feedback after an online order closes.‍

2. They are relevant: Message content is tailored to guest actions, increasing responsiveness and building a 1:1 relationship‍.

3. They are consistent: SMS automations don’t rely on a daily, manual marketing effort to be sent—they reach every guest, every time, over time‍.

4. They are targeted: Reaching a guest on their mobile device is, by far, the most personal method of communication.

5. They reach the intended recipient, guaranteed: SMS messages don’t get caught by filters, like email inboxes, and aren’t served alongside competitive ads (as is often the case on social media).


Anatomy of an Effective SMS Marketing Automation

Despite the built-in power of SMS automations, the content must still be carefully crafted for opens, engagement, and returns.

  • Short, concise, natural copy: Texts should read like they’re coming from a friend.
  • Consistent brand voice: A good SMS campaign should reflect the same voice used on a brand’s website, email campaigns, and social media.
  • Personalized content: Using the recipient’s name is good, but a text that is relevant to the behavior that triggered it makes communications feel organic and personal.
  • Clear call to action: Make clear what you want guests to do when they receive your text and ensure that it aligns with the campaign's objectives.
  • Urgency: LTOs and VIP perks are go-tos, but exciting copy and creative engagement strategies can go a long way to create urgency without direct promos.


Three SMS Marketing Examples for Restaurants

Once the brainstorming starts, use cases for automated SMS marketing campaigns are limitless. Get inspired and build on the basics of effective SMS campaigns with these examples:

Be the First to Access Special, Value-Add Content  

Campaign Goal: Reward opt-ins and build a 1:1 connection with guests

Trigger: New SMS opt-in from WiFi, website, etc.

SMS Content: Welcome text with exclusive value-added content

Ideas include:

  • Drink recipes that complement takeout offerings or cooking tips from the culinary team
  • A link to your brand’s playlist or to download a coloring sheet 
  • A special survey to provide input on upcoming menu additions 

If You Ordered This, You’ll Love That

Campaign Goal: Drive continued takeout menu exploration and guest frequency

Trigger: Guest ordered [menu item] but not [menu item] (a combo your brand knows drives repeat orders most often)

SMS Content: A simple reminder from a friend about menu items they love, and what they pair well with, is often enough to keep your brand top-of-mind come mealtime

Ideas include:

  • Are you craving an extra order of [menu item]? Asking for a friend. Don’t forget [menu item].
  • Did you know (fun fact about the menu item)?
  • It’s #MeatlessMonday/#TacoTuesday (or another trending food hashtag). Let’s celebrate with [menu item] and [menu item].

“Show this Text” for Perks (Bonus: Creates Urgency)

Campaign Goal: Boost online order frequency and average check

Trigger: Ordered [menu item] online

SMS Content: Incentivize guests with a special perk that’s redeemable when they order online (for a limited time)

Ideas include: 

  • A special incentive tied to a new menu item or a specific day-part lagging in sales (e.g. $5 off your next lunch order)
  • A perk that incentivizes guests to order bundled items that are popular with your most high-value guests (e.g., free __ when you order __)
  • A promotion tied to a new category of items you’re looking to drive a trial of (plant-based offerings, new family meal kits, etc.)

In summary, SMS automations not only save restaurant marketers time and streamline workflow, but they’re also more likely to create immediate and meaningful ROI for the business than most other channels. Leading brands are texting with their most engaged and loyal guests multiple times a week—building a 1:1 relationship by adding value with each message and creating urgency because every SMS is triggered by individual guest behaviors.

Check out Why Restaurant Email Marketing Drives Revenue and our three-part Guide to Restaurant Guest Acquisition for more restaurant marketing strategies.

Download the 2024 Restaurant Marketing Guide

Contact us to learn all the ways our Engage suite can help you automate and personalize your restaurant marketing communications.

Photo Credit Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

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