Insights
Nov 23, 2022
 – WRITTEN BY 
3
 min read

The Most Underrated Restaurant Marketing Strategy

This article outlines:

Where restaurants often go wrong in their quest for marketing success

How to choose the right marketing objective for your brand

Tips for launching strategic campaigns

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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.

Maximize your ROI with the 2024 Restaurant Marketing Guide

Main Photo Credit: Jason Goodman from Unsplash

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