Text Message Marketing for Restaurants
Everything you need to know about restaurant text marketing and links to extra resources on specific topics.
Most restaurant marketing is targeted at getting new diners–missing the opportunity to build loyalty with past and current ones. Using SMS marketing, you can create valuable and long-term relationships with people. Here’s the ultimate guide to how it works.
Here’s How Restaurants Use Text Marketing
The challenge that restaurants have is that people come in, eat, pay, and leave. There’s little opportunity to build relationships and invite diners back.
That’s where texting comes in. When you collect phone numbers you have a connection to your customers that you can use to drive sales and increase customer lifetime value.
The most common way restaurants drive repeat business using phone numbers is by sending time-sensitive promotions that often lead to immediate sales.
It’s a relatively inexpensive tactic with a large ROI potential. It’s just one use case. We’ve also seen restaurants:
- Drive online orders
- Send texts when a customer’s food or table is ready
- Manage curbside pickup
- Manage reservations by SMS
- Create an SMS loyalty program
- And more!
We’ll cover these use cases in more detail. But first, here’s why text marketing is so effective.
How Texting Helps Restaurants
Restaurant marketing has become much more complicated in the past few years. Competition is heating up and people looking to fill their stomachs now have an array of possible options.
It’s not just the number of eateries that have increased–there’s been an explosion in the number of marketing channels vying for customers attention.
It’s now common for restaurants to promote themselves on social media, email, search engines and review sites. All of those channels have their benefits, but none benefit from text marketing’s unparalleled:
- 98% open rates
- 36% click-through rates (CTRs)
- 45% conversion rates
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It’s how the multi-location restaurant and bakery, Blue Baker, increased its coupon offer redemptions by 162%. (The CTR on text messages was 1,900% higher than email.)
There’s no other channel that can guarantee the same level of engagement, making it invaluable for restaurants vying for customers’ attention.
How Restaurant Text Messaging Works
There are two ways restaurants use texting:
- Promotional messages like advertising a weekly special
- Transactional messages like notifications when a table is ready
We’ll outline how both work and provide links to other useful resources where you can learn more about them.
If you want to start sending your customers restaurant text coupons you’ll need a list of phone numbers. There are many ways that you can build your SMS audience. (You can also upload an existing list by following these steps.)
Arguably the quickest way to do it is by advertising an SMS keyword everywhere you can. A keyword is a word or phrase customers can text to your number to sign up for messages.
Let’s say you run a restaurant called Ramiro’s. Your keyword could be “Ramiro.” When a customer texts it to your phone number they’ll receive an automatic response thanking them for subscribing. Here’s an example.
Restaurants we work with promote their keywords on their:
- Table tents
- Window signs
- Cash register
- Social media
Once you’ve built a list of subscribers, you can now send them:
- Limited-Time Offers: Send time-sensitive discounts to drive immediate traffic, speed up slowdowns, and fill chairs. For example, SimpleTexting customer Honey + Thyme uses texting to announce limited-time menus.
- Mobile Coupons: Send a campaign with a restaurant text coupon. You can also use MMS to include an image of your food or a scannable barcode.
- Weekly Specials: Tell your customers about weekly specials. Here’s a case study covering how Main Squeeze Juice company gets more customers through the doors using weekly specials.
We’ve also seen restaurants create loyalty programs, request reviews, communicate with their staff, and more.
Transactional text messages refer to texts that are sent to as part of your restaurant’s daily operations. You might text someone to confirm an upcoming reservation, organize a pickup order, or let them know that their food is ready.
If you’re interested in learning more about the specifics of setting up these different transactional SMS just using SimpleTexting, we recommend you check out the following resources:
- How to Send a Text Message When a Customer’s Food or Table Is Ready
- How to Implement an SMS Ordering System
- Manage Your Restaurant’s Reservations With Text Messages
- The Best Curbside Pickup Software
How to Choose the Best Text Message Marketing Restaurant Service
At this point, we should state the obvious: we’re a restaurant texting service. We’ve worked with thousands of restaurants to help them text with their customers, but we’re not going to do any hard selling here.
We encourage you to do your research, read plenty of reviews on third-party sites, and sign up for a free trial.
If you’re only starting to research text messaging services, here are some of the boxes you’ll want to tick when choosing one:
- A lot of text messaging platforms allow you to either text 1-on-1 with customers or send bulk texts. You want a platform like SimpleTexting that will enable you to both. It gives you the flexibility to do everything from promotional blasts to managing curbside pickup.
- Do you need to integrate with other platforms or send automated text messages? If so, you’ll want a service that offers multiple SMS integrations.
- Restaurants need to be careful of services that limit the number of keywords and contacts they can have. (We don’t.)
- Restaurants need a text messaging service that has a mobile app so that you don’t need to be in front of a computer to manage texts.
The final consideration is the cost of a restaurant texting system. The per-message price is a huge factor. It’s also worth understanding if credits rollover from one month to the next.
Restaurant SMS Samples
Once you’ve chosen a restaurant texting system, you might suddenly face writer’s block. So, to preempt that, here are nine marketing messages for restaurants to help you get started.
In general, we recommend the following when texting:
- Keep it short: Keeping a message as brief as possible allows the recipient to scan it and know exactly what you’re offering.
- Aim for clarity: While text messages should be short, they shouldn’t be cryptic. Ensure that the text will make sense to the recipient.
- Make it personal: Use the recipient’s name, location, or area of interest to know that the message is for them.
Here’s the Next Step
That’s it—everything you need to know about text message marketing for restaurants in one straightforward guide. The next step is to sign up for a 14-day free trial and try it for yourself.
If you have more questions, you can also request a demo. Alternatively, you can text or call us at (866) 450-4185 or use the chat at the bottom of your screen.
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