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Text Message Marketing for Restaurants

Everything you need to know about restaurant text marketing and links to extra resources on specific topics.

Text Message Marketing for Restaurants
Text Message Marketing for Restaurants

Most restaurant marketing is targeted at getting new diners–missing the opportunity to build loyalty with past and current ones. Using text message marketing for restaurants, you can create valuable and long-term relationships with people. Here’s the ultimate guide to how it works.

Text Message Marketing for Restaurant Use Cases

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:

We’ll cover these use cases in more detail. But first, here’s why text marketing is so effective.

Restaurant Texting Service Benefits

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.

3 Reasons Not to Text Customers From Personal Phones

Whether you are a small diner or a multi-location restaurant, you shouldn’t text customers from your personal phone. We understand the temptation: when staff can easily handle conversations from their phone’s texting app, why invest in a restaurant texting service?

  • When you use a personal phone you have no insight into the conversations between your staff and customers
  • You can’t take advantage of mass texts, use inbox features like templates, or organize diners into lists
  • There’s no ability to give multiple people access to the one number’s inbox

It’s why you need a dedicated restaurant texting service that works from any device. It allows you to add multiple users, send bulk text messages, and take advantage of features that make your team and operations more efficient.

How Restaurant Text Messaging Works

There are two ways restaurants use texting:

  1. Promotional messages like advertising a weekly special  
  2. 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.

Promotional Restaurant Text Messaging

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.

Thanks for your interest in our VIP text club. We can’t wait to share the best deals with you. Oh, and get a free coffee the next time you pass by. Just show us this message.

Restaurants we work with promote their keywords on their: 

  • Menus
  • Receipts
  • Table tents
  • Place mats
  • Window signs
  • Cash register
  • Website
  • 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 Restaurant Text Messaging

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 want to automate these texts, we recommend you checkout our SMS integrations or our SMS API.

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 Choose the Best Text Message Marketing for Restaurants 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 service, you might suddenly face writer’s block. So, to preempt that, here are nine restaurant SMS samples to help you get started. We include everything from a restaurant promotional SMS sample to Text-to-Apply templates.

Hey there! The Falafel King here. Come try our limited-time chickpea power bowl. Piping hot chickpeas mixed with onions and tangy spices. It’s only here until Friday!
Krispy Kreme – Quick! The hot light is on! Come in and get a fresh donut and we’ll give you a free cup of coffee. Offer only good for the next three hours
Will we see you at tonight’s open mic? Swing by Vesper’s for a pastry and stay for the awesome music—today from 6 to 10 p.m.
Hi Susan, your table for 4 is now ready. We’ll hold it for the next 10 minutes.
What’s the next flavor you want to see at 3 Rooster’s Creamery? A. Strawberry Smash B. Peanut Butter Blitz C. Cookies ‘n’ Creme de Menthe
Jimmy’s BBQ – You’ve successfully entered to win FREE dinner for 4. Winner will be notified by text on Dec 1. Good luck!
Lenny’s Pizza family, one of our team members had to call out sick today. Reply YES if you are available to cover. Thank you!
Attention Little Japan team, the latest schedule is now available. Please check when your next shift is here:
Thank you for your interest in Chick-fil-A, West Palm Beach. To find out more information or to apply click here

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.

Interested in our Restaurant Texting Service? 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.

Try Our Restaurant Texting Service for Free

Send your first message in minutes. Try SimpleTexting free for 14 days.

No credit card required