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7 Restaurant Mobile Marketing Strategies to Drive Growth

7 Restaurant Mobile Marketing Strategies to Drive Growth

Here are seven creative mobile marketing ideas for your restaurant you can use to separate yourself from the competition.

Mobile Marketing for Restaurants

Whether you run a large restaurant or a small cafe, you’ve got a lot on your plate. Ordering supplies, managing budgets, planning menus, handling complaints, recruiting staff, the list goes on.

But in the end, your success comes down to two things: bringing in customers, and making sure they come back. Simply put, restaurant owners and managers need to have a mobile marketing strategy if they want to compete.

The latest research shows that the average smartphone user checks their device 47 times a day. It shouldn’t come as a surprise then that people spend around three hours per day on their phones.

Hungry people are on their phones, and restaurants are dedicating large portions of their budgets to reaching them. 

If yours isn’t, you risk losing out to your competitors. In this article, we’ll explore what mobile marketing is, and offer seven strategies you can use.

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What Exactly Is Mobile Marketing?

Mobile marketing is the process of targeting campaigns to people on mobile devices. There are many different types of mobile marketing, including banners, video, email, search ads, and texting. 

It can be a bit overwhelming at first, but we’ll break down the most effective strategies for restaurants and explain why they work.

For a long time mobile marketing was billed as next-big-thing. That’s no longer the case because it’s the thing. In 2019, 52.5% of all web traffic came from mobile phones and 70% of searches made on mobile phones lead to an online action

This is a big-picture look at mobile marketing in general. But what about the restaurant industry specifically? 

  • Orders placed via smartphone and mobile apps became a $38 billion industry in 2020
  • 45% of consumers say that a mobile loyalty program would drive them to order from a restaurant again

The numbers are clear: mobile marketing is essential to your restaurant. Let’s discuss how you can get started.

Top 7 Restaurant Mobile Marketing Strategies

The key with restaurant mobile marketing is to find opportunities to delight guests and make their lives easier. Here are seven ways you can do just that.

1. Target Local Keywords Using SEO

SEO stands for “search engine optimizations.” It’s the process of improving the design, content and usability of your website so that it ranks higher in Google searches. 

We don’t need to tell you how popular Google is, but it may be worth noting that data shows overall restaurant-related searches have grown by double digits in the past two years.

As a restaurant, your goal should be to rank for local searches. For example, “Burger restaurant Denver.” Let’s take a quick look at the results for this search:

Notice that there are three results at the top. This is where you want to be. Take a minute to do a similar search for your restaurant.

For example, if you run a pizzeria in Atlanta, go ahead and Google “pizzeria Atlanta.” Are you in the top three results? If not, this is how you can use SEO in your pizzeria marketing strategy:

  • Make your website easy to navigate on mobile and highlight your menu
  • Add a contact page to your website with your name, address, and number
  • Add a Click to Call or Click to Text button to your site
  • If you have multiple locations, add a map with all of them
  • Include reviews from customers on your website
  • Claim your restaurant on TripAdvisor, Google My Business, Yelp, Facebook, etc.

50% of consumers who do a local search on their smartphone visit a store within 24 hours. Take the time to do the quick fixes above, and you should see a boost in your rankings.

2. Request Reviews from Diners

In the last section, we mentioned that it’s important for local SEO to have reviews from customers. The reason is that oftentimes review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor appear on the first page of search results.

If your restaurant’s profiles on Google, Yelp, and TripAdvisor are looking sparse, it’s time to start asking for reviews from customers. It isn’t difficult. Happy customers are excited to share about their experience with others. Try the following tactics to get more reviews:

  • Add a call to action asking for a review to your table tents, menus, receipts, etc.
  • If you have a text message list, send review requests via SMS
  • If a customer made an online reservation, send a follow-up email with a link to review sites
  • Ask your servers to remind diners to leave a review after they’ve finished their meal

While good reviews are what every restaurant strives for, negative reviews can happen, even with an amazing back-of-house and wait staff. Don’t panic if you get a negative review. 

The best thing you can do is respond to it sincerely, and offer to make things right. Incentivize them to come back and show them how great your restaurant really is.

3. Make Your Meals Selfie-Worthy

This 2018 report found that (when factoring in profits) no-growth restaurants were more likely to use Twitter (44% vs. 39%), whereas more successful restaurants were more likely to use Instagram (69% vs. 64%).

It’s easy to see why. We’ve known for years that we eat with our eyes. People are gravitating to visually-appealing platforms like Snapchat and Instagram, while moving away from Facebook and Twitter.

Think about the design of your restaurant. Does it make someone want to take a photo? Yes, the taste of your food is incredibly important. But as a savvy marketer, you need to think about your tabletops, wall decor, and lighting too. 

You should also work with your chefs to make sure every dish is being plated in an appealing way.

Even well-established brands are changing the presentation of their food to take advantage of the free advertising that snap-happy customers can provide. 

Casual restaurant chain Chili’s started serving fries now in stainless steel dishes and changed the buns on their burgers to be more aesthetically pleasing.

Go through your entire dining experience and try to identify opportunities to create Kodak moments.

4. Offer Online Ordering

COVID-19 has reshaped how restaurants handle orders, with online ordering more important than ever.

While social distancing and lockdowns have accelerated the increasing shift to mobile channels—both apps and contactless ordering platforms—it’s likely it will stick even after the pandemic subsides.

The good news is that online ordering doesn’t have to be complicated to set up. There are a few affordable services that let you implement online ordering easily. Three of the most popular and highly reviewed are:

  • ChowNow: Take orders through a website, Facebook page, or mobile app
  • Square Order: Allow customers to place pre-orders via mobile
  • GrubHub: Accept mobile orders through a marketplace site

This strategy is especially important for quick service restaurants (QSRs). 

An analysis of QSR’s mobile apps including McDonald’s, Burger King, Chipotle, Domino’s and Pizza Hut, found a 36% year-over-year increase in the number of reviewers who expressed it was their first time using them.

If investing in a mobile app sounds like a lot of effort, you can always take orders by text message.

5. Create a Contactless Dining or Pickup Experience

In the face of the coronavirus pandemic, a restaurant’s mobile capabilities are more important now than ever. 

With the increase in restaurant delivery orders and curbside pick-up, contact-free handoffs and dining relies increasingly on mobile devices. (If you’re wondering how this relates to marketing, an investment in customer experience can grow revenue by 4-8%.)

This doesn’t need to be a major undertaking. Our customer, Estrella Tacos Y Mas automates their curbside pickup process using text messages and finds that “customers appreciate how smooth the process is from start to finish.”

Instead of investing in an expensive curbside pickup software and mobile app, customers text the keyword “pickup” and receive an automated message asking them for their parking spot, car model, and the order’s name.

6. Use Third-Party Delivery Apps (Better Yet, Offer Delivery Yourself)

Online ordering is great, delivering is even better. We’re sure you’ve heard of Uber Eats, GrubHub, Postmates and DoorDash. The pandemic has more than doubled these apps’ business.

The National Restaurant Association reported that 74% of millennials report a preference for delivery service. And now, anyone with a smartphone can get pretty much any food they want delivered to them in an instant.

Customers want to be able to quickly order from their phones. If you don’t offer delivery, your customers will seek out another restaurant. 

A third-party app means you don’t have to deal with the headaches of hiring a delivery driver and finding a PoS system equipped to take online and delivery orders.

Not offering delivery can be a death sentence for some companies. Third-party apps can be a quick way to get your delivery service running. 

But depending on the size of your team, you may want to take an even bigger step and bring your delivery in-house. This will help you create an even more consistent customer experience.

7. Regularly Engage with Customers Using Text Messages

All of the strategies we’ve talked about so far help you find new customers, and make your restaurant more appealing to them so they’ll decide to dine with you. 

But what about your current customers? You can’t forget about them.

Text messages help you engage with past diners and encourage them to come back. 

Here’s how it works: first, a customer subscribes to your messages. They can do this using a web form or by texting in a keyword to your number. 

For example, a sushi restaurant could make their keyword “LetsRoll.” All a customer would have to do to sign up for their messages is text “LetsRoll” to their number.

Nearly a quarter of restaurants are using SMS marketing. Here are three reasons why: 

  1. Texts are effective: 98% of texts are opened and 36% are clicked on.
  2. Texts are immediate: it only takes a minute to send a message to thousands of people at once which is great if you need to make up for a slower-than-usual day. 
  3. Texts are interactive: customers can respond to your messages which makes it great for asking for feedback or conducting polls.

Here are a few ways that restaurants can use SMS marketing:

Want more ideas? We wrote an entire guide to walk restaurant owners through everything they need to know about using restaurant text message marketing. We also offer a 14-day free trial of our platform if you want to give texting a try.

Summary of Restaurant Mobile Marketing

Smartphones and other mobile devices have changed the way people look for restaurants and order food. More and more people are spending more and more time on their phones. 

If that’s where they are, that’s where you should go. Restaurants have many mobile marketing tools at your disposal including local SEO, online ordering apps, merchandising, and SMS marketing among others. 

Whether you have one unit or hundreds, adding even just a few of these to your marketing mix can boost your bottom line.

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