Do Restaurant Marketing Strategies Such as Social Mobile Really Work? Restaurant marketing strategies that really work are a top priorties these days. The restaurant industry has experienced the steepest decline in traffic in the last three decades. Fine dining restaurants are feeling the effects of greatly reduced receipts and this segment in particular has contracted significantly in the number of open restaurants. Full service and casual dining restaurants are experiencing flat sales. Fast food chains are seeing flat to marginal sales trends, none of which looks to improve in 2010 with an unemployment rate of over 9%. Cost retrenchment only goes so far and customer acquisition is a necessity. “What’s required is a sound marketing strategy that you can afford” according to Ben Wheeler, a restaurant advertising and social mobile strategist with Socious Mobile, ” and that’s the balancing act.”
Most restaurants in today’s economic climate can’t afford prime time commercials, major print advertising campaign. Radio, although cost effective, alone may not be enough. Many restaurants have either thought about it or toyed with setting up a Facebook account. Some have been successful but many have not because social media campaigns requires a well thought out strategy and a dedicated focus to optimize the channel. “Setting up a Facebook page with your logo and this week’s specials isn’t going to do it.” according to Mr. Wheeler. So what is Social Mobile marketing? Social media marketing refers to the explosive trend in “common communities” online where friends, business associates and families network and share their lives. The biggest being Facebook with more than 400 million active users, 50% are active users that log on daily with an average of 130 friends in their network, according to Facebook.Although Facebook is the most popular, other sites we recommend developing strategies for include LinkedIn, a professional networking site and MeetUp.com, a site were people with shared interest meet on line to arrange to meet in person usually as a group activity.
“Mobile” in social mobile refers to mobile marketing, the most direct method of marketing to your customers is by far right to their cell phone. Over 200 million American’s have a mobile phone and over 60% text message. Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter have mobile status alert features where subscribers can get their updates sent right to their phone via text. Similar to email marketing campaign but more direct, mobile marketing can be very effective by sending text coupons to a subscriber’s cell phone instantly. A challenge associated with mobile marketing is collecting “opt-ins” or mobile subscribers. Recent advancements is restaurant pager technology enables restaurants and other businesses that have to manage a wait list, the ability to notify guests via a text or voice message right to the guests cell phone without handing out expensive coaster pagers. These new guest pager systems are referred to as restaurant cell phone pagers and are extremely effective and affordable. The best of breed cell phone pager systems offer an integrated mobile marketing platform that makes it easier to prompt guests to join your mobile loyalty program. To learn more about cell phone text pagers read the article ” The Iconic Restaurant Coaster Pager Evolves into the Restaurant Cell Phone Pager”
The explosion of iPhones and Droid phones (smart phones) have made access to your restaurant’s social networking site on the fly even easier. Social networking sites have mobile versions of their site which makes it easy for your guests to interact with your page. The emerging trend is mobile website, which will continue to grow and restaurants should consider developing a mobile website as well. Overall, ABI Research data indicates that about 25% of US consumers accessed the internet via mobile phone at least once per day in February 2010. Mobile sites are becoming increasingly important for restaurants now that many guests are using iPhone apps such as Zagat’s mobile or Yelp! mobile to find your restaurant. Guests get frustrated when they find an unwieldy web pages they can’t navigate easily on their phone. Developing a mobile website isn’t terribly expensive and can be very beneficial.
Successful restaurant social network marketing campaigns are based on loyalty enhancing, real-time updates that engage your guests and puts your restaurant top of mind. An effective web site and mobile marketing campaign should also be utilized and integrated into your marketing program. Any traditional media channels being used should always promote your social media accounts and mobile loyalty campaign call to action. The value proposition of both social media marketing and mobile marketing campaigns is the ability to capture and retain customers beyond the limited duration of your print or radio campaign. You now have customers as either “fans” or their cell phone number as a “subscriber” or Mobile VIPs.
Social mobile strategies are the best way to assure ROI from any marketing campaign you execute. Both offer great metrics. Remember, social and mobile campaigns require weekly if not daily interaction by you and your staff. The fresher the content, particularly for social media campaigns, the more engaged your customers will be. Mobile marketing campaigns are the most effective direct marketing strategy and the key to success is to offer valuable incentives to your guests in turn for their cell phone number. Customers in mobile loyalty program expect to receive value rich promotional offers(by one get one free, 25% off text coupon, etc), so make sure you deliver on the expectation. Mobile is especially effective because it is INSTANT you can drive business with the right promotion in a matter of an hour or two. The key is to leverage multiple marketing channels to assure you get you message across and integrating a comprehensive social mobile strategy into your next campaign is essential.