In 2016 over 62.9% of the world population owned a mobile phone. According to the Deloitte Global Mobile Consumer Survey, 2016, more than 40% of smartphone users reach over for their phones immediately after they wake up.
This statistics explains why text message marketing wallops email with a 99% open rate compared to the average 27-28% open rate of the latter. In addition to high open and conversion rates, SMS is one of the most immediate channels of marketing. SMS is personal and everywhere regardless of internet connection and it is highly relevant for time-sensitive messages.
So if you are a restaurant owner looking for a quick and cost-efficient tool to boost your profits by engaging more customers and increasing customer loyalty then it’s high time you considered making text messages a top priority in your marketing strategy.
Here are several tips and tricks which will help you get most out of text message marketing, attract new clients and keep them coming back to your restaurant.
Make sure to get your customers’ permission to send them text messages
The first and most important step in SMS marketing is to make sure you message your customers legally to avoid customer complaints and heavy penalties. What you need is your clients’ formal permission to receive text messages from you. They can opt-in to receive messages by sending an SMS keyword to your restaurant’s short number. In return you can offer them special sign-up menu, discounts, freebies or bonuses which will undoubtedly encourage them to opt-in for your messages. As for already-existing customers, you can send them a list of your upcoming events and special offers or promos in order to increase customer loyalty. Use in-store signs, fliers, your webpage and other marketing channels you have to advertise you SMS campaign and to grow your SMS subscribers list.
Be as brief and concise as possible
Now that you have the permission of your clients to send them text messages you should think about the form and content of your messages. In order to make an efficient call to action (CTA) you should communicate sticky ideas to your customers, i.e. ideas that are easy to memorize. Avoid long messages, try to limit the number of characters of your text by highlighting only one idea and weeding out the others, no matter how important they are. The most effective and powerful text messages are the ones that offer immediate and actionable benefit for the customers by appealing to their emotions. There are thousands of ideas you can use to get people in the doors of your restaurant:
- Get a 15% off your meal, if you show the waiter this code. Send a short code to the customer offering a code for discount. It is not only a great reward for the subscription to your text messages or customer loyalty but also a good indicator of how active the people in your mobile customer database are.
In order to enhance emotional value of your messages and increase customer engagement you can complement your plain text messages with pictures, audios and other additional effects. Starbucks, for example, sends fun GIFs to its customers along with text messages. In short, you should show off the best of what your restaurant offers to its clients.
Mind the timing of your messages
Timing is one of the most important variables of marketing. If you want your customers not to read and forget your messages but to leap for the bait and walk through your door when you need them most you should make sure to text them right on time. SMS is an immediate channel which allows you to send out a last-our deal just a couple of hours before the meal-time. Imagine how effective could be a text message offering a hot meal when your customer grabs his phone to search for a place where he can dine in a cold winter afternoon. He will get the perfect message in the perfect moment and your chances of warm reception will definitely rise.
Personalize the content of your messages
In order to reach the feelings of your customers and convince them that your restaurant can fulfill their needs you should personalize the content of the SMS messages you send them. If you have an increasingly big database of customers, divide it into smaller groups according to the specific needs and interests of people and try to send them only relevant messages as the same offer is not likely to interest a vegan and a non-vegan customer, a student and a businessman. If known, include the recipients’ name in the text to add even more personal touch and intimacy to your message. Make your customers feel important and evoke their emotions by adding such words as “exclusive”, “VIP”, “special”, etc. Reward your loyal customers granting them access to special events in your restaurant such as a live music show, a drink tasting event, and more.
Don’t hesitate to use emojis to make the communication with your customers more creative and fun. Domino’s Pizza, for instance, successfully applies emojis in its Domino’s Anywhere initiative which allows the company’s customers to order pizza by sending a pizza emoji to Domino’s SMS short number.
Use word of mouth marketing
Word of mouth marketing is one of the most efficient marketing strategies in restaurant industry which allows to turn customers into marketers and to bring in new clients to your restaurant. You can easily have your customers bring new people and share the information about your restaurant by offering “Refer a Friend” or “Bring a Friend” specials, rewards and coupons through your SMS marketing program.
- Stop by Jane’s café tonight with 3 friends and enjoy a free ice-cream.
The key to a successful “Bring a Friend” campaign is to enjoy the trust of your existing customers since people hardly consider taking their friends to places they don’t visit themselves, even if the deal sounds really tempting.
Get into conversation with your customers
One of the greatest advantages of SMS marketing is that text messages reach their target audience anytime and anywhere. According to a SinglePoint report, over 90% of SMS messages are opened within the first 3 minutes they are received as mobile phone users usually have their device within a hand’s reach. This allows you to get into a direct conversation with your customers and learn about their needs and preferences firsthand. Instead of sending them your usual offers you can make a poll asking them about their preferences, e.g. “free dessert or free drinks with the meal?”. Your customers will vote for their choice and your staff will do their best to meet the interests of the clients.