Challenge #3: A blanket approach doesn’t always win customers
Blasting a single message to every customer in the email or SMS list doesn’t reflect the relationship diners have with their local restaurant. Broadcast media is great for building loyalty with a brand, but terrible for establishing loyalty at the community level. A substantial benefit to direct digital marketing is the ability to customize messages and offers based on simple segmentation, such as a diner’s preferred location or zip code. In contrast to offline community-focused media alternatives like FSIs and mailers, this level of targeting is readily available and cost-effective only with sound direct digital tactics.
Flexibility pays huge dividends in establishing a local connection. Important details like local or regional features, promotions and discounts, variable store hours, or catering and to-go services can all be lost in a blanket marketing approach. When email and SMS programs are managed together – ideally from a single database – effective segmentation and targeting opportunities exist within a community-by-community context. It’s a best-case scenario where LSM (local store marketing) insight is married with corporate marketing muscle.
SMS programs are a huge win for LSM efforts because they provide local store managers the opportunity to distribute real-time text-message campaigns to a sub-segment of opted-in customers in their community. Having a slow Thursday dinner? Within minutes an SMS message can be drafted with a pre-approved offer, and sent to customers within driving distance. This is marketing at the micro-level; the flexibility to impact the business on a day-to-day basis.
Challenge #4: Make the Web matter
By now, most quick-service or casual dining chains – whether national or exclusively regional – have invested in a significant web presence. Websites in this category share some basic information: menu, features, coupons, and store locations. Beyond the basics, most restaurants struggle with monetizing this information and tying business value back to the investment. Using email and SMS together helps make this information relevant to diners, and translates information into dollars spent at the store.
Some ways to make the Web more effective:
- Make the menu interactive by providing a call-to-action alongside new menu announcements. For example, offer site visitors the option to send a coupon to themselves via email or SMS. The site is already doing the work of making the visitor hungry – now let them act on it!
- The same basic principle applies for any offer found on the site. There’s no reason why a coupon should be impossible to send via email or text message. Consumers have growing expectations about the usability of web properties, demanding access to savings across their digital devices. Failing to respond to consumer demand in this respect hurts sales.
- Monetize the store locator functionality in the same manner as the online menu and offers by allowing visitors to forward location information to their mobile phone for easy lookup when they’re on the road. Better yet, include a coupon in the SMS message, giving them further motivation to jump in the car. Improving the interactive nature of the web property turns location browsers into location visitors.
Every tactic is feasible. However, they become difficult to accomplish in a cost-effective way for quick-service and casual dining operators unless the cornerstone components of direct digital marketing – email and SMS – are managed together as a single solution. Once the efficiency of an integrated approach is realized, the traditional hurdles to successful direct digital marketing begin to disappear.