The restaurant industry is often regarded as one of the toughest to excel in. You may do well on weekends, but you’re staring at a near-empty dining room on Tuesday afternoons. If you’re seasonal, you could have an endless sea of guests half the year and only regulars the other.
The list of struggles could go on.
How do you gain traction in a cut-throat environment? Strong marketing is critical, but a specific type can help you stand out: SMS marketing or text message marketing. SMS marketing can help you ensure you never experience a lull in service ever again – and so much more!
Take a look at the benefits of SMS marketing and the different campaigns you can deploy in your restaurant.
Why Use SMS Marketing for Your Restaurant
You may be hesitant to add a new tactic to your marketing strategy, but the research behind SMS marketing is too good to ignore. Here are some benefits it offers:
Reaches a wider audience than email or other marketing platforms
Cost-effective – most solutions allow you pay as you go or pay per text
Worried that you may end up spamming your customers? Don’t be. All SMS solutions on the market offer “opt-out” services so users can choose to engage with you or not. However, if you send them enticing offers, they’ll likely stick around.
How to Use SMS Marketing for Your Restaurant
So, what are some of these exciting campaigns you should try sending to customers? Explore some ideas below – and remember, you can always make it your own.
Coupons or Promotions
Who doesn’t love a good “Buy one entrée, get one free” deal? With SMS, you can take these promotions and send them to get people in the door any time of the year. You can send out other mobile coupons like, “Show this text for 15% off today” or “2 for 1 drinks this Friday.” If you want to kick it up a notch, you could run a promotional contest or poll to garner customer sentiment. For example, text something like, “What was your favorite seasonal item? Let us know for a $10 gift card,” or you could ask them to rank their dish selections.
Sometimes people don’t have the time to call and make reservations. They could also be trying to plan a surprise dinner. In any situation, if you don’t offer another method to reserve a table, you could potentially lose a customer. Don’t let that happen by allowing diners to text your business for reservations. Once they do, you can continue the conversation by sending confirmation and reminder texts.
One of the easiest ways to start utilizing SMS marketing is for alerts and notifications. For the restaurant industry, you can get pretty creative with these. For example, you could:
Text patrons when their table is ready for them so they can wait outside or walk around when you’re busy
Send out messages alerting people of holiday hours or closures
Invite users to special events
Notify customers about limited edition drinks, desserts, or entrees
If something is happening at your restaurant worth texting your new and old customers, don’t hesitate to try it.
Every business can use SMS for brand awareness. After someone opts into your SMS program, you can send simple messages that talk about your restaurant with links that lead back to your website, menu, or Yelp page. You can text about your history, your staff, your mission, your role in the community – whatever you want that will put your brand’s best foot forward.
Reviews or Feedback
Your teams should use SMS marketing for customer service on top of marketing. With it, you can send mobile surveys or ask direct questions in the text. Ask for feedback on the ambiance, service, and food. You can even ask to transfer the message from text to an online review.
As you gain a loyal following, you’ll want to reward them. You can turn your paper loyalty program digital by using text messages. Keep a list of returning customers and text them special discounts or rates as they move up the ranks. You can collect new diners by allowing your current patrons to “refer a friend” through text and have them join your loyalty program, too.
Having a quality, trained staff is vital to your restaurant’s success. Sometimes certain friendly servers can get people in the door. That’s why you should use SMS for your hiring efforts on top of your marketing campaigns. Make it easy for people to know they can apply via text by putting codes and numbers on your website, on banners in the brick and mortar, or somewhere on your menu. An example would be a sign on a window that says, “We’re hiring! Text 4473 for more information.”
The Bottom Line
SMS marketing is an effective way for all businesses, including restaurants, to connect with customers and promote their business. With these different campaign ideas, you’re sure to have a full house! For any help with anything, reach out to the team.
By: Kelly Groover
Kelly serves as the Specialist of People and Talent for Lynton. She lives in Savannah, GA with her husband, daughter, and two dogs. When she's not managing conversion rates and lead generation for the company, she's typically playing soccer or watching football.