Restaurant Content Marketing Automation – Its Unique
Restaurant content marketing, much like the restaurant industry as a whole, is a highly specialized discipline. The services, products and experiences that restaurants create are completely unlike those of any other segment of the broader retail market. Thus, the marketing automation needed to sell these products and services must be more specialized to the needs and concerns of their clients. The opportunity to apply content marketing principles to restaurant marketing are immense – we are increasingly interested in how our food is prepared, where it comes from, the personalities and stories behind our food. Restaurant content marketing is now a fast growing segment of the broader marketing automation world.
Restaurants still rely heavily on word of mouth as a means of marketing and proliferation (92% of consumers say that they are likely to consider a friend or family member’s recommendation when choosing a restaurant), but as user-generated review sites such as Yelp take word of mouth digital, restaurants have followed suit. According to the National Restaurant Agency’s 2014 Restaurant Industry Forecast, about two-thirds of tableservice operators plan to increase spending in text message and email marketing in 2014. But within this highly specialized industry, what constitutes an effective marketing campaign? To better illustrate what restaurant marketing entails, let’s imagine a prospective restaurant goer’s methodology in choosing where to eat.
A Customer’s Experience with Restaurant Marketing
When a restaurant goer is deciding at which restaurant he will dine tonight, a number of thoughts pass through his head. First, he will consider recommendations from friends and family, as these are his most trusted sources of information. After that, he may consider a restaurant review that he read in the newspaper, consult a user-generated review site, or search for coupons. He will recall social media posts from his favorite restaurants reminding him of their weekly specials. Or he may remember the content marketing email from that restaurant he’s always wanted to try telling him about the organic farms from which they buy their produce. Yet the exact path that his decision making takes does not particularly matter: the important idea is that he is consulting multiple channels of media, and therefore is exposing himself to several different, and often disjointed, restaurant marketing campaigns. And ultimately, the restaurant that has the most effective and cohesive multichannel marketing campaign – a campaign that has touched the consumer using different means but with consistent messaging – will win his presence at its tables.
Multi Channel Restaurant Marketing
Our friend the restaurant goer does not have the time to put together a list of potential restaurants and weigh their merits one by one. He is in a hurry, so the restaurant that delivers to him the same relevant information across the channels he views will be his choice. To put it simply, a restaurant that can maintain a consistent and attractive brand image across the media spectrum (which is often easier said than done when it comes to user generated reviews) will attract more customers. To prove it, according to eMarketer, 73% of SMBs using multi channel marketing saw a marked increase in customer engagement. This increased engagement directly feeds revenue growth, and a Forrester report showed that 40% of SMBs using multichannel marketing saw revenue increases of 15% or more as a direct result of their new marketing tactics.
Elements of a Multichannel Restaurant Campaign:
Multichannel campaigns, no matter how complicated or how many channels they include, must carry a consistent message across all channels. This concept, known as “Message Match”, is very simple, yet it is far from universally applied. Consistent marketing themes across all points of contact with the consumer mean that the prospective restaurant goer is constantly reminded of a single concept or image of the restaurant, rather than a disparate and unrelated mix of specials, deals, reviews, and restaurant content marketing.
Web Landing Pages:
Landing pages, microsites, and multi-page campaign sites are the primary vehicles for restaurants to directly interact with consumers. In their most basic form, they are a quickly and easily developed, single purpose web pages designed to give customers a place to go online to respond to an offer or express their interest in a restaurant, often in exchange for some interesting content. From the restaurant marketer’s perspective, their most important role is as a controlled environment for restaurant content marketing to take place (watch a webinar video on how to protect your brand from Google here). Prospective customers will search online for more information about a given product whether or not they are directed to a landing page. By providing a landing page, a restaurant can steer restaurant goers away from the unpredictable and uncontrollable jungle of search engine results and product review sites like Yelp, instead focusing them on the message, offer, or restaurant content marketing strategy that the restaurant is focused on. Landing pages may also be personalized when accessed through an email or pURL to offer tailored deals and specials to previously identified consumer segments. By using landing pages or microsites as the “hubs” of restaurant marketing campaigns, marketers are able to control, personalize, and manage the right content experiences for any email, mobile, social, direct mail, multichannel, or restaurant content marketing campaign.
Email is the most versatile of the marketing channels. It can be used to notify customers of specials, send out coupons, distribute restaurant content marketing campaigns, and more. Email marketing is also a good way to temper the sometimes-volatile world of user-generated reviews. A restaurant may distribute only the reviews that portray it positively, satisfying consumers and effectively steering them away from the unpredictable world of Yelp or less-than-glowing reviews. In fact, 44% of American adults say that an advertisement or promotion received by email is likely to influence their decision when choosing a restaurant. 44% is an especially impressive number when noted that just 33% of adults would be likely to factor in a consumer-driven review site when choosing a restaurant. Thus, email may act as a trump to areas beyond a restaurant’s control.
Direct mail, like email is also highly versatile. It can carry out nearly all of the functions of email, only at a higher price. However, that price carries with it a great benefit over email: higher readership. As email inboxes become more and more crowded with spam and advertisements, it is increasingly difficult to make an email campaign stand out. Just the opposite trend has been occurring in mailboxes across the country – emptier mailboxes mean that every piece of mail carries more weight to a given consumer. In fact, according to the Direct Marketing Association, 52.5% of restaurant marketing mail pieces were read immediately, and 25.5% of them elicited responses. In comparison, the click through rate of restaurant marketing emails was only 0.6%. Thus, although the cost of direct mail campaigns can be an obstacle, their markedly better engagement rate makes them a great option for initiating a campaign to be followed by email drips after.
Mobile marketing has enormous potential in the restaurant marketing world, and it is still in the process of being explored. Usually used to reach smaller, more dedicated audiences, text/SMS campaigns are a great way for restaurants to give their most dedicated customers instant alerts to chef’s specials, deals, or special events. Also, printed QR codes on menus and other printed pieces throughout the restaurant are a great way to drive restaurant goers to mobile-optimized landing pages with offers of coupons and specials in exchange for signing up for email or text campaigns.
Maintaining a social media presence is a must for any restaurant. Posts should match the theme of email, mobile, or direct mail campaigns to fully engage the customer in all channels. Social is particularly important for brand strengthening because it is a very simple and inexpensive way to share content with an already engaged audience. Using social media to drive consumers back to restaurant controlled landing pages (and away from the ads & potential distractions of social media pages) can make a huge difference in list building, event sign up, online reservations, and more.
Personalizing a Multichannel Restaurant Campaign:
The final step to creating a truly successful restaurant marketing campaign is personalization. Personalization is the best and most cost effective way for a restaurant to make its own marketing campaigns stand out from those of its competitors. Using list data captured from point of sale systems, list building campaigns, and purchased consumer data, restaurants are able to tailor messages and offers to multiple list segments. Personalized campaigns exist in many forms: their most basic form is the personalized header on an email, landing page, text message, or direct mail piece designed to grab the reader’s attention. More advanced is the use of variable logic to tailor content based on a potential customer’s information. For example, if the customer filled out a form and indicated that her favorite food is steak, the restaurant could send her an email addressing her directly and alerting her to the filet mignon special this week. What’s more, it is abundantly clear that personalization works. According to eMarketer, among businesses using personalized campaigns, 70% reported increased response rates and 67% reported increased sales. However, the restaurant industry has yet to take full advantage of personalization. According to the DMA, 83.3% of direct mail distributed by restaurants was not addressed to a specific individual, leaving the door wide open for new campaigns to reap the benefits of personalization.
Restaurant Content Marketing in a Multichannel Campaign
An often-overlooked piece of restaurant marketing is the use of content marketing. But what exactly is content marketing? It has become a marketing buzzword, but its exact definition can be hard to pin down. In short, content marketing is a restaurant’s distribution of informative and helpful material that a given consumer will find interesting. There is no sales pitch in a restaurant marketing campaign; rather, it is designed to inform the consumer about a topic related to a restaurant in a friendly and helpful way. A restaurant may choose to distribute anything ranging from an article by the bartender discussing the season’s hottest drinks, to a video of its chef lighting the cognac of his Crepe Suzette, to an infographic displaying all of the ways the restaurant is doing its part to promote sustainability. Each of these restaurant marketing campaigns may be personalized and mailed or emailed to list segments already identified as most receptive to the various pieces.
Restaurant content marketing may also take the form of review distribution. By informing consumers of what others think of the dining experience, a restaurant can engage a large population without coming off as aggressively sales-oriented. This form of restaurant content marketing also allows a restaurant to steer consumers away from the reviews and articles that they may not want a consumer to read. Here is an example of how a restaurant might structure a personalized multichannel marketing campaign with the use of engaging content:
A Sample Personalized Restaurant Content Marketing Multichannel Campaign:
Old Toby’s Smokehouse is looking for more customers. They buy a list of names, addresses, and emails for people of a certain income bracket in their geographic region. They create an attractive, personalized direct mail piece with pictures of their barbecue dishes, information about the organic farms from which they buy their meat, and then offer a free entrée to customers willing to fill out a form online. Below the offer is a personalized URL (pURL), which includes the name of each individual the mail piece is being sent to, as well as a QR code to drive mobile-centric customers directly to their page. By entering the pURL in their browser, the potential client will be brought to a personalized landing page with a prefilled form. The only box empty will be “Favorite Entrée”, and upon completion of the form, the customer will receive a thank you email containing the coupon for their free entrée. All customers that visit their pURL will be put in a new segment of the list and designated as top leads. Shortly thereafter, they will receive email drips from Old Toby’s Smokehouse, personalized with offers and specials based on their favorite food. The customers, eager to use their free coupons, will have a meal at Old Toby’s, where they will have the option of scanning a QR Code to respond online or filling out a paper form asking for their phone number. Those who offer their numbers will be further segmented into a top customer list, and after following a double opt-in process will receive periodic text updates about specials, events, and deals. After the conclusion of the marketing campaign, Old Toby’s Smokehouse will be very satisfied. They will have increased their total number of diners, increased the size and detail of their list, and then segmented it into sub-groups that can be engaged together or separately in the future.
How Boingnet Can Help
And that’s where Boingnet can help. Our platform is perfectly suited to personalized multichannel marketing. We can coordinate restaurant content marketing campaigns across landing pages, direct mail, email, social media, and mobile, and then give them an extra personal touch with pURLs, personalized landing pages and microsites, and easy to use variable logic. With the data we collect from responses, opens, click-throughs, and landing page forms, we lay the foundations of drip campaigns to continue the conversation with the desired segments of the initial campaign. Whether the restaurant is reaching out to its most dedicated diners or working to attract new crowds, Boingnet’s software has it covered with our easy to use, straightforward user interface and surprisingly low prices. We are here to help set a restaurant apart from its competitors with our personalized, lightweight marketing automation platform, and we are confident that we provide the ultimate tool for both multichannel and restaurant content marketing success.