The restaurant industry is as cutthroat and competitive as they come. When the marketplace shifts, successful restaurateurs have the ability to pivot quickly and put their business in the right position to succeed. Right now, opportunity is knocking but the sound you hear is a mobile ringtone.
People are adopting mobile phones en masse. Device sales in 2012 pushed $358 billion, a 27 percent increase over the previous year. Mobile users look to for ways to integrate the new gadgets into everyday life wherever they can. Naturally people that want to save time waiting for their favorite food will look for a way to order via mobile.
But a mobile ordering app is so much more than an attractive convenience for customers. It also opens a line of communication from a restaurant to loyal customers.
For apps, the best marketing is utility. An easy to use app that makes life more convenient will drive its own downloads. But there are ways to use mobile ordering apps for communication even after people download them.
- Wave the banner for new products and services. Unlike some marketing channels, mobile app users signed up to receive updates and offers. This means a restaurant gets more mileage on its marketing dollars because mobile outreach efforts are less likely to reach uninterested people.
- Encourage people to stop by. Using GPS geolocation, mobile apps can detect when users are in the area and send them a friendly reminder to stop in. Likewise, data might show that a once regular customer hasn’t been by in weeks. Send her an enticing special offer to reawaken her appetite.
There are a lot of ways to get a hold of a mobile user, but three of them are best suited to a restaurant’s needs. The key here is that the customer has to go through as little hassle as possible to redeem the offer. Ask them to click too many links, fill out too many forms, scan too many codes and jump through too many hoops and customers are likely to say, “Thanks, but no thanks.”
- SMS messages. Otherwise known as text messages, an app user can opt in to receive these. People tend to put this type of communication pretty high on their priority list, so an SMS is less likely to get lost in the shuffle than an email.
- Push notifications. This type of message goes directly to the app. Much like an SMS, users will usually get a sound alert when the notification arrives. The main difference is they go straight to the app to read the message. Conveniently, the user has already opened the app to get the message so they are that much more ready to use the app and take advantage of the offer.
- Promo codes. Customers can enter special promotional codes in the checkout screens of mobile ordering apps to redeem special offers. These codes are well suited to holistic marketing programs because the same offer can go out over multiple channels. A person could find the code in an email, paper flyer, SMS or push notification. No matter where it comes from, it is simple to enter it into the app and take advantage of the deal.
Obviously mobile ordering apps are the best way for 21st century diners to connect with their favorite restaurants. But don’t forget, they provide a two-way avenue for communication that can take restaurant marketing to a whole new level.