As the popularity of mobile apps in the restaurant space continues to skyrocket, it’s becoming increasingly important that we don’t allow “mobile app” to get reduced to the level of an item on the proverbial checklist. In other words, hirin
g a developer to slap a logo and some content into an app is not a real strategy. Restaurant marketers need to ask themselves: What will peak my customers’ interest? How can I leverage my app to generate new business? These are but some of the basic questions that need to be considered before taking the dive into building an app.
“Building a mediocre app is just as bad as selling mediocre product,” says Jason Gurwin in this Harvard Business Review. It is a reflection of your brand. If you are building an app just to get downloads, you are better off not doing anything at all!
With that, here are three tips to keep in mind when building your restaurant app:
1. Keep Customers Coming Back. This one may sound obvious, but too often do companies create apps that function as nothing more than a digital billboard for their brand. Consumers are looking for apps that provide some utility that makes their lives easier or more enjoyable. Thus, restaurant brands need to drive engagement in their apps much like they do inside their place of business; give your customers reasons to keep coming back! What lasting value does the app provide? Remember, a user of your app is no different than a customer in your store. From the moment they open the app, every touchpoint directly reflects on their impression of your brand.
2. Create Brand Evangelists. Smartphones have made it easier than ever for people to communicate with each other. That means it’s also easier than ever for a customer to evangelize your brand. By providing customers with an easy outlet to share their experience with friends and followers (e.g. Facebook, Twitter), you can empower them to become your biggest and best advocates.
3. Collect Data. Imagine if you wanted to increase breakfast orders, and you were considering running a promotion as one method of drawing the attention of your existing customers to this new day part. In this scenario, you would probably prefer not to offer the special to people who were already ordering breakfast on a regular basis. Otherwise, you’d just be providing them with a discounted meal for business you probably would have otherwise received.
By nature, mobile devices contain a wealth of valuable information about the person using it. Apps should be built to capture this data, so it can be utilized to understand, and improve upon, the customer’s experience both in the app and beyond.
One way this data can be utilized outside the app is to tailor marketing efforts to the right people. Brands that utilize this data realize significantly reduced spending through more effective marketing—simply by tailoring future campaigns to the specific people who are most likely to respond. These tailored, or optimized, campaigns will yield markedly better results than a “spray and pray” approach to marketing efforts.
Creating a truly successful app takes a lot of effort, and this is only a taste of what’s needed to accomplish. These three tips should get you on the track to identifying the components that will ultimately add value for your customers and your business.