Oscar Wilde once said, “Never love anybody that treats you like you’re ordinary.” It’s a profound statement, but what does that have to do with restaurant marketing? Switch a few words around, and you get to the root of the restaurant marketing challenge: how will we ever get guests to love us if we treat them like they’re ordinary?
We all want our guests to feel like our offers and promotions are targeted based on what we know about their preferences. Whether it’s how frequently they visit with us or when they have a special occasion like a birthday coming up. But how do we accomplish that at scale, for all of our guests, without adding a ton of internal marketing resources or hiring a restaurant marketing agency?
It all comes down to the data we’re using to drive our guest engagement strategies. And that was the topic of our recent webinar, 5 Strategies to Deepen Your Guest Relationships Using Data.
GoTab’s Rick Malthaner sat down with Rachel MacPhail at Lunchbox to talk about how to use data to improve restaurant marketing and drive deeper, more profitable, guest engagement programs. Lunchbox is the all-in-one system for restaurants that helps them increase sales and strengthen guest engagement through products like online ordering, order aggregation, loyalty, and more. They’re a perfect complement to GoTab because we are the only restaurant commerce platform that prioritizes the guest at the center of the experience. As a result, our customers have the tools and processes to make ordering, payment, and fulfillment more guest-centric and efficient and the first-party data they need to dramatically improve their guest engagement programs.
Who Owns Your Guest Data?
According to Rachel, one of the biggest challenges for restaurants is understanding where their customers are coming from, how they interact with their digital storefronts, and why guests are converting (or not). With 59% of restaurant orders placed by millennials coming from takeout and delivery, restaurants need to be able to access the order data to grow these relationships.
Quality of Service Gets You the Data You Need
With such a high percentage of orders coming from third parties, it’s easy to see the gap in guest data and insights that most restaurants struggle to overcome. We believe the best way to overcome that gap is to ensure that “owned” digital channels like your website, your online ordering platform, and even your on-premise kiosk or QR code ordering offer a superior experience to that which guests can find elsewhere. By superior, we mean that they are easy to access, easy to use and work seamlessly across the full restaurant value chain – from front-of-house to back-of-house.
Ultimately, it’s about giving your guests options to order the way they want while also giving you the data you need to serve them better. In a GoTab venue, a guest can place the order themselves from a QR, they can order from a server, or a combination of both (what we call Hybrid ordering). Hybrid is where the guest can start a tab by scanning a QR code and ordering a drink, and then a server can come to take the food order. When it’s time to leave, GoTab notifies the guest when the tab is started that they can simply get up and leave when they are done, and the venue can close the tab at the end of the night (complete with a default tip amount specified by the restaurant).
Start with Web Ordering
According to Lunchbox, web ordering is the first place net-new customers visit. This means that the website and web ordering platform are the first places to focus. Customers should be able to find your restaurant, navigate it and place an order quickly. If there are any hiccups along the way, they’ll be bouncing off to your competitor.
It’s essential to set up tracking like Google Analytics, so you understand the whole customer journey. How they found you, what pages they viewed, and if they did or didn’t make a purchase. From there, you can understand what areas you need to improve or double down on the success, which will improve your guest relationships.
Develop an App Strategy
While the GoTab restaurant commerce platform enables all of the functions of ordering, paying, and communicating with the back-of-house without ever having to download an app, Lunchbox has a valuable point of view about mobile apps that shouldn’t be ignored. They say app strategies need special care because your audience takes their phone real estate seriously. Just because they like your restaurant, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a good app candidate.
They recommend using data from online ordering platforms to educate and engage with your top customers as to why downloading your app will improve their experience. You’ll understand your top-selling items by analyzing your online ordering purchasing data. Then you can create limited-time offers (LTOs) that your customers can only get on your app. This will help you increase your customer lifetime value and check averages.
Why Traditional POS Systems Fail
According to Rick, most operators don’t have easy access to ordering data because they are using traditional POS systems that aren’t architected to make that data easily available. This is a longstanding challenge for traditional POS, both on-premise and cloud, for several reasons. First, almost every hospitality POS platform was either conceived as POS first or simply copied that traditional architecture and moved it to the cloud. The challenge here is that the only APIs created for those systems were one-way (meaning only data in, not out) because they were originally created for online ordering.
While cloud POS has theoretically made this easier, the challenge often relates to that one-way API. Two-way data flow within integrations means what was once unusable or disconnected data, is now actionable and valuable for creating campaigns. Restaurants should look for a platform that understands that accessible guest data is the holy grail and that all features and data should be accessible from all channels, whether that is in the restaurant, self-ordering or online ordering.
Start Simple with Segmentation
Guest segmentation can be extremely powerful but it doesn’t have to be complicated. It pays to start small with any type of automation, which holds for developing market segments too.
A great example of a simple segmentation using guest data for marketing is a GoTab location that caters to a local alumni association. GoTab makes it simple for alumni members to become part of a segment…they can join with their phone number or scan a special QR code. Then, any time they visit, we identify them automatically, and we can generate push notifications, secret menus, and unique offers. The alumni organization can also promote their special status by sharing a QR or link with their members to associate them with the segment. Over time, we can see data trends and lifetime value and continue to retarget them.
Experiment with Different Opt-in Strategies and Marketing Channels
Because you should never engage a customer through digital channels if they haven’t opted in, it’s important to identify ways to make it easy for guests to opt in. In GoTab, guests provide their name and mobile number when they place a QR order. They can also request an emailed receipt. This is an excellent time to ask them to opt-in to receive marketing content, promotions, etc. The real power here becomes the ability to send a campaign and then understand not only who redeems it but also to understand how it changes things like visit frequency and spending levels based on those campaigns.
According to Lunchbox, the best way to ensure the success of organic email campaigns is through segmentation. By sending a campaign based on your guests’ interests, they are going to be more likely to engage and buy.
If you have an app, use in-app notifications to increase orders with your app users. Use push notifications for LTOs or other time-sensitive offers, discounts, or coupons. Data you’ll want to attain here is how it affects the promotion. Do you see an increase in redemptions? If not, play around with timing and messaging.
SMS, which is similar to an in-app push notification in the sense that it allows you to get your message into the hands of the right audience, when you want it, should be used slightly differently. SMS is best to drive app downloads and engagement.
Loyal Customers Drive Higher Sales
Rachel explains that customer loyalty matters because repeat customers who engage with your program will spend more on each transaction. In fact, 45% of consumers say that offering mobile ordering or loyalty programs would encourage them to use an online ordering service more often. Loyal customers are more likely to repurchase, refer more, and try a new offering. Loyalty programs are a proven incentive to make customers choose you over competitors and bring them back to shop frequently.
Improved engagement improves the customer experience (excitement upon anticipation of earning a reward makes the experience going into it more positive), increases retention, increases revenue, and increases customer lifetime value (CLV).
If you’re interested in exploring these topics in more detail, contact us. We’d be happy to assist you in mapping your data-driven restaurant marketing strategies for 2023. With the right omni-channel platform and software partnerships, it doesn’t have to be time consuming or resource intensive. At the end of the day, we all want to be loved by our guests. We hope these ideas give you tips for how you can stand out and make sure your guests know that they’re special, if only to you.