With competitive and economic pressures facing the restaurant industry, the race is on to deliver great guest experiences both, to customers dining in andthose ordering digitally to take food home. But, when brands are knee-deep in launching or revamping a digital initiative, elements like menu configuration and marketing plans dominate the psyche of the team preparing for the big dates on the calendar. And that's when the kinds of oversights can happen that dismantle even the best-planned digital ordering and delivery launches.
This time last year, we took a closer look at how these types of missteps can occur operationally. Today, we'll focus on three more elements you must keep a eye out for to keep your marketing efforts in-line with the demands of an increasingly digital customer base.
1. 'In-store only' offers without digital parity.
A number of technical considerations could lead a brand down the path of issuing coupons or offers that are only valid within the restaurant. But launching an offer without a companion online component inherently deprioritizes the customer who prefers to engage digitally.
Certainly, there are scenarios where an “in-store only” coupon may be inevitable. POS or loyalty program compatibility can play into the way a brand is able to execute a thoughtful promotional program. In these cases where the marketing team is challenged by creating digital parity, it’s wise to consider adding a “digital only” counterpart offer to the marketing calendar.
These can be as straightforward as the typical promos customers are used to or as remarkable as debuting a new menu item exclusively online. “Digital only” offers can also bring new guests into the mix, opening up a powerful relationship where you can get to know that guest better over time through their ordering habits.
2. Restricting LTOs and other promotions to 'four walls' marketing.
The flip side to having restricted promotions is having one that no one knows about. For all the time spent configuring and coordinating projects, don't overlook the key task of ensuring all participating teams and functions are synchronized on offers that have been given proper weight around digital redemption.
The Catch-22 of promotional planning is that corporate teams may object by pointing out that digital is only a small percentage for current sales, with the implication that duplicating everything for so small a subset of guests is wasteful. But, this is really a nearsighted point of view because it reinforces behaviors that downplay the digital experience.
In fact, a common complaint guests make when considering and/or adopting use of a digital portal to engage with a brand concerns the fact that frequently buying triggers don’t apply digitally across the board.
3. Losing ... or just not engaging in the fight for mobile consumers.
The battle for your customers’ attention right now is a messy one. It's increasingly diluted by consumer-facing marketplaces that funnel ad and promo dollars into what boils down to all-out street fights for consumers.
But the fact is that conversion rates favor brands that can find guests during location- and time-based occasions. A recent study by Ground Truth shows that search terms like “order ‘Brand Name’ online” or “lunch deals near me” are usually entered by customers ready to buy a product. In the case of food-based searches, this tends to be within 30 minutes to an hour.
Traditionally, restaurant marketing budgets have been dominated by print and broadcast channels in campaigns that build brand awareness and inspire new visits. Meanwhile, a whole swath of active and engaged potential customers remain golden opportunities never grabbed.
As a restaurant marketing veteran recently asked me, “Why not just do a good job with people who are about to eat something right now?” In other words, pointing budgets directly at traditional marketing misses a multitude of chances to catch the customer right before a buying decision.
And honestly, given the choice between general brand exposure and the opportunity to grab a new, undecided customer on the verge of buying, what would you put your money on?
Now, consider the additional fact that today enhanced targeting efficiencies are making the cost of acquiring these ready customers a fraction of what it would cost to reach them through more traditional means, and frankly, it's hard to say no.