Text messages provide an ideal way for businesses in the food industry to get in touch with their customers. Whether it’s to boost future sales volumes or heighten the customer service offering, there’s a great deal that can be gleaned by implementing a text marketing strategy.
There are a whole host of options available to the savvy marketer; providing a way to send messages to the device which consumers are rarely ever without. Furthermore, compared with alternative techniques – such as advertising in newspapers – text messages aren’t the kind of things that can be skipped over or ignored entirely. For these reasons, it’s worth considering the advantages that such a campaign could offer.
Encouraging return visits with instant communication
When customers last visited a restaurant, they may have enjoyed the food, received good service and left happy with the overall experience. This doesn’t always guarantee return visits, however. Many restaurants find themselves in the middle of a small cluster, often sat right next door to some of their biggest rivals. Therefore, even if a person enjoyed the meal last time, there’s still a chance they could go elsewhere – perhaps for a bit of a change.
Enticing customers to return is something that can be used to guarantee they head straight to a restaurant without even entertaining the idea of trying something else. This is difficult to achieve, as putting ‘sale’, ‘promotion’ or ‘discount’ signs in the window doesn’t have quite the same affect in a restaurant as it does in a shop.
Therefore, text messages can be used to shout about what cannot be displayed so clearly. Offers, set meal deals or discount vouchers can be sent via SMS to ensure customers on the mailing list make a point of returning much sooner than they may otherwise have done.
Passing on information using SMS
In a similar vein, businesses looking to get a message out are typically loath to do so via giant proclamations on their premises. A new menu might be a great way of encouraging lapsed visitors to make a return trip, but plastering the property with giant lettering may make the restaurant seem a little cheap.
Even the option of spreading these messages out across A-boards outside the establishment mean only those who walk past – and are actually paying attention – receive the message. This is not ideal, of course, especially for those out-of-the-way restaurants. Text messages can cover a much larger geographical area.
In this instance, text messages offer yet another benefit – active links. Smartphones are more popular than ever, with their prevalence increasing relentlessly. This is hugely beneficial for those using SMS marketing, as the messages can contain links to a website, social media account or TripAdvisor page. Then, with just one click of a button or tap of a screen, the recipient is directed to the page, which allows them to make a booking online or access the telephone number. Leaflets, A-boards and word of mouth, of course, cannot achieve that.
In the case of advertising a new menu, these links could even point towards a PDF file of the new options. Such a simple task is hugely effective and encouraging already-rumbling tummies to make the booking.
Customer service using SMS messages
SMS campaigns needn’t just be for business promotion, but can also be utilised to better the customer service offering. Restaurants, for example, can send friendly text reminders to its patrons to remind them of their booking 24 hours beforehand. This not only serves as a reminder for the customer, but is likely to ensure the restaurant has fewer no-shows from people who forgot; taking up valuable covers that could otherwise go to someone else.
Elsewhere, takeaway restaurants can also utilise text messages for a number of different purposes. They can be used, for example, to inform customers of when their driver has set off so they know when to expect a knock on the door. Likewise, others who are popping in to collect their dinner could get a message five minutes before it’s done so they can make their way down at a good time.
There is also another benefit that businesses can get out of this in the long run, as getting customers to sign up for these alerts is a great way to build databases. Then, provided permission has been given, marketing messages can be sent covering those subjects as outlined above.
Creating conversations on the go
Something that can often get lost in the world of SMS marketing is remembering that texts are a two-way prospect. Many businesses see their SMS campaigns as a way of talking at their customers; getting across any messages they think will be of benefit. Engaging with contacts is a much better way to not only ensure the messages being sent are relevant, but also a restaurant owner knows what their customers are thinking.
This needn’t be achieved by the consumer hitting ‘reply’ and firing a message back. Instead, it can involve the use of surveys to glean just what the consumer thinks not only of the restaurant but any texts they’ve received since last visiting. These can play a pivotal role in influencing the next moves, so that not only do all the existing contacts continue to receive targeted and relevant messages, but also new sign-ups aren’t encouraged to unsubscribe.
These options serve to illustrate that SMS marketing opens a wealth of opportunities to those hospitality businesses looking to take it on. Not only does it provide a way for businesses to get in direct contact with their customers on devices that are rarely out of sight, it also opens up a new channel for two-way conversation. This can positively affect future communications and drive more visitors through the door in the long term.