Chain restaurant growth is slowing down1 – and that’s both good news AND bad news for local dining. Text marketing can help your business survive and thrive in this climate.
Let’s consider the bad news first: the companies behind chain restaurants are big corporations with deep pockets. They will pour a ton of money in an effort to get their market share back. They’ll do market research, find out what consumers want – and then give it to them.
The good news is that restaurant owners have a golden opportunity to find new customers and nurture their loyalty. But this opportunity is only as good as what you make of it.
This opportunity is right here, right now: 39% of adults say that they are not eating out as much as they want to.2 We are in the midst of a great shift away from email & social media marketing to more direct and personal text marketing.
Like Michael Jordan said, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. And in this case, the shot is Text Marketing.
What is Text Marketing?
Text Marketing is connecting with your customers via text messages on their mobile phones. It’s a personal method of marketing that is direct and reaches your customers no matter where they are. They can be at work, on the beach or out of state. As long as they have a cell signal, you can reach them with a text message.
Text marketing is also permission-based. That means customers explicitly give permission to receive promotional texts.
This is an important distinction to note. You’ve probably received random spam text messages on your phone. We all have. These spam messages do not work. They’re annoying, which immediately makes us think negatively about the sender. They presume that you want their message – which you don’t. Spam texts are a waste of time for both the sender and recipient.
Permission-based text marketing is very different. We ask customers if they want to receive promotional texts and they decide if they want to or not. If they decide to ‘opt in’, we let them know how many messages they can expect a month – and we limit ourselves to that number.
In short, text marketing is a personal method of marketing that customers choose to receive on their mobile phones, no matter where they are.
Text Marketing is also be referred to as Text Message Marketing or SMS Marketing.
Why is text marketing so effective?
Reason #1: Everyone has a phone
Almost everyone has a mobile phone. 95% of Americans own cell phones; 77% own smartphones.3 Text messaging is better than social media because you can still reach the 18% of people who don’t own a smartphone with a simple text.
Reason #2: People who text do it every single day
97% of smartphone owners text every single day.4 In fact, text messaging is the most popular data service in the entire world.5
Reason #3: Every text is read
Text message open rates are more than 99%.6 Compare that to email open rates, which range from 17-28%.7 Simply: every text is read while emails, at best, are read 28% of the time.
Let’s look at social media too, while we’re at it. It’s great connecting on social networks but let’s face it: getting fans to see your content costs money. And even if you get a fan to read your post, their focus shifts the second they see another notification.
Text messages are short and to the point. Your message will be read in its entirety. This gives you a leg up in trying to turn reads into action.
Reason #4: Most texts are read right away
95% of all texts are read with 3 minutes.8 Very few people check their emails as frequently as people read their texts.
Reason #5: Young folks love it – and there are a LOT of them
The 18-24 age groups sends and receives nearly 4000 texts per month; by comparison, adults 55+ send and receive less than 500.9 And in 2018, Millenials (aged 22-37) will overtake Baby Boomers as the largest voting bloc.10
Young people are hooked on texting. And if you want to reach them where they are, text messaging is the way.
How can text marketing help a local restaurant?
The beginning of a text marketing campaign is to convince a customer to opt in. We do this by offering a simple incentive – a coupon or a free entree in exchange for opting in to your text list. Once they opt in is when the fun begins as we have a lot of options:
- Need more reviews to catch up to your competitors? You can ask subscribers to leave a review and text them a convenient link to do it.
- What’s your slowest day of the week? That’s the day to text a mobile coupon that can only be used on that single day.
- Want new customers? Offer a special bring-a-friend deal where your subscribers can bring a friend and both get a deal.
- Engage your subscribers with polls. Learn what they want – and then give it to them!
- Keep your customers interested with deals and contests. The more often they come back, the more their loyalty grows.
- Limited use mobile coupons! When a subscriber gets a coupon, that coupon can only be redeemed one time if you want. Have no worries about a coupon being used a zillion times.
- Send custom messages to customers who haven’t been back in awhile to entice them back.
Finally: loyalty programs without cards or emails!
We’ve saved the best for last.
Loyalty programs have been around for years. Usually they’ve been simple cards that get punched with each purchase. But if you’re like anyone else, you’ve forgotten them and missed getting them punched! Or you lost one and had to start over.
Now there are loyalty programs that give cards with magnetic strips. Not only are these cards bigger than paper punch cards but just like paper cards, they can forgotten or lost. Any loyalty program using a physical card is doing a disservice to customers.
Some POS (Point of Sale) systems offer a loyalty program that is connected to a customer’s credit card, and communicates by email. The problem is, email is inconvenient. Will the customer see the email? Will it end up in their spam folder? With open rates maxing out at 28%, will the customer even open the email? Because if they don’t receive or open the email, they’re not going to come back for their rewards. That’s not good for them – and it’s certainly not good for you.
The good thing is we’ve got something better: mobile loyalty programs that 1) don’t require and app and 2) don’t require an email.
All you need to offer a mobile loyalty program to your customers is a tablet with a sign-up QR code. Customers who want to join will scan the code, and then save a bookmark to their home screen. Each time they come, they just need to open their bookmark and scan the code again. Our system keeps track of their purchases for you. No forgetting cards because all they need is their phone. No looking for emails or downloading apps – it’s the easiest loyalty program ever.
And the benefits go both ways. Your customers earn the discounts they deserve and you get increased customer loyalty.
It might seem a bit technical, but 32% of restaurant customers believe the industry doesn’t use technology enough.11 These are the customers that you need to build relationships with NOW, before everyone is doing it.
Be the first to use this technology, give your customers genuine value, and reap the benefits of happy, loyal customers.
Read our white paper and learn how to lower cost and improve results with text marketing.
Click here to see how you can download and read our white paper analyzing text marketing versus email marketing – and how it can help your business lower costs and improve results.