Texting, as a means of connecting with guests, has a number of critical benefits: It’s an intuitive technology that everyone – regardless of demographics – knows how to use. It doesn’t require a download, so there is little commitment involved. Finally, it’s that rare technology that has the power to immediately get the attention of the recipient: It’s common to ignore an email, call or social media alert – but not a text. In fact, the click-through rate for text offers is more than 9 percent higher than any other digital channel, according to TechJury. So are you using text messaging to its fullest potential? Once your guests opt into it, ensure you’re using text to send important, just-in-time offers – don’t bombard them with untargeted promotions that will quickly become noise. Offer discount codes good for a future order, an invitation to a special event, contest or tasting, a birthday treat, or a prompt to reengage a customer who hasn’t ordered in recent weeks.
Customizing guest promotions – and ensuring your outreach is frequent enough to help you track (and even help form) their habits – provides important leverage when so many other facets of running a restaurant can feel difficult to control. If you can automate your outreach, that’s all the better for ensuring consistency and minimizing the amount of labor needed to manage it. Customer engagement platforms now bring together email, retention marketing, and SMS and push notification capabilities under one umbrella. Next-generation loyalty marketing is taking automation a step further: Nation’s Restaurant News reported that tech innovations are making it possible for operators to conduct A/B tests of messaging, offers and distribution channels – then automate the winning variant. It removes the guesswork (and a lot of the manual work) from the process, making it possible for restaurants to quickly pivot to marketing approaches and offers that have the best chance of success.
It seems that with each passing week, more restaurant brands – both new and established – are preparing for a future in which our actions in the metaverse, the fast-developing virtual reality world, can help us enjoy restaurant meals in reality. Panera and McDonald’s are among the larger restaurant brands that have invested in non-fungible tokens (NFTs) that serve as virtual currency. In the not-too-distant future, it could be possible for a person to, say, play a video game in the metaverse in which they walk into a virtual restaurant, place a Panera order, and then have it arrive on their (real-life doorstep) within a period of minutes. To be sure, this is not a future that every restaurant will see in its business plan. But this merging of virtual and real worlds is something for every restaurant operator to think about because it creates a new dimension in the experience of eating in a restaurant. It will change the competitive landscape and provide new ways for restaurants to establish and promote their brands. Even if you’re not planning to dip your toe into the metaverse, think about your restaurant’s online presence. How can you make it a more authentic, brand-elevating expression of the experience you offer in your dining room?