When preparing to recruit new customers, it’s vital to understand the elements that influence your customer’s purchase decision-making. For new restaurant seekers, three primary factors inspire diners to try a new restaurant: location, reviews, and ambience.
Having a strong grasp on these three factors to leverage them in your communications will help you set yourself apart from the competition throughout the year.
Often, location is one of the most important factors a consumer considers when choosing a new restaurant. Proximity drives convenience and their willingness to experiment, and that’s why “restaurants near me” is a top search keyword when you type “restaurants” into the search bar. To ensure you’re fully reaching those potential customers in your neighborhood, targeting your marketing to your local geography and consumer base needs to be your top priority.
While some advertising platforms allow you to natively target by zip code radius, it’s also possible to leverage external customer data sources to build audience lists. For example, an Italian restaurant chain may want to target customers who have visited pizzerias at least twice in the last three months because those customers already have an affinity for the type of food they serve.
However, it’s important to examine the source when choosing location data. Although mobile device GPS might sound like the obvious choice, changing consumer privacy laws have degraded the quality of GPS data which can result in wasted spend in your campaign. Other emerging sources like WiFi are more accurate and can help you be more precise with your targeting criteria. It’s important to note that due to consumer privacy regulations, buying external customer data still does not allow you to email them, but you are able to include them in any of your paid advertising.
All that said, the other option you have to reach customers in your vicinity is to create a lookalike audience off of your current customer base. After all, reaching new customers who “look” and digitally behave like your current customers often leads to more efficient spend.
For this, you will need a sizable list (minimum of 1000) of the email addresses of your current customers that you can upload to the advertising platform. The platform will then create a lookalike audience by finding other people in their database that “look” like the customers you already have — and by proxy, they should look local. Often, this is the preferred method of reaching new customers, especially for restaurants that have fewer resources and/or lower budgets.
According to a TripAdvisor study, more than 94% of US diners are influenced by online reviews, which should make them a crucial part of your marketing strategy and reputation management. Regular management of your review profiles, which includes responding to positive and negative reviews, shows that you’re actively engaging with customer feedback. Additionally, amplifying your positive reviews can help you build credibility with customers. Consider leveraging positive reviews on your website, social media, and even in your advertising campaigns as testimonials.
The experience of a great restaurant always extends beyond the plate: the service and atmosphere are key components that can create interest and draw in new customers. Customers go online to get a sense of your ambience using your website, reviews, and photos before visiting. In fact, up to 72% of customers admit that restaurant photos have influenced their dining decisions.
Here are a few considerations:
- Consider the type of customer you’re trying to attract and design the experience in your restaurant around them. For example, a romantic date spot would likely feel very different from a business lunch spot. Lighting, music, design, staff uniforms, furnishings — even the smell — all these elements create the ambience of your restaurant.
- To encourage your customers to take more photos, create “Instagram-worthy” moments: maybe it’s the plating of the food, a specialty cocktail, or a flower display backdrop. Whenever your patrons share photos like this to their social followers, it essentially becomes free advertising and social endorsement.
- Be deliberate in amplifying consumer-generated content pieces to your own network by re-sharing or posting them to your social profile or website.
Now that we understand the triggers that impact dining decisions for new customers, we can effectively design a campaign to reach them all the way from campaign setup (location and targeting) to the message itself (reviews, photos, etc.). Define the strengths your restaurant has across these three factors, and be sure to leverage them in your campaigns to attract new guests.
How to Measure Success
Equally as important as running the campaign, is how you measure its success. One of the most significant attributes that separates good marketers from great marketers is understanding how to measure success and leveraging those insights to optimize moving forward.
In-Store Guest Visits
While most digital campaigns are measured based on clicks, this creates a visibility gap for restaurants because the majority of their sales happen at the physical location. In the past, most restaurant marketers would simply keep an eye on sales and assume that if they went up after a campaign, the campaign was successful. However, to truly understand the impact of your campaigns, you need to be able to definitively tie your marketing to in-store guest visits. The good news is that this is easier than you think.
Perhaps the most accurate and affordable way to measure customers visits is through the guest WiFi network you likely already have set up at your restaurant location. Pairing your guest WiFi network with a marketing platform like Adentro creates a “closed-loop system,” or one that allows you to capture customer contact info, market to them, and measure their visit rate all in one place. The real power of this system, however, occurs because the customer doesn’t have to log into the guest WiFi at your restaurant for the technology to know they were there.
Since everyone has a mobile phone these days, and those phones are almost always set to search for available WiFi signals, Adentro can identify customers based on the unique device ID of their mobile phone. This is especially powerful for restaurants because it allows you to measure any marketing you set up through the platform with their proprietary Walk-Through Rate™ — or the number of customers who visited your restaurant after being exposed to a marketing message. That means you no longer have to guess about what promotion drove a customer in store. Instead, you’re able to not only understand the impact of your marketing, but the tangible return on investment (ROI), which leads to stronger insights and better campaign performance in the future.
And while measuring Walk-Throughs from your marketing is important for new customers, it’s admittedly just as vital when targeting your existing customers and can often yield better results. Targeting your existing customer base should not only create greater efficiency, but it should also be more cost-effective considering they are already familiar with your restaurant. Click here to learn how you can successfully market to existing customers.