Up until this point, you’ve successfully managed every component of your business, from menu decisions and human relations, to purchasing and publicizing. As your restaurant grows, though, the thought of answering one more Facebook post, or shorting one more tweet, or even writing one more of the exact same e-mails to a different person makes dealing with the last run of menu reprints looking much more appealing.
There are certain circumstances when marketing automation can make a significant and positive impact on your marketing efforts. Many restaurants who’ve made the decision to implement a marketing automation program have found that rather than losing that personal touch, they are able to give each customer a more personalized, tailored message that meets them exactly where they are and encourages them to become lifelong patrons.
Why is Automated Marketing the Perfect Ingredient?
As sterile as it may sound, automated marketing is a leading way restaurants are providing their customers with offers and information that will enhance their experience and give restaurant owners and managers a time-efficient tool to manage and maximize their efforts.
The main goal of restaurant marketing is to increase your reach, grow your pool of potential customers and turn these prospects into patrons. In your early stages, it was easy to keep track of your regulars, and you got to know them, their families, and friends. However, as your restaurant grows, maintaining these important details becomes less manageable for one individual. They are still a key ingredient, though, to a successful business with rising sales.
Automated marketing allows restaurants to plug their current marketing efforts into specially-designed platforms, coordinated integration programs, and new technologies. The programs and platforms then make publication decisions based on a series of predetermined actions taken by the customer. For example, a patron visits your Web site and signs up for your email list. Ideally, these customers then receive a welcome email that encourages them to follow along for information, points to your blog or social media, and starts to establish a personal relationship.
Restaurants are seeking business-changing benefits from automating their marketing, like:
Time Management: You’ll be able to focus on the real reason you started the restaurant instead of stressing out about marketing and publicity. Automated marketing lets you take the time you were spending on posting and emailing and, for the most part, put these daily chores under the control of your automated program.
Money Management: The time that you would have spent typing up each individual message costs money. Automated marketing is an investment that, as time goes on, can save you money.
Standardization of Procedures: By automating your marketing, you’re creating a system that will be much easier to follow and will be consistent as your restaurant grows.
Automate Your E-mails
E-mails are one of the easiest touchpoints to automate. Incorporating a system that accounts for the emails you typically send each customer guarantees that each patron will be up-to-date throughout your entire sales pipeline.
In addition to the welcome e-mail example we listed above, there are quite a few others that can keep your restaurant at the forefront of your customers’ minds.
A ‘We Miss You’ e-mail, that is set to send when your customer hasn’t placed an order with you in a set amount of time
An e-mail that sends out a regular newsletter or alerts customers to a new blog post, both of which provide customers with even more value.
A e-mail following their dining experience that invites the to rate the meal they enjoyed for a discount or coupon they can apply to their next meal.
Restaurants have a great opportunity to build an expansive e-mail list. By offering online ordering, patrons can log in, save their payment information and view previous orders. They can also opt-in to your e-mails. Likewise, digital receipts are convenient for both sides. Customers have one less piece of paper to worry about and you can continue to build your email list.
Automate Your Social Media
It can be easy to get caught up in typing your next Facebook post or looking for the perfect Instagram filter. One way to save social media time is to automate your account. This can include features like scheduling posts, automating replies, creating and posting following a new blog, and posting based upon specific triggers.
Some, like Facebook, allow you to schedule your set posts months in advance, but there are many sophisticated platforms that allow you to do even more.
Something social media aspects, though, should not be automated. These include:
Responding to private messages: Respond personally to the questions, concerns and praises your followers are sending.
Replying to comments: Show your followers that you care about them by replying directly to them.
Re-posting the same content to each network: The networks aren’t all the same, so don’t treat the posting best practices equally, either. A 140-character tweet isn’t going to work on Instagram. Likewise, your audience members that follow you on multiple channels will tire of seeing the same content across markets.
Automate Your Loyalty Rewards
Automating your loyalty rewards program can save you time and money. Rather than the cards that need to be printed and punched or stamped with each visit, consider automating your loyalty rewards cards by allowing customers to register with their phone number and email address. It makes it easy for them to look up their information and provides you with a way to stay in contact. You can then use your software to track any rewards the customers have earned, point out how close they are to earning their next rewards, or allow them to redeem their rewards.
Rafi Cohen, a graduate of Baruch College & Brooklyn native is the Co-Founder @ Orders2me, an online ordering platform that gives restaurant owners all the features they need to grow their business in the digital age.
About us and this blog
We are on a mission to help local restaurants thrive in the new digital economy. Our blog is designed to give local restaurants best practices from some of the top restaurants in the world today.