Article contributed by Brett Linkletter and Ariana Brajkovich, Misfit Media
Creating relationships with your customers is one of the underlying, long-term goals of marketing. By creating connections with your customers, rather than just serving them food, you will increase their customer lifetime value (CLV).
Customer lifetime value is the total revenue each customer brings to your restaurant from their first visit to their last. Loyalty programs, where customers track their subsequent transactions through a unique identifier–email, phone number, customer loyalty number, etc.–are a great way to track your CLV. On average, it is much cheaper to bring an existing customer back into your restaurant compared to finding a brand new customer. That’s why creating relationships with your customers is so beneficial.
Just like in any relationship, communication is absolutely key. You want to make sure that you can effectively get your message across to your customers. While posting to social media is a good way to build your brand image, it isn’t the most effective way to communicate with your customers. In fact, businesses who post on Facebook and Instagram often reach less than 2% of their followers with each post. If you are looking for an inexpensive, guaranteed way to reach your customers directly, chat marketing is exactly what you are looking for.
Chat marketing is an excellent way to foster this relationship with your customers. It combines content creation, chat bots, and an active database to make a bulletproof restaurant marketing strategy. With organic (non-paid) social media posting, your reach is severely limited. Chat marketing utilizes email (open rate of ~25%), Facebook Messenger (open rate of ~80%) and SMS/text message (open rate of ~98%!). Imagine if every time you advertised for your restaurant–be it your happy hour or a new menu item–nearly 100% of your intended audience saw it. That level of exposure was unprecedented until chat marketing came along.
OK. So how can you use chat marketing to drive customers to your restaurant, whether that be dine-in, take-out, or delivery?
The first step is finding a chat marketing software that fits your restaurant’s needs, like MobileMonkey or ManyChat–we use ManyChat for all of our clients. These platforms will give you the power to find new customers through Facebook and Instagram ads and then stay in touch with them through email and text messages.
The next step is to map or build out how your chat bot will interact with your customers. Customers will initially come in contact with your bot through a social media “send message” advertisement. To increase your engagement rates on your ads, entice customers to try your restaurant by giving them a special offer, like a buy-one-get-one deal or a free dessert with purchase. These users are new additions to your database, so it’s best to treat them as new customers. The “conversation” they have with your bot will collect their contact data and tell them how they can use the offer they saw in the advertisement.
This style of marketing not only finds new customers, but it also enters them into your customer database and sets the foundation for that essential customer relationship. Similarly to how you built out the conversation your chat bot had with new customers, you can do the same through text and email to reach your existing customers. That means whenever you want to send a blast to your customers about a special event or a deal that your restaurant is having, you have a direct line of communication to them.
When it comes to how frequently you are messaging your subscriber list, be realistic about how often your customers would want to hear from you.
If you have big news or a special offer that you think they would love, by all means send a blast. But don’t get carried away with texts every week or every couple days. Messaging your customers too often can lead to higher unsubscription rates and lead to overall desensitization to your announcements.
Chat bots can also be used for much more than direct message marketing! As you get more familiar with your chat software, you can use it to create a chat assistant for your restaurant’s website. It can help answer customer questions about the menu and your restaurant’s locations. Chat bots can even assist you with online ordering.
While this may sound intimidating, chat marketing is one of the most effective ways to market your restaurant. When done properly, it is sure to pay off. There are also plenty of free online resources available to help you through building your chat marketing foundation.
Now more than ever, it’s imperative to create and maintain your restaurant’s relationships with your customers. COVID-19 may be keeping people further apart, but that doesn’t mean we have to lose our connections.
Brett Linkletter is the CEO & CoFounder of Misfit Media. He has an aggressive willingness to take on new challenges and a strong understanding of scaling a business from scratch. His vision is to disrupt the restaurant marketing space by empowering business owners with predictable, scalable marketing strategies so they can grow their business based on insights and data, versus guesswork and course correction. Brett’s specialty lies in creative content creation, brand messaging, social media growth hacking, and business development. His biggest role model and lifetime hero is his great grandfather, Art Linkletter, who was a famous TV personality and businessman.
Ariana Brajkovich is Misfit Media’s in-house media buyer. She is a data-driven individual who loves to take the creative route to achieve results. Ariana studied business and marketing at the University of Southern California and has found her niche in the restaurant world. She thrives in competition and is inspired by Misfit’s drive to take restaurants across the world to the next level. Outside of the office, you can find her skiing, rock climbing, or baking.
To learn more about putting together a marketing strategy for your restaurant or foodservice business, contact the team at email@example.com or 424-289-8648