Omnichannel Marketing for Restaurants
Omnichannel strategies are the gold standard in marketing. Some believe this strategy only applies to eCommerce brands, but the reality is a bit broader. Since the restaurant industry doesn’t operate quite the same as that of typical retail, operators may overlook the value that omnichannel marketing can bring to their businesses.
Today, many restaurants already operate over multiple channels. Through technologies like email and SMS marketing software, savvy restaurant owners are ramping up their multichannel efforts and switching to an entirely omnichannel strategy.
What is Omnichannel Restaurant Marketing?
Omnichannel marketing refers to a sales approach that gives the customer an integrated shopping experience. In more practical terms, it means the customer could shop from a desktop or mobile device, an app, over the phone, or in the actual store, and their experience would be consistent. Omnichannel marketing extends to restaurants when you consider the various ways in which customers can order food. Even if you don’t have a proprietary restaurant app, customers can likely place orders over the phone or through a third-party delivery service.
You might hear the terms omnichannel marketing used in contrast with multichannel marketing. They sound similar, but they’re quite different. We’ll explain below.
Why Engage in Omnichannel Restaurant Marketing?
Although restaurant operations are different from retail establishments, the benefits of omnichannel marketing are practically the same. This customer-centric approach allows you to provide a seamless and consistent experience across all channels. So, what do restaurants gain from doing that?
We mentioned a typical restaurant scenario above. Maybe you have an app that allows customers to dine in, take out food, or receive delivery orders. You also have customers who can place their orders in-store, by phone, through a website, or an app. In a typical multichannel structure, every channel stays isolated from the other. So, if a customer who typically orders through your app decides to phone in one day, they’ll need to go through the same processes a first-time customer would.
In contrast, an omnichannel structure centers on the customer. No matter what channel your customer decides to use, you’re equipped to handle them in a familiar and nurturing way. You’ll have access to their primary customer data, and specific information like preferred channels, favorite orders, and special requests. This data lets you personalize your service to every customer at every touchpoint. For restaurants, you can foster lifelong relationships with your customers.
To execute an omnichannel marketing strategy for restaurants, we’ve developed some tips to keep in mind.
Stay True to Your Brand
Your restaurant has a brand personality that goes beyond the name and cuisine. Your brand encompasses everything that makes your establishment unique, like your thoughtfully-created ambiance, your style of service, and the language in your communications.
When you shift to an omnichannel strategy, you must remain consistent with your brand personality across all channels. This consistency goes beyond visual continuity; Your tone and verbiage should comply with your carefully-cultivated personality. This principle bears especially true on social media, where many of your customers will develop their first impression of your brand. If your online presence is inconsistent with your dine-in experience, you won’t establish the affinity you need to build long-term relationships with your customers.
Communicate in precisely the same way across all customer touchpoints. In doing so, you’ll create a feeling of familiarity, which will result in loyalty and a better brand reputation overall.
Capitalize on Data
Data is just as necessary in the food industry as it is in eCommerce. Restaurant data helps you improve efficiency, identify growth opportunities, and make better business decisions. But in the context of the omnichannel restaurant, data-driven insights are even more valuable. Not only will data facilitate better customer interactions across channels, but it also helps you provide a hyper-customized dining experience.
A customized dining experience redefines personalization in the restaurant setting. This personalization doesn’t just mean addressing your guests by name or even remembering their usual order (though this is part of it!). It involves using data (and machine learning) to predict what else they might like and tweaking your service to make them feel most valued.
The goal of data analytics is to find ways to delight customers at every interaction across all channels. If done correctly, this level of personalization is what turns guests into lifelong customers.
Use Email & SMS Marketing Software for CRM
It’s no secret that nurturing your customers is the best way to drive repeat business. For restaurants engaged in an omnichannel strategy, email and SMS are the perfect platforms for strengthening and maintaining customer relationships.
Through targeting and segmentation, you can reach the right customers with personalized messages. These messages might include greetings on their birthdays, offering their favorite dish as an incentive to visit, and exclusive perks for being a valued guest. Using automated workflows, you can ensure that you deliver those messages at precisely the right time.
In addition to engaging your customers, you can use email and SMS to empower them. You can use these platforms to gather direct feedback from your customers. By doing this, you can respond swiftly to all reviews — troubleshoot the negative feedback and humbly take credit for the positive.
Use Social Media to Cultivate Brand Ambassadors
Whether consciously or not, today’s consumer is heavily influenced by other consumers’ opinions. People are 71% more likely to purchase after encountering a referral on social media. Another name for this phenomenon is social proof. This marketing is most prevalent in the food industry, which is why it’s incredibly active in the restaurant space.
You can use the audience you gather through your email and SMS campaigns to cultivate relationships with brand ambassadors on social media. Rather than courting the most popular (and likely most expensive) food influencers in your area, start with nano-influencers who already know and love your brand.
Using the right platform, you can easily pinpoint the most loyal customers on your subscriber list. Create a Custom Audience on Facebook based on your shortlist and then run Facebook and Instagram ads explicitly crafted to elicit a post that’s favorable to your restaurant. You can use the same process to target Lookalike Audiences, which are groups of people who are most like your own segments and so are also likely to patronize your brand.
Omnichannel Restaurant Marketing – Concluded
Adopting an omnichannel restaurant strategy allows you to be omnipresent for your target audience. Thankfully, email and SMS marketing software have evolved from providing eCommerce-specific solutions to platforms that address the unique requirements of the food industry. With the right platform, you can deliver consistently delightful experiences with your brand. That leads to better customer relationships, more enthusiastic brand ambassadors, and a more significant mindshare in the restaurant space. Consequently, you’ll enjoy more sales as well as a more reliable brand with a loyal following.
How has the pandemic altered your course? Click the link below for our page containing helpful restaurant resources for the COVID-19 outbreak.
About the Author
Marouane El Baghati is an SEO specialist at Omnisend, a marketing automation platform for eCommerce. His preferred hobbies apart from blogging are reading about Philosophy, the latest e-commerce, and Technological innovation news.