The missing link in restaurant marketing
By Jennifer WiebeFeatures Business and Operations Marketing
May 2, 2012 – What do you know about the next five people who will order
from your online ordering site? Right now, all you probably know for
sure is that they’re all online. So how can you know the best way to
market to them to drive online sales?
“To increase online sales, you need to engage with people wherever they’re finding you,” says Gary Ziegler, the CEO of eThor, a Calgary-based developer of a social media and web ordering solution (available to pizza operators through a partnership with SpeedLine POS). This new technology solution, launched at the International Pizza Expo, was the recipient of the Global Innovator Award at the 2012 Global Technology Symposium.
Traditional coupon marketing, box toppers, and radio ads will drive some traffic to your website. But the big increases in online sales, Ziegler says, come from connecting with customers while they’re already online.
Where to start
The challenge for most restaurant operators is overload, Ziegler says. There are just too many channels online, and new ones popping up all the time.
“Restaurant owners are inundated with calls from people who say, ‘I can manage your Facebook . . . handle your Twitter . . . design your e-mail,’ ” Ziegler adds.
Restaurant operators, in frustration, tend to pick one or two channels and ignore the rest. “What they don’t realize,” Ziegler says, “is that whether they engage on Yelp or not, there are customers there looking for their restaurants.” In fact, he says, 66 million people search Yelp every month. “Ignore at your own peril,” Ziegler warns.
So what’s the solution?
Success starts with understanding the social media channels customers use. Facebook is everywhere, but do your customers use Twitter or Pinterest? Yelp or Urbanspoon? Creating a presence on these channels is next.
From a fan page or profile, restaurant operators can engage with customers, learn more about their preferences and interests, share compliments and respond to complaints. And they can begin to push out promos and new menu items that drive traffic directly to their online ordering sites.
They can do this even more effectively with the right tools, Ziegler says, by managing multiple social media channels at once: “One platform to push deals and menu promos, with one click of a button, out to all the channels.”
Hands-on restaurant operators, particularly those with dine-in and carryout services, get to know their best customers personally, at least on a superficial level. For delivery operators and chains, that’s much more difficult.
For understanding customer interests and preferences, social marketing is a game changer. “People willingly put their info online,” Ziegler explains, “and willingly share it with other people and companies.”
By using a marketing solution that hooks into your guests’ Facebook or Twitter profiles, you can learn new things about your customers – insights that can help them market to their guests more effectively. How could new insight into guest demographics, hobbies and interest, education and jobs, and Facebook interactions help you design more effective promotions?
“The information you get is a lot more granular and inclusive than what you can learn from a focus group,” Ziegler says.
Social marketing is one to one. Personal information and connections are the key to the direct response and sharing activities that drive online sales for restaurants.
Jennifer Wiebe manages marketing for Vancouver-based point of sale developer SpeedLine Solutions, Inc. (www.speedlinesolutions.com) With 10 years in the pizza industry and more than 20 years of experience in marketing and PR, Jennifer also writes for trade publications and was a member of the editorial board of PMQ Canada.
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