In our article Making the Most of the Smartphone Revolution, we’ve been quite emphatic about the need for restaurateurs to adapt to the emergence of smartphones.
We’ve put emphasis on how millenials are immersed on mobile devices, and how the number of mobile users in the U.S. is constantly increasing, up from its statistics of 91 million on the last quarter of 2011. To date, the number of active mobile-broadband subscriptions worldwide has reached 1.2 billion, and is said to be growing at a staggeringly escalating rate.
It is not surprising to know, then, that businesses and marketers the world over are capitalizing on the trend. In America alone, the U.S. Local Mobile Advertising and Promotions Forecast has predicted that the amount that will be spent on text message marketing is expected to reach $6.52 billion in the next year or so.
In spite of this fast growth, however, text message marketing, specifically text message coupons, can still be considered to be in its infancy. Restaurant businesses are aware of how it can help—after all, it does have the capability to reach the target consumers anytime, anywhere—but a lot still have not maximized its potential to help liven up restaurant marketing and boost restaurant sales. Here are some helpful tips that restaurateurs should know about mobile coupons:
Give a simple, enticing incentive for joining. SMS coupons need the consent of your customers so you ought to make sure that customers have a good motive to opt-in and avail of your deals. Offering incentives while they are engaged in your brand is an effective way to do this, like sending out an invite to type a keyword to a brief code in exchange for a free dessert. Customers find this a welcome diversion while they are waiting to buy tickets for a movie or when they are waiting for their car wash to be completed.
Keywords should be somewhat affiliated to your brand. It should be simple and short—no random numbers, underscores, hyphens or any symbols that customers might not bother to insert.
Find a good timing! Realize that timing is critical—if you hope to have an effective usage of your coupon, you have to build a sense of urgency and catch your customers at the right time. If you need them to buy those value meals that your chefs, in their elegant chef aprons, prepared for lunch, send your mobile coupons at 10am, just when your customers’ tummies start to growl. If you want them to avail of your prix fixe menu for dinner, text them at 5pm, at around the same time that they are planning their activities that evening. And to attach a sense of urgency, the coupons should expire after dinnertime or lunchtime.
Grab the opportunity to start a conversation. Banking on the fact that the customers often have their mobile phones in their hands, your text coupons should be able to engage your customers in direct conversations. Make sure you have an auto-reply set-up—it could be a simple thank-you for their effort to opt-in to receive your text mobile coupons, or a sophisticated response to their questions that would convince them how alert and attentive you are to their needs.
You can ask them what sort of deals they like best, like “Lunch value meal for the day—would you choose to have a free ice cream or a salad for your combo meal? Text ‘salad’ or ‘ice cream’ to vote.” And whatever the result of the poll, your chefs in their outstanding chef aprons should adhere to it. Conversations with customers let you know what they want, invariably leading to a good relationship with them, building their loyalty in the process.
Lastly, you should be convinced that this one works. The redemption rate for mobile coupons is 25% higher than the redemption of printed internet coupons, and about 10 times higher than mail or newspaper coupons. Mobile promotions not only increase restaurant sales, it’s also one of the best ways in creating more lasting, meaningful relationships with your diners.