Mobile Marketing Techniques that Will Take Your Restaurant to the Next Level


The restaurant industry is becoming more competitive by the day, and everybody seems to be scrambling to get their brand out there. One of the newest methods by which restaurants are trying to attract customers is mobile marketing. Mobile marketing is marketing to customers through their mobile phones or devices. When you consider the fact that 80% of Americans have a cell phone that they carry literally everywhere, mobile marketing is almost a guaranteed way to reach potential customers.

Benefits of Mobile Marketing

Mobile marketing has the potential to replace all other forms of advertisement because its costs are low while the benefits are very high. There are seemingly limitless benefits to mobile marketing, but here are five of the top benefits for restaurants:

  • The cost is low. Text message marketing is one of the most cost-effective methods of marketing because you don’t have to print out or mail anything. The cost of sending messages via mobile carrier is mere pennies.
  • You are able to track effectiveness. The problem with print advertising is that, unless customers physically bring in a coupon, there is really no way to judge the ad campaigns effectiveness. Mobile marketing techniques require a response in order to get the deal, and you can calculate the effectiveness based on the number of responses.
  • You are targeting a highly desirable demographic. The Millennial Generation, or Generation-Y is a desired market for restaurants, and this generation is most connected; their cell phones are always close by, so marketing to Millenialls through their phones is really speaking to them in their language. » Learn More about Marketing to Generation Y
  • It is very effective. It is estimated that responses to print ads is around 3.5%, but responses to mobile marketing campaigns are around 15%.1 That’s almost five times more than traditional ad techniques, and chances are good that responses will increase as mobile marketing methods improve.
  • It can complement or interact with other forms of advertisement. The more advanced a customer’s mobile phone, the more you can implement video commercials into your mobile marketing campaigns. One current way these two forms are interacting is by calling for a text response in a TV or radio advertisement. For instance, a commercial may say something like, “Text ‘bacon’ to 555555 to receive a free bacon cheeseburger.”

Mobile Marketing Techniques

The two keys for mobile restaurant marketing are to increase brand awareness and bring more people in the door. There are a lot of different mobile marketing strategies to use, but here are some of the most effective for restaurants:

  • Mobile coupons. This one is pretty simple. You send a coupon code via text message to everyone in your database. In order to redeem the coupon, they can simply come in and show the code on their phones to your cashiers.
  • Text message contests. You can text trivia questions about your restaurant or “be the first to respond” text messages to customers in your database in order to receive a free menu item or other prize.
  • Text message surveys. If you are considering new menu items or want to offer a daily special, you could text choices to your customers and ask their opinion. For example, if you wanted to know whether customers prefer a regular cheeseburger or a bacon cheeseburger, you can have them text “bacon” or “cheese” to vote.
  • Text message alerts. You can text daily specials, remind customers of upcoming events or announce new menu items, all without having to print a single flier.
  • QR Codes. This is one of the more complex methods of mobile marketing. Basically, a QR Code is a two-dimensional barcode that you can put on billboards or in magazine ads. Within the barcode you can imbed a coupon code or other information, and customers who take a picture of the code (with their camera phones) will be able to receive the coupon.

Tips for Successful Mobile Restaurant Marketing

In order to make your mobile marketing campaign a success, there are a few basic rules you need to follow.

  • Keep it simple. On a lot of mobile phones, text messages are limited to 160 characters (including spaces), so you will want to keep your messages short and simple.
  • Offer an instant incentive to opt-in. You want to get customers to respond to your messages, and the best way to do that is to offer discounts, like 5% off their next purchase if they respond.
  • Make it a limited-time offer. In order to make customers feel like they’re getting a great deal, put a time limit (like a couple of hours) on any coupon codes you send them. This will hopefully gain immediate traffic, and the time limit also means you probably won’t lose track of what coupon goes with which deal.
  • Send texts when customers are getting hungry. Sending text messages with daily lunch specials around 10:00 A.M. will put your establishment at the forefront of customers’ minds when they start thinking about lunch. You can do the same with any other time of day, though you may want to steer clear of texting them at 4:00 A.M. to remind them to get breakfast at your diner.
  • Instant-reply your thanks. Sending an automated response that says “Thank you for participating” to your customers every time they answer your text messages will make customers feel more appreciated and increase their loyalty to your brand.

Mobile Marketing Companies

Mobile marketing is still a relatively new segment of the marketing industry, and it could be difficult to know where to start. Fortunately, there are mobile marketing agencies that operate just like any other ad agency. They will help you design a campaign and even track its effectiveness for you. Doing an internet search for “mobile marketing agencies” is a good place to start. Regardless of whether you go through an agency or not, mobile marketing is the wave of the future, so act now before you are left behind.

1 “Mobile Marketing Benefits,” MESSAGEbuzz, (accessed December 20, 2010).

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