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SMS Marketing for Restaurants: Taking It To The Next Level

Zainab Zaki
Zainab Zaki, Senior Product Manager

As we discussed in an earlier blog, the SMS battleground has expanded to restaurants.  But it’s more than a battle – it’s a great opportunity.  We know, for example, that the average mobile phone user checks his phone 150 times a day. We’ve also learned that SMS Marketing is not just something for millennials – all generations are receptive!  For a restaurant marketer, this could be a gold mine.  The key is to understand how best to leverage SMS Marketing and how to integrate it into the rest of your marketing mix.  Some of our clients are already veterans at driving great results with SMS Marketing, so we sat down to talk with them about the impact on their business.  You might be surprised at what we learned.

The New Loyalty Club
The way some of our clients see it, the SMS subscriber list is the new de facto loyalty club. Rather than  promoting a “classic” loyalty program, they choose instead to treat these passionate guests  who trust them  with their phone numbers as their  loyalty list.  Getting someone to share a mobile number is much harder than getting them to share an email address, but it is ultimately more valuable.

Leveraging Cross Channel Strategy
From our clients’ perspective, it’s all about an integrated marketing mix – a strategy to reach their guests however they connect.  Engaging guests via their preferred channel not only optimizes the response, but also makes them feel like a valued guest.   Our clients tend to have an integrated email/SMS strategy  — perhaps using SMS more tactically to remind guests of an email promotion that went out first.  Often they add social to the mix – posting messages on their social channels and following up with an SMS.

Or they use SMS for specific types of promotions like contests.  This is key because contests are one of the great “use cases” for SMS Marketing.  Our clients have found that guests don’t want to unsubscribe because they fear missing out on some aspect of the contest, such as when the winners are announced!  Interestingly, clients are also using SMS to build email lists (Text to Join) and using email campaigns to drive SMS subscriptions.  These are great examples of how clients are optimizing multiple channels for list growth by using SMS Marketing.

SMS Campaigns – What Works Best?SMS_graphic-01
Consumers read 95% of all text messages within 3 minutes of receiving them, which renders SMS marketing ideal for real time campaigns, i.e. when it is important to take action in a short frame of time. Flash sales, one time offers, contests have high response rates when executed using SMS. One of our big pizza clients uses SMS on Fridays to reach their guests as they are starting to think about weekend plans.  Think about the context of your business because that’s where you’ll find the sweet spot for SMS Marketing.

What Results Are Our Clients Seeing?
Our clients report that unsubscribe rates are lower with SMS than with email.  This suggests that they are hitting their guests with exactly the right kind of message in that channel.  They also observe that offer redemption rates for guests who are subscribed to both email and SMS are much higher than for guests subscribed to just one.  In addition, redemption rates for offers distributed via SMS are 6-8 times higher than for offers distributed via other channels such as email or social media.

Ultimately our clients are discovering the opportunity that  SMS Marketing offers.  They are optimizing specific campaign types and utilizing cross channel strategies to drive more business.  It’s an opportunity that restaurant marketers don’t want to miss.