Chances are, your phone is within arm’s reach. Am I right? For most of us, our phone is constantly at our side — or at least not far away. That’s what makes SMS marketing so effective. When done right, SMS marketing campaigns are the perfect way to reach your customers in a meaningful way and motivate them to come into your restaurant. And that’s what we’re going to talk about today — some of the ins and outs of creating strategic SMS campaigns that work.
But before we get into these helpful SMS marketing tips, let’s first look at what SMS marketing is and why you should consider adopting it as part of your restaurant marketing strategy.
What is SMS Marketing and Why Should You Use It?
SMS marketing, or text message marketing, is the strategy of sending promotional messages to your customers through text messages. These could be messages with discount codes and offers, restaurant updates, or even notifications about reservations or takeout orders that are ready for pickup.
To get started with SMS marketing, brands offer an opt-in through their website or social media where customers can sign up to receive promotional messages. This information then becomes part of a list that the brand can use — so promotional messages only go to those who want to receive them.
But why should you consider using SMS marketing in your strategy?
As I mentioned at the outset, almost everybody has a smartphone and uses it to text. Even older audiences are familiar with this technology.
Not only do many people use smartphones, but research shows a growing trend of consumers who appreciate valuable promotional messages from their favorite brands. Consider a few powerful statistics on the subject…
- 9 out of 10 consumers prefer to receive communications from businesses via text message.
- 77% of consumers opted into receiving text messages from a brand to get exclusives deals and coupons.
- SMS marketing engagement has been found to be 6 to 8 times higher than email marketing.
These stats are just a glimpse into the power of SMS. These simple, unobtrusive messages may just give your audience the reason that they need to come into your audience or put in an online order. At the very least, it will help to keep your restaurant top-of-mind with your audience.
So now we understand what SMS marketing is and why it’s important — but how do you go about creating your own SMS marketing campaigns and making sure that they hit the spot with your audience? Let’s dig into that subject right now.
9 Tips for Setting Up Killer SMS Marketing Campaigns for Your Restaurant
1. Know Your Customer
This is really Marketing 101 — anytime you’re looking to create effective marketing messages, you need to know as much about your audience as you can. This allows you to more appropriately tailor your messaging to that audience.
If your customers are single, in their early-to-mid 20s, your messages are going to be vastly different than if they’re in their mid-30s with a family. One group might enjoy an invitation to half-off drinks for happy hour, while the other is more likely to appreciate a free kid’s meal with the purchase of an adult meal.
To get an accurate picture of your overall audience, check out your website and social media analytics. This will give you general demographic information about your audience. You might even include a couple of questions with multiple choice answers on your opt-in form, such “What kinds of offers interest you?”
2. Choose an SMS Marketing Platform
Choose ap platform that fits your needs. Are you looking for a low-cost bargain? Or maybe you prefer one that does all of the heavy lifting for you at a more premium price point. That is completely up to you.
Some popular SMS marketing platforms include…
These tools are all great and offer several vital ways for you to rock your SMS marketing campaigns. For example, many of them allow you to do basic tasks, like managing your customer lists and scheduling text message delivery. Others offer more complex tasks like viewing in-depth reports and sending out polls, contests, and surveys.
Look at what each one offers to decide what is most important to your restaurant’s SMS marketing strategy.
3. Identify Yourself
When they receive your text messages, your customers will just see that it’s from a generic number. If you don’t include your restaurant’s name, you’ll probably confuse your customers.
Avoid confusion by including your restaurant’s name front and center in your messages. You might write something like…
Enjoy this special offer from all of us at XYZ Restaurant
XYZ Restaurant Update: Join us for our pop-up event tonight
4. Make Your Message Valuable
Anytime we receive a message — SMS or not — we all ask a basic question: What’s in it for me?
Bottom line: Customers want value when they sign up to be part of an SMS list.
Here are a few common ways to provide value to your restaurant customers…
- Coupons and discounts
- Special offers
- Exciting news – especially if it benefits your customers
- Takeout Order Ready notifications
- Reservation reminders
Find out what is valuable to your personal audience and go from there. You might even include some questions in your opt-in form to find out what your audience wants to receive.
5. Add Urgency to Your Message
Adding urgency to your message can create a fear of missing out (FOMO) in your customers, moving them to act fast. This sense of urgency prevents customers from postponing their visit and potentially forgetting about it altogether.
The best way to leverage this sense of urgency is by putting a time limit on your offer. For example, your message could include phrases like…
- Deal expires this Sunday.
- While supplies last.
- Last day to get in on this…
- Last night to order our special…
- Don’t miss out…
Play around with these messages and see what works best. But also, be careful not to overuse FOMO — if you do, you risk desensitizing your audience to its power.
6. Optimize Your Frequency
Find the right amount of messages to send to your customers. If you send too few messages, you risk being forgotten — but, on the hand, if you send too many messages, you risk being ignored or even having people opt out of your messages.
So what is the sweet spot?
We recommend starting off with a consistent 2-4 messages per month. This keeps you top of mind without becoming a nuisance.
The next part of the equation is what time to send out your text messages. While this varies from audience to audience, most SMS marketers agree that the best time is on the weekends, when people are most relaxed. One study found the best times to be on Saturdays between 10am and 1pm and on Sundays between 3pm and 7pm. But play around with your own messaging strategy and see what works for your audience.
7. Write in Short Sentences
Short sentences are best in text messages since they are easier to remember. Long, complex sentences are not only harder to remember but also risk losing people’s interest.
Avoid messages that are complicated — these kinds of messages are best saved for email campaigns, where your readers expect a longer, more complex message.
A good rule of thumb for your text message campaigns is to write on a 5th-grade reading level — not because your readers aren’t intelligent, but simply because such simple writing has more chance of hitting the mark and being remembered.
8. Personalize Your Messages
Use your customers’ names in each message. This helps to break down barriers and remove the impersonal note that can sometimes weigh down messages.
To do this, ask for your customer’s name in your opt-in form. Within your SMS marketing platform, you’ll most likely have personalization options to choose from.
9. Include an Opt-Out Option
This is more than just a tip. It’s actually the law. In the past few years, we’ve seen a rise in anti-spam laws, which apply equally to text messages. For more information on regulations around marketing text messages, you can check out this article.
All you need to do is include a brief line at the bottom of your message, saying something like “Reply STOP to opt out.”
Remember, people may choose to opt out of your text messages for a range of reasons — not necessarily because they no longer enjoy your restaurant. They might opt out because of a recent move, a temporary change in circumstances, or even a pre-summer diet.
But this isn’t a bad thing. It can actually be good. How so? It allows you to weed out your contact list, which ensures that you’re only contacting the most engaged and eager customers.
Concluding Thoughts on Text Message Marketing
As with anything new, SMS marketing is still growing and changing. This is what makes this marketing strategy so exciting. We’re constantly finding new ways to engage and connect with customers. And you can be part of this new and exciting strategy!
We hope you’ve found this post helpful as you continue to grow your restaurant marketing strategy and implement your own SMS marketing campaigns into that strategy. Let us know in the comments below if there are any questions or if you’d like to share your own experience with SMS marketing!
Whether you want help getting started with SMS marketing or would like some help with your marketing strategy in general — including email marketing, social media marketing, print advertising, and more — we’re here for you. Feel free to reach out to our DevourNow team to discuss our offerings or check out our tiered packages to find one that works for you.
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