Marketing, once a field dominated by print and magazine advertising – eventually growing to include direct mail, radio and television – has today morphed into a very different beast. In the digital age, social media platforms, email, and online advertising have all changed the relationship between customers and the restaurants they frequent. In turn, this has altered how restaurateurs go about designing and deploying their marketing campaigns. Let’s explore some of the ways in which restaurants can leverage guest Wi-Fi to get the most bang for their buck when it comes to marketing.
Traditional restaurant marketing has historically been pretty cut and dry, involving flyers and ads which basically spread the word about your eatery. Traditional in-restaurant marketing initiatives, on the other hand, rely heavily on offering promotions and discounts to customers when they are on-site. While both of these more conventional marketing approaches do yield some very tangible benefits, they unfortunately do not provide restaurants with access to a larger, more productive audience. Digital marketing is an extension of the traditional marketing route that leverages digital technologies – mainly the Internet, but also mobile phones, billboards, or any other digital medium – to deploy a whole range of marketing initiatives. As such, an optimal restaurant marketing campaign in this day and age will combine both traditional in-restaurant marketing initiatives as well as off-site, post-visit digital marketing activities to increase sales, grow notoriety and expand the customer base.
The appeal of Wi-Fi marketing for restaurants is a no-brainer. With the rising cost of cellphone plans and limited data access, many people are on the lookout for restaurant locations that offer free guest Wi-Fi. By providing free internet access to patrons, a business is obviously going to attract more customers, but much more importantly, they will be acquiring valuable and actionable customer data, that can then be used in a myriad of marketing initiatives. A win-win proposition if ever there was one. One of the biggest benefits of digital marketing is arguably its wide accessibility and relatively low upfront costs. Digital marketing also provides a step-up to smaller businesses who may not have the same advertising budget as larger restaurants and chains. Further, because the online community has no true geographic boundaries, digital marketing initiatives also have a far greater reach, offering restaurants tremendous opportunities to expand their customer base.
Another advantage of guest Wi-Fi is that it provides restauranteurs with an abundance of customer-specific and demographic data, telling restaurant owners exactly who their customers are, what their likes and dislikes are, what they think the restaurant is doing well, what needs improving, as well as a wealth of other information. Another interesting piece of information collected through guest Wi-Fi is customer contact information, this enables restaurants to target their existing customers through email, surveys, and social networks. Targeted online marketing campaigns can also be adapted specifically to your audience and your niche market, which has the added benefit of allowing businesses to interact directly with their audience on social networks through newsletters, prizes, games, and other promotions to help build customer loyalty and encourage repeat business.
Online surveys and reviews are a growing phenomenon and savvy restauranteurs are capitalizing on this trend to help grow their notoriety and attract new customers. Research has shown that consumers are becoming increasingly reliant on online reviews, either through social media or sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp, when they are looking for somewhere to eat. In fact, according to a recent consumer review survey by Bright Local, 86% of consumers read online reviews before making their selection. The survey also found that consumers typically read 10 online reviews before feeling comfortable selecting the venue they will visit. In turn, 57% of respondents said they would only frequent a business if it had a rating of four or more stars. These findings highlight the importance of restaurants interacting with their customers by prompting them to provide online reviews and surveys, perhaps in exchange for a discount on the next visit, or other enticing offers. This, in turn, will translate into a far wider audience reach, and will help attract new diners to your venue.
Restaurants are afforded a wealth of valuable demographic and behavioral customer data thanks to guest Wi-Fi. This data can be parlayed into a variety of marketing initiatives to attract new patrons and grow your customer base. The above being said, it is equally important to support and maintain your existing customer base, which is why targeting your regulars should be at the foundation of any business’ marketing plan. The most successful restaurants will tell you that they regularly engage with their regulars on a variety of platforms and incentivize them to return more often through discounts, special offers and anniversary specials. Studies have shown that businesses can grow their bottom line considerably and consistently if they can increase their repeat customers’ visits. According to smallbiztrends.com, a 5% increase in repeat customer visits can bolster sales anywhere from 25% to 95%. A considerable increase in sales, for easy-to-deploy initiatives.