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In The News
Boost Orders and Loyalty with Direct Digital Marketing Programs

August 18, 2009

Published by Fast Casual
Written by Brian Deagan

Good local restaurant marketing requires, among other elements, flexibility and personalization.

The market can change fast and the consumer can change even faster. Fortunately, local marketers have access to direct digital marketing – marketing approaches that are addressable to a specific individual through the Web, e-mail and mobile channels.

If the goal is to reach the increasingly savvy fast casual dining guest, some of these channels are not ideal for local restaurant marketing. For example, e-mail and the Web are useful for marketing programs heavy on personalization and relevance, but they are hard to localize for a specific restaurant and market.

In addition, the majority of consumers who interact with a company through e-mail or the Web are sitting at a desk. Though e-mail marketing and effectively using a Web site are important pieces of the direct digital-marketing puzzle for restaurant marketers, guests are mobile – so the marketing should be, too.

The primary use for a mobile device is still, obviously, voice. However, consumers are using SMS text messaging with rising frequency, and texting is rapidly gaining on voice as the most popular overall use for the mobile device, followed in third by e-mail.

While text messages are an extremely popular use of a mobile device by businesses and consumers alike, other tools in the mobile toolbox include mobile-friendly Web sites, mCommerce, iPhone or Blackberry applications, mobile ads like banners or SMS subscriptions, and video games, music and other entertainment options. While many can be appealing and useful, a strategy centered on text messaging promises the widest reach and the best results.

Here are four examples of mobile direct digital marketing programs that any restaurant owner, operator or manager can implement and manage onsite:

Mobile offers

Because mobile is a personal channel for the recipient, it is ideal for communicating local, time-sensitive information. If a restaurant is having an unexpectedly slow evening, pushing a quick incentive to the list of mobile subscribers can quickly boost traffic. The message can be something simple like, “Half-price appetizers until 9p tonight” or more complex like, “2 for 1 entrees if you and a friend order before 10p tonight.” It is important to resist the urge to overuse this tactic even though it is simple and easy. Saturating a mobile subscriber’s inbox is a quick way to lose a subscriber.

Mobile loyalty program

While in the restaurant, signing up for an email newsletter or a loyalty program requires several steps and a great deal of effort on the part of the guest. The multiple requirements keep redemption rates extremely low and the cost of a loyalty program difficult to maintain. Allowing for a mobile opt-in to a loyalty program is a convenient, effective tactic for building the mobile database and providing value for guests. Loyalty programs are useful for enhancing the guest experience and boosting sales – and mobile is the best way to manage them.

Mobile ordering

Since the standard for food quality is higher for fast casual restaurants than other speed-oriented restaurants in the industry, providing fast and easy ways for guests to order their food is a valuable. If a restaurant already has a structure in place for the customer who calls ahead with their order, mobile ordering is a natural progression. A mobile ordering program is simple to start, requires a minimum financial investment from the restaurant, and is an easy program to maintain. Mobile ordering takes advantage of that old restaurant truth – the faster a guest can place their order, the more orders a restaurant can process.

Mobile coupons

It is simple and surprisingly inexpensive to deliver a coupon to a guest over a mobile device. The barrier to adoption by restaurants is in the myth of difficult coupon redemption. Each mobile coupon is given a unique identifying number or code. The cashier simply inputs the code into the register and the coupon is redeemed. The infrastructure already exists, and no additional training is necessary for the cashier. Plus, a guest who subscribes to receive mobile coupons is more likely use them – and tell their friends.

A concentration on a text-centric mobile direct digital marketing strategy provides the best return on investment for a restaurant exploring local digital marketing. The programs are cost efficient and easy to implement for the restaurant and simple to join and benefit from for the guest.

Proper use of the mobile channel for targeted, relevant communications demonstrates the tremendous value mobile delivers for both the restaurant and the guest.

About the author: Brian Deagan is co-founder and CEO of Knotice, a direct digital marketing solutions company. Contact Deagan at For more information about Knotice visit or their blog

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