One of the biggest trends in restaurant marketing over the past few years has been the overwhelming growth of localized deal-of-the-day promotions from sites like Groupon and LivingSocial. Consumers have become bombarded with a variety of dealservices offering 50 percent or more off of everything from sandwiches to sky-diving, and it seems there’s no restaurant too small or too big to participate in the deal frenzy. But is the mega-deal bubble starting to pop?
While offering great coupons from time to time can be effective, extreme coupon marketing is not a fix-all answer to the question of how to implement successful social media marketing. Big deals don’t always equal repeat customers and some diners are only going out to eat when they have a 50 percent off coupon - which isn’t healthy for business.
Restaurants that want effective consumer engagement online are focusing less attention on big discounts and more on listening to customers’ online feedback and keeping customers engaged with location-specific promotions, event calendars, daily menu specials, and more. Anything a restaurant marketing manager can do to translate the in-restaurant experience into digital form is key to getting customer attention and loyalty online.
But who has the time? One factor that causes small businesses to be slow to adopt social media marketing is the apprehension that it will take considerable time to implement, learn all of the platforms, update content, and monitor consumer feedback sites like Yelp!, TripAdvisor, etc. With the daily demands of running a restaurant making it difficult to find spare time, businesses are finding that software tools can help manage content and monitor social media efficiently and effectively.
New technology apps and tools are being designed specifically for restaurants to help make social media content distribution and monitoring easy and fast – even for those who are not tech-savvy. These new tools are giving businesses the ability to pre-schedule targeted content distribution weeks in advance, monitor online consumer feedback through easy-to-read daily email reports, and incorporate customer-friendly widgets and applications like birthday promotions and chalkboard specials. There are even software solutions designed for businesses with multiple locations. For example, PromoterBee lets people manage content across multiple, location-specific web and social media channels and monitor location-specific reviews through one platform.
Whether businesses prefer a combination of single-use applications or a more comprehensive software tool to help them manage their digital marketing, the important thing is to begin taking advantage of available technology solutions that help restaurants communicate with and engage customers online – without resorting to half-price deals.
Clark Harris is Co-founder and President of PromoterBee, a technology company specializing in Web-based digital marketing management and monitoring tools for restaurant and retail small businesses. www.biz.promoterbee.com