Originally published on ModernRestaurantManagement.com | Click here to see the article
Building and maintaining a successful restaurant business isn’t easy. There are a thousand tasks in every day, and very few are planned. But one thing is a universal truth: Without customers at your tables you will fail. Customers come in many forms, so often the focus is on new customers, but the reality is that repeat, loyal customers are really the starting point. A repeat sale is 30 percent the cost of attracting a new customer, and repeat customers are walking advocates / marketers to new customers, ultimately generating more revenue–and reliable revenue–for less cost. So how can a restaurant drive revenue without time-intensive and costly marketing initiatives? With these tough times innovation is required and restaurants are seizing the opportunity to turn simple WiFi into valuable guest engagement and ultimately a competitive advantage to drive guest loyalty and provide immediate revenue growth.
According to Cisco, 96 percent of customers prefer a business that offers free WiFi. But free WiFi does nothing for the venue, and with basic WiFi marketing the opportunity is still very hit or miss. However, as a restaurant operator provides free WiFi service to customers they can go beyond “marketing” and leverages technology to not only capture valuable customer information but as the critical first step for powerful messaging, communication and relationship-building. What allows simple WiFi to move past WiFi “marketing”? The key is that it’s not just one technology—it can be umbrella of integrated technologies working together to produce compelling results including WiFI, text messaging, email, and digital displays to leverage guest engagement and social media to the maximum.
One way to access the WiFi is by logging into social media for the free access. This is a win-win since the CMO Council identified that 56 percent of social media users will log in with their profiles in exchange for a customized brand experience. However, the customer’s device also has a unique identifying number—a MAC address—that identifies who the customer is. When the customer logs onto the WiFi, specific details can be tracked such as length of time in the establishment, the days of the week and times of the visit, number of times the customer visits or whether they’re a first-time visitor or repeat customer. This information allows restaurants to generate more revenue through the following five ways:
1. Real-Time Offers
Increasing the total dollar value of a ticket equates to more revenue. But how do you change customer behavior to guide the person from merely buying weekly drinks during Thursday happy hour to purchasing a meal? This is where WiFi hotspot marketing comes into play. When collecting customer information through WiFi hotspot access, specific triggers and filters are set up so that when certain criteria are met the customer is texted an offer in real time. Imagine that customer who only ever buys happy hour drink specials receiving a text while enjoying drinks. The customer looks at his or her smartphone to see a text message offering 25 percent off an entrée. The customer is already in the restaurant, so why not go ahead and take advantage of it? This introduces the customer to the entrees and the next happy hour that customer will be happily digging into a meal. It’s all about sending the customer the right message, at the right time. After all, an Insider Intelligence and eMarketer report on consumer attitudes towards digital advertising finds ads are considered less intrusive if relevant to their wants or needs. Thus, offering the right discount or promotion is a necessity.
2. Reward Loyal Customers
The Wirecard Consumer Incentives Report found that over 90 percent of those surveyed cited loyalty programs as influencing behavior. Personalization is even more impactful. Customization can increase a loyalty program’s success by more than six times according to a loyalty report by Visa. But traditional loyalty programs are antiquated. With WiFi hotspot marketing, high-value, loyal customers receive rewards that are unique to their interests and behaviors. Customers appreciate being treated like a VIP, and providing exclusive discounts tailored to the person’s buyer behavior not only fosters the relationship but drives sales and ensures the customer remains loyal and keeps coming back.
3. Bring Back Lost Customers
Losing customers? A lack of customer retention cripples a restaurant. U.S. companies lose $136.8 billion per year due to failed customer retention. And according to Econsultancy’s Digital Trends report, top-performing businesses are 50 percent more likely than their peers to have well-designed user journeys that facilitate communication. WiFi hotspot marketing sends targeted offers to motivate past customers to return. For example, a trigger can be set that sends a text when a customer hasn’t returned for “Taco Tuesday” in 60 days and provides a buy-one-get-one free taco offer. Chances are, that taco-loving customer will return.
4. Digital Menus and Signage
Say goodbye to paper menus. With WiFi hotspot marketing, customers can receive a link to your menu as soon as they walk through the door. Customers can also access menus via texting keywords. Custom TV displays with on screen menus, tap lists, featured menu items and event promotions can all be integrated with a text messaging or social media campaign to keep customers engaged. Need to sell more wings? Offer a wing promotion on a digital sign with a QR code to take advantage of the promotion.
5. Drive Organic Social Media
Building a social media following and driving solid engagement on posts is challenging to do organically. The social media algorithms only show your posts to about 8 percent of a business’s audience. This means spending money on social media advertising is a must…or is it? With WiFi hotspot marketing, drive organic social media followers and engagements without ad dollars. Send text messages that link to social accounts to intercept users at just the right moment for social media engagement.
There are many ways to utilize WiFi hotspot marketing, and businesses choosing to pursue this to generate revenue are finding success. One of the keys to this success lies in the value of owned, reliable data and metrics and how it translates to customer behavior. In fact, according to a survey by Devicescape of 400 businesses, providing a WiFi hotspot led to increased foot traffic and 72 percent of businesses report a strong ROI and success rate for WiFi hotspot marketing. To put that into perspective, research from the Direct Marketing Association reports direct mail provides a nine percent success rate and email campaigns only 1 percent. It’s clear that WiFi hotspots provide an innovative solution for restaurants and marketing teams looking to drive brick-and-mortar sales that ultimately saves restaurant operators and marketing teams time and money.
Originally published in Modern Restaurant Magazine / MRM
by Stephen Gould, CogoBuzz CEO/Founder