The Middle East has broken out of its cocoon from being merely oil producing nations to the global destination for food and lifestyle. The expat population here is vibrant and fascinatingly diverse, coming from all parts of the world. This makes the Middle Eastern countries fertile ground for restauranteurs venturing to invest in any kind of cuisine or concept. Restaurants scene in countries across the Middle East is brimming with activity and innovation. Entrepreneurs are identifying the unique business opportunities in this segment which has increased the rate of investment in the field multifold over the last decade. However, with a booming sector such as this, it is imperative that investors up their marketing strategies increase market share and maintain target customers. Along with other marketing activities, we recommend SMS marketing as an elegant and powerful tool that has consistently performed for this industry, especially during holiday seasons.
What Is SMS Marketing And How Does It Work?
SMS Marketing or SMS campaign is a marketing platform that allows you to send short messages in bulk to your customers. It allows you to reach all your existing or potential customers within a few hours through their mobile phone using a single message or customized message. Unlike other media, SMS has a whopping 90 to 95% open rate and does not require any internet connectivity or specific logging into any platform. With the help of links (Bright Links), it is easy to measure the effectiveness in real time and get customer feedback. Offers, opening hours or new branch openings are some of the communications that can be achieved by Restaurants through SMS Marketing.
To start with sending out Bulk SMS, you need to have a platform which helps you in uploading your message and customer list. Depending on your data size, it is important to make sure the platform can handle the volume and deliver all the messages accurately and on time. Hence choosing the right vendor is the most important part when you are planning for SMS marketing. As per the rules and regulations of the country, your data cleaning of DND numbers, adding unsubscribe options, etc are factors that will also affect the impact of your campaign.
In a nutshell, how the whole process plays out is;
- The vendor is chosen for the right platform
- Your campaign date and time is finalized along with the budget
- The message is drafted
- Tests are carried out
- Contacts list retrieved from your backend system or demographics is shared with the vendor to use their database
- Broadcast is scheduled
- Reports are generated and verified
The timing of SMS broadcast plays an important part in the success of your campaigns. For example, if you are targeting office goers to get additional orders during weekdays, the ideal time is to start your campaign by 10 AM so that your message hits their phone right on time before they plan their orders. If you are looking at increasing footfalls during weekends, your message should hit the customer either on Thursday evening or Friday morning.
There are two broad categories of messages that can be used by restaurants;
Bulk SMS (Campaigns) – this is the typical marketing SMS which a person receives wherein the content is informative but does not have an immediate CTA option for the recipient. These are ideal for communicating promotions, coupons, openings, etc. For e.g., a popular restaurant chain in the region sends, “Kids dine free during weekends at XYZ. Also, get 20% discount on beverages on Sundays and Mondays. For more info, visit http://www.xyz.com”
Transactional – These are informative or alert messages that are sent to the customer based on an action they have initiated. This could be confirmed for reservations, OTP messages during ordering of food online or loyalty points earned during the last dining. Transactional SMS can also be used to collect feedback from customers using 2-way SMS or through web links.
Why Should Restaurants Opt For SMS Marketing?
The rise of Instant Messaging and Social Media platforms have brought about forecasts and speculations about the redundancy of SMS as a profitable channel for marketing. However, time has proven that this could not be further from reality. The strongest catalyst in the success of SMS marketing is the fact that anyone who has access to just a mobile phone and network connection is a target. Customers need not be dependent on the internet or smartphones or have to be present on various apps and medium to receive and read an SMS. Take a look at the following findings to get an idea of why SMS marketing is a must-have tool in the marketing strategy of restaurants;
- SMS is the most commonly used phone app. As much as 97% of phone owners use SMS every day
- SMS boasts of a mighty 90 to 95% open rate which is among the highest in the marketing industry
- SMS encourages a 45% response rate which is over 7 times more than emails
- 75% of target customers have reported a preference for SMS over other media to receive promotional messages
The whole process of running an SMS campaign is time-saving and cost-efficient. Once the creative part of drafting the message is done and a contact list has been built, the rest happens in just the matter of a few minutes. Pushing the bulk SMS out takes less than a minute, count 5 seconds for the messages to be received on phones and the exciting climax of the message being read happens in about 3 minutes for over 95% of all the messages delivered.
How Restaurants can benefit from SMS Marketing Campaign
At a glance, it might not look like a lot has gone behind a small 160 character text message, but every message you receive is a part of a well thought out marketing decision intended to bring a positive impact to the business. Some of the benefits for restaurants in using SMS are:
1. Higher Footfalls
What does a restaurant want primarily? Maintain and bring in a higher number of walk-ins every single working day! This happens when the name of your brand sticks in the minds of your customers and no other medium does this job more beautifully than SMS. Strategically timed messages raise the rate of footfalls immediately. Imagine this very common modern-day situation, it is weekend and plans are being made to hang out with the team, an SMS is received which says “Limited time Offer. Buy One Get One on all Pizzas at ABC Pizzas for the Weekend”; it is very likely that the pizza shop can expect a high number of orders solely due to the message. SMS is more personal and intimate giving the readers a sense of familiarity and involvement with the brand.
Forwarding coupons or discounts just prior to a meal time pushes the readers to make a visit. Most restaurants have off-hour rates, for instance, a lot of restaurants spot weekday lunch offers to bring in more crowds during the slump time of the day, which is not widely known. Communicating such offers encourage readers to walk in and buy a meal. Dining has evolved into a leisure activity on its own and people are actively on the hunt for offers and deals. SMS hit the crowd spot on with its clear and concise CTA.
2. Communicate Offers And Promotions
While emails stand a risk of being removed to spam or go unnoticed among hundreds of other newsletters, due to its high open rate and usage, SMS gets the job of communicating news and events most efficiently. A promotional SMS, featuring discount codes, news about a sale or particular offers impact the reader in two ways: firstly the obvious bonus he gets by using the offer in the message and secondly the feeling of exclusiveness that the reader experiences in getting a personal message. In this case, even if you don’t sell a particular offer, it still works towards the cause of creating brand awareness. Even in sending bulk SMS, it is possible to create personalized offers to different segments of your target. Coupon codes are very popular now where the customers are sent a specific code or a link using which a special offer price can be activated. If the reader doesn’t redeem the code, our automation is capable of sending reminders at well-planned intervals that will the readers in the know-how.
3. Reach Larger And Specific Audience
For the SMS to be effective it is important that it is in alignment with demographic, geographic, lifestyle and behavioral characteristics of the readers. Examine this scenario; the Middle East has a significant population from the Philippines. This particular segment has a very specific food culture which uses ingredients and cooking methods unique to the Philippines. A marketer who takes up the SMS campaign of a niche Filipino restaurant send out SMS to the existing contacts list that has been built for a continental style family restaurant. How successful is such a campaign going to be? When continental food is popular among people from all backgrounds, the same is not true for cuisines authentic to other Asian or African counties. The message might not appeal to a large chunk of the population belonging to Mediterranean, Arab, Indian Subcontinent and even Western countries.
Essentially Precise team can help you in filtering and managing the contact lists and also apply segmentation which saves cost by eliminating sending irrelevant messages that can lead to Opt-outs. SMS has the largest reach among all the channels of digital marketing and this could be an advantage or lead to wasted efforts. We take the availability of a larger audience to benefit the marketer through defining the audience and sending the right message to the right recipient.
4. Scheduled Texts For Booking Reminders And Cancellations
Sending out scheduled booking reminders not only encourages the readers to make good on the appointment but also exudes positive vibes of being expected. For high-end restaurants where each table is counted, this gives a chance to avoid wasting resources in case the customer doesn’t make the appointment due to fogged memory. The restaurants can also give an option to the reader to cancel the appointment, which buys the restaurant some time to accept another booking to fill up the seats. For e.g. “Hi Robin, Thank You for making a booking to eat with us tonight. Just to confirm your table is booked for 7.45 pm. If you cannot make it give us a ring on 0123456”
5. Promote Your Menu And New Dishes
Millennials are always on the lookout to try new dishes and restaurants. SMS is a good way to alert and update contacts about new additions to the menu or even the menu in general. For e.g. “Hey Steven, we have got a great new menu for you to try! Take a sneak peek here and book your table today www.link.com” this message would ignite the interests of regular customers to the place making them wonder what the new menu might be like. “Treat yourself! Sometimes you need a treat and you deserve a nice one… check out our brand-new menu and book a table or order a takeaway tonight www.link.com” is another example which creates the excitement of trying something new and different.
6. Great ROI
Apart from the obvious statistics that show why SMS is better than email and other methods, SMS is more economical and has greater ROI because of three reasons;
- The ubiquity of Cell Phones – it is hard to find people who don’t have access to mobile phones. A study says that nearly three-quarters of the population in the Middle East own a smartphone. This means that a marketer might even depend solely on SMS marketing to the campaign, engage with the customers and increase sales saving time and money.
- High Engagement Rate – SMS is more concise resulting in higher response to CTA like clicking on a URL or texting to a shortcode. Marketers can collect valuable data instantly without investing a huge amount of money and effort.
- Customer Loyalty – SMS marketing has been proven to drive business, grow customer loyalty, and increase brand recognition. This means that this marketing strategy goes far beyond giving you simple monetary returns on your investment. SMS campaign has been statistically reported to foster customer loyalty, strengthen brand recognition and bring up sales. This shows that this marketing strategy goes far beyond merely generating immediate profits.
SMS Marketing For Restaurants – Use Case Scenario
A popular Indian restaurant which caters to people from a southern state of India called Kerala. In order to increase customer satisfaction along with bringing down running costs, the restaurant wanted to develop and maintain regular interaction with target customers. Marketer implements SMS campaigns to deliver scheduled booking confirmations, discounts and offers on a regular basis. Recently the facility relocated which was announced through SMS, “ABC is relocating to a new venue in Dubai and would be serving you soon. Thank you all for your love and support”. Prior to New Year, they sent out the SMS “Celebrate New Year’s Eve with ABC. To avail a 20% discount and free home delivery, call 123456”.
It is popular for fast food restaurants to give out offers and discount codes during match season to entice the fans and increase takeaway sales. Recently for the ICC world cup, a Pizza joint sent out the SMS “Match Mania! Reply FAN to 1234 to avail discount codes for combo meals and wings” This greatly drove up to the takeaway orders during the important matches especially.
How Can Your Café/Restaurant Use Precise Communications SMS Platform?
Essentially Precise SMS platform grants you access to smart features like Bright Links, 2-way SMS, automated DND filtering, and a lot more. Our team can support restaurants with an elegant, economical and effective means to develop impactful marketing strategies which strive to retain customer and increase brand awareness and customer loyalty. We believe in sending the right message to the right recipient at the right time, giving you optimal ROI. Talk to us right now to know how we can help your restaurants break barriers.