By Anna Bogdanova
Considering that consumers of all ages are growing weary of the marketing campaigns and messages constantly bombarding them, 2017 could be a tough year for fast casuals to engage new and old customers.
What still works really well, however, is engaging them on their own terms, and mobile channels are great for that. Seventy percent of mobile phone users said they actually want to have loyalty cards on their devices, and recent studies found that overall activity on mobile devices now accounts for two-thirds of digital media time.
Taking those stats into consideration, below are five things to consider when defining your 2017 customer relationship strategy:
1. Incentivize your customers to share personal data
The success of your marketing efforts heavily relies on what you know about your customers, and your customer database needs to be a year-round priority. Keep in mind that nobody will fill out guest experience cards these days. Customers want to release their personal information on their own terms and in the easiest and most rewarding way.
If you have a mobile app, the data gets richer as customers use it and engage with it, so make sure you continually give reasons for new customers to install it and existing users — to log in. If customers know upfront what they are signing up for and are incented, they'll be less likely to delete your loyalty app or unsubscribe from communications later on.
Use the year end and Q1to exhaustively analyze which tools your specific audience engages with most and reflect on which campaigns have worked effectively for your restaurant. Then consolidate your marketing to fuel these efforts. Carefully segment your audience for different campaigns and analyze results afterward — you need to know exactly how effective your tactics are and who you are addressing. Make sure you target specific groups with highly tailored messages.
Segment your existing and potential customers based on demographics, favorite menu items, important dates, etc. A married couple doesn't need an email about a "singles special" on Valentine's — target your younger demographic instead. Nor should you send giant burger promos to your vegetarian customers.
Track birthdays: we see a high 35 percent conversion rate on average for birthday incentives in the fast casual segment, so invite your customers to stop by a week before or after their birthdays.
3. Focus on mobile apps
In Q2, prioritize hands-on marketing campaigns and mobile channels for communications. We know for a fact that mobile-based gamification works great as people really enjoy collecting points for visits or gaining a certain status at the restaurant. Using mobile apps for these campaigns means you can encourage active sharing of pictures and engagement of your community (especially if there's an additional incentive to invite friends or share the message on social channels). Millennials represent the most "mobile-engaged" customer group, so you also maximize the use of tools like proximity notifications and actions on the go when targeting younger customers.
Your focus for Q3could be on upselling and increasing the average check amount. It's an obvious way to grow the restaurant revenue, but the key here is to position the offerings as useful recommendations and bonuses that will make your customers' visits even more enjoyable and fun.
As you are reflecting on your results and reviewing your efforts in Q4, the emphasis should be on the incremental value of your marketing efforts. For example, based on the average number of weekly visitors, how many more people visited the restaurant since you've launched a particular campaign? Incremental value is probably the most important stat that you can gather by comparing historical data and your average numbers in a given week.
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