Social marketing is critically important for foodservice businesses today, but there’s more to do than just having a Facebook presence. A multi-faceted mobile connection to customers is a key to success.
(Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article ran on Food Truck Operator, a Vending Times sister publication.)
The majority of the population in the U.S. has a smartphone today, which makes mobile marketing strategies very effective at reaching a foodservice business’s intended audience. Studies have shown customers will research different options online in deciding which company to hire, which gives commercial foodservice operators an excellent opportunity to reach interested audiences via mobile platforms.
Let’s break down the most effective methods for foodservice marketing to help you find more customers.
What Is mobile marketing?
Mobile marketing is a strategy that targets customers using smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices through the channels of email, text, social media and other apps. Many people think that mobile marketing is synonymous with social media marketing. While social media is a major part of mobile marketing, there is much more to mobile marketing than just creating a Facebook page for your business.
There are many different tactics foodservice operators can implement to reach customers, from optimizing social media accounts to advertising on Google and other search engines. Here are some essential tactics every foodservice operator include in the mobile marketing strategy.
1. Create a responsive website
One of the first ways a potential customer may research your business is to Google you and look at your website. As a result, it’s important for your company’s website and food offerings to stand out on mobile and make a good first impression. One of the best ways to optimize your website for mobile is to use responsible web design.
Sites that use responsive web design are formatted to work on all devices and browser types, which eliminates the need for scrolling and re-sizing the page. Responsive web design improves your customers’ user experience by speeding up page load times and allowing them to access the information easily without having to re-size your page themselves. Additionally, Google sees responsive web design as a good practice, and gives preference in search results to websites that have it for their mobile configuration.
There are multiple ways you can make your website mobile-friendly. If you manage your website yourself, look into tools like Webflow and Macaw that can help you create and maintain responsive websites.
2. Sign up for local business listing apps
Local restaurant listing apps, such as Yelp, TripAdvisor and FourSquare, are essential for bringing in new business.
You should sign up for these apps as soon as possible so you can start accumulating reviews and customer photos. A large pool of customer reviews on apps like Yelp can help give you credibility, and a favorable overall rating can help potential customers decide to contact you.
3. Sign up for Google My Business
Google My Business is a free service Google provides that allows business owners to create a business page that will show up in Google search results. This page displays information like your hours of operation, location, website, menu and Google reviews.
Because this page shows up in the search results, it may be the first interaction a potential customer has with your business, so you want to be sure that all of the information displayed is accurate. Additionally, having a Google My Business account will help your business show up in local searches, like if someone is searching for “vending companies near me,” which is a great way to reach potential customers in your area and maximize your location-based mobile marketing.
4. Utilize SMS marketing
While using apps and optimizing your Google Business page can help customers find your business, using SMS marketing can help you engage with your customers and encourage them to return. SMS stands for “short message service,” which is another phrase for texting. Text marketing is a service where customers opt in to receive marketing materials and texts from your business. Here are a few ways that foodservice operators can use SMS marketing:
- Remind customers about upcoming events your company is involved in.
- Notify them about limited time specials or new menu items.
- Reward your customers with coupons and exclusive specials and signing up for SMS marketing.
If your company delivers food to customers, you can use SMS to update customers on the status of their delivery, such as when it’s leaving the kitchen or when your driver is five minutes away.
To make SMS marketing successful, you need to get your customers to sign up. You can advertise your SMS marketing and list its benefits on your website and include a 5-digit code that customers can text to opt in to your marketing service. If you decide to use text marketing, make sure to inform all staff, so they can answer any questions that your customers might have.
There are many mobile marketing strategies your business can implement to help increase your customer base and brand recognition. But the most important strategy is to make sure that your business is well-represented on all of the major platforms like Google, social media apps and review apps.