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28 July 2018

SMS marketing in the food and beverage industry

In our article, ‘Top 3 industries adopting mobile communications for their business‘, we saw how health, retail and financial services benefited from different organisational advantages of SMS messaging.

The food and beverage industry can also see great benefits coming from an SMS marketing campaign by driving up loyalty to keep old customers and driving traffic to attract new customers. Forget social media marketing, SMS marketing is the new platform!

We are a nation of technology users with phones practically glued to our hands. Virtually everyone has a smartphone device on them at all times, with five billion unique mobile subscribers globally by 2017, and 75 percent of the world’s population expected to have a mobile phone by 2020. Australia also has a smartphone penetration rate of 88 percent, which is higher than the global average of 81 percent. Despite these numbers, many companies still neglect to utilise SMS marketing campaigns.

The restaurant industry isn’t always busy with hoards of hungry customers outside your door. Tthere are slumps in business where no one is seated in your dining room. SMS marketing helps combat this by letting your consumer base know of special deals and limited time offers in order to reward loyalty of already existing customers and attract new ones. SMS alerts also reduce no-shows for reservations as it sends customers a confirmation text as a reminder. Not only does it increase sales for your restaurant or bar, it also makes it easier to update staff rostering in case of last minute pullouts. Never again will your restaurant or café be less than a full house!

So how do we get started?

Generate a customer database

An SMS marketing campaign only works once you have established a consumer base. Remember that similar to email and social media marketing, SMS marketing is opt-in, with consumers choosing to subscribe to the marketing campaign. This means you have to build your consumer base by recruiting followers through other channels. Your restaurant website can have icons that invite customers to subscribe for service alerts and marketing messages. Include an FAQ page about the mobile subscription that clearly informs consumers about how it works and what to expect. Don’t forget to include your privacy policy!

Promote your mobile subscription to your existing customers who already dine at your restaurant. That’s the beauty of SMS marketing, you’re marketing your restaurant to customers who are already interested in your service. You can include a customer survey with the option to subscribe to your mobile subscription alongside the cheque at the end of each meal. Promote your subscription through your social media links as well and make the instructions on signing up easy to follow.

Keep your subscribers interested by:

1. Content

Once you have established your customer database, tailor your SMS marketing campaign content accordingly. SMS marketing is an opt-in service so customers can unsubscribe as quickly as they have subscribed. Customise your text messages to provide a valuable service to your subscribers. Don’t clutter up their inboxes with multiple promotional texts per day. Instead, make it a positive interaction between customer and service provider. Send occasional customer surveys, FAQs, and feedback forms to raise the level of your service to customers. This shows your customers how much you care about the level of service provided, and will build long-term lasting relationships and increase regular business and word-of-mouth referrals.

The content of marketing messages is important in keeping customers from losing interest. Avoid spamming customers with generic promotional messages that can be mass-marketed over Facebook and Twitter. Instead, keep it personal and of value to the customer.

2. Incentives

You want to ensure the customer does not regret giving up their personal information for the mobile subscription. Clearly state upon signing up what to expect from the mobile subscription. Don’t abuse your customer’s privacy after they’ve signed up. Make your text messages personal by sending them discounts exclusive to mobile subscribers, birthday discounts or invitation-only events hosted by your restaurant or bar. This will increase retention rate and avoid high opt-outs.

3. Not only smartphone-friendly

Keep your text messages user-friendly for both smartphone and non-smartphones. The mobile subscription should accommodate all phone types. Smartphones have the capability to respond to marketing messages by opening a link to your website. However, non-smartphones do not have this feature, and you still need to accommodate those people not using smartphones. Instead of including a website link, send a message that asks to email you the link or email a file to the non-smartphone user. This is less immediate than text messages sent through smartphones but will increase overall engagement as the same message is sent to the consumer twice.

A badly planned SMS marketing campaign can lead to high opt-outs and an overall decrease in business if customers become annoyed with the marketing materials sent to them. However, if done correctly, you will see higher traffic in your restaurant or bar. Not only limited to restaurants, SMS marketing can also be used in a wide variety of hospitality and service industries.

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