Blog Post / April 28, 2021 / Best Practices

What is Marketing Automation, and How to do it at Your Restaurant

by Aaron Arizpe

With guest interactions taking place across both on- and off-premise, restaurant operators need scalable marketing solutions that can help them flex to their business needs at the drop of a hat. Pair that with consumers who have more options to eat and drink than ever before, and it can be quite challenging to capture mindshare for your brand. Fortunately, marketing automation software makes it possible to grow your business and strengthen guest loyalty at the same time -- all made possible through data.

Below, we’ll show you how marketing automation tools can help you nurture guest relationships at scale through highly personalized interactions across the customer lifecycle. Keep reading to learn:

WHAT IS MARKETING AUTOMATION?

Simply put, highly effective restaurant marketing is all about sending the right message, to the right guest, at the right time - and marketing automation is the technology that allows you to streamline and simplify that process. Email marketing automation, for example, helps operators easily create and send targeted email campaigns to specific customer segments like “big spenders” or “frequent no-shows.” With the right combination of strategy and software, marketing automation tools save restaurant operators time and generate incremental revenue while strengthening their guest relationships.

WHY IS RESTAURANT MARKETING AUTOMATION IMPORTANT??

In an age where 70% of diners never make a return visit, the ability to turn first-time customers into regulars is more valuable than ever. For businesses just like yours, it costs 5 times as much to attract a new customer as it does to nurture an existing one. That means increasing repeat business is essential to your bottom line.

Even with normal employee turnover, guest retention can be a big challenge. Marketing automation software empowers operators to stay connected with each and every customer, maintaining the invaluable personal touch of your hospitality experience while driving repeat revenue. Better yet, marketing automation scales with your business, so nobody slips through the cracks as your operations grow.

HOW TO COLLECT DATA FOR RESTAURANT MARKETING AUTOMATION

Savvy operators are always looking to better understand and respond to their guests’ needs. By closely analyzing guest behavior, management can empower staff to make data-driven decisions that positively impact the guest experience. So what kind of data should you be looking at, and how can you collect that data in the first place?

With direct reservations, data collection begins at the time of booking. With a robust Customer Relationship Management, or CRM, system in place, you can automatically match each reservation to an existing client profile or create a new one according to their contact information. This immediately opens a lane for future email marketing opportunities.

An integrated Point of Sale, or POS, allows you to go a step further, pulling up historical data for these guests based on their past visits. Each profile can be tagged automatically based on an endless array of criteria including high check average, big wine spenders, vegan/vegetarian, and other dietary restrictions. Marketing automation software will allow you to instantly and automatically sort through these profile tags to create guest segments for hyper-targeted email campaigns and promotions.

Direct online ordering presents additional opportunities for data capture, enabling you to get a 360° view of every guest. If a guest inputs a delivery address in the same zip code or a neighboring one, you’ve just identified another local. If they’re ordering for the 3rd time this month, you’ve got yourself another online ordering “regular.” If you learn that your most loyal on-premise guests have not tried your online offering or vice versa, this presents a perfect opportunity for cross-selling.

For today’s restaurant operators, guest data is your strongest currency, and marketing automation tools can empower you to effectively leverage that data.

5 WAYS TO UTILIZE MARKETING AUTOMATION SOFTWARE IN YOUR RESTAURANT

  1. Get to Know Your Guests: Track guest behavior by automatically applying customizable tags to a guest profile, allowing you to personalize both service and marketing outreach for categories including first-timers, venue-specific or group-wide regulars, positive reviewers, and more.
  2. Keep Guests Engaged: With email marketing automation, you can leverage this guest data to easily create and send targeted email campaigns to specific customer segments, like incentivizing guests who have not returned in a while with complimentary champagne on their next visit.
  3. Surprise and Delight: Send special offers or exclusive invitations to reward your most loyal guests. Get in touch with the people who live in your neighborhood. Use what you have learned about your guests’ specific needs and preferences to personalize a hospitality experience that will surprise and delight them, on- or off-premise.
  4. Maintain Guest Satisfaction: Automatically solicit feedback from each and every guest, then keep track of all of their Google, Facebook, Yelp, and TripAdvisor reviews in one place. Linking this feedback directly to guest profiles allows you to better understand the guest experience, and do additional follow-up as needed.
  5. Promote to the Right Audience: Intuitively, you know that your big wine spenders are the first people you want to tell about your upcoming winemaker dinner series. That’s because pushing promotions to a targeted customer segment means better conversion every time. Marketing automation tools allow you to target these guests effortlessly, whether that’s via email, social media or your website, seamlessly tracking the ROI on each promotion.

BOOST REPEAT BUSINESS AND GUEST LOYALTY SEAMLESSLY

Marketing automation enables restaurant operators to connect with every guest, on- and off-premise, in a meaningful way. Through targeted and personalized outreach, marketing automation software drives repeat revenue and improves guest retention at the same time.

Book a demo today to learn how SevenRooms can help set your restaurant up for success with these powerful marketing automation tools.

About the Author

Aaron Arizpe is a hospitality consultant, writer, and Senior Product Marketing Associate at SevenRooms. Based in New York, he is a voracious eater who practically lives in restaurants, traveling the world to experience as many of them as he can.

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