All restaurants realize the value of online food ordering. But implementing digital ordering initiatives and getting customers to use them are not the same. Even with the best apps, restaurateurs, foodservice vendors, and corporate dining establishments need to know how to attract customers. They need a bag of tricks up their sleeves to get everyone interested, engaged, and using the app. And fortunately, we’ve already compiled the go-to list of tips for operators to promote new digital ordering capabilities.
1. Incentivize Use of Mobile Ordering with an Offer
Running a successful food enterprise requires the use of mobile and digital ordering capabilities. And operators are actively working to enhance mobile and digital ordering by incentivizing their use. Restaurants offer something free or an added advantage for customers that make a purchase using mobile and digital ordering.
Use your online ordering app or the online ordering program integrated in your POS system to set up these special promotions.
A great example of this is when McDonald’s launched a promotion to spur downloads of their mobile app and get customers used to ordering via the mobile app. For the 2018 promotion, McDonald’s said to visit any chain on any Friday for the remainder of the year and get free fries, but the customer had to spend at least $1 AND order through the mobile app. Simply, if you want customers to adopt something new, such as a new mobile order-ahead app, offering free food is a sure-fire way to incentivize them.
Needless to say, McDonald’s saw a massive surge in mobile downloads thanks to this campaign.
2. Install Signage to Clearly Show Guests Where to Go for Digital Order Pickup
The biggest advances in digital ordering are meaningless without proper execution. In the restaurant industry, proper execution must include clear, concise signage and leveraging existing assets to ensure the audience knows what to do. That will include signage to show customers where to stand, where to pick up food, and where to leave feedback if applicable.
Proper signage also goes a long way in reducing congestion at the order counter, and it further offers use cases for promoting the business itself or new initiatives such as curbside delivery or pick up.
Curbside delivery has become commonplace in foodservice as an option as mobile order-ahead and website ordering has increased in use.
If your business is providing take-out or curbside delivery, signage is essential to convey to your customers what you’re offering and how they can partake. Different signs will help you accomplish different goals, and here’s how they break down. Some examples of signage include:
- Banners: If your business is new to curbside delivery, you may need extra help in getting the word out. Banners are excellent for that. You can also use them to convey information about the pickup process, such as who customers should call when they arrive or where they should go. Standing banners work well for this purpose.
- Window graphics: Window graphics are an excellent way to tell your customers that you’re offering these new mobile order-ahead, curbside pick-up options. Maybe someone who’s used to picking up their order would see a curbside option when they go to pick up their food and feel more comfortable with it in the future.
- A-frames: These triangular signs work well as curbside pickup signs, telling people where they should park and how to alert the employees that they are there. They work as custom markers, and you can place them pretty much anywhere. A-frames are also good for shops that only have a sidewalk as their storefront.
- Floor signs and decals: Floor signs are perfect for designating where people should go. Whether we’re talking about where they should place their feet when lining up at your counter or where to park their cars in curbside pickup, decals can help.
3. Promote the Digital App and Experience on Existing Packaging
Printed promotions on packaging also adds value similar to printed promotions on receipts. By promoting mobile order ahead on the packaging, it is easier to convince customers of its value. As an example, Dominoes has dominated the news for years by encouraging guests to download an order from the mobile app. That information is all over every Domino’s pizza box. Promoting new digital ordering capabilities on packaging also allows marketers to remind customers that digital ordering signs them up for Domino’s loyalty program, “Piece of the Pie Rewards.”
4. Include Loyalty Points for Digital Orders
Loyalty programs offer a window to the customer’s mind to remind them about the good experience they had. It also paves the way to engage with the customer in order to reward them to return to the restaurant. Loyalty programs have been an extremely effective way to engage and retain customers to build the business. Starbucks, Dominoes and Subway are some of the companies that have found very innovative ways to build their relationships with their customers through loyalty programs. A common loyalty program that is easy to implement in a new digital ordering initiative is one as old as loyalty programs: the punch card. A common one is purchasing the same item 9 times and receiving one item free.
As an example, Starbucks has leveraged this approach for years, allowing guests to collect “free” items based on volume spent in the app.
In addition to that, restaurants can also use the online ordering information to analyze data of interesting information about customer orders like the dishes they search for, the dishes they order at different points in time to construct effective rewards in their loyalty program. By using their ordering information, the rewards thus constructed will not only be effective but also valued by the customer. When customers feel valued, they develop more loyalty towards the brand.
5. Leverage Social Media to Increase Followers and Downloads
Any strategy for leveraging digital ordering capabilities must include social media. Increasing the size of your social media community is a great way to connect and engage with customers where they spend time online. While it sounds simple enough, it’s important to not overlook a few keys to success in promotions via social media, including:
- Determine which social channel makes the most sense and is likely to be used predominantly by your target customers.
- Take a creative approach to visual aids within content, such as using Instagram to highlight top menu items, BOGO promos, free referral items, and more.
- Promote weekly specials, encouraging users to share and download the app to place orders.
- And finally, take advantage of contests, like “Share now for a chance to win a free side with entree purchase.”
6. Take Advantage of Referral Programs
Referral programs are yet another way companies can showcase new digital ordering initiatives. When a company implements a referral program, customers become marketers. And that’s invaluable for both encouraging sharing of information and also attracting new customers.
As an example, a “Refer a Friend” campaign could share the links to view a brand’s website, download an app, and enroll in loyalty programs.
An example of a referral program could be to invite your friends to download the app. After they spend $10, you will receive a $5 referral credit!
The value of referral programs is only limited by the time it takes for a person to share information to social media or by text. It’s a very diverse opportunity to create influencers for your brand and still tap a larger base.
Focusing in on your loyal customers and encouraging them to refer their friends will build a more solid business in the long run. Loyal customers don’t have to continually be convinced that you have a good product. They will convince their friends that you have an excellent product.
7. Leverage Internal Channels to Reach Captive Audience
Brands with a captive audience, such as colleges or corporate dining, could actually be more specific with digital ordering marketing.
As an example, operators can work with corporate clients to announce mobile ordering in the weekly newsletter or via email. Heck, even users of the app, Slack, could share corporate dining fare and digital promotions with that business-driven communications platform.
A specific example is the recent launch of digital ordering at a major state university. Tacit came into the conversation, helped the major university create a digital ordering app, connect POS systems, and launch. And it all occurred across the background of a major disruption and kickstarted student foodservice for the remainder of the year. Additionally, frequency and reach matters in marketing to college users. For instance, placing mobile ordering ads along the halls/paths of students and faculty could be the push they need to download the app.
8. Focus on Exclusive, Limited Time Offer (LTO)-Driven Promotions
Another opportunity to promote new mobile and digital ordering is to focus on exclusivity. Customers want bargains, and exclusive, limited-time-offer promotions are among the best ways to convert a visitor to a digital ordering user. It is important that you combine exclusivity and limited-time offers to incent use of the new mobile and digital ordering capabilities. Here are a few considerations of exclusivity and limited-time offers to promote customers to adopt digital ordering channel:
- Menu Exclusivity: Make certain items only available on the mobile app so customers have a reason to download your new app so they can get the item, but also feel special about having limited access.
- Leverage the speed and real-time of digital ordering: Create a sense of urgency during slow periods by using push notifications to promote a limited time offer. For example, you can push a message through the mobile app “Out of the Oven Fresh Cookies! Available 2 for 1 limited time offer from 3PM to 4PM. Place your order with a click!” It’s fast, easy, and allows operators to capture new revenue where previously they had no mechanism to get these fast easy orders.
- Early Access: Another great example is giving early access to customers who order from the new mobile app. Imagine Starbucks’ legendary Pumpkin Spice Latte offered to mobile users a week earlier than everyone else. This is a great way to not only get new mobile app users and orders, but also promote your big yearly promotion at large by creating “early access” buzz.
Build a Stronger Digital Ordering Follower-Base With the Right Partner
Creating a strong customer base is nothing new in marketing. However, finding a balance between digital ordering implementation and getting people enrolled is another animal. By following the above tips, operators can combine their love of all things digital with technology-driven ordering.
Tacit can make it happen with zero disruption. Why? Well, let’s just look at what a Tacit client had to say:
And Freshii expressed great thoughts on why Tacit is the clear winner for digital ordering, “We went with Tacit for their ability to avoid disruptions and delivered on all our goals of a better guest experience, improved performance, and a modern look and feel.”
Visit Tacit online to request a consultation today.