Today’s vast landscape of digital and social media tools have provided more opportunities for restaurants to connect with guests, but with limited budgets and time, restaurateurs are still struggling to choose the most effective mix of marketing and loyalty solutions, according to new industry research conducted by LivingSocial.
“We know restaurateurs have little confidence in the value of their overall marketing spend as they keep experimenting to get more bang for their buck”
In the LivingSocial “Restaurants Trends & Insights for 2015” report, 68 percent of restaurateurs in the survey cited limited marketing budgets and 49 percent of respondents noted trouble tracking the real ROI of marketing investments as top marketing challenges.
And more than a third indicated that managing customer interactions online was another top issue that their businesses faced.
Restaurateurs said they recognize the growing importance of social channels to interact with patrons, build their brand and manage their reputation, but effectively maintaining the sheer number of channels has become a complex problem.
“With the addition of these social media tools, the number of marketing channels that today’s restaurants use is so varied and broad that it’s not a surprise that making sense of the marketing mix can be overwhelming,” said Doug Miller, Chief Revenue Officer, LivingSocial.
In terms of growing the business, almost 60 percent of respondents said they plan to offer new or additional menu items, while exactly half of them said they would adjust their promotional mix to maximize ROI.
At the same time, a majority of survey respondents (86 percent) said they rely on their own experience or the advice of others to make marketing decisions without the help of any supporting data.
“We know restaurateurs have little confidence in the value of their overall marketing spend as they keep experimenting to get more bang for their buck,” said Miller. “There is an information gap which presents an important opportunity to help restaurant merchants have more visibility and better tools to understand the performance of those marketing investments and to make smarter decisions.”
Meanwhile, respondents identified the months of January, February, July and August as slow months for business. To compensate during these months, those surveyed said they offered special promotions.
Nearly 80 percent of survey respondents think online deal sites, such as LivingSocial, are successful in driving sales; 18 percent stated that online deal sites are more beneficial than other marketing channels.
Sixty-one percent of respondents said they used deal sites two to four times a year, while 17 percent leveraged them five or more times per year.
A majority of restaurateurs find that multiple promotions are successful in driving sales and repeat business but offering a dollar savings with a minimum spend requirement is most successful in meeting both goals.