Restaurant Guide: The Dos and Don’ts of Text Message Marketing

In a world where everyone uses WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Telegram for communication, is text messaging still relevant?

Let’s take a look at the numbers.

A simple SMS has a read rate of 98% within 15 minutes of being delivered to a customer.

A whopping 45% of text messaging campaigns lead to a successful ROI.

Pretty impressive, isn’t it?

Due to the pandemic, our phones have been the only lifelines to connect with the world out there. Working at home, taking online classes has led to a dramatic increase in screen time. A study found out that the average American spent 23 extra minutes on their phone every day in 2020.

So, there’s no doubt that you need to include text message marketing in your restaurant’s marketing strategy. All it involves is sending text messages to potential and existing customers to generate sales and increase engagement.

But sending out these texts isn’t as simple as whipping out your phone and crafting a quick message, hoping to make a sale. Communication needs to be concise and convincing.

In this article, we have some do’s and don’ts for you to nail down effective SMS marketing.

What to Do

  • Follow the Rules
    As consent and data privacy have become buzzwords in the world of tech, you need to follow the rules with SMS marketing. Entities like FCC, CTIA, and Mobile Marketing Organisation keep tabs on opt-in methods, permissions, and text frequency. Make sure you have a clear grasp of the rules while starting an SMS campaign. You need to confirm from your customers that they’d like to receive marketing texts.

  • Enforce a Call to Action
    Your texts need to have a clear CTA for your customers. If your message is about promoting your restaurant application, make sure you send a download link that works. If you are asking for feedback, include a link to your feedback page. It’s good to double-check spellings, grammar, and all links before sending out texts. Needless to say, the websites you’re promoting must be mobile-friendly too. Apart from this, you could also ask customers to show the particular text at your food outlet, thereby fostering a more active relationship with your brand.

  • Provide Value
    Every message you send needs to offer a certain value to your customers. This could be a discount coupon, event promotion, giveaways and so much more. But sending out messages frequently that don’t offer an obvious value will irritate your customers and they might opt out of receiving messages at all.

  • Build Your Contact List Ethically
    There’s a right way of building your contact list. When a new customer places an order, ask them if they’d like to receive promotional messages via text. This preference can be saved on your POS and you don’t unnecessarily spam customers.

  • Keep it Simple
    Be brief while sending texts. You must use certain keywords depending on your purpose of communication, but don’t get into too much detail. For URLs, use shortened versions so they don’t take up a lot of space in a text.
    For instance, if you’re promoting an event at your restaurant, make sure you mention when, where, and what the event is. If a customer wants more details, they can visit your website or give you a call. If you offer a discount, make your message specific and inform the customer about how much of a discount they can avail for a certain food or beverage.

  • Send Out Personalized Messages
    A personalized message is way more effective at engaging a customer than a generic text message. Using customer info from your database, you could send happy birthday messages. If a customer has a particular buying pattern, you could offer specialized discount codes based on it. These messages can also vary from location to location, including a reference to the weather or maybe a local sports event.

What NOT to Do

  • Don’t Send Messages at Odd Times
    Nothing is more annoying than being woken up by the buzz of your phone in the wee hours of the morning. If customers receive texts at a time when they’re likely to be disturbed, it’s going to create a negative picture in their minds about your restaurant. A good rule of thumb is to stick to business hours and mealtimes. Experiment a little to find out what the optimal time is to send texts, based on the rate of response you get.
  • Don’t Forget to Identify your Restaurant
    In the flurry of drafting that perfect text message, you can sometimes forget to sign off with your restaurant’s name. This is a big no-no because your customers wouldn’t know who the message is from, and you’d lose out on engagement. Always triple-check that you’ve identified your restaurant in a text.

  • Don’t Get Too Casual
    While using certain slang and pop culture terms can be effective, don’t make your texts extremely informal. Find the right balance between catchy acronyms and abbreviations while maintaining a friendly tone.

  • Don’t Send Messages that Customers Haven’t Opted For
    If a customer has opted only for loyalty program messages and not promotional messages, you need to respect that choice. Refrain from sending any non-essential messages that a customer didn’t sign up for.

  • Don’t Buy Phone Numbers
    It might be tempting to buy telephone numbers from a vendor to make your job easier. However, this can be a very bad idea. Customers don’t like being spammed by messages from someone they didn’t give their details to. Focus on growing your contact list organically, with the consent of your customers.

  • Don’t Send Long Texts

Text messages exist to make communication short and sweet. If you send out messages droning on and on about promotion, your customers are quickly going to lose interest. They’re most likely to skim the message content or skip reading it altogether. Try to stick to a 160-character limit for every message.

By adding SMS marketing to your marketing mix, your restaurant can engage customers much more effectively. This form of communication has a 7.5 higher response rate than email and doesn’t get lost in an inbox filled with a bunch of unread mail.

Get creative with your text messaging strategy and sit back while you watch your ROI grow rapidly!