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SMS Marketing For Restaurants

By on Dec 19, 2013 in Restaurants, SMS Marketing, sms Marketing | 0 comments

Thousands of restaurants have already discovered the power of Texting! Join Them today to do great things like text message coupons, build SMS ordering systems and run weekly SMS VIP Club giveaways. Restaurants will love great features like:

  1. Promote special offers & VIP programs with personalized mass text messaging campaigns.
  2. Schedule text messages to go out now or in the future
  3. Forward replies to an email address or your mobile phone
  4. Subscriber Signup Widget available for your website, email & Facebook
  5. Run contests to generate signups and increase customer loyalty.

Restaurants Already Using SMS or Text Marketing – let’s look at some case studies for Restaurants

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Let’s Eat! Mobile Marketing Case Study

Let’s Eat!, a meal assembly store based out of Atlanta, GA, is best described as a hybrid of a grocery store and a restaurant.  Let’s Eat! customers order a number of meals in advance from the store, conveniently reducing shopping trips, avoiding all preparation work like cleaning meats and chopping vegetables, and with no clean up required! All meals are prepared fresh and then frozen, with simple cooking instructions taped right on the packaging. Let’s Eat! customers enjoy the convenience of restaurant-quality meals at home-cooked prices.


Let’s Eat! franchise owner, Jeff Shumas, has a strong clientele who pre-order a number of meals to pickup and eat over the course of a few weeks or longer. These meals come frozen and require at least 24 hours to thaw before preparing.

Shumas only has so much refrigeration space, so there are only so many ready-to-prepare meals that can be stored each evening before they run out of space and have to freeze the meals. Because there is not much space, the staff cannot assemble hundreds of fresh meals and expect to move the inventory that same day.

Most of Shumas’ clients do pre-order meals and pick them up frozen; however, there are others who walk in looking for a meal to eat that same evening. Shumas keeps a few dishes available for these walk-ins, but if someone comes into the store and there are no meals available, that equals a lost sale. If there was a way to let his clients know about the available dinners each afternoon, they could come by that evening and pick up whichever meal they wished.

In the summer of 2008, Shumas started looking for a way to reach his customers on-the-go with his daily meal availabilities, so they could move more meals without running out of storage space. After reviewing his options, Shumas realized emails couldn’t be timed properly, and personalized phone calls just didn’t make sense for a large store.  The only thing that made sense was text messaging.  After a Google search, he compared a few different companies, and quickly settled on Ez Texting, due to its competitive pricing and no-commitment usage agreement.  He signed up for free and purchased a couple thousand message credits, and rented the keyword LETSEAT so people could opt-in to his list.

To build his list, Shumas sent out an eBlast to his customers, introducing the “Dinner Tonight” program and inviting people to text LETSEAT to the number 313131 (or 393939 for Canada).  Each person who opted-in expected no more than 5 messages per week. The messages would include 3-5 daily specials, allowing customers to know exactly what meals they could purchase that evening. Tuesday through Saturday, Shumas sends out a message around 4pm, right in time for the drive home after the workday.

SMS Marketing has helped Shumas make this supplementary part of his businesses a reality. Every time they make a walk-in sale, they gain another customer. With more meals to sell thanks to the Dinner Tonight SMS program, Shumas is more willing to have his staff assemble extra meals because he knows they can be moved that same day thanks to the texting program. He tracks responses with a 5% off coupon on the text message that customers can redeem inside the store, and says that the service can be directly tied to transactions that add to his top-line revenue.

Couch Tomato Mobile Marketing Case Study

The Couch Tomato Café is a family-style restaurant in Philadelphia, PA that offers wraps, dips, gourmet pizzas and more for take-out or delivery. They also cater throughout the Philadelphia area. We spoke with owner Craig Mosmen.

For the past six years, Mosmen tried various forms of marketing, including direct mail, online, local papers, magazines and more. He found that coupon books such as Val Pack and similar local books worked best, because you can actually track the results of a certain promotion to see what works and what doesn’t. With that in mind, Mosmen searched for other forms of marketing that were easily trackable, which brought him to Ez Texting.

Mosmen chose Ez Texting because he’d heard of the company before and trusted its reputation. Over the previous year, his staff had begun collecting opt-in cell phone numbers from customers for the purpose of sending SMS coupons and alerts. Couch Tomato provided both simple paper forms for people to signup, as well as verbal signups at the point-of-sale.

To get started, Mosmen pulled approximately 5,000 numbers from his database that had opted-in over the past year and added them to his Ez Texting account. He sent one message to his customers welcoming them to the new service, and gave opt-out instructions for anyone who wished to unsubscribe. Over the next 6 months, Mosmen sent only a couple texts with general announcements and specials, and saw marginal success. Then, in March 2009 he sent a special offer just for SMS subscribers:

*Special Offer* til March 31st; mention text – FREE QUESADILLAS with purchase of any Pizza AND Salad!!

The offer was good for seven days, and the response was excellent. To track their ROI, Mosmen totaled the number of tickets from Friday of that week. He estimates they had about 70 extra orders compared to an average Friday. With an average order value of $15, this is an excess of $1050! And this was just one of the seven nights the offer was running.

After such a great response, The Couch Tomato Café plans to send more exclusive offers for text members on a monthly basis. Mosmen wants to keep the offers a novelty, so his customers never know when to expect the next one.

Mosmen also finds Ez Texting to be extremely convenient for in-house communication amongst his staff. He is able to remind staff members of meetings and scheduling updates. For such a large establishment, it really cuts down on time. He is also much more confident the messages are read, opposed to the voicemails he often used to leave on his employees’ phones.

Domino’s Pizza SMS Marketing Case Study

Founded in 1960, Domino’s Pizza is the recognized world leader in pizza delivery operating a network of company-owned and franchise-owned stores in the United States and international markets. The Domino’s Pizza Franchise at UNC-Charlotte is an Ez Texting client.

Where They Started:
Ryan Swanson is the Area Director for Prairie Pizza, a Domino’s franchise in Charlotte, North Carolina. Located near University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s campus the franchise primarily serves the 25,000 enrolled students. Mr. Swanson relies on data to make decisions so the first thing the franchise did was conduct focus groups to identify the best way to reach as many students as possible. Group after group revealed that Facebook was the place to engage. Mr. Swanson identified a target audience of “students who like pizza, who are price driven, and those whose loyalty to another pizzeria could be swayed. His goal was to attract every one of those students to the franchise’s Facebook group, where he promoted offers to interested students. Mr. Swanson saw the school’s basketball arena as the place to promote his Facebook group. Each game attracts over 3,000 students as the 49ers are the most popular team at the school.

Mr. Swanson’s franchise has successfully used SMS to market to students since 2009. In early 2011, he realized that text messaging was the perfect way to promote his Facebook Group, and most importantly, sell more pizza.

What They Did:
Mr. Swanson had previously advertised the franchise’s web address, which redirected to the Facebook group, on the big screen and other displays at the basketball arena. The arena’s announcer read the advertisement while it was displayed. The spots typically lasted between 30 to 60 seconds. The problem with this approach, according to Mr. Swanson was that “most students are not going to jot down a website during a basketball game.” While many students have smartphones, he felt that they were unlikely to spend a couple of minutes during a basketball game to visit the Facebook group. “But,” he says, “taking a couple of seconds to send and receive a text with the URL of the group makes sense.” After the game ended they could then review the text and visit the Facebook group on their smartphone or using a computer.

Mr. Swanson now had a plan to market his Facebook group, grow his SMS marketing list, and do so in a way that was measurable. To kick things off he created a new ad for the arena displays offering a free pizza to anyone who texted 49ER to 313131, Ez Texting’s Short Code. They received the following response:

To get FREE pizza join our facebook group at once you join post a message (I GOT A TEXT) & you will get FREE pizza code Reply STOP 49ER 2 Optout

This ad, clearly a loss leader, was meant to prove the concept. Roughly 10% of the 3,000 students attending the game texted in within a few minutes – and another 5% did so by the end of the night – resulting in nearly 600 opt-ins. Approximately 350 students had joined the Facebook group by the morning. Nearly all of them redeemed the offer. The response to the advertisement confirmed Mr. Swanson’s hypothesis that texting would be dramatically more effective at driving conversions than simply displaying a URL. Mr. Swanson revised his creative for subsequent games, offering deals like discounted pizzas. Every time he ran an ad he saw 100 to 200 opt-ins, nearly all of whom also joined the Facebook group to get the deal.

By the end of the semester the Facebook group had collected nearly 2,000 fans. They had also added over 850 students to their SMS marketing list. Being a member of the Facebook group entitles students to a discounted menu; being a member of the SMS marketing list is even better. Mr. Swanson sent marketing blasts through the semester like the following:

49er Fans get 50% OFF ALL MENU PRICE PIZZAS & Bread Sides All day TODAY for playoffs! Coupon Code (FACE50).Call us at ——-

Coupon codes allow Mr. Swanson to measure the effectiveness of his SMS marketing campaigns – and each campaign has seen redemption rates between 20 and 25%. That particular message reached roughly 500 or so students, resulting in 125 additional orders. The cost of sending the message using Ez Texting was about $25 dollars. Over the course of the entire semester, the franchise spent $125 dollars on SMS marketing, resulting in several hundred orders.

Why SMS Marketing Worked
“The sales at the store,” Mr. Swanson says, “when we send text messages, or [use them to] drive people to Facebook, are unprecedented.”SMS Marketing was the perfect way to accomplish Mr. Swanson’s two goals: growing the franchise’s Facebook group and selling more pizza. He had identified the perfect place to reach students – the arena – and the place he wanted to send them – his Facebook group – but it took text messaging to get them there.

In the fall, when students return to campus Mr. Swanson plans to continue sending campaigns to his nearly 1,000 member text message marketing list. As soon as the basketball season begins he expects to grow that list.

Learn more about SMS Marketing for restaurants by contacting us!

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