Restaurants Need To Focus More on Lead Generation. Here's How.

By Raubi Perilli

      Feb 6, 2020     Solutions    

If you want to fill your restaurant up with customers, you need to stop only running marketing campaigns designed to drive in new customers -- and start running campaigns designed to generate leads.

Focusing on generating leads is essential for restaurants for a few reasons.   

  • Collecting contact information from interested prospects allows you to send effective follow-up marketing messages. Warm audiences already know you and are, therefore, more likely to convert. 
  • Collecting contact information from past customers creates effective remarketing opportunities. Customers who have already visited your business are even more likely to respond to follow-up marketing messages and ads. 
  • Collecting contact information (rather than relying on social follows and search) allows your brand to stay in control. When you own your own data, you can always reach your audience without relying on changing algorithms and third-party guidelines. 

Generating leads allows you to create a lasting and effective connection with the people most likely to visit your business.

Plus, a customer contact list helps you:   

  • Save money. Marketing to existing audiences is cheaper. It can cost up to five times more to get new customers than to market to existing customers. 
  • Increase revenue. You can sell more when marketing to warm audiences. Past customers may spend up to 67% more than new customers.
  • Get a better ROI on marketing campaigns. Creating campaigns for existing audiences is more effective than creating campaigns for new, cold audiences. You have a 60% to 70% chance of converting an existing customer versus a 5% to 20% chance of converting a new customer. 

So now that you know that lead generation needs to be a top marketing priority for restaurants, how can you get started?

How to Generate Leads for Your Restaurant

Here are seven simple systems that will generate leads for your restaurant. 

#1) Collect contact information through your point-of-sale system. 

Generating leads for your restaurant is so important that it should be a part of your sales process. When customers pay, come right out and ask them if they want to provide their phone number or email address. Quick-service restaurants can train staff to ask while taking orders at the counter. Sit-down restaurants can invite guests to sign up when dropping off the check at their table.   

Learn More: 7 Simple Ways to Collect Customer Contact Information

#2) Create a customer loyalty program.

In-store lead generation campaigns will be more effective when you give guests a reason to join. Offering guests an opportunity to join your loyalty or rewards system is a simple way to show them why they should share their phone number or email address. Create a system that gives discounts and benefits to customers based on their number of visits or amount spent and track it through their contact info (which saves customers from carrying around a loyalty card).  

Learn More: Create a Customer Loyalty Plan That Benefits Both Your Business and Your Customers

#3) Drive in-store customers to participate in contests. 

Getting in-store customers to join your list doesn’t have to feel formal. You can create fun and exciting offers that prompt customers to sign up during their visit by creating contests. Offer customers a chance to win, whether it's a small offer from your brand or a large prize that includes winnings outside of your store. Give customers easy ways to sign up such as entering their info into an interactive touchscreen or by texting a specific number to join.

Related: The Best Marketing Contest Ideas for Restaurants

#4) Trade free WiFi for contact information. 

Many customers visit restaurants and look to join the location's WiFi. This is especially true in quick-service restaurants, coffee shops, or lunch spots. Providing access to your WiFi is a benefit to customers -- and it is also a lead generation tool. By requiring customers to provide their info to sign on, you can collect email addresses from existing customers. 

#5) Offer a coupon when customers land on your website. 

Customers are very engaged with they visit your website. They are likely there looking at your menu, checking hours, or getting directions. This is the perfect time to secure their contact information through a very simple trade out. Give them a coupon in exchange for their contact information. Prompt them to sign up using a pop-up or hello bar that sits at the top of your site. 

Learn More: 9 Ways to Drive Traffic to Your Restaurant's Website

#6) Add a sign-up form to your social media profile links. 

Customers love to share photos from their favorite restaurants on social media. When they do, they often link to the location so their friends can view the restaurant’s social profile. Take advantage of this free promotion of your business by adding a call-to-action and link that drives social visitors to a page to join your list or get a coupon by sharing their contact info.   

Learn More: How to Promote Your Brand and Engage Customer With User-Generated Content

#7) Reach new audiences with text campaigns at events. 

A big restaurant lead generation mistake is thinking that you can only collect information from customers who are already engaged with your business. You can also generate leads by getting in front of your target audience even if they aren't taking steps to visit your business or learn about your brand. One way to do that is through text marketing campaigns at events that attract your ideal audience. In addition to sponsoring events, run a text marketing campaign that gives a coupon or contest entry to people who text your opt-in number.   

Learn More: Using Events to Get Your Business More Visibility and Leads 

Generate Leads and Convert More Customers 

Growing your restaurant business isn’t just about constantly driving in new customers.

Forming connections and following up with interested audiences and existing customers is how you keep a steady stream of customers flowing into your restaurant without overspending on ads and marketing campaigns.   

A lead generation strategy must be a part of your restaurant's marketing plans. Then, you also need to have a plan for marketing to your list to drive those connections into your business. 

For more tips on how to create a full marketing funnel that generates leads and then drives them into your restaurant, Use This Template to Create Your Restaurant Marketing Plan.

Or, contact MyArea Network today. We'd love to help you create a powerful sales funnel for your quick-service restaurant, fine dining location, or anything in between. Contact us today for a free consultation.