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SMS Marketing for Restaurants - DialMyCalls

SMS Marketing (Text Message Marketing) for Restaurants

According to Statistica, one-fifth of individuals enjoy a meal at both quick-serve and full-service restaurants every week. Using SMS marketing for restaurants can help eateries capture their share of that business.

Since relying on mobile phones and frequenting local restaurants are familiar to just about everyone, putting them together can boost business for those serving meals while making life more convenient and enjoyable for those eating them.

Receiving restaurant text alerts is usually welcomed because customers must opt-in to receive marketing emails in the first place. Many appreciate the convenience of making or canceling reservations by text, often redeem coupons or discounts sent by SMS messaging, and nearly always open messages, which serves to reinforce brand recognition.

SMS Marketing for Restaurants (Video)

As a result, SMS marketing for restaurants can be an affordable and effective way to drive both new traffic to a business as well as retain existing customers.

How Restaurants Use SMS Marketing

Opportunities abound for companies who choose to use a restaurant texting system to drive business. Here are some of the most common applications for SMS marketing for restaurants:

  • Time-Limited Discounts. Businesses can use restaurant text coupons to encourage both prospects and customers to visit. It’s important that these offers are short in duration to create a sense of urgency and encourage redemption sooner rather than later.
  • Item Introduction. One great way to use text marketing for restaurants is to send new menu items or provide a sneak peak into upcoming specials. Recipients sense they have the inside scoop and are more likely to remember that business when choosing where to dine that evening.
  • Entertainment Updates. Text message marketing for restaurants can also be used to announce live entertainment or other special events tied to a business. Often, what’s happening in addition to a meal can tip the decision of where to eat dinner.
  • Polls and Feedback. Using SMS marketing for restaurants can provide a two-way communication channel to collect feedback or take polls, helping restaurants ensure they are providing the food and service that will please customers most.
  • Membership Programs. Restaurant text clubs are an excellent adjunct to a loyalty program. By treating members as VIPs, businesses can foster a sense of loyalty and exclusiveness. Spoiling club members with special discounts or the opportunity to hear about news first can encourage participation.

How SMS Marketing for Restaurants Works

Businesses interested in getting started with SMS marketing for restaurants need to select an online text provider to facilitate the initiative. These providers will provide a framework and structure to conduct the marketing initiative.

If restaurants have collected customer phone numbers and received opt-in permission through another marketing channel, this information can be entered into the text marketing system. Otherwise, restaurants should start by establishing keywords and setting up methods for collecting phone numbers to build their subscriber list. Keywords and associated deals can be publicized on table tents, in email campaigns, on print advertising, or on website ads.

Once businesses have established a subscriber list, they can start creating restaurant text deals to share on a regular basis. Here are some ways that restaurants have used SMS marketing messages successfully.

Brand Awareness

Simply driving down a commercial stretch illustrates how vast the food choices are for most individuals. Text message marketing for restaurants can help increase brand awareness. If a business is sending regular deals and news to prospects and customers willing to receive them, that business is more likely to stay top of mind when it comes time to choose a dining location.

In addition, it’s always easier to retain customers than to snag new ones, so restaurant text alerts give businesses the perfect channel to nurture existing relationships by sharing exclusive discounts and addressing any complaints or problems immediately through texts.

Menu Promotion

Text message marketing for restaurants can also help businesses promote their menu choices — both new and old. If a restaurant knows that a particular special is very popular with customers, it can remind patrons when that special will be available.

Those businesses that introduce new items regularly or perhaps rotate menus based on seasonally available produce can use SMS marketing for restaurants to announce changes and new choices.

Offering items such as free appetizers or discounts on specials can also help drive business during slower periods.

Deliver Updates

Using a restaurant alert system can be an excellent way to communicate with customers who have requested delivery service. Restaurants that cater to home meal delivery can use an SMS system to collect orders as well as provide step-by-step updates so that customers know exactly where their meal stands.

Sending a text message when an order has been received, when food is being prepared, when the order is on its way, and after it’s been delivered can help keep customers in the loop and is an efficient use of resources for the restaurant. Businesses may want to find ways to creatively communicate these steps by personifying the meal or animating a logo or character associated with the restaurant.

Customers love to talk about creative advertising, which can add another little marketing boost to an SMS marketing for restaurants initiative.

Attract New Customers

One of the best ways to attract new customers to an eatery is through restaurant text deals. Everyone loves a deal, and a special discount to visit a new restaurant can often drive traffic successfully.

Find ways to incorporate special keywords into existing marketing programs. For example, ask prospects to opt-in on a website, through print advertising or mail campaigns, or on existing billboard advertising. Be sure to reward subscribers with a generous coupon or free entree with a purchase of another.

Remember if customers try and love a restaurant, they are more likely to return or be responsive to future marketing programs.

Poll Creation

SMS marketing for restaurants can also be used to collect input, opinions and feedback. Use a restaurant texting system to survey subscribers about their favorite entree, appetizer or dessert. Ask subscribers to weigh in on what the next new menu item should be or whether or not breakfast items should be served all day.

In addition, sending a text message after a customer has dined at a restaurant to check if they are satisfied can help ensure that any problems are nipped in the bud. Even if a customer has a bad experience, having a restaurant reach out, apologize and make amends can do wonders for long-term customer loyalty.

By using a restaurant alert system to collect information from an attentive audience, businesses can make smarter long-term decisions that can contribute to growth and success.

Restaurant SMS Examples

SMS marketing for restaurants can include many examples, limited only by the imagination of the eatery owner. Besides establishing restaurant text clubs, opinion polls, feedback channels, menu updates, and restaurant text coupons, having an SMS system in place can also be valuable for general communications.

For example, vendors can use an SMS system for marketing to restaurants when they have an oversupply of ingredients or supply. Businesses may want to use the SMS system to coordinate employee shifts and schedule resolution as well as a communication vehicle for shift swaps or a call for additional servers on a particularly busy evening.

An SMS system can also be used to manage reservations, allowing patrons to make, change or cancel reservations conveniently. Restaurants can send reminders a few days before a reservation as well as the day of dining, giving customers an easy link to change or cancel the reservation if plans have changed. This helps free tables that may be abandoned by no-shows, allowing the restaurant to maximize its capacity.

Benefits of Using SMS Marketing for Your Restaurant

There are many benefits to using SMS marketing for restaurants. Here are some of the most common:

  • Drive new traffic into a restaurant.
  • Increase size of customer orders through complimentary specials.
  • Boost size of parties by offering free meals with purchase of one or more meals.
  • Encourage visitors during off-peak meal hours with special deals during those hours.
  • Nurture long-term, returning customers through loyalty programs.
  • Address complaints and problems effectively and immediately.
  • Understand customer preferences through polls.

Text Message Templates for Restaurants

To help you get started, here are some text message templates for restaurants. Remember that the SMS message limit is 160 characters, so be short and concise.


Enjoy a free appetizer at Joe’s Bistro. Tonight only.


Eastside Steakhouse has introduced a new Tuesday night special: Prime rib at half-price. Through July 1 only.


Sally’s Sweets is adding a new dessert and wants your vote: cheesecake, flan, or mousse? Vote and get a coupon!

Loyalty Specials:

Exclusively for Pizza and Pies members: free slice of pizza and pie between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. every weekday in August.

Tips For Building a Solid Customer Base

There are some very scary statistics regarding new restaurants and their likelihood of failure. At worse, some reports claim that 90% will close within a year, while a study conducted by Ohio State University says 60% and then 80% by year 5.

No matter how you slice it, those are terrifying numbers to think about if you are a restaurant owner. To avoid becoming one of those statistics, work on building a strong customer base using these top 7 tips:

1. Live by the Rule of Seven

There is a saying in the restaurant business that you make one guest in your restaurant happy, you have created one good repeat customer. When you make one mad, they are going to share their bad experience with 7 of their closest friends. Stress over the top service in your restaurant at all times, and go to any length to ensure that no one leaves that is not satisfied with their experience.

2. Be Creative in Your Marketing

Create a Facebook page and utilize Twitter to tweet out menu changes and specials. Social media is a fantastic form of free advertising that can reach thousands of potential customers.

3. Start a Loyalty Club

Incentive programs are not just for retail outlets. Many big name restaurants have loyalty clubs where repeat customers are emailed coupons and incentives. Ask them to opt-in for SMS marketing with their cell phone number and then use an SMS broadcasting service like DialMyCalls to send alerts geared especially for members. Send out a mass text message at 3 o’clock about your special starting at 5 and watch as your tables fill up.

4. Be Active in the Community

Sponsor local little league teams, and offer your back dining room as a slow Tuesday night meeting place for the local PTA or Elks Club. Being benevolent to the community that supports you will reap you rewards in the form of new customers and repeat business.

5. Buy Locally

Businesses should be supportive of one another as much as possible. Why order your cheese from a wholesaler if there is a dairy farm just outside of your town? When you are supporting local businesses, they will be more inclined to support yours.

6. Serve Great Food Consistently

Stay on top of your kitchen and what is coming out of it. If a guest is coming back today because of the great chicken marsala they had last week, it is up to you to ensure that it is just as good now. Work with all of your chefs together so that each is making the entrees to the same specifications.

7. Offer Take-Out

Not everyone will have time to sit down and eat inside of your restaurant, but if you have a reliable take out service, you can please your customers and increase sales. If possible, make it a delivery service. Just ensure that the food is always just as perfect boxed to go as it is when served at a table.

Despite the scary statistics on restaurant closings, there are still hundreds of thousands that go on to make it. Become one of those by following these tricks of the restaurant trade.

What’s the Difference Between SMS and MMS Marketing?

Before we dive into the details of how MMS and SMS marketing for restaurants can help build your business and tips on how to create an effective program, it’s important to understand the differences between SMS and MMS marketing tools.

landline texting sms broadcast dialmycalls
Above Image: Sample SMS Text Message.

SMS text marketing for restaurants is built around what the average person thinks of when considering the definition of a “text message.” SMS text messages are limited to 160 characters, which means it’s ideal for sharing coupons, pushing time-limited offers, and sending reminders. The clear and concise nature of an SMS text message must focus on conversion and can be used more frequently to connect with a restaurant’s prospects and customers.

Restaurant MMS Message Broadcast - DialMyCalls
Above Image: Restaurant MMS Message Sample Broadcast.

MMS restaurant marketing, on the other hand, provides more detail both in terms of text and visual elements. MMS messages typically incorporate images or videos, and text limitations are increased to 6,000 characters. MMS marketing is engagement-focused in addition to reaching for conversions. With society becoming more visually focused every day, MMS marketing can be an excellent way to draw your customers and prospects into your restaurant’s brand and culture.

How to Know if MMS & SMS Marketing are Right For Your Restaurant

In order to determine whether MMS and SMS marketing for restaurants are right for your particular business, you’ll want to have a good understanding of your typical clientele, where you are in your branding and marketing process, and your specific restaurant’s goals and objectives.

Although both SMS and MMS text message marketing for restaurants are often a good and affordable addition to just about any overall integrated marketing program, they can make more of an impact in some than others. For example, roughly 42 percent of millennials check their phones more than ten times per day, making it more likely to catch this target audience before lunch or happy hour the same day. Although the vast majority of people own smartphones today, the older generation may not use texting quite as frequently as those growing up with the technology around them.

If you are a relatively new restaurant, you may not have built a subscriber list, which is critical to executing a strong SMS or MMS restaurant  marketing program. Remember that you need to receive explicit permission to send marketing text messages to your subscribers. If this is the case, you may want to back up and start by establishing that subscriber list through different complementary marketing campaigns focused on soliciting customers and prospects to opt-in to your marketing list before launching your text marketing for restaurants program.

One good way to build your subscriber list is by using tabletop displays at your restaurant. You can offer discounts to customers in exchange for opting-in to your subscriber list. Just publish an appropriate keyword and a short code along with the offer, and you’ll begin building some customer loyalty.

Prospects can be enticed with a special deal to come in for the first time in a similar way. Publish another keyword and short code in your print or billboard advertising, on your websites, in your email campaigns, or any other place you reach out to the public.

MMS & SMS for Restaurant Promotions

One of the best ways to use MMS and SMS marketing for restaurants is in the area of promotions. Here are some great ideas to do just that:

  • New Restaurant. If you can create buzz about a brand new eatery before doors actually open, you’ll be far ahead of the game. Encourage prospects to opt into your subscriber list through complementary campaigns, and then use text message marketing for restaurants to countdown the days to the grand opening. Be sure to offer a special discount to your first patrons!
  • New Menu Item. Remember that those who have shared their contact information should be treated well. Give this group a sneak-peak to any new menu items or specials your restaurant offers so they can be the first to try the newest addition.
  • Special Deals. Make it a point to send regular coupons or discounts to your restaurant text clubs. Such deals will encourage additional subscribers and help you retain the ones you already have.
  • Entertainment Announcements. If your restaurant offers light entertainment, restaurant mobile marketing can be the perfect way to announce who will be performing on a particular evening.
  • Off-Peak Hour Specials. Both SMS and MMS messages can help restaurants increase traffic during slow periods by offering special promotions during those off-peak hours. For example, discounted desserts can be offered on a rotating basis between the hours of 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. on weekdays.
  • Delivery Services. If your restaurant delivers, be sure to text special discounts during particular delivery times. For instance, if you’re located in a business district, you may offer free delivery over the lunch hour.
  • Catering Services. Those restaurants who provide catering services may want to use SMS or MMS marketing to drum up additional business. Build a separate subscriber list of event or office planners, and be sure to offer value-adds when it comes to feeding participants at their next gathering. Have planners text restaurant when they are ready.
MMS Customer Reminder - DialMyCalls
Above Image: Sample Customer Loyalty MMS Message.

MMS & SMS Marketing for Reservation Reminders

If your restaurant accepts reservations, SMS and MMS communication channels can be a perfect way to automate that sometimes cumbersome system. For example, subscribers can be invited to quickly and easily make a reservation through a text message and receive an automated confirmation.

As the day and time gets closer, you can schedule regular mobile reminders with an easy-to-use link for changing or cancelling that reservation. These reminders can help you reduce the number of no-shows to your restaurants, freeing up tables for other patrons that arrive during that time.

For restaurants that do not accept reservations, text messaging can be an excellent way to manage call-ahead seating or a backlog of waiting patrons during a busy period.

Restaurant MMS & SMS Marketing Best Practices

When it comes to best practices for MMS and SMS marketing for restaurants, you’ll want to remember the basics first:

  • Concise messages. Keep your messages clear, concise, and to the point. Although text messages are nearly always opened, you’ll have just a few seconds to communicate your message.
  • Clear CTA. Be sure you include a clear call-to-action so subscribers know what you want them to do. These can include making a reservation, coming in for a meal, redeeming a coupon, or completing a survey.
  • Timing. As the old adage goes, timing is everything. Be sure to run your restaurant mobile marketing at times appropriate for your messages. Sending a special lunch deal around 9 a.m. might be ideal, but wait until afternoon to promote a happy hour special.
  • Frequency. No one likes to be spammed with text messages. Be sure you don’t message more than a couple of times a week. At the same time, be sure to reach out to subscribers regularly so you stay top-of-mind.
  • Special Patrons. Remember that those individuals who have opted into your subscriber list should be treated specially as part of restaurant text clubs. These are your long-term customers who will not only return frequently but can be a promotion engine within their own personal and professional circles. Treat them well.

How DialMyCalls Can Help Your Restaurant’s SMS and MMS Marketing Efforts

If you’re ready to embark on creating an MMS and SMS marketing for restaurants program, the first thing you’ll need to do is to select an online partner. DialMyCalls offers a suite of features that can help you build an effective, affordable, and easy-to-use MMS and SMS marketing program.

Whether you’re building a subscriber list from scratch or importing contact information from another source, DialMyCalls can help you segment your subscribers for targeting marketing efforts. Place your prospects on one list, customers on another, and catering clients on a third. Then, simply create an SMS or MMS campaign to reach out to each of these audiences on a regular basis to encourage engagement and conversions.

If you’re ready to try SMS marketing for restaurants, check out DialMyCalls as an SMS text messaging provider. We offer a free trial at no charge so you can easily get started with an SMS marketing campaign today.

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