New market data from the NPD Group found that 6 percent of all restaurant visits and 8 percent of meal spending was directly attributed to online marketing efforts in the first quarter of 2012. While this may seem like a small percentage, this amounts to a total of 926 million restaurant visits!
Online Marketing Drives Fresh Business for Restaurants
It’s also noteworthy that online marketing was particularly effective at stimulating new business and attracting first time visitors. Twenty-six percent of all internet-influenced restaurant visits were from first-timers. A large majority of fast food establishments were driven by internet users. However, researchers found that 1 in every 6 visits to a casual restaurant was driven by the internet in some way.
Restaurateurs Find Various Vehicles For Online Marketing
According to researchers, mobile and internet users were influenced by various types of online marketing.
- 37 percent were lured by a Daily Deal or Special Offer (sites like Groupon and Living Social, for instance)
- 30 percent were enticed by online menus
- 27 percent accessed the internet to find general information about the restaurant
- 14 percent were influenced by online reviews or recommendations
- 13 percent used the internet to find the restaurant location on a map
- 12 percent were drawn by loyalty program information
- 10 percent used the internet to pre-order their food online
- 10 percent accessed nutritional information before their visit
- The remaining 20 percent cited “other,” which could include photos, videos, games, etc.
Are Restaurants Embracing Online Marketing?
“An online presence today is critical to the success of any food or drinking establishment,” said Chuck Ellis, President of Restaurant Sciences. “One of the most surprising aspects of RIMS was the large number of restaurants with no online presence at all.”
After reviewing thousands of American eateries in the 2012 Restaurant Internet Marketing Study, Restaurant Sciences found that:
- Less than 1 in 8 full-service restaurants have a mobile website.
- Less than 1 in 20 independent restaurants have a mobile website.
- More than 50 percent of all visits to restaurant websites are from mobile devices.
- Fewer than 4 in 10 independent restaurants display their menus on their websites.
- Only 1 in 8 restaurants have updated blogs.
LivingSocial Finds Personalization Is Key
This month, LivingSocial research uncovered that consumers have more favorable opinions of restaurants that have an online presence.
- 90 percent of restaurant operators say their websites are effective in bringing in new customers.
- 87 percent of consumers said they’d visit a restaurant if provided with a savings offer online.
- 78 percent of consumers said a marketing email would motivate them to visit.
- 69 percent of consumers said a daily deal would motivate them to visit a particular restaurant.
- 68 percent of consumers said they’d visit a restaurant that sent a customized message referencing past patronage.
- 67 percent of consumers said restaurants that send emails are “modern.”
- 66 percent of consumers said they’d visit a restaurant that let them make reservations online.
- 65 percent of consumers said restaurants that have websites are “modern.”
- 64 percent of consumers said they’d be more likely to visit an establishment that identified them by name.
- 63 percent of consumers perceived restaurants with online presence as “popular.”
- 59 percent of consumers said restaurants that use daily deals are “modern.”
The Bottom Line:
“The influence of online marketing on restaurant demand is expected to continue to increase,” says Bonnie Riggs, NPD restaurant industry analyst. “It’s no longer a question of if online marketing should be a part of a restaurant operator’s overall marketing plan; it’s a must-have.”
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