Managing customers online, tracking ROI among top concerns for restaurateurs

March 24, 2015

LivingSocial has released its "Restaurants Trends & Insights for 2015" report, which found that 68 percent of restaurateurs have limited marketing budgets and 49 percent of respondents have difficulty tracking ROI of marketing investments as their most significant marketing challenges. More than a third reported that managing customer interactions online was also a top concern.

While restaurateurs recognize the importance of social channels to engage patrons, build their brand and manage their reputation, maintaining the growing number of channels is a significant problem, the report said.

"With the addition of these social media tools, the number of marketing channels that today’s restaurants use is so varied and broad that it's not a surprise that making sense of the marketing mix can be overwhelming," said Doug Miller, chief revenue officer of LivingSocial, in a statement.

Nearly 60 percent of respondents said they plan to offer new or additional menu items for growing their business. Half reported they would adjust their promotional mix to maximize ROI. Most participants (86 percent) said they make marketing decisions without any supporting data.

"We know restaurateurs have little confidence in the value of their overall marketing spend as they keep experimenting to get more bang for their buck," said Miller. "There is an information gap which presents an important opportunity to help restaurant merchants have more visibility and better tools to understand the performance of those marketing investments and to make smarter decisions."

Additional highlights from LivingSocial’s survey include:

  • Respondents identified the months of January, February, July and August as slow months for business. To compensate during these months, those surveyed said they offered special promotions.
  • Nearly 80 percent of survey respondents think online deal sites, such as LivingSocial, are successful in driving sales; 18 percent stated that online deal sites are more beneficial than other marketing channels.
  • Respondents that offer promotions outside of social media do so more frequently on deal sites than on their own websites (77 percent compared to 44 percent).
  • Sixty-one percent of respondents said they used deal sites two to four times a year, while 17 percent leveraged them five or more times per year.
  • A majority of restaurateurs find that multiple promotions are successful in driving sales and repeat business but offering a dollar savings with a minimum spend requirement is most successful in meeting both goals.
  • Of the respondents who spend more marketing dollars during certain times of the year, almost two-thirds of them reported spending more during off peak seasons and less than a quarter spend more during the holidays.
  • The majority of respondents allocated up to 25 percent of their budget to holiday marketing, often to promote dollar savings on a minimum spend.

LivingSocial conducted the survey from December 2014 to January 2015, using both qualitative and quantitative research methods consisting of phone interviews and an internet survey with full-service restaurant owners and managers. Fast casual owners amounted to 16 percent of respondents.


Topics: Trends / Statistics

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