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Restaurants Up Their Use of Social, Mobile

Location-based marketing sees a big increase in use

Restaurants around the world are seeing the value in digital marketing, especially programs that can increase customer loyalty and help establishments get the word out among like-minded diners.

In a survey, Hospitality Technology asked US executives overseeing restaurants around the world about a variety of social and loyalty marketing tactics, and found that every single one of these tactics had seen an increase in use among restaurants between 2012 and 2013. Nearly nine out of 10 restaurants used social media outreach this year—the most common tactic by a wide margin—up from 77% in 2012.

Unsurprisingly, the greatest percentage of social-savvy restaurants used Facebook (94%) this year, followed by Twitter (77%) and Yelp (53%). Nearly half also used YouTube. foursquare, used by 42% of restaurants, seemed like it could be leveraged more widely, given its role as a way for users to broadcast their latest check-ins, most often at stores and restaurants. Pinterest saw among the biggest bumps in usage, rising from 17% in 2012 to 28% in 2013.

Among the more general marketing strategies, restaurants also increased their use of daily deals and loyalty programs. And location-based marketing made among the biggest leaps. Sixteen percent of restaurants used the tactic last year, and this year that figure rose to 27%.

Mobile is giving location-based marketing a major boost, and it has a special value for restaurants, offering opportunities to reach mobile users as they’re scouring the streets—and their location-enabled apps—for their next meal.

Both mobile sites and apps saw increased usage among restaurants this year: More than half of respondents had a mobile site, and nearly 30% had a mobile app.

Menus topped the list as the most common feature available on restaurant apps. A restaurant search feature with location-based GPS was also used by 65% of restaurants with apps—presumably mostly chain restaurants that would have locations in many different places.

Offering nutritional information, integrating with users’ social media sites and ordering food via restaurant apps were also popular mobile app features.


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