How to Convert Online Interactions Into Offline Sales

Although digital metrics, such as social media followers, social engagement, views, click rates, and email opens, may seem to indicate success with a marketing effort, they don’t automatically translate into actual sales.

According to data gathered by MDG Advertising, 28 percent of marketing agencies say that they are struggling with determining the impact of their social media marketing campaigns. Moreover, 55 percent claim that they can measure it somewhat, and only 17 percent believe that they can provide accurate data on this point.

In addition, marketers who do effectively measure their marketing efforts don’t know if social followers and people who “like” marketing campaigns see actual value in their brand. More importantly, they’re unsure about whether or not they are making purchases. This detail was echoed in the latest CMO Survey conducted by Deloitte, in which it was revealed that, despite increased spending and outsourcing, marketing leaders continue to report that social media contributes only moderate value to company performance, with 30 percent being able to prove the impact quantitatively.

With this in mind, how exactly can restaurant operators make sure that their digital and social media marketing efforts are producing fruit?

Here are three things that operators can do to turn online customer engagement into actual sales.

Partner with Influencers

Partnering with social media influencers or digital content creators with loyal followings can be a great way for your business to expand its visibility and reach a wider, highly engaged audience. In fact, 92 percent of Millennials trust a social media influencer more than the most famous celebrity.

When implementing an influencer marketing campaign, however, it’s essential to approach this initiative strategically. Be sure to keep these things in mind to ensure the success of your efforts:

  • Choose Wisely: When choosing an influencer to work with, it’s important to do your research to find out if that person:
    1. Regularly interacts with their community, ensuring their audience is active and engaged with their content
    2. Fits the type of customer you’re looking to reach (value-seeking students, healthy-eating athletes, etc.)
    3. Is a reliable professional with a track record of working with other brands — Notice how they have integrated with past partnerships to gain an idea of what to expect.
    4. Is aware of your restaurant — If an influencer has chosen to share content covering your restaurant before, it will seem more authentic to their audience when they partner with you.
  • Provide Influencers with Trackable Deal or Discount Codes: Having influencers offer their audiences a deal or discount from your restaurant is a great incentive to get guests through the door. But, in order to find out how many of their followers converted into customers, be sure to give them a code that’s unique to them — maybe, for instance, one that includes their name or brand.
  • Actively Monitor Their Activity: Check your online traffic and observe activity surrounding your restaurant. Are you gaining more followers? Is your website getting more traffic? Are you getting more digital orders? Are new customers coming into your restaurant? Once you realize the impact of the partnership, you can determine whether or not you’d want to work with them again in the future.

Execute Limited Time Offers

According to a foodservice market research report by The NPD Group, repeated LTOs, like seasonal offers, tap into a base of loyal buyers. While menu consistency is essential, consumers also crave something new. Using limited time offers (LTOs) is a great way for restaurant operators to give customers new options on a consistent basis without changing their regular menu, while sparking sales at the same time.

And in today’s digital-focused world, promoting your LTOs online is vital to their success. Create an email marketing campaign, and definitely make sure to share your LTOs across social media. You might also want to try boosting or advertising your LTO social media posts to increase your reach.

When done right and promoted well, LTOs can successfully help your restaurant attract new business and reignite interest with existing customers.

Start a Loyalty Program

A loyalty program can help a restaurant increase its repeat sales and overall revenue.

To ensure your loyalty program’s success, consider these tips:

  • Create settings that give customers the opportunity to earn a reward within 30 days of signing up.
  • Don’t limit customers’ ability to earn and redeem rewards — for example, putting a cap on how customers earn their way to a reward.
  • Take advantage of technologies, like OneDine’s all-in-one solution for restaurant brands, that help you track their purchasing habits, so that you can create more personalized experiences.

Engaging with fans digitally isn’t about making a quick buck — it’s about giving your restaurant the opportunity to create authentic, lasting relationships with your guests. And the more you build upon that, the more incentive they’ll have to keep coming back.