Download our Free Guide to Measuring Restaurant Local Store Marketing
Why community engagement matters in a restaurant marketing strategy
In order for your restaurants to stay top of mind with your target audience, involvement in the local community is critical. Your customers actively participate in their community, whether they’re listening to the radio, going to sports games, volunteering at school functions, or simply walking down the street, so having a consistent local presence is key to building loyal customers.
In fact, according to a 2020 study from Toast, local event sponsorships and charity are the second most popular form of restaurant marketing efforts, with 53% of restaurant professionals mentioning community events as a promotion method they used in 2019. Brands who are able to be meaningfully involved in their communities across multiple markets are going to build loyalty with their customer base consistently over time.
Whether you’re executing your local marketing at the corporate level, or working on the ground with the local store teams, measuring these kinds of hyperlocal campaigns across multiple store locations can be challenging for even the most advanced marketers.
Defining your restaurant marketing plan goals
Community marketing measurement tactics will differ based on the goals of your restaurant’s marketing plan. The first step is to define a clear goal for your local-store marketing and advertising.
Some examples of goals could be:
- Support new store location openings by gaining mindshare and trust from the community
- Increase store revenue for a struggling location
- Increase customer loyalty
- Grow your customer base in a particular demographic
- Promote and gather feedback for a new product
- Stay top of mind among potential customers to drive consistent traffic
Once you have an understanding of your goals, you can start to evaluate different measurement tactics and tools to integrate into your campaign.
Measuring Advertising Reach
As a baseline measurement tool for any campaign, you will want to understand how many people or households you are reaching. This is often communicated as ‘impressions’, and allows you to understand how many times your advertisement is viewed or heard. This is a great tool for understanding the reach of your efforts, but isn’t particularly useful for showing results over time.
Impressions are typically purchased based on CPM, which translates to the cost per mille (thousand) views. If you bought media that delivered 50,000 impressions at a $10 CPM, the cost would be $500.
As you are evaluating media, it’s important to consider the value of an impression to your business, as not all media placements are created equal. For example, sponsoring a tight-knit community event like a sports game or church fundraiser may reach less people than a local roadside billboard, but the brand impact will be more relevant and impactful for those potential customers.
LOCAL PR: If the story of your community partnerships or involvement is picked up in a local paper, you can add the number of readers reached as an additional impression count.
SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS: Similarly, your partnership may be amplified across social media accounts from your own brands or by user-generated content from participating families. On these digital platforms it will be easier to measure impressions, mentions, and shares.
LOCAL SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION: Local press and user-generated content about your community partnerships will help to increase your local stores’ online presence by increasing SEO, which can be measured over time by SEO-specific tools like Moz or by monitoring organic search traffic.
If your restaurant is sponsoring a community event or local group, try distributing a coupon at the events you sponsor, or offer a digital option.
To encourage redemptions, consider making your coupons time-bound, by tying them to a special event like a local spirit week. Another way to encourage redemption is to strategically distribute at an impactful event where people will want to celebrate at the end of the day. If you are sponsoring a local sports team, for example, you could distribute coupons on opening day, or at a major tournament.
Create individual attribution codes for different initiatives that can be tracked through your restaurants’ POS system, in order to measure success.
Keep your audience in mind! It’s important to work directly with the local organizer of the group or event your restaurant is sponsoring, as they will have the best insight about their members. Of course, this effort can get time-consuming when executing across multiple locations and markets. A sponsorship platform like LeagueSide can work directly with community sports leagues to strategize the best way to incentivize redemptions for the QSRs that are sponsoring them.
Another one of the best ways to measure direct store profit from your restaurant’s community involvement and local advertising is to host a fundraiser night, or other special event where a portion of the restaurant’s sales go back into the community.
Case Study: An international asian restaurant chain was able to support store traffic by sponsoring youth sports leagues in markets with struggling stores. By coordinating fundraiser events throughout the season, they saw a strong ROI of +147% for their local stores. Read the full case study.
For both fundraisers and couponing, an important factor in measuring effectiveness is understanding how many first time customers you acquired, then taking into account the average lifetime value of a loyal customer. For example, if your fundraiser brings the Smith family to your restaurant for the first time, and the average lifetime value of a family is $500, it is important to take that full amount into consideration and not just the sales from their initial visit.
To measure increases in brand awareness, likelihood to purchase, favorability, or other custom goals of your restaurant locations, survey your target customer group pre and post campaign. You can use out of the box tools like SurveyMonkey or Pollfish to build and send your surveys to your desired audience by geography or demographic.
If you are involved in a specific community event or group, it’s best to send your surveys directly to that audience, ideally sent by a trusted member of that group. For example, to survey families in a sports league, working with the league commissioner to request participation will increase responses.
In addition to measuring lifts in brand metrics, surveys are a great way to learn about your customer base. For example, asking multiple choice or free response questions like, “what is your favorite menu item,” or “what is your top priority when deciding where to eat,” can lead to gaining valuable insights directly from families in the communities that you serve.
Local events can have hundreds or thousands of families in the same space for a long period of time. Tabling at an event can be a great way for your staff to build relationships in the community, distribute coupons or swag, and/or distribute samples.
Tabling events in the community are a great way to gain insights from consumers. If you are friendly and ask people questions, you will be surprised by how much you can learn!
By tracking the testimonials and feedback you receive at tabling events over time, you can discover qualitative trends in your brand recognition and favorability in the community.
Measuring community marketing initiatives in the restaurant industry is challenging, but with the right tools and techniques your team can understand how participating in the local community is influencing local stores’ bottom lines.
And for when the execution and measurement of local initiatives is too much for your team to handle, platforms like LeagueSide are there to do the heavy lifting for you, so you can focus on building relationships and your brand.
Download our Free Guide to Measuring Restaurant Local Store Marketing