Marketers and advertisers have always sought new and better ways to understand and target their audience. If you can do this well, your odds of success increase exponentially.
Technological tools have revolutionized this process, giving us unprecedented insight into who our audiences are, and ultimately lead to how we can best identify and reach them.
And for restaurants, few of these techniques are more relevant than geofencing.
Build the fence, and the customers will come.
The premise behind geofencing is simple: Businesses can specifically advertise to people who are within a specific geographical area. By using certain technologies, a boundary is created, and everyone within that boundary serves as the target audience.
So how does it work? Geofencing uses well-established location-based technologies, including GPS and Bluetooth, to identify people within a certain area and communicate with them. While the technology isn’t new, it has come to play an important role in marketing and advertising because of another invention — the smartphone.
The technology is particularly useful for businesses such as restaurants. Your typical example of restaurant geofencing would feature an eating establishment creating marketing material (for instance, a limited-time coupon) and sending it to everyone within a specified geographical boundary via their mobile device. As soon as someone enters the specified virtual boundary, the coupon is transmitted via push notification.
Let’s take a look at how this works in closer detail. A restaurant proprietor wants to generate more walk-in foot traffic. Instead of relying on signage or offsite advertising, she employs restaurant geofencing to create a virtual boundary around the establishment.
When people carrying smartphones enter the boundary, they automatically receive a coupon for a free appetizer that expires in sixty minutes. Because the recipients are already in close proximity to the restaurant (and because people are biologically programmed to respond to feelings of urgency), they are much more likely to redeem the limited time offer.
Restaurants can also choose to switch up the offers on a daily (or even hourly) basis, responding to changing conditions inside the establishment. If a restaurant has a shipment of pricey and fast-perishing bluefin tuna to sell, it’s a simple task to create a special offer and send out a new push notification within the geofence.
It’s also a great idea to be flexible and use geofencing to capitalize on changing conditions outside the restaurant. If the weather is gorgeous, send out a push notification and remind everyone about your beautiful outdoor seating area.
The benefits of restaurant geofencing
We’ve discussed the positive effect restaurant geofencing can have on sales through location-based targeting. Yet geofencing provides a few other benefits, including the ability to collect more data.
When customers redeem geofenced coupons or offers, restaurants can track other metrics, including the amount of time spent inside the restaurant, the level of repeat business and the type of food and drinks ordered.
Restaurants can also use data gathered to create more highly targeted and personalized promotions, something that should improve the diner experience and lead to lots of repeat business.
Ultimately, restaurant geofencing can be a highly useful tool that helps establishments better understand the demographics of the area and the preferences and behavior of those inside.
While that’s a recipe for success, it’s also important that you lay the proper groundwork for your geofencing campaign. That means encouraging people to download your smartphone app (geofencing works via app, after all) and setting a reasonable boundary. You can experiment with distances, but it’s generally recommended to stay within a mile or two for maximum foot traffic.