Beyond Demographics: The Value of Capturing Customer Data

Legend has it that a soup salesman named Boulanger opened the first modern restaurant 250 years ago in Paris.  It’s probable that even Monsieur Boulanger responded directly to the preferences of his customers in deciding what soup to put on the menu, hours of operations and how to make sure guests came back. 

Today, thanks to technology, restaurateurs can get a treasure trove of information about who their customers are, and that knowledge can determine success.

What do today’s restaurateurs really need to know about their guests?

The National Restaurant Association (NRA) projects U.S. industry sales of $799 billion by the end of 2017.  The landscape is becoming increasingly more competitive with more than one million restaurant locations currently operating nationwide.

What Boulanger could not have predicted is that in 2017, restaurants would have the ability to gather an ever-increasing amount of information about their customers.  The key is to make that data actually work to a restaurant’s greatest advantage.  

What do today’s restaurateurs really need to know about their guests?

Knowing the demographics of the community plays into pricing the menu.  Beyond that, having a sense of the cultural expectations of the neighborhood affects what should be served.  Additionally, being aware of the demographic factors that influenced what has worked in the location previously – or not worked – is key information. 

However, there is much more information about both the customer base, and each guest as an individual, that can be captured via a Wi-Fi analytics platform.  The value of capturing data and the ability to view it in real time can actually make the difference between success and failure.

Put simply, a Wi-Fi analytics platform drills down on the “5 W’s” of behavior of each individual customer:

  • Who are they?
  • What are their food and beverage preferences?
  • When do they visit the restaurant and how long do they stay?
  • Where do they order? (online or on-site?)
  • Why do they return?

Going into minute detail on each of these “5W’s” is how Wi-Fi analytics goes beyond demographic data to trigger marketing to each guest based on their own habits and preferences. In the past, the missing link between traditional and digital marketing has been the aspect of collecting the actual data that allows personalizing communication with individual guests in order to improve the customer relationship and overall dining experience. Now cloud-based technology offers Wi-Fi marketing and analytics that can provide advanced tracking metrics for restaurants.  By analyzing customer segmentation, a restaurateur can also rescue at risk customers and decrease churn rate.   

Unfortunately, the restaurant industry is woefully lagging in the area of technology.  In fact, a recent survey by the NRA found that 32 percent of restaurant operators consider their operations to be lagging when it comes to technology use.  But there’s hope – with 68 percent of restaurants offering Wi-Fi for guests there is an existing opportunity to implement new marketing automation technologies that drive traffic and promote guest loyalty.

However, the industry is realizing that using Wi-Fi analytics and intelligent marketing to accomplish behavior targeting provides a clear ROI. This “intelligent marketing” is essential for the hospitality industry to continue to engage and retain customers, especially those who look to their own personal technology for the convenience of online ordering and take advantage of loyalty deals. When exploring the benefits of behavioral triggered marketing, keep in mind that 90 percent of consumers keep their mobile phones with them at all times.

‘Intelligent marketing’ is essential for the hospitality industry to continue to engage and retain customers.

A mix of brand storytelling, triggered deals and encouraging social conversations that speak directly to individual customers is not only achievable, it’s cost effective.  Wi-Fi analytics and automated marketing platforms start with capturing customer data and analyzing customer behavior.  The programs then use the data to deliver relevant content. 

Big data that goes beyond demographics works for the hospitality by using real time intelligence to truly personalize the customer experience and deliver dynamic marketing content.  The new cloud based technology captures customer profiles and tracks their dining behavior to provide targeted automated marketing.  This allows restaurants to tell their brand story in a way that enhances the in-restaurant experience and drives traffic, on a one-to-one basis with actual customers.

Restaurants need to continually maintain a solid grasp on their operations from the guest side.  Traffic analytics that can actually measure customer behavior at physical locations is the first step.  Analyzing daily traffic provides an excellent overview, but it’s also possible to drill down further to gain information on dining behaviors.  For example, how long do diners take to enjoy their meal? How likely is it that an average customer will return and what is their projected lifetime value?  Customer rating analysis is important data for the hospitality industry.

Average dwell time, also measured by a data analytics platform, directly influences how and when to market to customers.  At the same time, the platform measures other important analytics such as churn rate, projected location traffic and popular visit times, each of which offer major advantages to operational decision making, as well as automated marketing.

For the 37 percent of restaurants that offer online ordering and the 32 percent of restaurants accepting mobile payment (source: NRA), implementing an automated marketing platform expands its technological capabilities.  Adding presence analytics that taps into these sales tactics means the restaurant can offer a more personalized experience, in triggering deals that relate specifically to customer ordering behavior.

The key difference in a cloud-based Wi-Fi marketing and analytics platform is getting ahead of guest sentiment when they are on the premises and immediately sending offers and suggestions to influence ordering decisions. The company also has the ability to send deals to people both before and after they visit the location and remarket to them just as they are about to exit the premises.

It’s important to leverage this loyalty in every way possible, which is why knowing who that customer is and learning their dining behavior is so important to the marketing mix. Going the additional step to offer the customer triggered deals that continue to engage their interest even after they leave is what will ensure return visits.

Metrics are available like never before.  Going beyond demographics can help you understand your business in a whole new light and explore how data will drive sales.   If he were alive today, as the world’s first restaurant innovator, Monsieur Boulanger would surely embrace Wi-Fi analytics and automated marketing to sell more of his famous soup.