Customer segmentation should be a fundamental aspect of maintaining relationships and growing your customer base. This is as relevant for the restaurant industry as it is for any other, as customer segmentation is a superb way to collect and process data and has been reimagined for these times to success for both enormo brands and small businesses alike.
Understanding Customer Segmentation
Technology and data are continually changing the landscape of the restaurant industry, altering how and where customers eat and how the industry operates at its utmost potential. Despite all of the noise surrounding social media marketing, it’s interesting to note that email still leads the field when it comes to effective marketing techniques and knowing how to ensure targeted communication lands is as important as ever.
As a precursor to targeting and positioning, customer segmentation facilitates targeting by selecting mutually exclusive customer groups. The benefit? Allowing you, as a business owner or marketer, to target customer groups with messaging that does not overlap, and therefore remains relevant, engaging, and results driven.
Let’s look at your entire customer base as a great big pie, made up of various unique and equally delicious ingredients. Your customer segments (or slices, if you like) will come about via the following steps:
- Slice your customer pie into different segments
- Discover what makes each of these slices unique and individual
- Plan targeted communication that works best for each slice
This is a simplified version of the process, but like all good recipes, it’s the foundation that allows for experimentation and discovery that really matters.
Top Tips for Restaurant Customer Segmentation
The benefits of customer segmentation for restaurants are clear. This approach will increase email open rates, ensuring your message is actually being read rather than chucked in the trash, and it will encourage the click-throughs that lead to actual conversions.
Before you add more technical tools to your business, though, it’s important to say a word about security. Unfortunately, the pandemic has resulted in more online attacks against restaurants and small businesses than ever before. We’re all (hopefully) getting more data-savvy and developing a new appreciation for how to protect both business and personal data from those keen to steal identities or commit fraud.
Thankfully, segmenting customers need not require you to be a technological genius, or even especially good with computers. It is, quite simply, a process which allows a business to evaluate its customer base, and thus identify commonalities of criteria groups including age, preferences, behavior, spending history and more, before breaking them into segments for fluid communication purposes.
There are, in fact, plenty of tools that allow you to segment customers with existing data and without adding any extra security risks. The most popular comes from Facebook.
New Tools for Customer Segmentation Success
Facebook recently launched a tool that slots nicely into the subject of customer segmentation and associated marketing campaigns – the snappily titled Audience Overlap.
Audience Overlap enables restaurant business owners (and anyone else looking to market a service or product, for that matter) to take two or more audiences and to uncover the percentage of overlap between each one. It essentially answers the question of how many users there are in Audience A who also fit into Audience B, helping eliminate overlap and increase engagement with marketing material.
This new tool allows you to compare audiences in three distinct categories:
- Saved Audiences
- Lookalike Audiences
- Custom Audiences
What’s more, you can compare audiences across all categories (meaning you are able to compare Lookalike Audiences to Custom ones, and one Custom Audience group against another, etc., resulting in better targeting and more precision in your marketing materials.
So, what’s the best approach for restaurant industry customer segmentation? Let’s look into four categories – or segments – suggestions which will get this ball rolling.
- By Neighborhood: Targeting specific districts and locations is a great way to boost customer engagement and interest. You could promote special offers for workplaces, communities, or schools, which encourage customer groups to communicate between themselves and get excited about visiting your venue.
- Loyal Customers: Loyal customers are the cornerstone of any food business, as it’s far easier to bring a happy customer back through your doors than try to encourage someone to give your restaurant a go for the first time.
- Customer Preferences: Many of customers have a favorite dish or type of dish that they’re pulled towards. In an age when intolerances and dietary choices inform so many foodie decisions, this becomes a great way to segment your audience.
- Customers Yet to Review: Your customer reviews have the power to make or break your food business, and they’re becoming an increasingly important source of information for those yet to discover your restaurant. Encouraging reviews via email communication is a great way to not only dynamize your audience base, but to ensure those stars keep pouring in.
Customer segmentation – and using this to investigate your audience overlaps – is no longer an optional extra when it comes to digital marketing. This is especially true when we factor in the types of Customer Segmentation listed in the previous section, as they let you further narrow down and pinpoint the best targeted ads and emails that will bring about the best results. In a post-covid restaurant industry, personalization and customization will be king and tools that help are crucial.