Location-Based Mobile Advertising: A Guide for Restaurants

A visit to a restaurant almost always means a sale. That’s why driving people into your physical locations is so valuable. Luckily that’s easier today with mobile advertising and restaurant owners should consider embracing this modern technology to market their business effectively.

One of the most personal forms of mobile marketing, targeting based on location, has two main strategies every restaurant owner should be aware of. 

  1. Location Based Advertising, which allows you to message your target consumers based on hyper local geography. 

  2. Location Based Services, which allows you to tailor your message to events occurring in those hyper local geographic locations including weather, transportation, and vicinity to friends.

By knowing where your consumers are and how they behave, you can tap into their habits and encourage them with offers and messages that relate to their real time location. This type of marketing is highly effective because it is personalized and it reaches your audience at the most opportune times and locations throughout their day.

Understanding Your Target Audience

Before you dive into actually setting up a campaign, you should research your target audience and define how a location based ad strategy can provide value to them. This can include:

  • Looking for the place where your target audience will be at a certain time with specific needs you are offering

  • Defining the radius around your store during a particular time

  • Identifying location centric keywords that your target audience may be engaging in (ex: coffee shop near gym”).

  • Expanding your target audience by matching up certain attributes (demographics, where they work and live, etc). This will help you grow your audience by creating “look-a-like” groups you can approach.

Once you understand your customers needs it will involve creating an offering that can be compelling for them to take action.

Creating a Compelling Offer and Utilizing Features to Drive Visits

To get the most results from your campaign, your offering, creative design, and features you utilize will play a major role in converting customers. Remember, you are trying to entice visitors in the vicinity to come into your business so the offer should be fairly compelling and make it convenient for them to do so. This doesn’t mean you need to be over the top but keep in mind you will have customers that are already looking for your type of restaurant and those that weren’t even looking for a restaurant but found it convenient to stop by.

Some examples of offers and features you should consider include:

  • Easy-to-claim coupons your user can claim by coming into your store

  • An special item or offer that's only available at a certain time of day (ex: happy hour)

  • Map technologies to provide users an instant “get direction” feature to guide them to your store

  • Simple tap-to-call function to enable them to make reservations

  • Weather targeting services which detect the current weather condition and deliver varying targeted messages (ex: drink specials on a sunny day).

You may not get it right the first time but testing and thinking through the various strategies made available to you will give you the ability to adjust them for more success in the future.

How to Set Up a Location Based Mobile Advertising Campaign

A tricky part to location based marketing can be setting up and managing your campaign but luckily there are providers out there that do much of it for you. To show ads to your target audience you will need a solution that will most importantly buy the ad space, do the location-based targeting for your ad to be displayed appropriately, and track the results of the campaign.

While there are platforms that allow you to do this yourself note that it does take time and effort to manage these media buys. We recommend that if you are starting with a small budget to manage yourself stick with Google Adwords and Facebook Marketing to deliver hyper location targeted campaigns. You can find many guides online that can teach you the process of each platform and there is plenty of documentation available through their websites.

If you have a larger budget and want to get more creative in your marketing strategy we suggest outsourcing this to an agency or media buying platform to run for you. While you will be paying a markup for someone to manage your campaign the results are generally more than favorable to justify the investment. Remember that digital marketing involves a learning curve and outsourcing to professionals is often a safe bet if you have the budget.

Managing, Tracking, and Optimizing Results

The last piece of the puzzle is understanding the results of your campaign and making adjustments to increase performance further. In order to do this you will have to ensure you place proper tracking to collect data as per your metrics plan. The reports and insights should tell you whether your mobile targeting campaign meets the objectives. Additionally, this data can be used to fuel future campaigns or to further optimize your campaign for better results.

It’s not always easy to understand the reportings of a campaign, which provides another benefit to agency managed campaigns that work across multiple clients. However, don’t be discouraged if you can’t get it right the first time on your own and be confident in testing a few variables within the channel.

Location-based mobile advertising has been working for years to help drive traffic to stores and increased sales. To get good results, the targeting tactics will require a lot of work and oftentimes will not be right the first time. The technology has come a long way and only continues to get better each year. As a restaurant in 2021, you should absolutely be considering if a location based campaign can help your business and you may not realize your true customer potential unless you give it a shot.