The Power of Digital Coupons for Multi-Unit Restaurants

For multi-unit restaurant operations, the word "coupon" can be controversial. Some restaurant brands hesitate to integrate couponing into their overall digital strategy. Others find digital coupons are one of the most viable and valuable opportunities in the marketing mix. Thanks to the growth in multi-channel marketing streams, and the data they produce, digital coupons are helping brands to achieve not only more orders, but more customers and more real revenue.

Here's how:

Coupons can drive specific actions. Digital coupons are a rifle shot approach, where restaurants can use targeting to make a specific outcome happen. Restaurants can use coupons to achieve specific actions, resulting in a better return on investment for a promotional offering.

Coupons can target specific individuals and groups

More than ever, consumers welcome and even expect a degree of personalization. They are more apt to react positively to a personalized experience, and these positive reactions lead to better outcomes. It's all about serving the right offer to the right person, at the right time. For example, your existing customers are already happily spending time and money in the establishment. But if the person visiting your website or your app is not a frequent guest, the digital coupon can give them an extra incentive, a friendly little push in the direction of an incremental visit.

Coupons are for more than just giveaways and freebies. Instead, coupons can be seen as marginal, incremental opportunities. For example, coupons can be used to get individuals to spend more on a check than they average, or used to drive repeat visits while only giving away items where you can afford to take the hit on gross margin.

Coupons are perfect for testing

Let's use the example of a large restaurant group with multiple locations across many markets. Often, groups like this encounter pushback from franchisees whenever coupons are rolled out. The short-term vision of the franchisee is that the coupons are not helping net performance metrics, that they cost the location money.

Yet, with intelligent data driven by digital coupon programs, the restaurant franchise can test the promotions, initiatives and products in a single DMA that might be friendlier to the coupon, or more responsive to the promotion. The performance data from those test initiatives can be used to justify broader action across the corporation, to make better decisions and to build better programs throughout the network.

The fact is, the digital toolbox is getting bigger. Digital coupons allow brands to capture guest information, and to build more personalized, segmented, and sophisticated campaigns and to gain more top line and bottom line revenue

The brands who are doing this well are generating strong returns on their investment, getting buy-in from their franchisee groups, and seeing greater frequency of visits from the guests they target. No matter how you look at it, for multi-unit restaurant groups, there are few ways better than the digital coupon to drive results across the marketing landscape.