Case Study – Restaurant Grand Opening Marketing Online

In future blog posts I may add some case studies to determine what has or hasn’t worked when using online marketing to help generate new business.  A recent project is worth a short case study due to the fact that it simultaneously both worked and did not work as well as expected.

OVERVIEW:

A fast-casual and drive-through restaurant chain, with the majority of its locations and headquarters, is based in Northern California.  The company desired to expand and chose the Dallas Fort Worth region as its main expansion focal point.  This is due to the influx of people and businesses moving into the DFW Metroplex area which meet their primary demographic audience.

There is significant competition for the type of food that they serve.  With that understood, one of their differentiators is to have a grand opening where they give away free food and offer some light entertainment (music, bounce house for kids, etc.).

THE CLIENT’S BELIEFS

Their belief is that free food, like it does for high school and college kids, is enough of an enticement to get people to show up.  From there they believe that the word-of-mouth should take over and help boost day-by-day traffic to the restaurant in conjunction with basic social media and real-world marketing:  coupons, flyers, direct mail, etc.

They asked me to help promote the grand opening event with various online marketing elements:  SEO, paid ads, free listings, etc.  The end result was their best turnout ever for a grand opening, despite the weather being less-than-ideal during a cold Saturday afternoon in February in North Texas.

WHAT WORKED:

In terms of what worked to promote this restaurant’s grand opening, from the online marketing perspective, it boiled down to three elements:

  • Targeted Facebook paid ads
  • Online event calendar listings via the classified ads
  • Dallas Fort Worth-specific “things to do” calendars

The clear winner, of the three, was the Facebook paid ad method.  Although people surveyed at the event mentioned the above 3 virtually to the exclusion of other methods, the Facebook paid advertising method was the best far and away.

Instead of paying to have people “like” the Facebook page, or paying to have them leave Facebook and be taken to another website, we crafted a basic post to go on the Facebook page.  It answered the “Who, What, When, Where, Why, How” questions; and it had a graphic of the free food which would be given away that day.

In order to overcome resistance, we emphasized that the person didn’t need to bring any coupon or have to show anything at the event.  All that was required was to show up and eat free food.

METRICS

We split test different ads to determine which would have the best “metrics”.  Unlike regular online ad metrics, paid ads in social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.) have additional measurements of success which include:

  • “likes” of the post
  • shares of the post (the biggest one as it reaches people via a “tacit” endorsement)
  • post comments
  • clicks through to the website to get more information

Remember that the restaurant business, especially in a high-competition environment like Dallas Fort Worth, likely will draw people from no more than 5 miles and, likely, more like 1-3 miles.  In order to address this, we targeted the paid advertising to JUST the zip code where the restaurant’s location is.  This can be altered in your case if your location is near the line of two zip codes; but the restaurant in this study was in the middle of its zip code.

We then targeted the Facebook paid ad (promoting the SPECIFIC post on the Facebook business page) by this method:

  • zip code(s)
  • genders (we targeted both men and women)
  • language spoken (in this case, just English)
  • age range (we chose ages 30-40)
  • interests:  we chose interests based on those which would be “liked” or groups liked by parents with kids in the 30-40 age range.  These include local youth soccer, PTA, kids TV shows, etc
  • marital status:  we chose all, but your specific post could targeted those who are only “married”, “divorced”, “separated”, “single”, etc.
  • workplaces:  we did not narrow the list to those only working for specific companies, although you have that flexibility if you are running a Facebook ad promotion for those working for major employers in your area

END RESULT

The Facebook paid (promoted) post got shared/commented/liked over 700 times according to the paid ad stats provided by Facebook.  Based on predetermining percentages of those who took action, with those who showed up, the client and I figured that the efforts produced somewhere in the neighborhood of at least 250 people showing up as a result of the Facebook paid advertising.

The cost to have one person actually show up, based on the total ad spend, was around $0.80 (eighty cents).  The acquisition cost-per-new-customer was more successful than they imagined it would be.  In conjunction with their real world efforts, such as promotions at local schools and churches, the efforts led to a combined turnout better than they ever had at any grand opening in company history.

THINGS WHICH DIDN’T WORK

While the above is great, a case study wouldn’t be beneficial to you without understanding what didn’t work.  The following list doesn’t mean that these techniques are bad.  It just means that they didn’t work for this particular grand opening in February 2015 in the DFW market for the type of food being promoted.

  • Press release:  not enough distribution through social channels to reach the very-defined audience in one zip code.  The retail consumer’s ability to be accessed via basic online press releases (for just “free food”) is not newsworthy enough.
    • The press release DID WORK, however, in terms of ranking in the search engines for “XYZ food TOWN Texas” and “XYZ catering TOWN Texas”.  This gives merit to the press release strategy for getting new walk-in customers and catering orders months after the grand opening is completed
    • The press release has to be optimized for these phrases, however, so be sure that you know what you are doing
    • Link building to the press release helped the press release stay on top of the search engines.  Contact us if you need help with boosting your previous press releases for certain keywords in the search engines
  • Contacting the “things to do” people in Twitter for that town.  Even though this made good sense, it just didn’t work out as the people running those Twitter channels either didn’t care or weren’t given enough incentive to make repeat endorsements to their followers (which supposedly had hundreds from that town)
    • If your grand opening really has something newsworthy, like a famous band or pro athlete appearing, then these Twitter channel owners may help you; but otherwise their influence appears to be exaggerated
  • Using Twitter hashtags for the specific town
    • It just didn’t work for this case, despite 5 tweets all using the city’s most in-demand hashtag (supposedly)
  • YouTube videos from previous grand openings in nearby cities
    • Nobody seemed to care, as the view counts, despite being marketed to the new town just never increased markedly.  No comments/likes/etc. of the video from the previous city’s grand opening
    • This was weird as both the client and I thought that “social proof” (seeing other people having fun at a recent grand opening) would generate some anticipation of what was to take place at the upcoming grand opening.  It just didn’t work out that way
  • Relying on friends and employees to tweet, like, share the information.  Unless forced or paid to do so, the staff just “never got around” to promoting the grand opening’s “Who, What, When, Where, Why, How” information to THEIR OWN friends and family
    • This can be deemed “sad”, but it confirms the stereotype of the “employee mindset” when they have no vested interest in generating one new person to appear
    • Corporate office is rethinking the incentives on certain days (not just grand openings) to give employees a financial incentive to market to those they know; but that process is still in its infancy
  • QR Codes:  this didn’t work because the staff barely gave out the material with the QR code to those who attended early in the afternoon to “check in” or leave a review on Facebook which would entice friends to attend the event later in the afternoon.  The few who handed out the material couldn’t convey why someone should scan the QR code
    • This ties in with the employee mindset mentioned above
    • It also shows a lack of understanding by corporate office, as they realized later the power that QR codes can have on generating positive reviews on sites like UrbanSpoon.com, Yelp, and other review websites

TAKEAWAYS FOR YOU

Thank you for reading this far.  I want you to have an honest look at what did and did not work in this particular case study.  Some of the methods COULD have worked, but they needed more time or refinement; and, in some cases, they needed to give their own people more incentive to promote the event.

As for your upcoming grand opening or other event that needs online marketing to help increase attendance there are some takeaways:

  • Give staff some sort of incentive to promote the event
  • Free works, but not in all online media
  • Some methods, which you expect to work, will fizzle (i.e. the YouTube video of the previous grand opening for a city 20 miles away)
  • Hyper-targeted paid ads, even though they are paid posts, likely will generate a very low cost to acquire a new customer (client).  This has to have lots of planning beforehand, however, in order to maximize your ad spend
  • Sometimes an effort can generate business in the long term, even though it lost out in the short term
    • The press release is the example in this case

I hope that all of this helps you better understand the role of online marketing when having a live grand opening for a local business.  If you need help with any aspect, especially the paid ads, then you are welcome to contact us for strategy and/or implementation assistance.

Dallas AdWords Consultant – What You Can Expect

If you represent a business in the Dallas Fort Worth area, or any major U.S. city, then you may have considered using online paid advertising to reach prospective customers or clients.  Many businesses like the choice of Google AdWords because it offers them flexibility in three ways:

  • advertising on the Google Search Network (Google search engine results pages)
  • advertising on the Google Display Network (showing up on relevant websites and blogs/forums which permit Google to run ads)
  • advertising within YouTube, including targeting specific phrases or even specific competitors

Regarding using the Google Search Network, which is the one most commonly used by businesses looking to reach out to those directly searching for their products and services, you may not be familiar with all of advanced options within your account.  While the natural tendency is to say “skip it”, neglecting these could cause two issues:

  • your ads do not get enough exposure due to issues like your ad’s “Quality Score” or other concerns
  • you may be paying more per click than you should be

If you are considering a consultant to help you with your online pay per click (PPC) strategy, especially if you use AdWords, then here are some of the topics which should be analyzed within your account:

* Reviewing account settings and coordination with other Google services such as Webmaster Tools, Analytics, YouTube (if so desired), etc.

* Campaign settings analysis which includes narrowing campaigns to one device, whether or not optimized for clicks, percentage of ad scheduling, ad rotation, combining display with search network, etc.

* Ad Group analysis which includes multiple ads for split testing, limiting keywords per ad group, etc.

* Keyword analysis which includes percentage of broad match vs. phrase/exact match, adding/editing negative keywords, Quality Score analysis, problem status keywords, etc.

* Ad management analysis which includes:  Disapproved Ads management, altering display URL if needed, campaigns having ads with ad extensions, punctuation on the headling (e.g. “?”), etc.

* Ad copy analysis which includes call to action, any scarcity/urgency/intrigue, keyword in the ad

If your business spends $5000 a month or more on the Google AdWords Search Network, then it is possible that your consultant can help you get more clicks for the same ad spend each month; or you may be able to get the same number of targeted clicks while trimming 5% or more from your monthly ad spend.  Sometimes the percentage savings can be even greater if your consultant discovers wasted money on clicks which are not relevant or are poorly performing due to the page where the prospects are being sent.

As a side benefit, enhancing your pages where paid traffic is being sent also has the potential to improve your SEO efforts in the other search engines.

If you spend a respectable amount each month in AdWords, and you would like assistance to enhance your ROI, then you are welcome to contact us with your questions.

 

 

Reaching The Entire DFW Market

Some business owners throughout the Dallas Fort Worth region truly can serve the entire DFW market and even additional markets.  Unlike smaller services which can serve a realistic radius of 5-10 miles (or an even smaller radius), these businesses have a different vision such as:

  • there is enough profit margin in the transaction to justify the time and expense to travel to a small town across the DFW Metroplex and conduct business
  • the business is so unique, or perceived to be so specialized, that prospective customers across the region want the product, service or other benefits associated with the particular business
  • the business can ship products and/or already has representatives near to the smaller towns in DFW

One question is which types of businesses can justify marketing to a wider radius than just the regular small 5-10 mile radius which is common with many local businesses?  Another question is how to reach the smaller towns without having to become a member of each local chamber of commerce or placing ads in every newspaper or print publication across the region?

Types Of Businesses Which Qualify

Here is just a short list of the types of businesses which can pursue larger-radius marketing at the DFW level or even state-wide:

  • Corporate relocation services
  • Specialty legal and financial services
  • Industrial products
  • Higher end home improvement services (e.g. interior design, remodeling, etc.)
  • Custom home builders
  • Surveyors
  • Higher end home repair services (sewer line installation, etc.)
  • Etc.

How To Reach All Of DFW And Beyond

The first thing you need to know is that there are over 200 towns and cities which comprise the DFW region.  This is not just Dallas, Collin, Denton or Tarrant Counties either.  The neighboring counties also are included as there can be highly-qualified prospects in the small towns throughout every DFW county.

To narrow down the options of how to reach these people, and do so in a budget-sensitive manner you have a few options:

  • TV ads — obviously you must be hyper-vigilant about your budget and any tracking you can generate here
  • Same with radio ads
  • Classified ads are a great way to get exposure.  Be sure to optimize your ads to include the towns and cities which you serve; and be sure to play nice by the terms of service and posting rules for the various online classified ads you intend to use
  • Direct mail targeting specific neighborhoods in specific zip codes.  A good mailing list broker, who can highly target your prospects across the region, would be a very wise investment here
  • Paid press release distribution can be beneficial, especially if you mention specific towns in your content
  • Pay Per Click (AdWords) is a smart way to start.  You can target each specific town, but you want to send the traffic to optimized (town-specific) landing pages on your website.  Also, be sure that there is some sort of benefit easily visible to the prospective customer and a “call to action” (e.g. “call today” or “download this coupon”)
    • Note that there are other pay-per-click services besides Google AdWords, Yahoo’s advertising, and Bing’s advertising services.  Please contact us for these alternative options where your competition may not be advertising
  • For business-to-business (B2B) advertising in the Dallas Fort Worth region you may consider targeted advertising within LinkedIn
  • You can do demographic-based targeted advertising, especially town by town, in Facebook.  Just note that:
    • depending on the devices your prospects use, you may not get complete exposure on Facebook to those using mobile devices
    • you likely will have a higher conversion rate if you send the traffic to a page you control within Facebook.  Most Facebook users don’t like to be led automatically off of Facebook at first, so consider sending the traffic to Facebook page you control regularly which has consistently-updated benefit-laden content (coupons, discounts, helpful tips, entertaining videos, etc.)
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO).  This is one of the trickier, but possibly soundest ways to get hyper-targeted prospects.  You can have created for you a multi-niche website (or a blog which resides alongside your website) which has town-specific optimized pages.  Ideally, the content on each of the 200+ towns is unique including article content, images, any embedded videos, etc.  Just so long as the combination of text/images/videos is unique you should be good, especially for phrases people type in which may have relatively low competition in the search engines.

The latter option (the blog/website with town-optimized pages) gives you additional benefit.  For example, here is a website which has town-optimized pages for varying business niches.  Here is one for a series of highly-related niches.  And here is a site with optimized pages for just one niche.

The benefits here are:

  • That you can control specific content for each town or city in which you want to market.  For example, if you want to give coupons in one town but not another you can do so
  • You have optimized pages to which you can send your pay per click (PPC) traffic such as traffic Google AdWords.  This increases the odds of gaining a higher “quality score” for your ads (assuming everything else is done right) and possibly saving money by reducing your per-click costs
  • The optimized page could rank well in the search engines for the times when the phrase is entered alongside the specific town (e.g. “your business Plano TX”)
  • You even go “deeper” than the specific towns.  For example, if you want to offer incentives to people in specific HOA’s or parts of a town then you can do so.

If you would help on any of these topics then you are welcome to contact us with your specific needs.  Thank you for your time and consideration to share this post.

Benefits Of A Dallas Fort Worth PPC AdWords Consultant

If you are looking to grow your business in the Dallas Fort Worth region, whether you are seeking new local or regional customers, there are several ways to get traffic to your website and other web properties.  Of course, you would like to have all of the traffic you can handle coming to you from no-cost sources.  These sources include:

  • ranking well in the search engines for high-traffic broad terms people enter (keywords) relevant to what you are selling
  • ranking well in the search engines for terms (keywords) which are indicative of someone wanting to do business with you right away
  • free press release sites
  • people promoting your services on local online forums which have high degrees of trust
  • people promoting (endorsing) you to their colleagues and friends on sites like LinkedIn
  • having your video “go viral” on YouTube
  • getting free media coverage from the websites of local TV, radio and newspapers across DFW
  • etc.

Unfortunately, you may not have the initial budget, luck or skill to consistently get that type of traffic to your website or other web properties (e.g. your Twitter and Facebook pages) where people can do business with your Dallas Fort Worth-based business.  You also may have a new website where you want to test how well the website’s aesthetics help to convert first-time visitors to call you, e-mail you, download a free e-book, or take some other “call to action”.

In these types of situations you may want to consider using some form paid advertising.  These can include paid press release online distribution services, demographic target ads on Facebook, and the more traditional pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.  The benefits to this last type of advertising can include the following (and more):

  • You can control how much you want to spend on a per-click, per-day or per campaign amount
  • You can choose whether you want to advertise on the search engine results pages and/or on relevant websites which either focus on Dallas Fort Worth topics or are being looked at by people with DFW I.P. addresses
  • You can determine if you want your ads to appear on mobile devices, laptop/desktop devices or all devices
  • You can control (to some degree) what time of day, and what days of the week, your ads will run
  • There are call tracking capabilities (in some regards) which can help you determine the effectiveness
  • You can run ads which have a maps “marker” indicating your place of business in the DFW region

Google has its pay-per-click (PPC) or cost-per-1000-impressions (CPM) ad network which every Dallas Fort Worth business owner can use.  This is called Google AdWords.  The AdWords system permits a business owner to:

  • include goal tracking and other conversion tracking
  • integration with Google Analytics
  • keyword-level tracking
  • targeting specific sites which have placed an “open billboard” for Google to place relevant ads
  • etc.

From the same login and password you even can promote your specific YouTube videos and do pay-per-view (PPV) marketing, which is the YouTube video equivalent of traditional pay per click advertising.  In that instance you can promote your video to rank in YouTube for when people make specific searches inside of YouTube; or you can pay to get placement on a specific video which you believe would attract a certain percentage of that video’s viewers to your business’ video.

As you can see, this type of advertising can be more extensive than you may have first considered.  One note to consider is that many DFW business owners are overpaying for clicks during their initial attempts at Google AdWords or other pay per click marketing.  There are several ways to either:

  • get the same number of targeted clicks for a lower per-click price
  • get more targeted clicks for the same monthly advertising spend

Hopefully you can understand the possible need for a pay per click (PPC) and AdWords consultant in Dallas Fort Worth to help local businesses make intelligent decisions.  Click the link to learn more about that type of service and what to ask when you seek assistance to help you get more from your advertising budget.

Dallas PPC – When Is Pay Per Click Better Than SEO

A common question many Dallas area business owners have asked me is if it is better to follow a SEO strategy or a pay-per-click (PPC) strategy.  The answer depends on the actual keyword being chosen. Ideally, if your budget allows for both strategies then you should consider doing both.  If your budget, however, is constrained then here is an example to help you determine which is best for your specific situation.

At the time of this example, the Google Keyword Tool says that the following keywords have this data:

  • The keyword phrase “Nail salon Dallas” has 2900 searches per month, has some degree of seasonality (but nothing skewed or out of the ordinary), and has an average cost-per-click (CPC) $0.83 per click.  Note that the CPC is not a “fixed price”; but it is the best available data you will have to work with that is not from a paid keyword research data mining software program
  • The keyword phrase “Nail salons in Dallas” has 590 searches per month, and has a posted CPC of $0.05 per click.  This extremely-cheap pay-per-click cost may not be realistic, and an inexpensive CPC would require ideal optimization of the ad and landing page for the keyword.  Nonetheless, you can be conservative and assume that the keyword would cost, in reality, somewhere around $0.30 per click

One other assumption:  let’s assume that if you rank # 1 in the “organic” (left-hand side) keyword results (not including the Maps listings) for a one-month period, then you will receive  roughly 40% of the searches.

Here is the math for our example:

  • If you were to rank # 1 for “Nail salon Dallas” then you would receive 40% of the  2900 searches for the month.  This would translate to roughly 1160 visitors for the 30-day period.  To buy 1160 visitors (clicks), you would have to pay roughly $962.80 per month at an average of $0.83/click
  • If you were to buy all 590 clicks for “nail salons in Dallas” (which would take longer than thes one-month period) at $0.30 per click (our conservative adjusted CPC) it would cost you roughly $177
  • 590 clicks for “nail salon Dallas” would cost you on PPC, at $0.83 per click, roughly $489.70

Let’s assume that your SEO efforts will get you roughly 2 months (60 days) of ranking # 1 in the search engines for the keyword.  If the cost, in terms of time and cash outlay, are cheaper for SEO then it is advantageous to pursue a SEO strategy instead of a PPC strategy.  This assumes that you are willing to follow the rules for intelligent and optimization.

{AUTHOR NOTE}

Please note that the pay-per-click costs we are discussing is not the Google Content Network.  This post is about the traditional Google Search Network, Yahoo’s PPC network, and the Bing/MSN AdCenter network.

If you need any help designing a pay-per-click (PPC) strategy then please feel free to contact me at your convenience.