To succeed, restaurants should serve up the right coupons
BeFrugal.com examines top restaurant coupons and provides best practices
– There is a growing demand for coupons from restaurants and yet not enough establishments are taking advantage of this opportunity to bring in additional business. Coupons & cash back website BeFrugal.com examined their top 100 restaurants based on domain traffic, restaurant-specific coupon searches and popularity on BeFrugal.com to identify which discount methods are most commonly used by restaurants.
86% of the top 100 restaurants on BeFrugal.com offer some type of coupon online, which includes email offers. 16% post coupons on their website and 15% encourage patrons online to join a rewards program to earn free food, discounts, or other incentives for loyalty.
Data from the Promotion Marketing Association shows that after a decade long decline, coupon purchases have now increased this year compared to a year ago. According to a recent study conducted by Prospectiv, nearly 3/4 of consumers are using more coupons now than six months prior. When receiving coupons or specials, nearly 4/5 consumers are very likely to frequent the restaurant and almost 2/3 have used restaurant coupons in the past 6 months. There are many methods used, so which is the most effective?
Online and mobile options for coupon distribution include:
- Facebook (for those who have "Liked" brand), often using a custom tab utilizing a “Like” gate which allows brands to communicate with fans after they receive their coupon and may automatically share the deal with friends of the new fan in their timeline for additional exposure
- Twitter offers, linking to a coupon and providing additional details outside of the 140 character tweet
- Including a coupons section on the restaurant’s website
- Deployment of offers using a mobile app via push
- Text offers, after a patron has opted in
- Receipt after email signup, which can be distributed the following ways:
- As an incentive after joining email list
- A special anniversary offer
- A coupon for a birthday
- Offers throughout the year
Examples of common offer types include:
- Buy 1, get 1 free or at a special price
- Free app or dessert with an entrée purchase
- A dollar amount saved off an item (such as $1 off the purchase of French fries)
- A dollar amount saved off a total bill of a certain threshold (such as $1 off a bill of $10+)
- A percentage off an item or order total
- Kids eat free w/adult purchase
- Special pricing (for example, an item only $2 with a coupon)
There are other types of offers to consider:
- Saving when a first online order is placed, possibly opting into an email list and/or online loyalty program in the process
- Email club for kids to get involved using games, prizes, coupons, etc.
- Special deals for seniors or another affinity group
- Coupons or special offers during for off-peak day(s) or less frequented times of day; the early bird special is an extension of this concept
- Coupons for new menu items
- Points for frequent use (using a loyalty card or app scan)
- Holiday themed special offers such as a discount when a patron is dressed in a costume, seen used on Halloween and other holidays
Promotions can be tied to holiday and calendar specific times. Some examples are:
- Free donut on "Donut Day"
- Free food or a discount for members of the military on the 4th of July
- Free app/entrée/dessert on your birthday
- Free app/entrée/dessert on your anniversary
60% of consumers say they are more loyal to a restaurant if they are a recipient of their email offers, yet only 59% of the top 100 restaurants on BeFrugal.com provide a coupon to a consumer after they sign up for their email list. Slightly more (62%) email a special offer or coupon for use on or around a guest’s birthday. Far fewer (5%) email a special offer or coupon for use on a guest’s anniversary. 94% have an email sign up often, but not all are utilizing it to the full potential.
A recent ABI Research study showed that more than 1/3 of consumers would increase their response with mobile incentives and just under 1/3 said they probably would increase their response if given mobile incentives. Just 36% of the top 100 restaurants on BeFrugal.com provide a text offer.
How often & how many coupons should a restaurant provide? BeFrugal.com suggests anywhere from 1 coupon to 10 coupons available at any one time. They can last 1 day only or multiple months, depending on the offer. Monthly or weekly new offers may also work well for some restaurants, as these attract a following and encourage for members to check back often and be loyal patrons. Others opt to have offers available infrequently, meaning there are usually no coupons available but some on rare occasions. This model makes a rare coupon special and create buzz.
Providing a coupon is sometimes not enough. Depending on the restaurant’s following, more activity may be needed to attract patrons. “BeFrugal.com is glad to post offers for restaurants and stores, allowing these establishments to reach new customers,” said BeFrugal.com founder Jon Lal. “With a team who continuously updates our website, email marketing campaigns, and social media, BeFrugal.com shares restaurant coupons for more than 200 popular restaurants with our online community of savvy shoppers who have an appetite for great deals.”
About BeFrugal.com: BeFrugal.com is a website focused on frugal living. It features cash back, coupons, deals and bargains, as well as Web-based tools to help consumers save money.
About the Author: Jon Lal is the founder of coupon website BeFrugal.com. BeFrugal.com has coupons for 200+ restaurants and allows companies – including restaurants and retail - to list their online and printable coupon offers for additional expose to new customers. BeFrugal.com's audience of shoppers spend over $100 million online every year.