SMS Marketing For Restaurants Using A Standard Phone

Statistics show that text messages have an open rate of more than 90% within the first 3 minutes from being sent. In comparison, the open rate for emails in the restaurant industry is 23% (according to this MailChimp research). With these figures in mind, I believe we need no further explanations on why SMS marketing for restaurants should not be neglected.

SMS: your new marketing channel

This is just another marketing channel, so your sms campaigns need to be in sync with what you communicate in the other spaces like website and social network. In the same time, this is the most personal way to reach a customers, so you need to follow some basic rules.


In most cases, clients accept receiving text messages to find out about discounts, promotions and special offers. So this is exactly what you should text about. Also, take advantage of those max 3 minutes needed to open a text. With SMS, you can create very targeted promotions, like:

  • promote your lunch offer just couple of hours before lunch time
  • send promotions during slow days
  • promote events in your restaurants
  • birthday or anniversary messages
  • special offers for the most loyal customers

Best practices

  • Send messages worth reading by your customers (messages that provide value);
  • Watch the frequency (no more than 2-4 messages per month);
  • Pay attention to the hours you send out the texts;
  • Allow your recipients an easy way to unsubscribe from your messages.

Mobile friendly website

You have the great advantage that your client reads your message from wherever he/she is. But to capitalize on this advantage, you need to make sure your website is mobile optimized. Think about it: most of your messages will contain a link to your website or online menu. If those pages are not being displayed properly, your customer will not convert and moreover, will probably unsubscribe.

The easiest start to SMS marketing for restaurants

There are many tools that can help you manage your subscribers list and send out text messages. But if your budget can’t take another monthly charge, we have an old-fashioned, barebone solution that might come handy for a while, until your sales are strong enough to worth using better tools:

Nowaday, many mobile plans contain unlimited free sms. Well... provided that you have such a plan, all you need to do is:

  • 1. Put together your clients list;
  • 2. Import your customers in a phone’s agenda;
  • 3. Send out a broadcast message.

1. How to build your clients list

Any source you have is a good source: previous phone orders, surveys, printouts left on the tables, website forms and so on. To play by the law (the Telephone Consumer Protection Act), you should only text people that have given their explicit consent for receiving marketing messages from you. To be on the safe side we strongly encourage to consult with your local legal advisor before initiating such campaign.

2. How to import the customers to your phone via your Google account

There are good chances you have a Google account, especially if you are an Android device user. The idea is to import your list into Google Contacts and then sync your Google account with your phone to be able to access them from your mobile.

2.1. Import customers to your Google account

  • Save your clients list as csv file.
  • Log into your Google account and go to Contacts
  • Create a new group for your clients (in the menu on left, click on New Group). The new group shows up under My Contacts. Click on it.
  • In the horizontal navigation, under More, you’ll find Import. Click there and Google will expect a csv file containing your data.
sms marketing for restaurants ­ import contact via Google account

Note: There is a big chance that by just uploading your csv, the phone number is actually added in the notes field, not the phone field. To solve this, manually create a first contact in your Google Clients list and then go to More and Export your one contact list. This way Google provides the csv with its own accepted format. Populate the google csv with your data and then Import the csv.

2.2. Sync the contacts to your phone

  • If you are using an Android device, the contacts are automatically synced from Google to your phone (provided that you have imported the contacts to the same account you are using on your Android device).
  • To sync the contacts from Google to your iPhone you need to have your Google account added and the option to sync the contacts checked. Once this is done, the contacts will appear in the iPhone’s contacts list. You can filter the groups to see only the contact from your Google account. For step by step instructions, please visit this Google page.

How to broadcast a message

  • If you are using an Android, go to your messaging app and select the Clients group we have just synced to send the message.
  • If you are using iPhone, unfortunately the iOS does not have this simple function of sending a message to a group. You will need to use a third party app, like Text2Group (today 2.99EUR in the App store). This app allows you to import the iPhone contacts and create a group for texting from one of the Accounts you have synced (that would be the Google account at step 2).
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