Leveraging Mobile Media to Drive Restaurant Traffic

By: Alexandra Miller, Sales Strategist, Valassis Digital
Published Wednesday, Feb 1, 2017

Leveraging Mobile Media to Drive Restaurant Traffic

Although spending at eating and drinking establishments has surpassed spend on groceries,1 restaurant traffic is not expected to increase in 2017.2 That said, amid increasing competition, advertisers can use innovative mobile tactics to respond to the two biggest industry challenges – acquiring new customers and maximizing sales among existing customers. Let’s take a look…

Acquiring New Customers

With 90 percent of internet users using their smartphones to research new restaurants or find a restaurant location,3 reaching consumers on mobile devices while they’re on the go is powerful in influencing where they choose to eat. In fact, according to a report from eMarketer, location-based mobile ads can drive a 10.4 times lift in casual dining store visits.3 This proven use of location-based targeting presents restaurants with an opportunity to attract new and competitive diners with relevant messaging that will influence restaurant selection.

When it comes to location-based mobile targeting, closer does not automatically mean better. Quick Service Restaurants (QSRs) have a greater effect on diners that are farther than 5 miles away – with ads driving a CTR (click through rate) 18 percent higher than average when served within 5-10 miles of the establishment.3 Not only are diners more receptive to, and engaged with, ads from restaurants farther away, ads with a coupon or promotional call-out are more likely to drive foot traffic into restaurants. One study by eMarketer reports 45 percent of users say that mobile/customized offers influence restaurant selection,4 indicating that diners are interested in receiving dining deals and making purchase decisions even when they are on the go.

Increasing Visit Frequency (Building Loyalty)

With the increase in mobile-based loyalty programs and apps, smartphone users are engaging with their favorite restaurants before, during and after their dining experiences. Whether they are searching for a location or coupons, mobile technology has provided restaurants the ability to maintain customer relationships on a personal level. As users are becoming more receptive to mobile advertising, restaurants can leverage their websites and mobile apps to increase visit frequency and get the most out of loyal customers.

Overall, interest in downloading restaurant apps is uninspired – with only 27 percent of U.S. smartphone users being somewhat or very likely to download a restaurant app.3 However, they are more motivated to download restaurant apps in order to access real-time deals and discounts, with over 45 percent of users searching for coupons and deals on their smartphones while dining in a restaurant.3 By increasing awareness of mobile apps, restaurants have the opportunity to continue engagement at all stages of the dining experience.

Another opportunity for restaurants to take advantage of is the benefit of frequency in advertising. With 24 percent of users searching for deals within restaurant apps or websites,5 – restaurants can increase app retention by continuously promoting deals available within the app. Post-dining mobile usage is lower, but engaging with loyalty programs is more popular than sharing on social media or posting reviews.3 Leveraging mobile apps to keep track of loyalty points and promotions drives a user retention and engagement – ultimately leading to return visits.


1. eMarketer, “Time-Starved US Consumers Spending More on Eating Out than on Groceries,” July 2016

2. Nation’s Restaurant News, “NPD: Restaurant traffic won’t improve in 2017,” Jan. 2017

3. eMarketer, “Restaurant StatPack: Advertising, Mobile and In-Store Tech Trends for US Quick-Service Restaurants, Fast Casuals and More,” May 2016

4. eMarketer, “Restaurant-Goers Are Eager for Deals,” Sept. 2016

5. RetailMeNot, "The Evolution of Dining in the Digital Age," May 2016