We’ve said it before: The future is here. As customer habits and technology progress at lightning-fast speeds, it can be difficult for pizzeria owners to keep up. The good news? Today’s technology is designed to help you work smarter, not harder—taking some of the burden off your shoulders while allowing for better tracking of customer habits to ramp up your sales and success. We tapped marketing gurus nationwide to outline the most important digital pizza marketing innovations as we sit at the dawn of a new decade.
“The most critical trend that pizzeria owners need to keep in mind is the rise in voice search. Some studies suggest that 2020 will see a record 50% of internet searches being completed via voice search.”
— Natalia Wulfe, Effective Spend
Clearly, consumers can barely be bothered to type anymore—experts agree that voice-activated devices and searches are the way of the future. “The most critical trend that pizzeria owners need to keep in mind is the rise in voice search,” stresses Natalia Wulfe, co-owner and CMO of Effective Spend, a digital marketing agency in Austin, Texas. “Some studies suggest that 2020 will see a record 50% of internet searches being completed via voice search.”
Mike Gunderson, founder and CEO of Respond Fast in Hayward, California, agrees that voice-activated devices are an emerging technology that should not be ignored. After all, smart speaker growth has soared, with presence in more than 51 million American homes. “This tech is ripe with opportunity, and business owners are starting to take advantage of Voice Activated Calls to Action (VACTA), which allow consumers to easily request nutrition information or coupons, and rate restaurants on taste, service and value,” Gunderson says. “A VACTA can easily be printed on pizza boxes, napkins or receipts.”
And with voice on the rise, adds Georgia Mountford, digital strategist and founder of GEMO Creative in Brisbane, Australia, it won’t be long before people are “reading” your content by chatting with a bot—possibly not even yours! “The digital marketing trend I’m watching like a hawk is voice-first content—not just audio or video, but any content that people can consume with voice-based services, like Siri or Alexa,” Mountford says. “Can screen readers and bots interpret your website, blogs, videos or podcasts with meaning? If your ideal customer verbally asked his phone for exactly what you offer, would he find you?” She believes hiring a web accessibility expert will be worth the investment for any business looking to be found online, as winning businesses in 2020 and beyond will be those who make their content more accessible in a technical sense.
“For social media marketing, start including video in your digital marketing strategies now—that includes live streaming, behind-the-scenes footage, video recipes and how-to videos. Show personality and always create value for your clients.”
— Aiden Angeli, Ripe Marketing
Like typing, reading is so last century—marketing experts say video is now the way to promote your brand. “Current trends suggest video marketing will be the preferred method of content in the near future,” says Aiden Angeli, founder and senior marketing consultant with Ripe Marketing in Los Angeles. “For social media marketing, start including video in your digital marketing strategies now—that includes live streaming, behind-the-scenes footage, video recipes and how-to videos. Show personality and always create value for your clients.” Angeli’s final tip: Include keywords several times throughout the video; this will tell Google what your video is about and increase your chances of getting your video ranked in the organic search results (video ranks more easily and quickly than written formats).
“Take advantage of all live-video forms of social media to allow for pop-up notifications in real time on your customers’ phones. You’ll stay top-of-mind and keep them updated about current promotions,” agrees Stacy Caprio, founder of Chicago-based Growth Marketing. “One way to take your live video game to the next level: Offer coupons to everyone who follows you on Instagram, then do live videos and stories each week to keep your followers updated and always thinking about your restaurant.”
Danny Coello, CEO of DS&P, a Chicago-based digital marketing organization, notes that digital branding differs from digital marketing in its goals and objectives—and both are crucial. “Digital branding is more long-term and primarily focused on providing value, increasing recognition and inspiring brand loyalty,” Coello explains. “Digital marketing, on the other hand, is often more short-term and focuses on finding new customers and generating sales.” He shares some tips for optimal digital branding:
Be authentic and trustworthy.
Optimize your brand’s landing page for mobile.
Select social media accounts wisely to reach your target audience.
Build a community of followers, allowing them to interact and share experiences, ideas and tips.
Create videos to reach younger consumers.
Set up a chat box (with chatbot technology) to “humanize” your website and answer questions on the spot.
With good employees increasingly difficult to find, many solutions for business owners aim to streamline operations through increased automation. “The biggest marketing innovation of 2019, which will continue to grow during the following year, is automation—the automation of crucial steps in digital marketing, from creating ads to repurposing content,” says Jakub Kliszczak, marketing specialist for CrazyCall in San Francisco. “There are many companies and tools serving this space. For example, FAM fully automates email marketing, while Felix takes your content and turns it into other types (think blog posts into video). Automation will grow as companies look for viable solutions to reduce the workforce and eliminate redundancy.”
You can even use automation to monitor your online presence, according to Ryan Christiansen, co-founder and CEO of Ntooitive Digital, a digital advertising and technology company in Las Vegas. Pizzeria operators can tap automated email-review technology to screen for useful, quality reviews and help quell angry online rants that can skew your ratings. “Brand marketers can cost-effectively implement this sophisticated software to evaluate several objective data points, building a pipeline for positive reviews to be uploaded instantly to your website or manually submitted to review sites like Yelp, OpenTable or TripAdvisor,” Christiansen says. “For negative reviews from unhappy customers, this software gives operators the chance to come up with a resolution plan and remedy the situation before everyone else hears about it!”
Finally, automation can help grow your business and eliminate repetitive tasks such as data entry, according to Amber Dehn, CEO of Bang Marketing in Denver. “Automation lightens the load and can touch many parts of your business: email marketing, goal setting, social media publishing and task management,” Dehn explains. “Having a solid foundation in automation boosts productivity and frees up you and your team—saving up to 20 hours weekly in admin tasks so you can focus on your strategies, creativity and customers.”
“With geoconquesting, you can find mobile devices down to the address level, so you could find the mobile phones that have visited your store to later serve them ads and encourage repeat visits. Or you might serve ads to mobile devices that have visited competing pizzerias.”
— Bob Bentz, Purplegator
Bob Bentz, president of Purplegator in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, heralds geoconquesting as the “holy grail of mobile advertising for pizza restaurants.” “With today’s improved technology, we can provide a look back of up to six months to find mobile devices that have been at a specific location,” Bentz says. “Then we can take that highly targeted database and serve ads to those mobile devices. With geoconquesting, you can find mobile devices down to the address level, so you could find the mobile phones that have visited your store to later serve them ads and encourage repeat visits. Or you might choose to serve ads to mobile devices that have visited other local restaurants or competing pizzerias.” Consumers, Bentz explains, will see these ads when they’re on social media sites, viewing apps, or browsing a mobile or desktop website.
Speaking of online ads, Dan Bejmuk, co-founder and CEO of Dreambox Creations in Diamond Bar, California, notes that restaurant-focused ad platforms (specifically, Yelp and Facebook) have upped their game for true one-to-one ROI measurement for paid campaigns. “Yelp has rolled out its Yelp Store Visits metric, and Facebook works with external WiFi partners to better define offline measurement, so brands are now much better able to gauge effectiveness of ad spend and the cost to acquire new guests,” Bejmuk notes. “The era of thinking, ‘Half of my marketing works—I just don’t know which half’ is coming to an end, thankfully.”
Finally, the digital marketing revolution can also help owners monitor customer satisfaction and narrow down data to the extreme, enabling customized communication and driving business back to your pizzeria. Zack Oates, founder and CEO of Ovation in Provo, Utah, explains that in-store iPads can ask a simple question—“How was your experience today?”—and then tailor automated follow-up text messages: Satisfied customers can be encouraged to leave online reviews, while dissatisfied ones are put in direct contact with management. Meanwhile, segmented marketing allows for automatic texts to share special offers that will entice more frequent visits and convert customers—say, from weekday visitors to weekend, or lunchtime guests to dinner. “At the baseline, you must collect customer data and measure satisfaction,” Oates says. “Next, you have to understand what that means for your business. And third, you have to take action on it. Building that relationship with customers—that’s what it’ll take to succeed in 2020 and beyond.”
Tracy Morin is PMQ’s senior copy editor.