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Food

How to drive beef sales with targeted promotions

Photograph: Shutterstock

Beef is a popular protein, but what can restaurants do if they want diners to order more of it? Third-party restaurant delivery platforms such as Postmates can provide another marketing avenue, but how much can consumers using such apps be influenced—and how can restaurants put that to their advantage?

Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner. decided to find out by running trials in Oklahoma City and Miami in which they tested keyword-specific promotions and cuisine types and then tracked consumer behavior. The data gathered provides some interesting insights that can be applied to restaurant across segments.

Online ordering versus dine-in customers

The shopping habits of online consumers is a bit different than in-store shoppers. Translated into restaurant terms, those diners ordering a meal for delivery or takeout aren’t being enticed by plates that servers are walking past them. So, can restaurants still convince diners to add beef menu items to their purchases? And if so, which keywords create the biggest difference in behavior?

When restaurants are deciding how to spend their marketing dollars, they might choose the most popular or obvious keywords, expecting that to hit the biggest target. Although it might seem counterintuitive, using less common keywords related to beef actually produced the biggest difference.

Going big for barbecue

The least popular keyword tested by Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner. was “BBQ.” But in the tests, barbecue items also had the biggest gains in sales. Promoting the term “BBQ” led to a more than 20% increase in sales of barbecue items during the promotion week.

The results of this suggest that sometimes it might be a good idea to boost less popular menu categories to drive diners to order something they might not have been considering. In other words, the conversion potential and potential sales gain is bigger with less popular keywords than restaurants might think.

Some of the other key takeaways from Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner.’s test included:

  • Noting the cuisine or item type (burger, steak, hamburger) performed better than just the word “beef” as a whole.
  • Burgers and barbecue-related keywords were the most effective in driving users to add the sponsored item to their orders.
  • Burgers were the best-performing keyword amongst those tested, with almost 10% of customers purchasing burgers during the week the keyword was promoted. Additionally, sponsoring the “burger” keyword led to a 2% increase in purchases during the promotion term and also drove the highest number of new customers. Promoting burgers by specifically calling them out led to more incremental burger sales.
     

Interestingly, during the trials, consumers who added steak to their orders were the most likely to complete the sale rather than abandon their cart. This suggests that when people decide they are going to splurge on steak, they open the restaurant’s or third-party’s app with that intent and are unlikely to be motivated by a sponsored keyword campaign.

Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner. also ran an email test where messaging focused on beef’s taste versus messaging focused on beef’s nutrition. Although both emails achieved conversion rates almost double the benchmark conversion rates, the taste messaging was slightly more effective in driving beef sales. That means it’s better for operators to promote great-tasting menu items than focus on the health or protein content in a beef dish.

For restaurants who want to up their beef sales, using targeted keywords in promotions could be the answer, but it all comes down to knowing what keywords will work best.

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This post is sponsored by Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner., a program of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff

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