Restaurant.com exec: Mobile is part of a cross-channel experience
CHICAGO – A Restaurant.com executive at the Results 2012: Mobile Marketing Day conference said that mobile is a critical marketing piece to getting a 360-degree understanding of consumers.
During the “Case Study: How Restaurant.com Serves Up Dining Deals On the Go” session, the executive revealed how the online reservation company is building its mobile strategy. The executive also discussed upcoming mobile initiatives that the company has in the works.
“We will never have a mobile marketing strategy — instead we have a customer relationship strategy, which mobile is a large part of,” said Christopher Krohn, president and chief marketing officer at Restaurant.com, Chicago.
“For our mobile initiatives, location-specific offers are a logical way to give users a deep engagement experience,” he said.
The presentation was part of Mobile Marketing Day in Chicago, organized by the Chicago Association and Mobile Marketer. The event was sponsored by Microsoft Advertising, Vibes Media and Mobile Marketer.
Restaurant.com works with more than 18,000 restaurants in the United States to help users find deals at local restaurants.
Compared to Web-based companies, Restaurant.com has been slow to jump into mobile because restaurant owners are sometimes reluctant to adopt new technologies, per Mr. Krohn.
One of the challenges of selling restaurant deals online is finding a way to give users the best experience up until the moment they are at the restaurant.
In late 2010, the company decided that it had to get into mobile to keep up with similar services.
As a starting point, Restaurant.com rolled out a mobile site in early 2011. However, the mobile site does not have the best user experience, and the company is planning to launch a new mobile site in the near future.
In the summer of 2011, the company began equipping its sales force with iPads and an application that helped walk potential restaurants through the process of signing up with Restaurant.com.
In Dec. 2011, Restaurant.com launched its iOS app that lets users search for nearby restaurants and deals. The company is also looking at developing the app for Android devices.
Going forward, Restaurant.com plans to enhance its mobile efforts every quarter to keep its products fresh.
Thinking ahead and planning regular mobile updates is a smart way of approaching mobile with its ability to change quickly.
With its new mobile site, the company is looking at incorporating location, more interactive features and a new user interface.
Additionally, Restaurant.com is centering many of its mobile initiatives around being upfront with its users at the beginning by not spamming them.
According to Mr. Krohn, the company sees that two-thirds of its desktop users are female compared to one-third male.
However, on mobile the proportion of male and female users is equal.
Mobile users tend to be split down the middle with men and women tech-savvy users. They are also stereotypically younger, which makes them more inclined to buy a meal while on the go.
“Mobile is our future,” Mr. Krohn said. “I could see as early as 2014 that the majority of our brand engagements are done via mobile.”
Christopher Krohn is president and chief marketing officer at Restaurant.com, Chicago