Bypassing the aggregators: how to get users to actually order from you directly

Bypassing the aggregators: how to get users to actually order from you directly

Giving up to 30% of your money for customers that are already yours is not fair – I think we all can agree on that.

Recently, we’ve covered the true costs of third-party aggregators – a must-read if you’re only thinking about whether you need a direct ordering channel.

I’ll be brief. Do you need aggregators?

For restaurant promotion and customer acquisition – absolutely.

For all digital sales – no. Being dependent on aggregators for digital sales is the worst that can happen to your business.

Bypassing the aggregators: how to get users to actually order from you directly

Realizing that, you might have built a direct digital ordering channel that doesn’t just fill the gap of having an app/website to order, but has great UX, stability, and amazing perks for your customers to want to use it instead of the aggregator apps. Or maybe you’re only thinking of creating such a channel (in this case we at LoyaltyPlant will be more than happy to build this channel for you in a very short time at a fraction of custom development cost). After all, it’s an absolute must to create a successful restaurant digital strategy. You can’t build your digital presence without a stable solution that has a potential to win customer love.

But then the reality hits – how do you actually promote this channel? What to prioritize with a limited marketing budget? Do you really need to provide a 50% discount on first order, losing money? 

In this blog article, I’ll dive into some strategies for customer acquisition for the direct digital channel for a restaurant that can be used right after you finish reading.

What to prioritize?

Marketing resources are limited – so the right prioritization can help achieve the best return of marketing investments. There are several parameters to keep in mind: audience engagement, expected conversion, and channel investment.

For example, let’s take an aggregator order: the customer who orders from your restaurant via an aggregator is already interested in your brand, and thus can be considered a “warm” audience. If you promote your ordering app or website to this customer, it’s likely that they will be willing to try it out if the perks are good enough. To make this promotion, you’ll need to invest into design and printing of promotional materials – be it special boxes for aggregator orders or leaflets that you slip into such orders.

At the same time, an outdoor ad reaches a cold audience (the customers who don’t have an intention to order right now, and who might’ve never heard about your brand), so the expected conversion is rather low, but the investment into such ad is quite high – you need to pay for the design, renting the ad placement, and other things.

Here are different direct ordering promotion channels, placed into several tiers based on those three factors:

Bypassing the aggregators: how to get users to actually order from you directly

So, to promote your direct ordering channel, it makes sense to prioritize Tier 1 and 2 first, establish processes and activities there, refine the customer journey, and only then allocate resources toward Tier 3.

Now, let’s take a closer look at how to optimize these channels.

Offer different things for different channels – and track their performance in the process

If we take a look at how “warm” the audience of each channel is, it is apparent that you need different kinds of special offers for each channel. Colder audience will most certainly need a more substantial offer, while the hot audience is likely to convert with a smaller offer.

Bypassing the aggregators: how to get users to actually order from you directly

The menu item rewards work perfectly here and the perceived value is much better than discounts of different sizes. Different menu item rewards can actually create a sense of exclusivity for an offer recipient, making the perceived value of the reward higher.

This approach will also make it easier to track each channel’s performance. To make the most of your marketing budgets, it’s crucial to allocate it to those channels that show the best performance, spend money on those cold channels that show the best conversion, and at the same time not splurge on high-cost rewards for the audience that is warm already.

What can be done now?

  1. Implement promo codes for different channels that will unlock different rewards and offers. Use lower cost rewards for hot and warm channels, and high cost rewards for cold channels.
  2. Track each channel’s performance based on the promo code usage.
  3. Analyze the performance and single out channels that work best.

It goes without saying that these offers should only be available when people order directly from you. Let them feel the special perks of interacting with your brand directly right from the start!

 Don’t stop on offering just once

So, somebody saw your ad about the direct ordering channel, but they may not be immediately ready to make a purchase just yet – after all, they might be commuting to work, or maybe just not hungry at the moment. It doesn’t mean that you should lose this potential customer though! Just make it easy to “save” the offer from the ad for later – and don’t forget to remind about it from time to time! (by the way, I’ve covered the importance of timing and reminders in this article – take a look if you’d like to increase conversion).

What can be done now?

  1. Promo codes can be easily forgotten – make sure there is a way to access your direct channel right from the ad and quickly activate the offer for later. For example, include a QR code to download your app or create an account on your website.
  2. Display this offer in your channel’s interface – if it’s lost in SMS or email spam folders, then it’s lost forever! Make sure the customer sees this offer when they access your direct channel next time.
  3. Implement reminders! For example, via push notifications if your direct channel is set up via an app. Reminders about an offer that’s about to expire can only further reinforce its value. 
Bypassing the aggregators: how to get users to actually order from you directly

Don’t forget about your greatest asset

Even when it comes to digital channels, your employees are still your greatest asset. How so? Many businesses underestimate the power of direct face-to-face interaction. In reality, a recommendation from another person – even someone the customer doesn’t really know – can work wonders. So if your staff members recommend using the direct ordering channel, it will drive the in-store traffic to it – your warmest audience. You invest a lot in your physical store locations – make sure it’s used to its fullest potential when promoting your digital channels as well!

By the way, the same works for customers that call to make an order. Even though it’s not a face-to-face communication, it’s still a direct recommendation to the warm audience – customers who are in fact making orders.

Bypassing the aggregators: how to get users to actually order from you directly

What can be done now?

  1. Introduce the way to track installations that came from employees’ recommendations. For example, via special promo codes or PIN-codes.
  2. Implement KPIs and incentives for employees to promote the app more effectively in-store or via calls.

By the way, with our platform this feature is already available and doesn’t require any extra integrations. Boost your direct sales with the power of your employees!

In conclusion…

With this insight, I hope you’ll be able to optimize user acquisition to your direct ordering channel and start converting users to orders! When you work on your channels, it’s generally important that they are seamless, frictionless, and that the time from joining this channel (for example, downloading an app) to making an order is as short as possible. If the user experience is good, then the customer just needs a good incentive to give your direct ordering a chance – and then they will fall in love with it, becoming a reliable marketing contact for your business.

About the author
Victoria Zurmann
Victoria started her journey in IT consultancy and product implementation in 2018. Since then, she has helped many teams of different sizes and industries perfect their client and project management. Her focus shifted to the food industry when she joined LoyaltyPlant in 2022. In our blog she writes about how to apply technology best practices on restaurants to help improve their customer retention, loyalty and NPS.

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