Power of identity—what restaurants can learn from Forrester research

Identity resolution. It’s the foundation to executing—and measuring—effective, personalized restaurant marketing. You need it to go beyond one-size-fits-all offers to engaging diners in the highly relevant conversations and experiences they expect. In fact, identity resolution is one of the most critical parts of marketing—for restaurants and many other businesses.

But it’s also the most difficult to do correctly.

We recently commissioned Forrester Consulting to understand how marketers are currently using identity resolution and where they could stand to improve. Forrester surveyed more than 200 brand marketers on their ID strategies and how they apply to their marketing efforts.

It turns out, restaurant marketers could benefit from an identity resolution refresher.

Learn more: Get Forrester's full report on identity resolution


Personalization presents a significant opportunity

Only 39% of respondents in Forrester’s survey are using identity programs to personalize content and offers for their guests. That’s a significant missed opportunity, particularly in the restaurant industry.

Forrester Research Graphic

Not everyone will be lured in for a visit by an endless pasta bowl. Lack of personalization assumes that everyone in your database wants or needs the same message to motivate them to dine with you. Generic messaging—like what’s commonly found in limited time offers (LTOs)—fails to consider the many different reasons guests may decide to choose your restaurant.

The alternative is to use what you know about your customers to tailor your conversations to them. For example, with strong identity resolution, you would be able to see Ben is tempted to visit your location for lunch based on proximity to his office. Sarah may be most likely to respond to information about your newest gluten-free offerings. And Mike might like to know that his kids will eat free on Tuesdays.

Each customer has unique motivations and decision-making processes when deciding to dine out, so each deserves their own relevant messaging strategy. But in order to achieve this level of personalization, identity resolution across channels and devices plus identity management is necessary—and many restaurant marketers just aren’t getting it right.    

Use identity to accurately measure marketing performance

Generic campaigns like LTOs have become a crutch in the restaurant industry largely because they’re easy to both execute and measure—other types of campaigns can make it harder to prove a return on investment. Lots of brand marketers are falling into the same trap. Forrester found that only 43% of survey respondents use their identity program for measuring marketing performance—and 41% use identity for optimizing campaigns (see Figure 1 above). Decision makers told us they are more likely to use ID resolution for things like customer preference management and profile development than they are for driving measurement improvements or campaign optimization efforts.

Restaurant marketers most commonly associate strong identity resolution with enhanced personalization. While this is absolutely true, the value extends all the way to measurement and campaign optimization—an area of identity resolution underused by marketers. With more complete customer profiles comes more precise targeting, attribution and frequency management.

Brands can leverage their ID solution to not only personalize campaigns but also measure how their campaigns are performing and optimize mid-flight. A well-oiled identity program makes it possible to run all kinds of marketing campaigns and accurately measure your success.

Broaden the scope of your identifiers

Although brands that currently leverage an identity solution are off to a great start, there is potential to think bigger. Forrester’s research found that many programs are too narrow in scope and ignore important identifiers. The report notes:

“Most identity resolution programs rely on identifiers like email, IP addresses, or login data, while several valuable identifiers that contribute to a robust identity are being left out.”

Forrester Research Graphic 2

In fact, over half of brands’ ID resolution programs ignore several important sources of valuable data and insights. Only 40% of the brands Forrester surveyed are using online transactional data, for example.

Ultimately the challenge is not access to customer information, but making it actionable. In research from Nation's Restaurant News, it’s clear that restaurants have access to first-party customer information (transactional, website app, or loyalty program data) and get transactional data from credit cards—82 percent of respondents said that less than half of their orders are paid with cash. Forrester’s research also found that only 31% of brands are incorporating offline transactional data into their identity programs, even though many restaurants do have this data from POS systems across their locations.

If restaurants have all this rich data, then what’s the problem? They have no way to tie disparate data from multiple sources back to an individual. Sure, having data from credit cards, online orders, apps and more is great, but it’s unusable if restaurant marketers can’t see that the same person is behind all those different transactions. Again—the issue is not the collection of data, but putting it to use. Restaurants have a solid mix of both online and offline insights, but are struggling to reconcile them into a single view of each customer.

This sparse data problem disappears with a robust identity program. Skilled identity partners can collate third-party transactional data—both online and offline—for nearly every individual in the United States and combine it with your first-party data. This allows you to truly know your guests: how often they dine with you, what they order, transaction totals and much more. Having top-notch identity immediately gives restaurant marketers leverageable insights to guide their marketing strategy at the individual level.

Jersey Mike’s sees a $35:1 return on ad spend with identity resolution

Jersey Mike’s provides the perfect of example of identity resolution in action. The sub and sandwich chain wanted to reconnect with their lapsed customers while also acquiring new ones. Their solution was to use identity to find the right people to engage, deliver relevant messaging to each group and accurately measure their return.

They partnered with Epsilon to better understand their customers through third-party transactional data from 1.5+ million merchants, spanning credit card types. They used this transactional data to identify both Jersey Mike’s and their competitors’ customers, create the ultimate view of each customer’s spending patterns and digital behavior and deliver highly relevant offers to each individual.

The results? Win-backs, competitive conquests and a strong return on ad spend with a digital media strategy boost:

  • 72% of reactivated guests made at least two purchases
  • 78% of new guests made at least two purchases
  • $35:1 ROAS (vs goal of $10:1)

Time to reassess your identity program?

Consumers expect marketers to personalize their experiences—it’s table stakes today. With a strong ID resolution program in place, these personalized experiences are as easy to deliver—and measure—as your more traditional, one-size-fits-all campaigns.

Download the full Forrester report to learn more about the identity challenges facing marketers across industries—and how to overcome them so that your brand can offer the personalized experiences guests expect