The safety lockdowns brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic were disruptive to virtually every business. But few industries saw their business models turned upside down the way that restaurants were forced to reinvent themselves overnight.

To generate revenue while dining room service was either limited or banned altogether, many restaurants turned t takeout and delivery service to bridge the gap between the start of the pandemic and their eventual return to normal operations. For one buffet-style chain operating in the Southeast, this turn to takeout and delivery was a vast departure from the brand’s regular dining service—and the company turned to Cox Media to help spread the word about its new to-go options.

The Goal

To turn a buffet-style restaurant into a hub for takeout ordering, Cox Media’s client had several goals to target through its advertising strategy. First and foremost was the need to turn its advertising into a source of conversions and sales, with a focus on the geographic areas around each of its restaurant locations.

The company also needed to update its SEO strategy to improve its ranking for relevant search queries related to takeout dining. Offline tracking was needed to understand how the company’s traditional ad campaigns were performing alongside its digital ad channels.

Finally, the restaurant chain needed to transition its ad messaging from a focus on promoting a dine-in experience to messaging that raised awareness of its takeout options, alerting new and existing customers to its new ordering options.

The Solution

Before the pandemic forced a complete overhaul of its advertising strategy, the Southeast restaurant chain had worked with Cox Media to develop a comprehensive ad strategy that utilized search retargeting, site retargeting, and geo-fenced ad delivery. This existing infrastructure provided a framework for launching new ad campaigns that shifted keyword targeting away from dine-in keywords, focusing instead on keywords around takeout, to-go orders, food delivery, and other relevant search terms.

Geofenced targeting was adjusted to include not only relevant geographic areas close to restaurant locations, but also hospitals and healthcare facilities where nurses and other healthcare professionals may be looking for fast dining options before, during, or after shift breaks.

New messaging was developed to highlight these new dining options, raising awareness while providing easy click-through options to drive referrals that would convert to online orders.

The Results

Before the initial run of this improvised ad strategy was complete, the Southeast restaurant chain was able to meet or surpass its advertising goals across several different metrics. These markers of success included:

  • A 0.2 percent click-through rate—double the client’s CTR goal;
  • A total of 199 geo-fenced conversions midway through the campaign;
  • An average website cost-per-visit of $5.15

With several weeks remaining in its campaign, the restaurant chain’s early ad success made it possible for Cox media to implement additional optimizations aimed at pushing these performance results even higher. Through the support and revenue provided by this makeshift ad strategy, the restaurant chain was able to adapt to dramatic industry changes, overcome daunting obstacles, and steer the company toward a better, brighter future.

Find out how Cox Media can help your company navigate emerging business challenges—contact us today to learn more.

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