How to use data for better bar marketing

Emma Woodward
Freelance Blogger

You’ve heard the term ‘marketing’, but what does it really mean for your bar? Spreading the word about deals, drinks, and darts can be hard work when you don’t have the money to spend on an agency or the time to chart Instagram success. How do you market your bar without burning thousands on agency help?

Good news: if you already serve a handful of patrons, you have all the information you need to find new customers — no agency required.

Every purchase in your bar equates to data collected by your point of sale. Ordering and customer data aren’t just indicators of a specific drink's popularity. With the data available to you about how your current customers behave, you can create an easy advertising strategy to reach new customers in similar demographics. And more customers means a better bottom line

But how do you access that data? And how on earth do you use random ordering info to get drinkers in your venue? Join us as we dive into data marketing and how you can make it work for your business.

Harnessing the power of data

Coined by Facebook originally, the term “lookalike marketing” means looking for an audience of potential new guests based on your current patrons. Basically, you look at your existing customers and use any data gathered about them to market to other potential customers with similar desires and demographics. 

While Facebook started this data trend in marketing, you can use all kinds of tools to look at your current customers' data. Using what you have means you don’t have to go out and do research or learn about a new group of people.

Using restaurant POS system to collect and manage ordering data

Explore data gathered through your POS system, social media channels, email marketing software, or any other tech you use that collects data about your customers. If you have the funds, you can invest in CRM software to help maintain information about your customers. But many tools you may already use also gather helpful customer info. 

For example, Bbot keeps track of what guests are ordering and how often they return, while Instagram and Facebook keep track of your engagement and who follows you. 

You can gather that data through POS reporting filters and on social media, through followers, settings, and more, depending on whether you have a business or a personal account. 

So what kind of data are you looking for? You want to learn about what your customer likes, where they’re from, and anything that drives them to make a purchase. Here are a few metrics you could look at:

  • Average revenue per account: You want to look for current customers who make larger purchases, in general, so you can add similar customers who will follow that same buying pattern.
  • Date of last sale: Customers who last visited your bar two years ago probably aren’t the best audience to focus on. You want to hone in on customers who regularly visit your business in the last three months. 
  • Customer retention cost: Replicating customers who “cost” less will be the most helpful. That means the people who you don’t have to spend a ton on deals, discounts, and ads to bring in. Bringing in new customers who are costly to keep will only make customer retention more expensive for you in the long run. 
  • Key demographics: Look for common denominators in your current customers. Are they all similar age groups? Do they live close to the bar? Are they single or families? Knowing these characteristics can tell you similarities to look for in new customers and what they care about.

Save that data, and we’ll explain what to do with it next!

Survey says

If you don’t have any data on your current customers, all is not lost. Consider sending out  a survey to gather info using current patron emails.

You don’t need to ask customers to take a 30-minute intensive survey; all you need are 3-4 questions. Use your social media or ask customers to fill out an old-school-style paper survey at the bar. You could train staff to ask guests a question or two when they take orders. We recommend finding out:

  • Where your patrons are from
  • How old they are
  • How they first heard about your bar
  • What their favorite drink is

Consider what you need to know about your current customers and adapt as necessary. Run your survey for a set period, using gift cards or discounts for extra motivation. Then, organize all of the info you gather in an easy-to-use spreadsheet, and voilá! You have some useful data to help you reach lookalike audiences. 

Where to use your lookalike audience digitally

Facebook and Instagram use specific ad tools that are best used when you have a lookalike audience to draw from. When you start an ad campaign using any of these social tools, it will prompt you to upload your image and text before it prompts you to specify who you want to target. 

How Facebook look-alike audience works
SOURCE: Kopa Marketing

Use the data you’ve collected to make a target that looks identical to your patrons. The ad will hone in on this new “seed” audience and ensure that it hits those more likely to match your specified demographic.

Set marketing goals

Without a defined set of goals, you won’t know what you’re aiming for. You need to understand your target to know when you’ve hit it. Do you want five new customers or 500? Are you looking for an increased number of new sales each month, or do you want to engage with more people on Instagram? Consider why you’re targeting lookalike audiences and what goals make sense for your business. 

You might define goals by:

  • Revenue
  • Number of sales
  • Number of new customers
  • Increased engagement online
  • Or something else.

However you define marketing success, it should have a definition. Set achievable goals based on what makes sense for your bar, whether you are honing in on a sports bar marketing strategy, a wine bar marketing strategy, or something in between. 

Craft an informed advertising strategy

Once you have goals, you need a plan to reach them — an advertising strategy. This is your plan for how to convince potential customers to try your bar. Use the data you’ve gathered and your goals to create a stellar bar marketing plan. 

Common components of a digital marketing strategy
SOURCE: Forbes

Advertising strategies come in all different shapes and sizes. And the best plan for your bar depends on your brand personality, budget, and available resources. A sports bar marketing plan may involve handing out flyers at the local baseball game, but that might not be the best advertising strategy for college bar marketing. Some of the most common bar advertising ideas include:

  • Print ads: Newspaper ads, flyers, magazines, banners, or anything else printed. 
  • Digital ads: These might happen through social media, email ads, or YouTube commercials.
  • Direct mail: You send postcards or mailers to your target customer. 
  • Radio/podcast advertising: Think radio ads or podcast sponsors. 
  • Word of mouth: Encourage customers to recommend your bar to friends and family. Maybe you even offer a discount for this type of advertising. 
  • Guerilla marketing: While all marketing takes creativity, guerilla marketing is arguably the most creative avenue for advertising. This strategy involves unconventional marketing methods that are often low-budget, such as stickers, graffiti, or publicity stunts. 

Whatever strategies you choose, consider your capacity to carry them out and their relevance to your target lookalike customers. If your customer doesn’t read magazines, taking out a magazine ad may waste your resources. 

Adjust accordingly

With any plan, you need to be flexible. The needs of your target customer may change. Or, you may have to adjust the budget for your marketing plan. Work in periodic assessments of your plan to determine its effectiveness. Adjust your advertising strategy if needed. 

When marketing to reach lookalike customers, your biggest strength is your current customers. If something isn’t working, go back to your customers and figure out why they are drawn to your bar. Craft a winning marketing strategy from their input.

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