Restaurants use online and email marketing to provide consumers the personalized offers they prefer, according to new research by the National Restaurant Association. The research found that electronic marketing channels complement traditional and offline channels as part of a successful marketing mix. Funded by an unrestricted research grant by LivingSocial, the study analyzed current marketing practices employed by restaurant operators and consumer perceptions of a range of marketing tools.

“Finding the right marketing mix is crucial to success in the restaurant industry,” said James Balda, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer of the National Restaurant Association. “Our new research outlines the challenges and opportunities of both offline and online marketing to help restaurant operators find the ‘sweet spot’ for promotions by identifying what consumers respond to and how various messaging vehicles are perceived.”

Restaurants that use online marketing (emails from restaurants, emails from a daily deal provider, and websites) tend to be viewed by consumers as modern (67% emails, 59% daily deals, 65% websites) and popular (63%, 59%, 63%). Restaurant operators perceive websites (90%), TV ads (87%), social media (84%), restaurant emails (82%), and daily deals (77%) as effective in bringing in new customers.

Customized marketing messages that address a consumer’s preferences result in more sales consumers and operators agree on the importance of savings in customized messaging.

Consumers would go to or order from a restaurant if they received customized marketing messages that referenced past restaurant patronage (68%), allowed them to make reservations (66%), and identified them by name (64%).

Restaurants understand what marketing tools work; they just need to implement them 84% of restaurant operators consider restaurant-specific marketing emails to be effective in increasing revenue for their restaurants, and 78% of consumers said an email from a restaurant would motivate them to go to that restaurant. In addition, 63% of restaurant operators say they plan to use such emails in the next year.

78% of restaurant operators consider daily deals to be effective in increasing revenue for their restaurants, and 69% of consumers said an email from a daily deal provider would motivate them to go to the restaurant featured in the daily deal. In addition, 40% of operators say they plan to work with a daily deal provider in the next year.

Consumers are very sensitive to social media and Internet advertising consumers perceive the least effective efforts to entice them to go to a restaurant include online advertisements (58%), social media (56%), and radio ads (56%).

“Many restaurant owners feel overwhelmed by the wide range of marketing options available to them,” said Mandy Cole, SVP of Sales, LivingSocial. “We partnered with the National Restaurant Association to conduct this study to see which tools are most effective at increasing revenue and improving business for restaurants. Working together with our thousands of restaurant partners, we look forward to turning these findings into actionable steps to help restaurants improve their marketing efforts.”