Digital menus are some of the most effective advertising restaurants have but only if they use the right strategies.

Sponsored by WAND Corporation.

The right digital menu board solution will use the latest menu design techniques to present menu offerings in a dynamic and engaging way that not only informs customers, but also engages them. Getting started with them can be the first step to boost sales and create a more engaging customer experience. But if they aren’t used correctly, restaurant leaders could be flushing capital investment dollars down the drain.

Here are five key ways to make the most of a digital menu board investment.

1. Identify a clear goal

Launching any marketing program without first identifying a clear goal can lead to frustration. Investing in a new menu board solution is no different. Determine what the restaurant wants to accomplish when installing digital menus and identify which ways performance will be measured.

Garon Rowland, manager at the WAND Digital Agency, says her agency works with every client from the start of the relationship to identify three to four specific business goals, such as increasing sales by 5 percent, or generating 15 percent more orders of add-on items.

“We help companies to identify their annual goals and then make sure that everything we do with their digital menu boards align to those goals,” she says. “Companies need to pick four or five specific goals so that they can use the digital menu boards to drive sales and achieve meaningful business results.”

2. Don’t treat a digital menu board like it’s static

Through the use of eye-catching animation and movement, digital menu boards attract customers’ attention to specific menu offerings. Rowland says that digital menu boards should incorporate movement and animation in order to make the best use of the technology. “Movement draws the eyes of the customer much more than a static display, consumers are used to online videos and digital content and crave that experience” Rowland says.

Movement can include subtle animations that promote add-on items—like adding bacon to a sandwich—all the way to doing an all-screen takeover where an animation fills the whole screen for a moment or two

“It is proven that motion attracts more attention than static content so we always want to leverage that where it makes sense, without making it overwhelming,” she says.

3. Design clearly

While it’s tempting to try to put everything on your digital menu board, adding too much can be confusing to customers and turn them away.

Be strategic about what you put on your menu board, Rowland says, and take advantage of the flexibility that digital menus provide and test it. “Your customers should be able to read the menu board. Look at the in-store customer experience and determine where they are relative to the menus when they are considering what to order, or where upsell opportunities occur.”

Make sure the menu is clean and concise and very easy to read. In many cases, that includes avoiding certain colors or types of fonts. While making the menu look handwritten may have its appeal, cursive or italic fonts are sometimes harder for customers to read. Make sure that the menu also provides customers with the information they need to make decisions, like including images or descriptions with a menu item name.

4. Don’t be afraid of change

Though paper signs or static menu boards require costly investments to change strategies mid-promotion, one of the biggest benefits of digital menu boards is that restaurants can test their promotional materials and adapt as often as needed to drive sales.

“Digital menu boards allow you to showcase your content and set you apart from your competition,” Rowland says. “Instead of reassessing your business needs one or twice a year, you can update your menu as often as you want.”

Digital menu boards also allow businesses to be flexible. Because the boards can be changed within minutes, they allow restaurants to update their offerings on the fly. Run out of an item? Hide it. Got extras of an item that needs to be sold? Highlight it. Temperatures drop? Push sales of soup and hot beverages with the click of a few buttons.

5. Use the boards strategically

In many restaurants, digital menu boards can be used strategically across multiple locations to test promotions and maximize results, Rowland says.

“By focusing on certain items, we can create a sales lift for those items,” she says. “But using different campaigns in different locations allows a restaurant to test those campaigns and see which campaigns perform the best. This kind of analysis allows restaurant owners and managers to make smarter decisions in the future.”

By designing smart marketing strategies, digital menu boards can not only help engage customers, but also drive business. By combining effective measurements with a variety of design strategies, menu boards can help restaurants increase profits and maximize flexibility.

Liz Carey

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