Tech Startup of the Week: Eateria Serves Up Digital Deals Based on Customer Loyalty
Black Enterprise Magazine January-March 2019 Issue

Ola Ayeni, founder of Dining Dialog, helps restaurant owners build customer loyalty with his platform, Eateria (Image: Source)

Eateria is the first digital loyalty platform that focuses on the restaurant, food and hospitality industry. The digital marketing platform gives restaurant owners the opportunity to measure the return on investment (ROI) on its social media marketing investments using unique promotions that can be tracked online, via email and social media, as well as with QR codes and text messages.

“We know that over 60% of restaurant owners work 60-80 hours in a week; they don’t have time for somebody to enter customer contact data collected in a restaurant or create an email template,” says Ola Ayeni, founder and CEO of Dining Dialog. “So we have managed services where we do all of the hard lifting for them.”

Eateria sends out marketing messages to restaurant-goers based on their on-the-go lifestyle, says Ayeni.  “If your preference is to receive text messages, that is all you will get because that is what you want. If you want emails, you will get that. If you are always on Google+, Facebook, or Twitter that is the only way you will be reached because that is how you spend your time.”

Eateria also provides ROI reporting by measuring how many people redeemed the discount and what day and time they redeemed it. Similar companies like Constant Contact, or Mail Chimp, do not track redemption. Also, customers can validate and save discounts by making a toll-free phone call, by scanning a QR code with their phone, online or by text message, which prevents them from losing the coupon.

“It gives the restaurant owner a better opportunity to bring their customers back and build loyalty instead of discounting to the masses,” says Ayeni, who suggests daily deal sites like Groupon don’t make good business sense.

Last year, Eateria’s parent company, Dining Dialog, won $50,000 from the Miller Coors Business Plan Competition, $60,000 worth of software from the Microsoft Pack program and $50,000 towards credit card transaction fees for dining dialog customers from Braintree.

This week Black Enterprise honors Ola Ayeni’s  Dining Dialog as Tech Startup of the Week to celebrate the company’s successful launch of Eateria last month. Here, Ayeni provides three tips on using social media marketing to promote your business:

–        Look at ways to promote your business beyond using old traditional ways of marketing. It is not as effective as it used to be. Think about local marketing opportunities, and whether it is possible to partner with small businesses in the area.

–        Collect customer info. Don’t just know them by face. You need to know their birthday, their email, and a little personal information so you can bring them back. That is one way to remain sustainable in this digital age. The key is to own your customer data, don’t just rely on customer data on a site like Facebook.

–   Use this data to build loyalty, not for discounting. That’s not good business. Only 14% of customers come back after using a daily deal site. They are bargain hunters, not loyal customers. We believe that you give customers something to reward them for their loyalty. It’s not discounting, for discounting’s sake, its rewards to thank them for their business. We believe in loyalty building that’s the key. (Editor’s Note: Only 3% of companies saw both profit and return visits from daily deal customers, according to a recent survey by Manta)

Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.