Restaurant loyalty programs are nothing new. But gone are the days of disintegrating punch cards crammed into wallets! Instead, in 2021, many restaurants are leveraging the influx of customer data that came with the shift toward contactless operations during the COVID-19 pandemic and using that valuable information to build stronger relationships with both new and existing customers through data-driven restaurant loyalty programs.
Do these programs really work? (Short answer: Yes!) How can you develop an effective customer loyalty program in your restaurant? Read on to find out.
If you’re a restaurant owner, one of your business goals is not only to maintain business but to increase it. That means you must work simultaneously to attract new customers while also retaining existing ones. Maybe this feels like an uphill battle — but it doesn’t have to be!
An effective customer loyalty program is critical to the long-term success of your restaurant.
Today’s loyalty programs give you a meaningful way to use the plethora of customer data you’re (probably) already collecting through your POS system. They provide a trackable touchpoint with your customer database that lets you measure the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. And perhaps most importantly, they provide context for regular, targeted communication with your customers, which is imperative if you want to keep your restaurant top-of-mind.
Because customer loyalty programs track the spending of repeat customers, then reward that loyalty with points that can be exchanged for something free, discounted or exclusive, these programs also create value for your customers, incentivizing them to choose your restaurant over the competition.
So, how do you get started?
First, you need to understand what information you have. Your POS system, your website, online marketing campaigns (ie. social media) and email/SMS text marketing databases are all key sources of customer data. While taking a deep dive into this data can feel daunting, once you know what you’re working with, it will all come together to help you build a customer loyalty program that is right for your restaurant.
You can then use that data to identify key trends in customer behavior, as well as your most effective offers and marketing tactics. For example, if you send an email promoting a specific coupon, you can then track redemptions and begin to establish a correlation between your marketing strategy and customer visits.
A customer loyalty program that connects directly to your POS system is a great option for many restaurants. Using information about customer preferences and buying behavior can help you automate emails that are targeted to each customer’s journey, making each customer feel valued and triggering a repeat visit.
- Thank new customers for opting in to your loyalty program.
- Send a friendly note to lapsed customers who haven’t been to your restaurant a while.
- Provide an update on an individual’s points status when they’re close to receiving a reward.
- Share an “exclusive offer” as a thanks for being a loyal customer.
A restaurant loyalty program helps you focus this messaging on verified paying customers who are likely to come again (instead of those just looking for any deal they can find). When done right, these offers keep customers happy and coming back for more.
The bottom line: An effective customer loyalty program and data-driven marketing strategy will increase revenue by increasing the frequency of visits from existing customers and driving additional sales from lapsed customers.