If you own (or do marketing for) a restaurant, you want to fill the seats. And while getting passers-by to come in for a bite is fine, a loyalty program will keep you afloat. [Emial marketing for restaurants.]
Building a Loyalty Program into Your Restaurant Marketing Strategy
It boils down to getting smart about how to show love to your regulars.There are two ways to do that— make sure you’re getting it right.
Your mom-and-pop deli may still reward you for buying 10 subs by giving you the 11th one free. But you have to admit, that’s not much of a reward. Points systems and memberships (think: brewery mug club) is a great way for loyal customers to self-identify. Plus they incentives motivate them to stay loyal. We all like to be VIPs. If you give your customers that chance, people will take advantage of it.
Bad Idea: Punch Cards
Good Idea: VIP/Members Only segmenting
You’d think that offering discounts to everyone would increase the chances of more people coming through your door. But it tends to be a waste of money when you cast a wide net. Why? You lose revenue when everyone gets a discount, and it doesn’t cultivate true loyalty. Market research shows that discounts—however generous they may be—aren’t why people keep coming back. The best customers like your food already. If you must reward people with incentives, reward people who are already spending lots of money on your menu.
Bad Idea(s): Blanket Discounts
Good Idea(s): Extra food or incentives (with a full-priced purchase they’ve already made)
In short, you’re going for what BigDoor calls reciprocal loyalty: “a premium relationship beneﬁting both the brand and the consumer. [Reciprocal loyalty] creates a relationship where consumers support brands through advocacy, purchase behavior, and community participation”.
They buy. Your reward. They interact. Your reward. They’re giving you their hard-earned dollars on a regular basis. You should be giving back. And you can— without hurting your bottom line.
Few Ways to Make Sure Your Loyalty Program is the Real Deal
Remind customers that Real People Work at Your Restaurant
Remember Cheers? In the iconic sitcom, the bar was always lined with regulars. It wasn’t their discounts or programs that did it. They joked with Sam, loved Coach, and felt a connection to real people. Your restaurant can be its own Cheers. Tap into feelings. Have tone and semantics that a real person would use when you tell your customers about happy hour, promote a community event you sponsor, or thank them for their online order.
PRO tip: Take your work seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously. A sense of humor will take you far.
Stick to Your Guns
People are loyal to brands they trust. And they trust brands who are true to their values. If you value organic, sustainable food, how do you practice those values when you’re not making salads with local beets? Gather those stories and share them on your social channels. You practice what you preach— make sure your customers know it.
Teach ‘em to Fish
A big part of adding value to your customer experience is to teach your customers something. This is a great way to flex those creative muscles. Do your customers love that you use organic food? Teach them what makes it organic. Share what your family farmers are doing to ensure delicious food is all that makes it to the plate—every time. Maybe you serve big portions— share ways to stretch and preserve those leftovers so they’re just as delicious tomorrow. You’ll have fun, and your regulars will eat it up.
If you’re making your customers feel special and giving them something valuable whenever they choose to invest in your restaurant, they’ll keep coming back (and bringing friends, too)! Remember, you want to have a strong digital marketing strategy as well as a strong loyalty program. Have you started a restaurant loyalty program? What can you do to take it to the next level?