5 Ways to Juice Up Your Restaurant Loyalty Program

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Has your restaurant loyalty program gone stale? Are you struggling to send the right message to the right customer at the right time? Here are 5 ways to make your loyalty program more valuable.

Has your restaurant loyalty program gone stale?

Are you sending random emails offering promotions without a purpose? Have you seen low open rates and low click-through rates? Are you struggling to send the right message to the right customer at the right time?

It may be time to experiment with data-driven restaurant loyalty programs. Data-driven loyalty programs consist of campaigns personalized by restaurant customer data gleaned from search results, mobile behavior, or even your restaurant POS system. They encourage repeat guests, but don’t alienate your existing customer base. When only 44% of loyalty program members are active (according to Colloquy), it’s important for your restaurant brand to stay top of mind for potential customers.

65% of guests say they are more likely to recommend a restaurant if it offers a valuable loyalty program, according to Loyalogy. Check out these 5 ways to make your restaurant loyalty program even more valuable.

1. Experiment with geo-targeting.

One way to juice up your restaurant loyalty program is through geo-targeting, or customizing the messages you send based on a potential guest’s location. Initially when mobile technology skyrocketed, restaurants started asking customers to “check in” on mobile in exchange for special offers. However, with the plethora of data about your restaurant customers now available, there are many more ways to target your restaurant customers based on location.

Geo-fencing is a specific strategy for geo-targeting customers. When a potential customer, someone who has opted into your loyalty program, is close to your restaurant and enters the virtual “fence” surrounding it, a message can be deployed, allowing brands to deliver timely bonuses. For example, a bakery can set a 1-mile perimeter around it and send ads or emails to customers who enter that radius. Simultaneously, it could set a 3-mile perimeter around a nearby office complex and reach potential customers that may be looking for somewhere to grab a pastry during lunch.

2. Comment on the weather, local sports.

If you don’t feel comfortable targeting your customers with mobile data, you could instead send emails based on hyperlocal happenings, whether that be new updates to the area, winning sports games, or odd weather.

For example, you could entice repeat customers by offering a themed appetizer if the local baseball team wins that night. You could suggest your most refreshing cocktail on the hottest day of the year, or highlight your cozy restaurant ambiance on days that it’s raining.

3. Track loyalty customers with their credit or debit cards.

Some restaurants require loyalty customers to sign in online in order to receive their rewards. Others are still using punch cards. Your loyalty program should seamlessly coordinate with your customer’s experience at your restaurant, automatically tracking how many points your customer has earned as well as what food items they’ve bought the most.

If your loyalty program is integrated with your POS system, it may be able to track their spending and remember customers based on which credit or debit card they use. That way, when paying for a meal, loyalty points instantly go into their account, and they don’t have to worry about inputting them manually or forgetting their password to sign in to the loyalty program.

4. Make it easy for your customer to check their loyalty points.

It’s also important to focus on the customer-facing side of your restaurant loyalty program. First of all, is there one? Can your consumers track points, rewards, and even past activity on an online loyalty application?

If not, this feature is definitely something to consider. With a customer-facing loyalty program, customers can track their rewards and follow their spending behavior online. Your restaurant can then send personalized emails to them when a new reward is available, and link them to the dashboard where they can view upcoming rewards, current ones, and more.

5. Personalize based on previous purchases.

With a restaurant CRM system integrated with your restaurant loyalty program, you can view your customers’ previous purchases or purchasing patterns and collect other valuable information. You could send a personalized reward to your highest spending guests or most regular customers to encourage their repeat business.

The ability to segment your restaurant customers is a must for loyalty campaigns. Have a new cocktail? Find all of the customers who have ordered a particular appetizer or cocktail, and offer that list of customers a promotion on the same dish the next time they come in.

Don’t Go Too Far

It’s important to remember that there’s a thin line between “cool” and “creepy” when targeting your loyalty messages. How do they know where I am? How do they remember what I ordered last?

64% of consumers say the best approach to mobile tracking is opt-in; only 12% are OK with being automatically tracked, according to OpinionLab.

That’s why you need to create a smooth restaurant loyalty program. Pull in additional data from social media and craft emails sure to resonate with customers. Create an omnichannel experience that’s relevant. And most importantly, think like a guest, not like a marketer, and set your sights on delivering a restaurant loyalty program that’s not only commendable but recommendable.

Allison Tetreault is the Content Strategist for Toast, the All-in-One POS System. She manages the Toast Restaurant Management blog and also creates valuable content for restaurateurs. Follow her on Twitter or LinkedIn.