February 16, 2023 | Posted in Branding, Customer Experience, Data, Digital, Digital Marketing, Loyalty, Marketing | By

Having a loyalty program is an important step towards creating a brand-customer bond and increasing the average spend of your patrons. Successfully promoting and marketing your loyalty program, however, isn’t as straightforward as it seems.

Before you can start offering your loyal customers perks and privileges for showing their appreciation, you need to answer some important questions about your customer base, restaurant experiences, pricing strategy, sales cycle, and value proposition. If you’re not sure where to begin or what changes you need to make in order for your loyalty program to thrive, we’ve summarized the most important insights here in this blog post.

Who are your customers?

To determine which customers to target with your loyalty program, you’ll first need to figure out who patronizes your restaurant. You can do that by asking your customers and finding out which types of customers visit your establishment most often. Once you have a better idea of your core customer base, you can then look at the demographic data of your customers to learn more about their spending habits.

While there are many ways to collect customer data, you can also try asking customers to fill out loyalty cards – data at this point is extremely accurate. You can also look at your receipts to see which items are being purchased most often and which customers tend to purchase them. You can also try creating an online survey for customers who have interacted with your restaurant to see their demographics and spending habits.

Data is also a driving force in understanding who your customers are, what they purchase and their frequency…a loyalty program will enable this data.

What is the defining factor that differentiates you from other restaurants in your area?

If you’re new to the market and don’t yet have a clear advantage over your competitors, you might want to think about why customers would choose to patronize your restaurant as opposed to another restaurant within the same vicinity.

In order to determine which customer perks you should offer, you’ll need to first discover what makes your customers happy (and unhappy) with their experience at your restaurant.

Here are some customer behaviors you’ll want to monitor while you’re taking notes:

  • How often do customers visit your restaurant?
  • Which types of customers visit your location most frequently?
  • What are the top three reasons customers visit your restaurant?
  • What is the most common complaint customers have?
  • Which of these customer complaints are most detrimental to your brand?
  • How can you make loyal patrons less likely to complain?
  • What are the most important reasons customers choose to dine out?

How do you determine the right price for your menu items?

Earning the trust of a loyal customer base is a two-way street, and you’ll need to return the favor by rewarding your patrons for frequenting your establishment. There are a few ways to do that. Some restaurant owners offer free appetizers, desserts, or even a bottle of wine to customers who dine out regularly.

Others ask patrons to sign up for a loyalty card/program, which can be redeemed for discounts or special offers on future visits. There are also a number of digital loyalty programs that allow you to customize rewards for your frequent customers. These digital programs can offer you the opportunity to promote your brand, track your customer activity, and even analyze how much customers are drinking.

How often should you offer your patrons incentives?

While it’s important to offer incentives for loyal customers, you don’t want to be too generous. If customers think you’re offering them freebies too often, they’ll be less likely to sign up for your loyalty program and show their appreciation. You want to ensure that your reward program is exciting enough to entice customers to sign up, but not so enticing that they stop coming altogether. You can gauge how well your loyalty program is working by looking at how many new signups have come in compared to how many customers have signed up as regulars.

Which Customer Activities Should You Track With Your Loyalty Program?

There’s a lot of value in tracking customer activity within your own location, but you can also track customer activity outside your physical location and increase the value of your loyalty program even further.

Here are some activities you can track with your loyalty program:

  • Which items or brands do your customers buy with your rewards points?
  • Which items or brands do your customers mention when complaining to you?
  • Which items or brands do your customers talk about when sharing photos or reviews online?
  • Which items or brands do your customers bring to your locations for free?
  • Which brands do your customers mention when communicating with each other online?
  • Which customer activities on social media are most beneficial for your brand?

Bottom line

The key to successfully promoting and marketing your loyalty program lies in understanding your audience and their needs better than anyone else. You’ll also need to understand your own motivations and the monetary value of offering genuine customer service. Finding these answers can be challenging, but it’s worth the effort. The rewards you reap from successfully promoting and marketing your loyalty program can be immeasurable. They can help increase customer retention, lead to more profitable sales, and create long-lasting brand advocates while giving you actionable data.

More about Bernie…

Senior Director, Consumer Media Group at Confluent Health – Growth marketing focus on brand awareness, interest and new patient acquisition to our 44+ partner brands and 530+ locations across the US. Accountable for driving yearly business results supported by our consumer strategy and direct-to-consumer roadmaps. The Media team is responsible for owned and paid media as it relates to performance marketing, campaign management, partnerships, website development & support, search engine optimization, relationship marketing, Yext (Google My Business) support, recruiting, email marketing and supporting our partners at the local level.

Chief Cheese – Strategy & Engagement at B2The7 – Helping brands Reach, Retain & Regain customers with Omni-Channel data-driven strategies and tactics that focus on increasing sales, transactions, comps and customer engagement.

B2The7 Photography – Sharing experiences with photography: nature, landscapes, sunsets, flowers, animals and more.

Helping job seekers & recruiters daily…Founder of Careerbarn.com – Bringing jobseekers and employers together since 2000.