restaurant loyalty marketing
by Laura-Andreea Voicu

In a time when customer loyalty is more important than ever, you need to learn how to keep foodies coming back by implementing a restaurant loyalty marketing strategy. Keep reading for insight into why loyalty programs work, what benefits they bring, and a couple of examples of customer loyalty programs for restaurants.

Do Restaurant Loyalty Programs Work?

The short answer is, “Yes.” The slightly longer answer is, “Yes if you know how to implement them.” I am here to give you the complete answer.

Knowing your audience is the key to successful restaurant loyalty marketing. If you know what makes them tick, you will learn how to draw them in and keep them loyal. So, before you start brainstorming loyalty program ideas, ask yourself these questions about your customers:

  • Are they predominantly male or female?
  • What is their average age?
  • Are they married couples, families, groups of friends, etc.?
  • Where do they live, and what is their average income?
  • What is their profession?
  • Do they tend to spend a lot when dining with you, or are they frugal and on the hunt for discounts?
  • Are they online often? Do they use social media?
  • Do they book a table in advance or simply show up?
  • Have they ordered from you online?

After answering these questions, you should have enough information to figure out what restaurant perks will turn them into loyal customers.

Know Your Audience

If groups of friends often visit your restaurant, come up with group deals and bundles. These will allow them to sample more of your dishes for less money by splitting the cost among themselves. You can even encourage birthday celebrations by offering the first round of drinks on the house.

If they use social media and tend to order a lot of food online, you know where your promotions and discounts should be. Organize an Instagram giveaway for repeat customers, encourage them to interact with you on Facebook, or recommend you to a friend to get a free dessert.

As you can see, the choices depend on who your customers are. The best restaurant loyalty programs anticipate customers’ needs based on their audience profile and efficiently cater to them.

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Restaurant Loyalty Program Benefits

  • It boosts sales by increasing the cart value.
  • It’s a better return on investment than most restaurant marketing strategies.
  • It helps you get repeat business.
  • It’s a great way to provide customers with a more personalized dining experience.
  • It makes customers feel happy and appreciated.

Restaurant Loyalty Marketing at a Glance [Infographic]

If you’re still not convinced of the many advantages of a restaurant loyalty program, maybe the infographic below can tip the scale. It contains some exciting restaurant loyalty program statistics that prove its effectiveness.

restaurant loyalty marketing infographic
Made by our friends at Venngage — the infographic & event flyer maker

Restaurant Loyalty Program Ideas

Are you thinking of starting a loyalty program at your restaurant? Then you’re going to need a few ideas. This is by no means a comprehensive restaurant loyalty programs list, but it’s enough to get you started.

1. Loyalty Points

The concept of a point system for restaurants will never get old. The more money customers spend, the more points they’ll get. Collect enough points, and they can redeem exciting offers, discounts, and freebies. For customers who love your food, it’s a win-win. They would have probably dined with you anyway, but now they get to do it knowing they will also win something.

2. Jump the Queue

As a restaurant owner, you’re probably familiar with the chaos around big holidays when people would do anything for a reservation at a nice restaurant. Think Valentine’s Day, for example. One way to entice people to become loyal customers is to offer a jump the queue benefit. This allows them to book a table in advance instead of waiting around for someone else to drop their reservation.

People crave exclusivity no matter the circumstances, and the best loyalty programs make customers feel important. Tease “secret menus” for loyal customers, and they’ll come running. Choose different thresholds that, when passed, unlock an exclusive taste test of an item that is not on your menu.

4. Restaurant Loyalty App

If you can afford to invest time and money into it, a loyalty app will make both your life and that of your customers easier. Prompt them to download the app, create an account, and start redeeming points every time they visit your restaurant. The best restaurant loyalty apps come with capabilities that surpass more traditional restaurant loyalty programs like punch cards.

5. Punch Cards

That is not to say, of course, that paper punch cards are over. They were there at the very beginning of restaurant customer loyalty, and they continue to be useful to restaurant owners today.

The concept is simple: you give customers a paper punch card with a random number of empty squares. Each time they dine with you, you either punch a hole in one of the squares or stamp it. When you’ve stamped all of them, the customer can redeem a free meal or whatever reward you decide to offer.

Bottom Line

Restaurants with great loyalty programs are more successful. Cash in on this opportunity to increase your restaurant sales by dipping your toe into restaurant loyalty marketing. Remember that restaurant loyalty is all about knowing your customers. Take the ideas above and adjust them according to your target audience, and you will reap the benefits soon.

photo of GloriaFood blog writer Laura-Andreea Voicu
Laura-Andreea Voicu

Laura-Andreea Voicu is an experienced content writer with a knack for marketing and SEO. She delivers business-optimized content to help restaurants boost sales and grow their brand.