Enticing Restaurant Customers with Loyalty Programs and SMS

Marketers and business leaders have heard the saying, “It’s cheaper to keep a customer than acquire a new one.” Usually, this comes up in conversations regarding B2B marketing strategies, but it also applies within the realm of B2C brands — especially restaurants. 

The best customers are returning ones as members of top-performing loyalty programs are 77 percent more likely to choose their brand over competitors. 

In our current, ever-changing environment brands need to create intentional moments of engagement and inspiration because it’s what people crave. Loyalty programs create those moments and start those familiar brand conversations, giving customers extra incentive to come back and stay engaged. 

Incorporating Loyalty Programs with SMS 

Many restaurants automatically use traditional strategies such as punch cards to create loyalty programs. Consumers today are digitally-focused and don’t want to rely on those practices — neither should businesses. Digital channels offer a more streamlined approach, making it more intuitive for restaurants to communicate with their customers.

Digitizing loyalty programs can seem intimidating, especially for restaurant owners or marketers who don’t feel they’re technologically savvy. Plus, a lot of out-of-the-box digital loyalty solutions are expensive. One of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to digitize loyalty programs is to use SMS marketing. 

Many businesses already use text message marketing as a primary channel for retention efforts. Why? It’s easy to segment lists and target audiences with personalized outreach. Customers and businesses alike prefer brand conversation via text because of the incredibly high engagement and ROI metrics if reaps —  85 percent of customers prefer receiving text messages over a phone call or email and more than 90 percent of all text messages are read within minutes. 

By combining text message marketing with loyalty program software, restaurants will be able to garner impactful, remarkable experiences while also enticing customers to return. Tactics implemented when leveraging both SMS marketing and a loyalty program include: 

Communicate promotions: Texting is today’s preferred form of communication — nobody goes anywhere without their phone and recipients are eager to read messages from those they want to hear from — favorite restaurants included. Consider exclusive updates such as new merchandise and secret or upcoming menu items or VIP rewards such as targeted promotions or coupons.

Re-target specific customers: Personalization features offered by SMS software providers make it easy to target one specific customer or a small group enabling one-to-one conversations. Targeting, and re-targeting, for restaurants has never been easier. Now, if a loyalty member hasn’t checked in or ordered in a while, a message can be sent encouraging them to come back. Messages can include an additional incentive, like a coupon to make the offer even more enticing. 

Reward reminders: If you’ve ever opted-in to a reward program, you know getting close to receiving that free menu item makes you want to keep coming back. With text message marketing, restaurants can send updates on where customers stand within their program, encouraging repeat visits in order to reach their program’s goal.  

These are just a few of many tactics restaurants can implement when combining SMS and loyalty programs, especially during the current pandemic. Texting can also be a great way to inform a restaurant’s most loyal customers about hours, adjusted safety protocols, carry-out and delivery updates, and more. With the changing environment, it’s time to create those significant brand relationships to benefit restaurants now and in the future.