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Loyalty Marketing 2023 A Playbook For Restaurants
Prasad Vemulapalli | January 20, 2023

The food industry has always had cutthroat competition, with restaurant owners willing to leave no stone unturned to hold on to old customers and attract new ones. The pandemic years have not been kind to restaurant businesses, but the trends in 2022 indicate massive potential in the restaurant industry if owners do their marketing right.
With the rising recession, restaurant owners in 2023 need to be vigilant about what works and what must be avoided at all costs. Loyalty marketing can be the ultimate tool to boost your restaurant's revenue. Read along to better understand past loyalty marketing trends and tips for implementing them successfully.

Emergent Loyalty Marketing Trends 2022

Let us look at some of the most popular loyalty marketing trends that have emerged as the most effective in restaurant businesses.

Move Towards Technology to Facilitate Takeout Delivery

The pandemic forced restaurants to operate via a delivery and takeout process. Many old-school restaurants that could not pivot to this model were forced to go down. 

Interestingly, many customers have taken the takeout route even after the pandemic. It has forced restaurants to develop technology to facilitate this new delivery and takeout model. Market experts believe this trend is here to stay, and restaurants must either wholeheartedly accept it or eventually perish.

Shift In Loyalty Program Concepts

Old-school restaurant loyalty programs were based on loyalty card-based transactions where customers were rewarded for frequenting restaurants based on a legacy point system. But recent trends suggest that, although this point system is here to stay, restaurant owners must adapt to an engagement-based loyalty program. 

Future loyalty programs must present them with several channels of loyalty-based benefits in the form of gamification and experience-based loyalty rewards. 

Personalized Approach To Loyalty

Gone are those times when offering loyalty-based discounts was enough to secure the customer's attention. Recent trends suggest that customers seek a much more personalized experience in loyalty rewards. 

Modern restaurants are collecting customer-specific data, which provides them with the likes and dislikes of individual customers. It can give them a unique experience based on brand loyalty. Industry experts suggest that this is the type of loyalty reward that is going to attract future restaurant customers.

The good thing is that customers are much more open to sharing their information with the restaurants they love and frequent regularly.

Tips To Leverage Loyalty To Increase Revenue In 2023

Now that you are aware of loyalty marketing trends, let us understand how you can use this information to increase the revenue of your restaurant business. Here are several tips for loyalty programs for restaurants in 2023.

Focus on Frequency Than One-Time Customer Acquisition

Restaurants need to look at loyalty rewards as a customer acquisition channel. Studies suggest that customers are more likely to visit restaurants that are more aggressive with their loyalty rewards.

Frequency, not volume, is the name of the game. Restaurant owners must realize that ten small loyalty rewards are much more effective than a single big loyalty reward. It increases foot traffic and, most importantly, repeat customers, who are likelier to spread the word about you amongst their family and friends.

Rewards on Special Occasions

As mentioned above, modern customers look for more than a generic meal discount. They want a personal connection with their favorite eating place; a small birthday cake and a simple message on important days go a long way. By doing this, restaurants are building a humane bond with their customers. 

Research suggests customers appreciate special, personalized discounts and rewards more than generic loyalty rewards. Additionally, by doing this, restaurants ensure that customers are bound to visit or order from them on special occasions.

Social Media-Based Loyalty Marketing

Social media in the modern era is a marketing behemoth, and restaurants must integrate their loyalty marketing with social media to stay relevant. The best thing about social media is that it is not the most expensive space to exploit for loyalty marketing. 

Restaurants must have a social media footprint, which automatically nurtures an organic following. Restaurant pages can use their social media presence to advertise their businesses and offer discounts to their followers. Social media influencers can also play a huge role, as their reviews and advertisements can go a long way toward pulling in fans.

Aim to Have a Simple Loyalty Program

A well-designed loyalty program is useless if it is too difficult for the customer to understand. In essence, restaurant owners must ensure that their loyalty program is well thought out and easy to subscribe to. 

Customers are not going to respond positively to a complicated loyalty program. One way to do it is to ensure that the loyalty program’s theme is aligned with your restaurant offerings. It will help with better customer familiarity and provide a sense of uniqueness to your loyalty program.

Gamification Of The Loyalty Program

One of the best things restaurant owners can do to rack up customer interactions with the loyalty program is to gamify it. Although this is a new concept, it is a highly effective one. Some restaurant apps encourage their visitors to play a mobile-based game, and they can win discounts or rewards based on their accumulated points. So, these restaurants use points, badges, and levels to indicate the stages of the loyalty program. Restaurants can then use emails, push notifications, etc., to remind customers about their progress. 

Restaurants can offer free meals or cashback on their bills for customers who reach a certain level on the loyalty program. By doing this, restaurants create a sense of FOMO (fear of missing out), where customers are psychologically forced to visit the restaurant since they may miss out on the discount or free meal.

Loyalty Marketing Automation

It is one of the essential changes that restaurant owners need to make in 2023. Automation is the way to go for restaurant-based loyalty programs to function efficiently. In general, the proper functioning of all the tips mentioned above depends on the automation of marketing efforts. 

An automated loyalty program can better collect customer data, inform them about upcoming discounts, and use push notifications or emails to update them on their loyalty rewards.
Having a competent mobile app also helps better integrate the loyalty program. Customers can use the app to track their loyalty program progress, order takeout, book tables, and look for better discounts. Restaurant owners must ensure that the mobile app is highly optimized and easy to access so that customers are motivated to download and install the app.

To Conclude 

The pandemic years have forced restaurant owners to think about customers and loyalty rewards more seriously than before. Gone are the days when simple discounts and advertisements could sway the customer's decision.
The restaurant owner must employ a well-thought-out loyalty program that offers cash rewards and focuses on customer engagement. Restaurants that offer personalized offers are more likely to retain better.


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