Restaurant Marketing Ideas to Turn Customers into Regulars

By ChowNowSep 30th, 2020

A happy customer receiving their takeout order at a restaurant

When brainstorming restaurant marketing ideas, many restaurateurs seek out strategies that will help bring in new customers. While customer acquisition is critical to running a business, many owners overlook how important their existing customer base is to their bottom line. In fact, the cost of acquiring a new customer is more expensive than retaining an existing one. The math is simple: more orders over time equals more sales.

Marketing to your existing customers keeps your restaurant top of mind leading to increased order frequency and higher ticket sizes. Plus, a happy and loyal customer will spread positive word of mouth, which is essential to attracting new customers. In this blog, we’ll cover four tips to help you boost customer loyalty at your restaurant.

Use these 4 restaurant marketing ideas to boost repeat orders at your restaurant.

1. Start a restaurant loyalty program.

A description of a restaurant loyalty program

Most people are familiar with Amazon Prime, the company’s membership model where a customer pays an annual or monthly subscription fee in exchange for free shipping. The benefit to the consumer is obvious: a discounted rate on each individual order. The benefit for Amazon is upfront revenue and customers who have become incentivized to choose Amazon again and again. 

To entice your customers to come back, offer them access to a restaurant loyalty program of your own. Those in the industry are familiar with restaurant promotion ideas like the popular “buy 10, get the 11th order free,” but these can be difficult to track for customers and restaurants alike, and sometimes involve punch cards, which are easily misplaced. Instead, when starting a loyalty program, go for a membership model, in which you receive cash up front and incentivize a customer to come back for a discount. 

ChowNow offers restaurant partners an add-on loyalty program for their customers that seamlessly plugs into their online ordering system. According to ChowNow Internal Data, diners with loyalty memberships order 2.5x more often than non-members and spend 18 percent more per order. As an added bonus,  a restaurant loyalty program incentivizes diners to order from you directly, which can help move your loyal customer base off of marketplaces with costly commissions

Introducing: Loyal Local, ChowNow’s Free Loyalty Program for Restaurants

2. Keep customers engaged with email.

The average person spends more than two hours checking their personal emails every weekday, according to Adobe, making email a great restaurant marketing idea for retention. Customers have come to expect emails from businesses for order confirmations, regular updates, and discounts. In fact, in the same survey, most people said email was their preferred method for receiving offers. 

If you’re using your own online ordering system, you can leverage your customer data – names, email addresses, order history, etc. – to get them to order again. For example, if you have a list of customers who ordered lunch from you on Monday, try scheduling an email to send the following week on the same day around the same time. 

ChowNow offers restaurant partners an email marketing program that is easy to set up. We send branded, automated emails monthly on their behalf to their customers, complete with custom promotions that drive online orders. Using this program, the typical ChowNow restaurant partner sees a return on investment of 26 to 1.

Get the Guide: Email Marketing Made Easy for Restaurants

3. Build a relationship on social media. 

You likely already have social media accounts on popular apps, like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and maybe even TikTok. Chances are that many of your diners are taking pictures of your food and tagging both your account and location. Not only does this provide you with user generated content to promote on your own accounts, but it also provides you with the opportunity to thank them for coming to your restaurant. Taking the extra step to acknowledge your customer’s messages, comments, and posts encourages the behavior and helps them build affinity with you. Also, be sure to search for community Facebook groups where you can promote your business and engage with customers.

If you’re on Instagram, make sure you’ve set up a business account, so that you can prominently list your business information – including address and phone number – on your profile as well as a link to your online ordering. ChowNow restaurant partners are also able to integrate their online ordering with Instagram allowing their customers and fans to place repeat orders directly from their stories and an “Order Now” button on their profile.

Social media for restaurants should go further than organic posts. If you’re looking for restaurant marketing ideas to boost your online orders, use social media advertising to help reengage your customers. If you have access to your customers’ email addresses, you can build custom audiences on Facebook and Instagram and serve ads to people who are already familiar with your restaurant. Use social media ads to direct hungry diners to your online ordering platform or announce special offers.

Download: Why Customer Data Is Critical to Your Restaurant’s Success

4. Use print materials to drive repeat orders.

The best restaurant marketing ideas aren’t all digital. With promotional cards and stickers in takeout orders, you can convert your customer base to your most profitable channels. Encourage your customers to order online where they’ll spend more. According to our internal data, ChowNow restaurant partners have found that their online tickets are as much as 55 percent larger than their on-premise tickets.

If you’re using a third-party marketplace, like GrubHub or Postmates, use print to encourage your customers to order from you directly. Not only will this help you avoid paying commissions, but you’ll direct your customers to a better deal. According to the NPD, consumers pay 42 percent more when using third-party and restaurant delivery apps than when ordering for takeout or dining in.

Related: 5 Ways to Win Back Your Restaurant’s Customers from Grubhub

Beyond restaurant marketing, an important facet of getting your customers to dine with you again is to deliver an exceptional dining experience. You’re the hospitality expert, so you know best what your diners want. But don’t forget to stay on top of evolving consumer trends, especially in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Being open about your safety protocols, enabling easy and convenient ways to order, and offering your diners flexibility with curbside pickup, contactless dine-in ordering, and delivery can help set you apart with customers old and new. 

Whether you want to set up online ordering, do more with your customer data, or offer your customers a loyalty program, ChowNow helps restaurants attract and retain their customers. Schedule a call with one of our specialists today.

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