Mobile Marketing for Restaurants: Building Customer Loyalty

You have to meet your audience where they are — and in this digital age, your audience is more than likely on their phones. As your restaurant works to get the acclaim your delicious dishes and top-of-the-line service deserve, you can build relationships with your customers through mobile marketing tactics that actually work. Turn first-timers into regulars with intentionally crafted campaigns that include elements such as loyalty programs, email marketing, content marketing, reviews and ratings, and influencer marketing. Keep reading to learn more about how you can establish and grow customer loyalty and bring more patrons to your table.

Mobile Marketing for Restaurants 2023

Develop Loyalty Programs

The best way to keep your customers coming back? Reward them! By running promotions and offering special perks, you can make your patrons feel special and appreciated while pushing initiatives that help you reach your restaurant’s goals. For example, if you have noticed a midafternoon lull, you could increase traffic by running a limited time happy hour promotion.

While many restaurants have built out apps for perks and special services, you can institute something as simple as automated text messages that send to a subscribed list of customers. In fact, a recent study showed that 82% of participants opened every text message, making this a useful, streamlined tool for you to connect with your target audience. However, be careful not to abuse this privilege — send texts sparingly and with intentionality so you don’t find yourself receiving an “unsubscribe” text.

No matter what platform you use to connect with your consumers, the key to an effective promotion is to inspire a sense of urgency and make the message feel personalized. This may look like using phrases such as “limited-time only” and using their first name in the copy.  

You can also encourage repeat visitation by creating a points system that incentivizes customers to rack up reward points in exchange for discounts or freebies when they hit certain milestones. We’ve seen this method prove itself at popular food service chains such as Starbucks and Chick-fil-A. For a successful loyalty program, you need to ensure the platform is easy-to-use and convenient so that your consumers actually want to take the extra step to use it. 

Take Advantage of Social Media Marketing 

With 305.2 million users nationwide, it’s no secret that social media has changed the way we live our lives and make decisions about how we spend our money and our time. With the rise of “influencers,” the meaning of word-of-mouth marketing has transformed from conversations among friends to sponsored posts on your consumers’ favorite Instagram accounts. 

While the word influencer may bring to mind celebrities with follower counts in the millions, there may be micro-influencers near you that have a special interest in local food spots and are always looking to try something new. You can reach out to these micro-influencers and invite them to try new menu items or offer a special deal in exchange for them reviewing your establishment to their followers. These social media mavens ideally already have established trust with their audience, so your restaurant can benefit from this as their followers are more likely to try a spot they’ve heard good things about from someone whose taste they trust. 

Social media is only effective when you know your audience and craft messages, content, and partnerships to specifically reach them. Once you identify your key demographic, keep a finger on the pulse of their evolving interests and trends that would speak to them. By doing your background work, you’re saving yourself time and resources while optimizing one of the most powerful tools at your disposal. Not only should you aim to post content that interests your audience, you should also engage with them in the comments so you can cultivate these relationships and build loyalty. 

Encourage Reviews and Ratings

It’s essential you encourage reviews from satisfied customers to improve your ranking and visibility as people are searching for restaurants in their area. Your potential patrons are looking to reviews to tell them not only what previous visitors thought of the restaurant but also additional information about the menu items from a seemingly unbiased source. In addition to 93% of customers considering reviews before a purchase, consumers are willing to spend 31% more at a business with good reviews. 

Luckily, you can use both of the mobile marketing tactics discussed earlier to gain more reviews — you can use your loyalty program platform and social media accounts to encourage already engaged customers to leave a review.  Once customers leave a review, you should try your best to respond quickly to show you care about your customer relationships and are responsive to their comments. 

However, if we’re encouraging reviews there are bound to be a few less-than-stellar reviews that roll in among the positive ones. While you may feel compelled to defend your establishment, we encourage you to take this feedback with a grain of salt and thank the customer for their review, apologize for their unmet expectations, and encourage them to reach out to you directly so you can course correct. The goal is to show empathy and make them feel seen without taking responsibility for things that were out of your control or untrue. This display of humility goes a long way not only with the patron who left a poor review, but also with the potential consumers who are reading the reviews. 

Mobile Marketing that Moves the Needle

Using a blend of these tactics will help your restaurant experience the growth and acclaim it deserves. However, we understand that while you’ve mastered the kitchen, mastering the mobile scene can feel impossible — that’s where we come in. If you want to learn more about the latest mobile marketing trends and how you can use them to your advantage, get in contact with our team today and we’ll help you develop and implement strategies that work.