Consumers are now more careful than they have ever been when it comes to where they choose to spend their money. They want to support businesses that value their patronage—that go out of their way to connect with customers and reward them for their loyalty.

Restaurant owners are quickly learning that repeat business is instrumental in helping them achieve success. The way to drive repeat business is by fostering solid relationships with their customers.

Of course, providing great food and excellent service builds the foundation of a loyal relationship. Still, when you offer a five-star rewards program, customers will remain faithful through thick and thin.

Here’s how to get started:

Upgrade Customers to Loyal Fans

Any loyal customer relationship is established through communication. Restaurateurs reap the most benefits when they communicate with their customers regularly. Staying in touch with your customers ensures that your restaurant stays top-of-mind.

The more channels you utilize to connect to your customers, the stronger your customer relationships will be. Promote your loyalty program throughout your multi-channel ordering platform so that you can send unique, exclusive reward offers via text, website, and mobile app.

Provide Value with Text Marketing

It used to be that restaurants could only communicate with customers via mail. As time has gone on and technology has advanced, those snail-mail coupons were upgraded to emails, then to mobile app communications. Finally, we’ve arrived at text communications.

According to a 2021 survey by smscomparison.com, 75 percent of customers want offers via text message, and 72 percent say they’re more likely to sign up for a loyalty program through text marketing. Those are pretty hefty figures that all point to text marketing as the next primary digital marketing tool.

It’s essential, however, to ensure that you’re leveraging texts in the right way. If you’re too eager to use it, you could risk annoying customers. Likewise, if your messages don’t convey helpful information or promotions that your customers want, you could risk driving them off.

When creating text marketing messages, make sure you provide powerful, relevant, and valuable information that motivates customers to act.

A few examples are:

Limited Time Offer: “It’s National Pizza Day! Order two medium pizzas and get free garlic bread. Text NPD2021 to place your order now. Hurry—offer ends tonight.”

Text Poll: “What cocktail do you want to see next? A. Rummer’s Delight B. Vodka Spritz C. Spring Ginny. Text your favorite for a chance to win a free cocktail on us!”

Collaboration: “Dine-in with us Thursday from 4-7 p.m. Enjoy delicious food and listen to awesome music from Mike Jones. Reserve your table now.”

Increase Orders with Customized Messages and Promotions

Customer data is critical. The more channels through which you can collect this data, the more concrete and valuable that data becomes. Integrating text orders through a multi-channel ordering platform generates a central space of customer data to learn more about customer preferences.

With this information at your fingertips, you can tailor your promotions to fit precisely what your customers desire. You can learn what type of language motivates them to spend and which types of messages lead to better offer redemption.

This works on both a macro and micro scale. You can learn about your customer demographics as a whole or save unique data for each customer and learn what personalized offers work best. Making offers more personalized shows customers that you value their individual interests, which strengthens customer relationships.

Here are a few critical tips for sending digital marketing messages:

Create Urgency:

Attention-grabbing language like “Today Only” is key for a positive ROI.

The more urgent the special/offer is, the more likely a consumer will act on it.

Share a Call-to-Action (CTA):

Make sure customers know the next step. Do they need a special link to get the deal? Can they only redeem the offer if they dine-in? Are they able to simply reply to the text with their food order? Make sure there are clear details on what’s next.

Make sure the CTA is trackable. This way, you know what offers convert first-time guests into consistently loyal customers.

Make Every Message Worth Their Time:

Don’t send too often. Your marketing messaging must be segmented to the right target market and sent at the right time for optimal ROI.

It’s worth your time and your customer’s time to keep your brand top of mind. Have crafted, strategic messages like: “We see you haven’t ordered your favorite pizza, Meat Lover’s Pizza, in a few weeks. Want to place an order now?”

If you’re looking for the best value for your investment as a restaurateur, integrated text marketing fits the bill. The average click-through rate for text marketing is 9.18 percent compared to Facebook’s 0.90 percent.  

Text marketing is an essential piece of your overall restaurant technology puzzle; however, a well-rounded strategy doesn’t just rely on a single communication channel. Make sure your entire restaurant technology ecosystem works together cohesively for optimal restaurant marketing.

Ali Husain serves as HungerRush’s Chief Product Officer, E-commerce. He joined the company in 2020 through the acquisition of OrdrAI, a leading text and voice ordering provider for the restaurant industry, and he’s helped companies transform digitally with a goal of optimizing growth and accelerating innovation. Learn more at hungerrush.com . read moreOutside InsightsTechnology