“Customer engagement is the degree and depth of  BRAND- FOCUSSED interactions a customer chooses to perform.”    The Smile Team

Customer engagement includes any interactions that a customer may have with a brand, and brand-focused interactions that a customer has with his friends, colleagues or family- this could include seeking reviews, recommendations, brand mentions, feedback etc. As a restaurant owner and marketer, it becomes equally important to focus on the degree and depth of these interactions as some interactions may be more valuable to your brand than others. For instance, when a customer shares a pic having dinner at your restaurant, it generates much more value for your brand than when he likes on one of your posts on social media.

The value of engaging your customer at all touchpoints of the customer journey cannot be stressed enough. Research by Gallop shows that a fully-engaged customer represents 23% more revenue than average. An engaged customer is more likely to buy from your brand, offer feedback, and develop loyalty towards the brand. Companies can increase cross-sell by sending out personalized offers, drive- up revenues and increase order sizes by having a comprehensive customer engagement strategy in place.  In fact, 44% of customers claim that they are more likely to return to businesses that offer them a personalized experience.

There are no uniform strategies to engage your Customer- what works for one restaurant may not work for another. However, by analyzing all touch points and looking at the ways in which your customers engage with your business at these touchpoints, you can optimize the communication you send out at each of these stages.

Here are a few online and offline strategies which you can use to boost engagement with your restaurant’s customers.

1. Respond to Everyone

 It is important to show your customers that you as a brand are responsive to messages. Set up a process to reply to messages, feedback, or any other kind of communication you receive from your customers.  This could be via e-mail, contact forms on your website, or messages left on social media.

Responding to comments or messages you receive from fans on social media or other platforms makes them feel valued and more likely to engage with your business in future.

2. Contests To Boost Customer Engagement

Another great way to boost engagement with your fans and prospective customers is by holding contests. As a Restaurant owner or a marketer, you may feel reluctant to hold contests or feel that “Everyone is having a contest all the time”.  But, the truth is they work. Everyone enjoys winning, even if it is something small such as a coffee or an appetiser. To get the most out of a contest think of what you want to achieve from running the contest. Having clear goals will help you in coming up with strategies to achieve your targets.

Here are some goals that you could be looking at:

  • Website traffic
  • Brand Awareness
  • Boosting user engagement
  • Building your email list
  • Growing your social media presence
  • Promoting an upcoming product or service
  • Collecting user feedback to improve product quality
  • Converting followers into brand advocates

Consider the platforms on which you would be run the contest and lay down other details like clear terms and conditions, giveaways, duration of the contest etc.

Try to think of  fun, quirky ideas for a contest  

  • In-store Selfie Contest
  • Photo contest featuring your products
  • Hashtag Contest
  • Suggesting a slogan

 Take a look at this contest by Flying pig, which meets three goals

  • Raising Brand awareness
  • Generating UGC
  • Promoting a branded Hashtag
  • Generating opportunities for cross-sell

 

Promote your Contest

The success of your contest and how much engagement it generates would also depend on how well you promote it across various channels.

  • Post about it on your social media handles or homepage of your own website/blog!
  • Run promoted posts on Social Media Channels
  • Use a branded hashtag to promote your contest
  • Send an email to inform subscribers and encourage them to participate
  • Partner with other brands for cross promotion
  • Follow-up by commenting and thanking every participant.

Brands that run contests on a regular basis have a much higher engagement rate as compared to others. So it is time, you step up your social media game by adding a few fun contests to your strategy.

3. Respond to Reviews To Boost Customer Engagement

The success of a modern restaurant depends, to a large extent, on its ability to generate positive reviews. If you are still not convinced take a look at the data below:

  • According to recent surveys, 93% of consumers say product reviews influence their purchasing decisions
  • 85% trust online reviews of local businesses as much as they trust personal recommendations.
  • Almost half (49%) need to see four stars before they’ll even engage with your business.
  • (82%) have decided to buy a product or service after reading through the content of a review.
Most people check for reviews on Yelp before trying out a New Place

 

Responding to reviews both positive and negative gives you an opportunity to engage the customer and show them that you value their business while building up a positive perception of your business. Replying to your customers helps you open up a direct communication channel for future conversations. You can take the conversation to the next level by asking your customers to connect via email.

But first, how do you get your customers to leave positive reviews about your food and services?

Develop a strategy to generate reviews

  • Solicit reviews: Train your staff to ask for reviews after the customer has finished a meal. Research says that 60% will leave a review if they’re encouraged to do so.
  • Make reviewing easier
  • Provide an incentive to review
  • Automate the process using technology– use tools like Kritiq which send an automatic feedback form to the customer every time he makes a purchase from you.

While many of us respond to negative reviews, we often overlook positive comments.  Thanking a customer who left a positive review not only helps you build a close bond with customers but also gives you the opportunity to promote your brand and services- like here at mKonnekt, we have a policy of requesting customers who left a positive review to follow us on social media. You can even go ahead and share your online ordering link or request them to join your loyalty program.  Sharing such positive reviews on social media is a great way to boost positive SEO of your brand. 

4. Coupons and Discounts To Boost Customer Engagement

“Discounting the right way is the best and fastest way to grow a stalling bar or restaurant business.” -Nick Foster

Discounts can be a great way to get people in the door. It’s important to have a strategy around them and communicates your message correctly. If your customers start feeling that offering discounts is the only way your restaurant generates footfall, then discounting is definitely harming your brand image. Devote some time to articulate your message- make your customers feel that you are offering the discount because you value their business.

Holiday Discounts

Here are some strategies that you could use:

  • Offering deals to first-time customers or regulars can make them feel appreciated and connected to your restaurant.
  • Holiday discounts: Such as a discount for Fathers on Father’s Day or teachers a discount during Teacher Appreciation week.
  • Promote your discount and deals through posts on social media or by running ads.
  • Check on the most and least popular items on your menu and create offers to promote these dishes.
  • Restaurants can leverage discounts to get more people in the door during slow hours and slow days of the week.
  • Offer discount cards or coupons through platforms like Yelp or Groupon.
  • Collaborate with a local organization by offering coupons for their events.

 

A Great Way to Boost Sales on Slow Days of the Week

 

5. Gift Cards To Boost Customer Engagement

Gift cards top the list of most requested gift items. 58.8% of consumers say they would like to receive gift cards as a gift during the Holiday Season. The great thing about gift cards is that they do not cut into your restaurant’s profit and are a great way to build customer engagement with your brand. Apart from generating sales, gift cards serve as a great advertorial keeping your brand on top of your customer’s mind. Public holidays or special days such as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day etc. are the perfect time to push out Gift Cards.

 

According to statistics, approximately 2 out of 3 gift card holders spend almost 40 per cent more than the value of the gift card. So, every time a customer walks in with a gift card, you get an opportunity to upsell or cross-sell.

6. E-mail Marketing To Boost Customer Engagement

“Every dollar spent on email marketing can help you get an average ROI of $38.” 

Emails are a great way to keep in touch with your customers.  You can use email campaigns both for customer acquisition as well as retention.  Most successful restaurants are using emails to keep their customers up-to-date with the latest offers and promotions. You could also push your online ordering or delivery services via email campaigns.

Deploy these Tips to Boost Email Engagement

  • Dynamic content based on demographics and preferences
    • Segment emails based on basis of demographics, interests or preferences.
    • Ask your audience to choose the kind of content they would like to receive, such as- new additions, offers, events.
    • Offer a link that allows readers to change their preferences.
  • Have Clear, Brief  Call to Actions in your emails
    • Include your CTA in the email subject line
    • Use contrasting colors to help the CTA stand out
    • Link your CTA to a dedicated website landing page
    • Ensure that your CTA is a part of the text portion of the email body so that it is visible see even if a recipient has images turned off.
  • Personalize your content and offers
  • Optimize for mobile
  • Automate your emails 
  • Ask for feedback and improve.
  • Mix promotional emails with content which creates value for your users
    • Share recipes of house favorites
    • Food Facts
    • Healthy eating options on your menu

7. Birthday emails To Boost Customer Engagement

Retaining your current customers is up to 7x cheaper than acquiring new ones. Did you know that Birthday emails have a 481% higher transaction rate than promotional emails and on an average, they generate a 342% higher revenue per email than promotional emails?

Running a birthday campaign can help you bolster engagement with your customers. Here are two ways to do it:

1. Set up an email campaign– Plan and set up a campaign to collect birthdays by asking your customers to sign up on your website, or you can even embed a form on social media sites like Facebook to collect such data. Once you have collected this data, use it to set up an automated campaign through MailChimp to send out specials to your customers on their birthdays.

2. Use Automation: You could also automate the entire process by integrating tools such as  Birthday Module on your website. Once you have set up this Module on your website, a tab will automatically appear on your facebook page and your website.

  • Customers can sign up both on your website and Facebook.
  • Once a user registers- the system sends out coupons automatically on their birthdays and anniversaries.  
  • You can send out coupons for signing-up along with coupons for birthdays and anniversaries.
  • You can customize offers that you want to send out.

Best Practices

  • Personalize subject lines and messages
  • Send the offer on birthday or anniversaries
  • Send  reminders
  • Create a clear call to action“Redeem Your Birthday Gift”

8. Chatbots to Boost Customer Engagement

Facebook allows brands to connect with their potential customers through messenger bots. These chatbots can be accessed via existing chat apps such as Facebook Messenger or Whatsapp, so your customers’ won’t have to download another app.  You can connect directly to all your customers sending them personalized offers and recommendation in accordance with their purchase history through these messenger bots.

 

 

Popular chains like Pizza Hut are successfully using this technology to boost customer engagement by being available to their customers at all times, answering their queries and sending out personalized deals. These Chatbots can also be used to allow your customers to make reservations or order ahead. 

9. Loyalty programs to Boost Customer Engagement

Restaurant loyalty programs are another great way to boost customer engagement. When a customer has a positive experience or derives value from your products or services, he is likely to return to your business. That is where customer loyalty programs can help you. A customer loyalty program offers special privileges by the way of discounts to customers who make frequent purchases.

On average, loyal customers spend more and are more likely to recommend your restaurant to friends and family. In the U.S., 40% of online shopping revenue comes from repeat customers.

Best Practices

  • The best time to invite guests to join your restaurant’s loyalty programme is when they’ve just had a great experience.
  • Train your staff to encourage guests to join your loyalty programme to avail enticing offers and special deals.
  • Promote the program on your website and social media handles.
  • Offer an incentive to sign-up
  • Go for completely digitized cardless loyalty programs.
  • Integrate your loyalty program with your Pos System.
  • Simplify the signing -up process
  • Make it easy to check points and redeem offers.
  • Optimize for mobile
  • Customize rewards based on customer preferences.

The key to boosting engagement is understanding your customers. You can provide a personalized experience and optimize engagement at each stage only if you understand your customers and their journeys.

These are some of the tricks we have been using to boost customer engagement. We would love to know how you engage with your customers.