Before digital loyalty programs, restaurants had no real way of figuring out which visitors were likely to return. And, what’s worse, they had no way of effectively incentivizing visitors who could become loyal to return.
Today, identifying and nurturing potential loyal customers is more important than ever; people have a seemingly endless array of options when it comes to their meals. They can purchase ingredients at the grocery store to cook at home, or have ingredients delivered to their door using increasingly popular services like Blue Apron. For a quicker meal, they can buy pre-prepared hot food from supermarkets or convenience stores, order takeout, or go out to eat.
How can your restaurant compete?
The answer is as simple as it is challenging: Get customers to meet the four-visit milestone.
Obviously, you want people to visit, and to visit often. But your goals can be much more specific than that. Data shows that each visit increases the chance that a customer will visit again, effectively choosing you over your competitors.
I recently sat down with my fellow product manager, Joel Udwin, to talk about where our worlds collide: integrating mobile at the point of sale. We like to think that a mobile strategy is placed in the pocket of the consumer, but it doesn’t stay there – mobile engagement must integrate with in-store operations to be successful. Joel, who manages our mobile products, explains why:
Q: Why is a POS integration important when it comes to mobile engagement?
A: Wow, Paige. I thought that since we worked together, you would give me easy questions, but you just knocked it out of the park. [Chuckles] I don’t like bucketing mobile into this separate silo of mobile engagement. When we talk about mobile engagement, we are really just talking about guest engagement. At restaurants and convenience stores, a large portion of customer engagement occurs at the point of sale, where most transactions take place today. Implementing an engagement strategy without considering your point of sale is like driving a small car on an icy road – you’ll move around, but you won’t necessarily be able to control where you are going. Basically, if your engagement program doesn’t translate at the POS, your employees will be too frustrated by it to evangelize it, and your guests won’t want to use it. Successful mobile engagement programs need to work in harmony with point-of-sale technology and operations.
For a quite a while, Chipotle executives didn’t believe loyalty programs were for them. In fact, Mark Crumpacker, CCO/CDO of Chipotle, said in September 2015*, “We don’t believe the general supposition that loyalty will make less frequent customers more frequent.”
However, from the fourth quarter of 2015 into the early second quarter of 2016, Chipotle had a few health scares that contributed to its stock prices — and sales — to take a tumble.
In summer 2016, Chipotle was ready to rethink its stance on loyalty programs and launched its Chiptopia Summer Rewards, a three-month tiered loyalty program.
It’s reasonable to assume, based on the structure of the program (that we’ll cover next) and the business challenges they were experiencing, that
Chipotle’s motivation in creating its loyalty program was to increase visits.
Note: Before we go any further, we want to make it clear that Chipotle is not a client of Paytronix. This blog post is designed to analyze the Chiptopia program, share what worked and what didn’t, and help you think — or rethink — your own loyalty program.
The Chipotle Loyalty Program Structure: How It Worked
An Interview with Content Marketing Professor Neil Feinstein
Content marketing professor and consultant Neil Feinstein has helped brands like Disney, American Express, and The New York Times improve their marketing efforts via social media, email, and mobile. In a recent interview, Neil provided insights from his years of experience that you can use to leverage content to bolster your own marketing efforts.
Paytronix: What are brands getting wrong about content marketing?
Neil: Too many brands align their marketing strategies with themselves, and not their customers. For a consumer interaction to be meaningful, it needs to be based on a consumer insight. What does the customer care about? Why should the customer care? Before marketers push out content, before they start tweeting or blogging or gramming, they need to understand the customer and then build a strategy that aligns with his/her expectations – not the business’s.
Paytronix: If that’s the case, what are most brands getting right about content marketing? […]
Turn customer engagement into meaningful guest experiences.