Fourth Visit’s the Charm: How to Create Loyal Customers

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.

With the second visit, the likelihood of returning spikes considerably, but it’s on the fourth visit where the likelihood to return probability peaks at around an astounding 90 percent. In other words, if you can get visitors to visit a fourth time, it’s incredibly likely they will keep coming back, and their brand loyalty is nearly guaranteed.

So how do you get them there? The first step to getting customers to the four-visit milestone is having a mechanism to collect information from guests. You need a digital loyalty program that lets you track guest behavior, test campaigns, engage customers, and adjust promotions or programs as needed.

When you get visitors to opt in to a loyalty program on their first visit, you now have the means to nurture those relationships, starting with an initial sign-up prize and subsequent, targeted messages and bonuses.

Our data shows that guests who come in for their first visit have about a 50/50 likelihood of returning. The best way to sway the odds in your favor is to give guests a specific, time-limited reason to want to come back. A free offer, triggered when they sign up for your loyalty program, is the perfect solution.

Your loyalty program also allows you to track their visits. If you identify they haven’t come in again for a second visit, you can “up the ante” and send an even more compelling offer to entice them in.

The key to success is to send customers the right kind of compelling offer at exactly the right time on their journey toward the four-visit milestone.

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The Author
Stephen Stone is a content marketing specialist at Paytronix. With a Bachelors Degree from Fitchburg State University and a Masters in Communication Management from Emerson College, Stephen is well-versed in all things communication.

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