Electrify loyalty by plugging in these 3 approaches

| by Michela Baxter
Electrify loyalty by plugging in these 3 approaches

Brands across industries are dedicating time and resources to rewarding consumers for their purchases and continued engagement. With the prevalence of loyalty programs comes the need for innovative reward strategies that cut through the noise and build rapport with consumers. QSRs aiming to break the mold must design thoughtful initiatives that are not only tailored to the brand, but to the needs of its customers. Here are the best ways restaurants can improve their loyalty game to effectively stand out, while avoiding consumer pain points. 

Consider experiential promotions

Though discounts and "spend and earn" models still resonate with consumers, non-traditional loyalty programs are on the rise, with 59 percent of consumers interested in promotions that involve unique experiences. One way to transform a standard program into an experience with flair is through emerging technology, like augmented reality and other venues that actively involve patrons.

Looking to capture younger patrons? Try gamifying your rewards strategy. Incorporating playful promotions is a great way to excite the 40% percent of millennials who prefer interactive offerings. One strategy is to create a digital scavenger hunt in which consumers receive points for their progress.

Or, in a nod to Taco Bell Explore, consider rewarding customers for their daily behaviors, like posting on social media or watching a branded video, for the chance to win a larger prize. After all, 75 percent of consumers indicate they want to be rewarded beyond their purchases. A little competition goes a long way in boosting incentive, so don't be afraid to explore the potential for gamification.

Leverage the drive-thru

QSRs with drive-thru windows have a unique opportunity to increase engagement both online and offline. For instance, your brand might design a campaign around the popular "pay it forward" drive-thru trend, in which those consumers who opt into the promotion receive a surprise free menu item, or surprise automatic entry into an exclusive sweepstake.

Or perhaps you expand your restaurant's drive-thru menu and add exclusive items for rewards members. With 60 to 70 percent of business flowing through the drive-thru, these lanes are essential channels for reaching consumers, and should not be forgotten about when it comes to revamping rewards.   

Seek feedback

Upgrading your brand's loyalty program doesn't need to be a massive undertaking. In fact, simply collecting consumer feedback and making specific tweaks based on trending input may be all that is needed to reignite program engagement. Find out what consumers' preferences are and what they're interested in seeing from your brand, then let these responses guide you. 

Take rewards feedback as an example. Fifty-three percent of consumers cite that it takes too long to earn rewards as their biggest loyalty pain point. So, find ways to demonstrate value from the outset like offering a free items with sign-up or additional points.

Restaurants should also leverage their brand's digital capabilities to satisfy mobile-savvy consumers. For example, design a rewards tracker to help loyalty members monitor their progress via app or email, and motivate them to meet their next goal. For instance, one brand not only offers its rewards members a birthday treat, but also encourages customers to download its app, where users can gauge how close they are to redeeming a free item. Acknowledge consumer frustrations and find out where there's room for growth in your rewards strategy, then use this information to your advantage.

Ultimately, creating a thoughtful rewards program is essential for bolstering customer relationships and thanking them for their participation in a meaningful way. While discount and "spend-and-earn" programs remain relevant, restaurants looking to elevate their loyalty strategy must steer clear of one-size-fits-all models and breathe new life into offerings. Factoring in the overall loyalty experience, maximizing the drive-thru, and understanding consumer preferences are a few ways to drive engagement and showcase your brand's fresh approach to consumer rewards. 

Photo: iStock

Topics: Business Strategy and Profitability, Loyalty Programs, Marketing / Branding / Promotion

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