After meeting with restaurant owners, managers and marketing staff, it has quickly become apparent to me there is a general lack of knowledge regarding the current use of artificial intelligence and how to leverage the power of social media to drive new client acquisition, retention and loyalty.

Why build loyalty?

Simply put, it costs more money in marketing to acquire a customer than to retain a customer.

I have observed a range of acquisition strategies such as offering 50% off your main course if you visit a restaurant at a certain time.

If you cannot convert people taking you up on your offer onto some sort of loyalty program, so that you can bring them back to your establishment, again and again and again – you need to reconsider your acquisition strategy.

Customer Loyalty programs maximise the Long-Term Value of each customer visiting your establishment.

If your average spend per head is €25 and your customer returns 4 times a year for the next 3 years, then your Average Life Time Value (for a 3-year period) is €300 per customer. Bringing in 100 new customers per month (25 per week) is the equivalent of adding € 30 000 per month to your above the line earnings over the next 3 years.

1. Typical Loyalty Programs

The typical program I come across when visiting restaurants today is passive.

It works like this:-

1. Visit restaurant,

2. Sign up for a loyalty card by giving up your name, birthday, mobile number, address, email address,

3. Download an App so that you don’t have to keep the card on you,

4. Earn rewards based on your consumption.

There are many restaurants who have adopted this kind of solution, so what are the pain points this solves for them?

The restaurant has a loyalty card (as opposed to not having one) and it has an App which let’s face it, once downloaded, has put your brand onto the phone of your customer. The customers can now earn rewards for their consumption.

Sounds like a simple straightforward solution right? So what are the issues with this system?

Here are a few:

• There is no engagement

How is your brand communicating with your loyalty members? A push notification, an sms, an email? These forms of communication are very old school, move only in one direction and do very little to engage with your members.

• Delivery

Using SMS, email and push notifications have got their own issues. SMS is renowned for using very direct messages such as this:-

Soldes: jusqu’à – 40% des demain dans tous nos points de vente et sur monsiteinternet.com. (Stop au 36105)

Sales: up to – 40% of tomorrow in all our outlets and on mywebsite.com. (Stop → 36105)

Email is slightly better, but the chances are your email will end up in your customers’ spam folder, or if delivered, never opened. Email delivery rates are 35% if you are lucky and open rates about 5%. To put that in perspective, if you are sending out 10 000 emails, only 500 are being, opened! Not very efficient.

App push notifications are a good solution for delivering notifications, but to do what? Tell people you are open? Engage with your App?

My last word on the typical loyalty programs I have come across must refer to the restaurant servers’ role. At no time, has any server proposed that I join their restaurant loyalty program or indeed explained how to do it. I have been left on my own to discover the program when paying at the till or by discovering an application form on my table placemat or otherwise at the table.

In terms of TripAdvisor, Facebook reviews, Google reviews, Yelp and more – I have never been prompted to leave a review anywhere by any establishment.

It would seem to me that restaurants are in denial that sites such as TripAdvisor or Facebook are THE FIRST PLACE PEOPLE GO before booking a place at your restaurant.

I would go further to suggest that you save your hard-earned money on a fancy new website and instead invest it by improving your reputation in the community.

New customers want to be reassured that if they visit your establishment, you generally have a good reputation, for them to warrant spending their time and money with you.

Putting out fires is great if you want to be a fireman – not so great if you want to be a restaurateur.

2. Social Loyalty Programs using AI

People who go to restaurants are able to find each other on review websites and social media and quickly form a social community that is extremely relevant to your business.

Your business is part of an online social community whether you like it or not, the question is what steps are you doing to leverage this, to acquire, retain and generate a loyal following?

First, we have to accept that there are some people who don’t use social media and are not the type of people who would leave reviews or indeed read up on reviews. But they are very much in the minority.

Today, more than ever, your customers are walking around with mini computers disguised as smartphones in their pockets, connected at broadband speeds permanently to the internet.

I can take my iPhone 8plus as an example which has all the computer capability that I need to record, edit and upload a flattering (or scathing) video review of your business to the internet, within a couple of minutes.

Go where your customers are hanging out

It is important to understand some stats first, especially after the recent announcement that Facebook is considering joining together the underlying platforms of Instagram, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp within the next 24 months.

If that doesn’t mean anything to you, you really do need to sit up and take notice.

Facebook + Facebook Messenger + WhatsApp + Instagram = 1 platform with a range of products to access ALL their users.

To see this in terms of users:-

Facebook has 2.27 billion monthly active users, Instagram 1 billion, WhatsApp 1.5 Billion and Messenger 1.3 billion → that’s 6.07 billion people who will be reachable on 1 platform.

To make this more relevant to you, send me an email to ask me how many people are on Facebook, Instagram or Messenger and located within 15km of your restaurant? You will be surprised.

Artificial Intelligence

Setting up an intelligent automation in social media to interact with your customers is quickly becoming commonplace and is benefiting business owners and customers alike.

Today, instead of visiting a website or calling a business, customers are “chatting” with businesses to access the information they require and to perform actions such as reserving a table or booking an appointment.

WeChat is a Chinese chat app and one of the biggest in the world. It allows its users to do multiple actions such as payments, chat, bookings, photos → you don’t have to look far to see in which direction Facebook is going. One mobile platform that allows you to do everything.

Most businesses have a Facebook page which allows you to send business enquiries on it using the Messenger platform.

And this is where PeppaWeb Marketing comes in.

The Facebook Messenger Platform

By replacing your default Facebook Messenger Enquiry function on your Facebook page with a Facebook Messenger Automation, you immediately open the doors to an entirely different relationship with your customers and you have opened the doors to your business 24/7/365.

Facebook Messenger allows you to reach any person who has a Facebook account, at scale, and engage with them individually.

“Hi Michael, I understand it is your birthday this week. Would you like a gift voucher to redeem at our restaurant to celebrate your birthday? “

Then deliver a graphic rich coupon in Messenger or by email to be redeemed with automatic reminders being sent on days prior to Michael’s birthday.

This is artificial intelligence. Leveraging data to interact at scale and to bring new customers into your business.

The PeppaWeb Acquisition, Loyalty and Reputation Management solution

At PeppaWeb Marketing we propose an automated marketing solution on the Facebook Messenger platform which is attached to your Facebook Page.

• We use the Facebook platform to find and acquire new customers and convert them into Facebook Messenger subscribers. Your subscribers with whom you can build a relationship and do recurring business.

• We use Mobile Wallet technology integrated into Facebook Messenger to deliver loyalty cards, set up and deliver bespoke offers which your business wishes to push to your loyalty card holders and reward members with points for their consumption.

• Reward existing loyalty club members for sharing offers and acquiring new members.

• We use the Aegis e-Reputation platform integrated into Facebook Messenger to acquire reviews automatically, broadcast good reviews and contain negative reviews.

Our solution has not been created by a web site designer, or a graphic designer, or a database developer – it has been created by digital marketers for digital marketers.

We use the full range of digital marketing tools to enhance and improve the returns for our clients such as:

Google Campaigns, Facebook Campaigns, Website development, Landing Pages, Click Funnels, Content strategy and more.

A typical setup cost for a complete Messenger Marketing Automation with the full feature pack loyalty system of Acquiring new customers, Converting and Retaining Members using a digital loyalty programs and a full e-reputation management following behind – ranges from €1000 – €2500 and takes about 10 days to deploy.

A small initial investment which is quickly recuperated by the return business it generates.

Monthly retainers to manage campaigns and offers are charged out on an hourly basis.

PeppaWeb Marketing is a digital marketing agency based in France and helps English and French-speaking businesses to grow their businesses using a range of digital marketing techniques and technologies.

Contact Martin Swanson on martin@peppawebmarketing.com or +33 6 71 93 38 77 for a confidential, no obligation chat about the next 12 months in your business.