3 winning ways to turn up the volume on your loyalty efforts

| by Michela Baxter
3 winning ways to turn up the volume on your loyalty efforts

Pizza brands of all ilk are investing time, cash and other resources into truly rewarding loyalty initiatives that prompt continued engagement. But, the prevalence of loyalty programs today demands innovative reward strategies that cut through the noise and build rapport with consumers.

Restaurants aiming to break the mold must design thoughtful initiatives that are not only tailored to the brand, but to customers' needs. The following three initiatives make up the best ways restaurants can improve their loyalty game to effectively stand out, while avoiding consumer pain points.

Make it an experience

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.

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 like digital "scavenger hunts" that reward points for consumers' progress.

Or riff off Taco Bell's Explore and consider ways to reward customers for daily behaviors like social media posts or watching a branded video to boost a consumer's chances of landing prizes. After all, 75 percent of consumers indicate they want to be rewarded beyond their purchase and a little competition makes that even more tantalizing.  

If you offer a drive-thru

Pizza brands 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 where customers who opt in on a promotion get free menu items or sweepstakes entries.

Or perhaps you expand your restaurant's drive-thru menu and add exclusive items for rewards members. With 60 to 70 percent of traffic at businesses with drive-thru lanes actually taking place at those drive-up check-outs,  pizza operators would do well to look at these lanes as direct channels into customers' hearts and wallets. When it comes to rewards here, you've got a captive audience.

Feed the feedbackers

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's needed to reignite program engagement. Finding out what your customers want and what they want to see from your brand through responses may be worth well more than their weight in gold.

In fact, consider that 53 percent of consumers identify the time it takes to earn rewards as their biggest loyalty pain point. So, find ways to show the value of your rewards engagements right at the start, as in programs like Starbucks that give loyalty members free birthday drinks when they join.

Pizza restaurateurs should also use 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. 

Overall, seek ways to acknowledge consumer frustrations and find out where your rewards strategy can grow because thoughtful rewards programs can be a boon to customer relations since they essentially thank the best brand patrons in the most meaningful ways.

So, while discount and "spend-and-earn" programs remain relevant, pizza operators seeking to improve their loyalty strategy do best by steering clear of one-size-fits-all models. Instead, breathe new life into your offerings by factoring in the overall loyalty experience, maximizing the drive-thru, and understanding what your customers want.

Topics: Loyalty Programs

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