Increasing Customer Frequency at Your Restaurant Through a Loyalty App Victoria Leogrande It is no secret that customers have high expectations and demand consistency when visiting a restaurant. From great food to stellar customer service, an individual’s overall experience influences their decision to return to a restaurant, or never come back.Trying a new eatery is a gamble. No one likes to spend money on poor food or bad service and the unknown experience at a new restaurant can be enough to influence customers only to eat where they know.For restaurants, this means that getting new customers through the door is more difficult, which may sound like bad news, but is it?Studies suggest that it costs five to seven times more to acquire a new customer than to retain a current one. But spending money on maintaining and developing loyal customers, who spend on average 67% more than new customers, can not only be more cost effective but increase sales and affect the bottom line.Loyalty appsLoyalty apps, when used correctly, give brands the opportunity to remain top of mind with customers by providing tools to make the purchasing experience better. Americans check their smartphones upwards of 46 times a day, so it only makes sense to capitalize on this platform.Customers visit restaurants 35% more when they are enrolled in a loyalty program. But here is the problem that most loyalty apps face – getting the download isn’t enough. Most users only access one-third of the apps that are on their devices, about 30 monthly. So how does your app become one of the 30? How do you encourage repeat usage, which turns into greater profit over time?Make Mobile Apps Useful and Easy to Adopt to Avoid Getting DeletedStarbucks’ mobile app is responsible for generating more than $6 million each month, and 22 percent of all sales in the US. The reason? In addition to earning rewards for each purchase, customers have quickly come to rely on the app and its features.In a new city and want to find a Starbucks? Quickly find locations near you. Running late? Use the app to place an order ahead of time. Forgot your wallet? Make a purchase in-store by syncing your credit card info to the app.Through its mobile app, Starbucks provided solutions to its customers’ problems, a testament to its number of monthly active users – roughly 19 million!Click here for the rest of the checklist!Leverage Mobile Apps to Grow Your Business and Stay Top of MindUsually, pretzel sales are made when individuals encounter the smell of cinnamon while weaving in and out of stores at a mall or shopping center, or see the piping hot bread twists behind the glass case.In 2014, Auntie Anne’s, the world’s largest soft-pretzel franchise, debuted its first mobile app, Pretzel Perks, with a focus on building loyalty among customers after they walk away from the storefront. In addition to implementing easy-to-use features, the company created an app-exclusive reward system with a simple benefit structure that provided customers with free pretzels after earning a set number of points.PODCAST: How We Helped CoreLife Eatery Generate Interest For Its Brand New Mobile AppThe company also took its app one step further by tracking the buying patterns of its customers. Through the data collected, Auntie Anne’s was able to create tailored marketing content for different customer segments, based on their previous purchases.“As for cultivating that offline and online relationship, it’s important to remember that our consumers have multiple touch points with the brand across numerous outlets,” noted Meredith Wenz, director of marketing for Auntie Anne’s, in a guest blog post. “Overcoming that challenge comes down to our efforts to ensure a consistent brand experience throughout these spaces.”Things to considerConsider the many ways that you can improve the customer/buying experience for your guests. Here are some ideas:Push Notifications: By way of the app itself, send alerts for discounts, perks or specials. Reward Programs: Give guests the opportunity to rack up rewards and provide free gifts or food once certain levels are reached. Store Locator: Great for those who travel, easily identify distance and directions to the closest location. Mobile Ordering: Consumers today love to order ahead and make the pick-up process easier. Let users customize their order and select the time he/she wants to grab and go. Favorite Order: We’re creatures of habit and love to order the same thing over and over. A favorite order feature lets users save past orders and more quickly order again. Pay With App: Use the app to pay instead of pulling out cash or swiping a card. That darn chip is annoying anyway! Check-in Rewards: Tell your friends where you are! Earn extra points and free stuff for sharing your spot! For restaurants, efforts towards retaining customers are always more cost effective than attracting new ones. Creating a mobile app loyalty program is an easy way to not only retain current clientele but incentivize them to visit more often and become brand advocates. When marketed correctly, these programs can have a profound effect on aspects beyond customer loyalty, impacting brand awareness, fiscal stability, and the overall longevity of your business.Download our slideshow below to learn the type of features that the “Best of the Best” incorporate into their restaurant mobile apps! Check out this slideshow on 5 brands who do it right!