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How to Create A Restaurant Rewards Program New Customers Want to Join

How to Create A Restaurant Rewards Program New Customers Want to Join

by Mobivity

Apr 6, 2023

Most marketers who have set up customer reward programs for restaurants understand the frustrations that come with trying to grow the program in a way that moves the needle. Savvy marketers understand the tricky balance of rewarding customers appropriately but in a way that won’t cause profit-minded franchisees to question why we’re discounting full-paying customers. 

Franchisees aren’t wrong. One of the dirty secrets about “loyalty” is that most of those in the rewards program started out as loyal BEFORE joining the program, not after.  

The reality is, many restaurant marketers report that their customer loyalty and rewards program performs below expectations. But there’s hope! We’ll show you an easy, more profitable way to reward and retain existing customers while creating reasons for new customers to join. 

How to Attract New Customers Using Mobile Games

The secret is tied to your customers’ mobile phones. New research from shows that on average, people spend 4.8 hours per day on their phones. What’s more, 70% enjoy playing mobile games – which is more than checking social media (55%) or texting and calling family and friends (46%).

Mobile games are an increasingly enjoyable way to spend time on our phones and a fantastic opportunity for restaurants to promote reward programs to an entirely new audience.

Here’s how it works.

In-Game Rewards

Establishing common interests is essential in any relationship, especially one aimed at promoting and rewarding loyalty. When it comes to your restaurant’s target customer, most are surprised to learn that the majority of their target demographic…wait for it…play mobile games! 

The next logical step is to put your rewards where your target audience spends most of their time. In other words, place loyalty rewards for your brand directly inside mobile games. 

But how does that work? 

It’s important to understand out of the gate why game publishers would entertain your rewards in the first place. It’s quite simple. The longer the player plays the game, the more likely they are to make in-app purchases within the game. Therefore, offering an enticing reward for continued gameplay appeals to the gamer and publisher alike.

That’s where your brand comes in. 

Let’s say a player hits level 10 in their mobile game. As a reward, the game publisher provides an offer from your restaurant for “one free burger” if they hit this next level. When the player hits the level and is presented with the offer, they happily click to claim the reward and visit your restaurant the next day. 

Mobivity’s data shows that consumers do more than just redeem the “free burger.” In fact, 67% add other full-priced items to their order, and 26% make multiple meal purchases in addition to the redeemed offer. This suggests they not only made an unplanned visit resulting from this reward, but brought family or friends with them too.

It’s a “win-win-win” situation:

  • You get restaurant traffic from customers redeeming their offers
  • The game developer gets people to play their games longer
  • The customer gets to enjoy real-world rewards just for playing a game they enjoy

This is a significant first step toward building relationships with this audience, which has shown a predisposition to eat out an average of 1.7 times per week according to AdColony’s Mobile Trends in QSR report.

In-Game Advertising

After taking this first important step, your next move should be to promote more broadly through in-game ads to this audience you’ve started building relationships with. The best way to do this is through a partner network provider like that offered through Mobivity’s Connected Rewards, with access to the nearly 200 million mobile game players in the U.S. alone. 

We’re all used to seeing in-game ads while playing mobile games. Unlike the other media channels restaurants use, in-game ads have much higher engagement for one important reason. According to a report from Unity Ads, 71% of those who play said watching video ads is their preferred way to “pay” for in-game content.

Doing this gives you access to an audience of millions of gamers that are often not found through other forms of advertising. Furthermore, unlike other ads they’d quickly ignore, these mobile game players are highly engaged in the app they’re spending time on. 

Of course, you need to approach it properly. If you work through a third-party advertiser whose only interest is top-of-funnel impressions, they will serve your ads to various mobile games, which can result in disrupting gameplay instead of rewarding it. That’s why it’s best to find a partner network provider who optimizes the ads with the rewards to drive engagement and traffic.

3 Tips to Encourage Restaurant Reward Program Sign-Ups

Offering a restaurant loyalty reward program through a customer’s favorite mobile game gives you a great head start over your competitors, but it doesn’t guarantee they’ll sign up. In order to maximize your return on this partnership, we recommend the following to entice customers to take the next step.

Ease of Sign Up

Creating a new reward program account should be as frictionless as possible, which means a fast-loading page, a short signup form, and text-to-join capabilities, among other things. 

From our experience in this area, we’ve found that the best way to promote new rewards program sign-ups is to either:

  • Make the game offers only redeemable in the reward app.
  • Invite them to join during the redemption process. A simple message of, “Want more offers like this?” has a tremendous impact on sign-ups with this audience.

Clearly Communicate Benefits

What perks does your restaurant reward program offer? Use clear, concise marketing and modern design to express the benefits and potential rewards of signing up. It’s common to offer a sign-up reward or a treat on the customer’s birthday, for example.

A Solid Partnership

The success of this program heavily relies on your partnerships with the myriad of game developers and ad networks out there. Each has its own success metrics they are trying to achieve, which are likely different than what your restaurant brand is looking for.

Be sure your partner understands your business like you do. Otherwise, this may hurt your brand more than help.

If this method of promoting reward programs for restaurants interests you, consider partnering with a team like Mobivity. We’ll connect you with leading game developers and ad networks to promote your restaurant in some of the world’s most popular games while ensuring you achieve your brand metrics.

Get Into the Game… Literally!

Connected Rewards™ by Mobivity makes it easy to connect with mobile developers and drive gamers to your stores with real-world rewards. Just provide one-time-use offer codes and artwork, and we take care of the rest – from campaign setup to fraud-free offer code distribution, game integration, fulfillment, customer support, redemption performance tracking, and more!

We even have programs for restaurants where we’ll fully reimburse your offer costs for every offer redeemed. Gamify your brand, differentiate your offers, and boost visit frequency with virtually no-cost promotions. It’s not too good to be true. Reach out now to get started, and we’ll show you exactly how it works.

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