May 24, 2023
 min read

Guide to Restaurant Guest Acquisition Part 3

This article outlines:

How to use restaurant data to inform your guest retention strategy

The benefit of analyzing data with cohorts and guest segments

Tips for building a healthy guest base long term

Now that we’ve broken down the fundamentals of restaurant guest acquisition and shared some winning strategies to test, it’s time to shift focus to retention. 

Once you’ve found and attracted new guests, how do you build a healthy base with high lifetime value (LTV)? The answers are in your restaurant data.

As you start to analyze, consider these four important questions, which should serve as the basis for your guest retention strategy and inform future acquisition efforts.


Four Questions To Ask When Analyzing Restaurant Data

1. Who have you acquired, when, and how?

2. How are your guests progressing through the guest lifecycle?

3. What characteristics do your guests share?

4. How can you influence behavior to mirror the actions of your most valuable guests?

To keep restaurant guests coming back, you first have to take the time to learn who they are, along with their preferences, motivations, and behaviors. Within your data, you can find out what initially drove guests to your business and why they keep coming back—or why they’ve stopped returning—by looking at things like location, visit frequency, average spend, the preferred method of ordering, time and day of visits, marketing engagement, feedback, acquisition campaign/channel, etc.


Focusing Retention Efforts With Cohorts and Segments

Rather than attempt to boil the ocean regarding retention, some brands analyze their data by cohorts, or groups of guests acquired at the same time, to evaluate repeat purchasing, churn, spending, reliance on guest acquisition, and other trends over time. By doing so, they can uncover when exactly guests become brand-loyal and why, and create retention campaigns specifically designed to move them forward in the life cycle.

For example, you might discover once guests reach the four-visit mark, you’ve retained them for life. And so, the challenge then is figuring out how to move cohorts from one to two visits, two to three, and beyond.

Additionally (or alternatively), you can analyze your restaurant data by guest segments based on shared characteristics, such as guests with high LTV, website visitors, online orderers, on-premise guests, weekend warriors, Wi-Fi signups, catering orderers, and more. 

To ensure each segment becomes more valuable to your restaurant brand over time, you should be thinking about ways to influence their behavior in a positive way. For example:

  • Giving weekend warriors a reason to also visit during the week, like Happy Hour or live music
  • Encouraging email subscribers to sign up for SMS messaging for insider perks
  • Inviting dine-in guests to skip the line with QR code ordering or online ordering
  • Directing online orderers to download your user-friendly restaurant app for quicker service
  • Incentivizing churn risks to return with an enticing offer

Download the 2024 Restaurant Marketing Guide


Tips For Building a Healthy Guest Base

To build a healthy guest base with high LTV, start with these 6 winning restaurant guest retention strategies. The article is filled with frameworks you can use to increase guest engagement, encourage reorders, solicit feedback, and keep your restaurant top of mind across channels.

Note no two cohorts or segments are exactly the same, so impersonal, mass communication isn’t going to cut it. Leading restaurant brands leverage data to retain guests by personalizing the experience at every touchpoint—from social ads and email marketing to interactions at the host stand or counter—based on individual behavior and preferences.

Ultimately, every restaurant brand is challenged with testing different retention strategies to find out what works for their guests. The best win-back campaign for your churn risks may be a free appetizer or a perfectly timed email with menu recommendations based on their order history.

By studying your data, you can identify cross-selling, bundling, or promotional opportunities you may not have previously considered, and use that intel to create irresistible campaigns to meet your goals.

Series Wrap-Up and Next Steps

As we close out this series, remember the best guest acquisition strategies are rooted in data generated by an integrated restaurant tech stack, utilize highly detailed segmentation, and take an omnichannel approach to find and attract the right people at the right time on their preferred platform. But guest acquisition doesn’t end with the first visit. 

To build a healthy guest base, restaurants need to regularly leverage their data to identify trends, monitor progression through the guest lifecycle, and develop retention strategies that meet individual needs and preferences as they evolve over time. Furthermore, by unlocking LTV and studying the behavior of high-value guests, brands can positively influence behavior and strengthen engagement across their entire base.

Learn more about Engage, our suite of restaurant marketing tools, and contact us today to find out how Olo can support your retention efforts.

Photo Credit: Taha Samet Arslan, Pexels

More blog posts

What are you waiting for?

Transform your guest experience today.