No method of advertising delivers higher conversion rates than advertising to existing customers. Restaurant managers can use various techniques to tap their best source of business—regular customers. Targeted loyalty programs, email campaigns, in-house digital signs and digital messages, all contribute to reaching existing customers. You can use advertising  to inform them about upcoming events, specials and additional services.

Building Business with Engaging Restaurant Activities

Current customers are a great resource for restaurants because they’re already favorably disposed to the businesses. Any marketing activity to existing customers will get higher conversions. Restaurants can upsell customers during visits, try to increase how often customers dine, or sell related products and services like catering or custom merchandise.

Engaging activities for frequency-marketing initiatives include offering loyalty rewards, holding special tastings for new menu items, offering cooking classes or sponsoring a benefit. Selling convenient box lunches or fast takeout for impromptu gatherings, picnics or sporting events can generate lots of income from regular customers.

Refining a Restaurant’s Email Marketing

Email marketing is one of the most effective ways to encourage repeat business. Cost effective and capable of targeting customers by preferences, age and other criteria, emails keep customers engaged. Restaurateurs can use emails in many ways to promote business.


  • Inform customers about seasonal menu changes, new cocktails or special events.
  • Learn more about customers by studying which links they visit.
  • Seek customers’ ideas about food, ingredients and service.
  • Promote other services like room rentals for meetings, private parties, booths at fairs and festivals and live entertainment.
  • Let customers know about sourcing, nutrition or culinary trends.
  • Use social media sites like Facebook for better targeting of prospects for incentives.
  • Explain about the restaurant’s loyalty and rewards program, and recruit new members.

Cross-Promotions Deliver Ongoing Marketing Benefits

Even the most loyal customer delights in something different. Cross-promotions find likely prospects among a restaurant’s regular customers. Ideas for cross-promotions that will energize customers include:


  • Engaging social media members at Facebook, Instagram, Foursquare or Twitter for sponsored events or regular gatherings
  • Leveraging local athletic teams for game nights, meet-the-team events and marketing team-logo merchandise
  • Using social sites to promote specials, gatherings of people with common interests or club meetings
  • Partnering with a local supplier or farmers’ market to highlight local produce, dairy products, meats or condiments
  • Celebrating a theme night that emphasizes dress, art, food or holidays with an appropriate business that has an interest in the theme
  • Scheduling a food- or wine-tasting event
  • Holding a community event in the restaurant that relates to a charity, cause or safety product
  • Hosting a book club, live entertainment by local acoustic musicians, community theater performances or a poetry reading

Using Technology to Increase In-house Sales

Technology gives restaurants the tools for increasing customer visits and in-house sales. Some of the most effective ways to approach frequency marketing depend on technology. Examples of technology that generates sales include:


  • Tabletop ordering and check-outs
  • Digital menu boards to promote specials, events and merchandise
  • Online interactive games that keep children entertained
  • Automatic loyalty programs
  • Text alerts and online coupons
  • Mobile ordering and reservation systems
  • POS system to gather intelligence about customer preferences, dining frequency and important dates like birthdays and anniversaries
  • Social media posts in the restaurant to keep diners up-to-date

Frequency marketing delivers the best marketing results because you’re preaching to the choir. Restaurants with limited promotional budgets get astonishing outcomes by focusing on existing customers. For example, repeat customers account for about 70 percent of all business except for fine dining establishments where the percentage drops to 60. If a restaurant is getting less-than-average repeat business, then taking steps to get customers returning more often could prove highly lucrative.

In today’s competitive restaurant environment, managers can’t take any customer for granted because an eatery down the street will offer entertaining activities or new menu items to attract customers. It’s less expensive and easier to encourage repeat business than attract new customers.