• Restaurant Marketing

How To Identify and Bring Back Lost Guests

by: Allen Graves
5 min read

In a downturning economy, restaurant owners and operators have been living in a cloud of uncertainty. And in the wake of rising costs, they are being forced to increase menu prices to remain in business.

Could this be scaring once-loyal guests away? And if so, is there a way of identifying those guests and re-engaging with them?

According to a 2024 survey by Toast POS, 35% of respondents said that restaurant menu pricing is the second most important factor when choosing a restaurant. Likewise, 55% of the respondents are dining out less frequently.

Now more than ever, guest experience, engagement, and retention are paramount. It’s time to take matters back into your own hands.

Fortunately, advances in technology have made it easy to identify and bring back these guests, no matter the reason they stopped visiting.

Bring Back Lost Guests for a Full House

Successful restaurant marketing is a very important part of any business plan. However, the same rising costs that are causing increased menu prices are limiting the dollars and resources available for marketing, including bringing back lost guests.

In this how-to guide, we will show you how to use your restaurant customer data platform (CDP) to identify and re-engage with your guests who have stopped visiting your restaurant or ordering online.

1. Collect Guest Data from Multiple Platforms

When running a successful restaurant business, and especially in times of uncertainty, guessing should never be an option. It is essential to make data-driven, intelligent decisions.

In order to identify your churning guests, it is important to collect real-time data about each guest.

Using your CDP, you will have access to the visit and online ordering history of each of your regulars.

The platform uses advanced machine-learning algorithms to establish a guest’s regular visit pattern or online ordering pattern. This makes it possible to identify those lost guests when their pattern of visiting is interrupted.

2. Easily Identify Every Lost Guest

Once the system has established the visit patterns of each guest, it will begin to predict when they will make a return visit or order online.

If the guest does not engage with your restaurant after the system believes they should have returned, they will be marked as being at risk of churning.

Based on the length of time after the predicted visit date, they can be categorized as being at a low, medium, or high risk of churning.

This is all done automatically, saving you valuable time to focus on other areas of your restaurant marketing and operations.

You will see the guest’s risk category in their individual customer profiles. You will also be able to monitor your restaurant’s overall churn rate to spot trends or issues.

3. Craft an Email to Send to Churning Guests

Email marketing is one of the most powerful and low-cost ways of improving your restaurant business.

Studies have shown that email marketing is the most cost-effective marketing strategy. Especially for offline brick-and-mortar companies.

For instance:

  • A study published on WebpageFX says the ROI of email marketing, in general, is $44 for every $1 spent. Compare that to Facebook which returns $4-$5 for every dollar spent. It’s about 10x more effective.
  • The ROI of email marketing is 28.5% better than for direct mail.
  • According to an ebook from Gourmet Marketing, 70% of customers want restaurants to send them coupons and are prepared to use them.

So, when you are looking to cut costs without abandoning your marketing altogether, email is the way to go. Plus, this particular type of email campaign is likely the most powerful for your business – certainly for guest retention.

The email can be created within the CDP with an easy drag & drop email creator. Many restaurants will include an incentive within the email, such as a free drink or dessert.

However, even if there is no incentive, you are still engaging the guest and reminding them that you care and you would love to see them come back, or order online.

Lost Guest Email Example

4. Create the Campaign Using Marketing Automation

When your email is complete, it is time to set up the automation.

When a guest is deemed to be at risk of churning, the system will automatically send the email with or without an incentive to get them to return and re-establish their loyalty.

It is very quick and easy to configure. You can have the campaign up and running in a matter of minutes.

Plus, the system will track everything for you, letting you know if the guest opened the email, returned, and/or redeemed the incentive.

Bloom’s users are seeing up to 35%+ of their at-risk guests return. This has created a huge boost in their revenue and guest lifetime values. In tough economic times, it can be a lifesaver for your business.

Here is a great case study about how a restaurant saved over 35% of its churning guests.

Bring Back Lost Guests - Case Study

5. Monitor Your Results and Test Messaging Over Time

With the campaign reporting data that the CDP provides, you can also optimize your campaign over time.

When you create your email and configure the campaign, it is important that you monitor the ROI closely.

As initial results come in, analyze the report. Then, you can make a small change to the message. Perhaps you can change an image, your call to action, or an incentive.

You should only make a single change to the message while optimizing. If too many changes are made, you won’t know which change made the difference.

Then, Execute!

Compare its results to those of the original messages using your campaign reporting tools. If the results are not as good as the original, go back to your original message and test a different aspect.

If the results are better, keep the change and continue testing and optimizing over time. Over time, your campaign will become more and more optimized as you test and analyze results.

Are you ready to start bringing back your lost guests and realizing the tremendous boost it can offer? In today’s economy, every penny counts, and guest attrition is key.

6. Discover the Bloom Intelligence Customer Data Platform

It’s time to start planning for the successful future of your restaurant. And guest retention is the secret.

Using Bloom’s restaurant marketing and customer data platform, you can collect data from many different sources. Then you can leverage the real-time guest insights and campaign reporting to not only get lost guests back through your door but also to attract new guests and keep them coming back.

Don’t let your guests get away because of rising menu prices. In a rough economy with rising food and labor costs, guest acquisition and retention are crucial for success.

If you’d like to see the Bloom restaurant customer data platform in action, and discover how you can grow your business through guest intelligence and marketing automation, schedule a free demo or call 727-877-8181.

Bloom Intelligence Restaurant Customer Data Platform

Restaurant Marketing FAQs

What is Restaurant Marketing?

Restaurant marketing is the process of getting people to visit your restaurants. Restaurant marketing creates loyalty, provides data to research, analytics, and allows restaurants to gain a better understanding of their ideal customer profile. It utilizes all customer channels: guest WiFi, website, social, rating sites, mobile apps, email, text, and advertising.

Learn More About Restaurant Marketing Here

What is WiFi Marketing?

WiFi marketing is a marketing technique that uses guest WiFi to collect & clean customer data such as names, emails, phone numbers, customer behavior, and demographics. This data is used to personalize marketing campaigns to increase customer loyalty, build online reviews, and save at-risk customers. The performance of every campaign can be tracked down to the tangible ROI of a customer walking back in your door.

Learn More About WiFi Marketing Here

What is Restaurant Reputation Management?

Restaurant reputation management is the process for restaurants to manage customer feedback and creating systems to improve customer experiences, passively build positive online reviews, and save at-risk customers. It is a very important aspect of running a successful restaurant business.

Learn More About Restaurant Reputation Management Here

How Does Bloom Identify and Bring Back Lost Customers?

Bloom Intelligence uses machine learning to identify at-risk customers. When one is recognized, the system will send them a message with an incentive to get them to return and re-establish their visit pattern. Bloom users are seeing up to 37% of churning customers return.

Learn More About Saving At-Risk Customers Here


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