4 ways to leverage technology to improve customer loyalty for franchises

January 24, 2024
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Building customer loyalty is crucial for franchise profitability. With the costs of acquiring new customers continuing to rise, focusing on loyalty makes strategic sense. This is where technology comes in. By leveraging data and digital tools, franchises can gain deeper insights into customers and create more personalized, meaningful interactions that drive loyalty.

This article will explore four impactful ways technology can help boost customer loyalty for franchises. By implementing the right combination of tech-enabled tactics, franchises can thrive by converting one-time visitors into lifelong, high-value customers.

CRM: Customer loyalty for franchises

Leverage CRM platforms to understand customers better

The first step to boosting customer loyalty for franchises is leveraging customer relationship management (CRM) platforms to collect purchase history, contact info, and other relevant data in one centralized hub. By aggregating information on current customers, especially repeat purchasers and loyalty program members, franchises can identify their highest-value clusters and tailor communications and offers specifically to them. Personalization is key – 75% of consumers say they’re more likely to buy from brands that understand their unique needs and preferences.

CRM systems empower franchises to send segmented emails, target online ads, and make product recommendations based on each customer’s habits and behaviors. This personalized approach helps build meaningful digital relationships that inspire customer loyalty for franchises. Platforms like Evocalize make this easy by providing digital marketing templates informed by CRM data so franchises can hyper-target their best high-value customers.

Here are some quick ideas how you can use your CRM to improve customer loyalty for franchises:

Personalized communication based on customer behavior

  • Analyze purchase history and preferences from the CRM to tailor marketing messages.
  • Send personalized offers or discounts on items customers frequently buy or show interest in.

Automated birthday and anniversary messages:

  • Use the CRM to track important dates for each customer.
  • Set up automated, personalized greetings and special offers for birthdays and anniversaries, making customers feel valued and connected to the brand.

Segmented email campaigns for targeted groups:

  • Segment customers based on criteria like location, purchase history, or engagement level.
  • Create targeted email campaigns for these segments, offering relevant promotions or information, leading to a more personalized customer experience.

Feedback and follow-up system:

  • Implement a system within the CRM to collect and respond to customer feedback.
  • Use this feedback for follow-ups, resolving issues, and thanking customers for their input, demonstrating that their opinions are valued and acted upon.

Loyalty program management:

  • Integrate loyalty programs within the CRM.
  • Track customer points, rewards redemption, and offer exclusive deals to frequent buyers, incentivizing continued loyalty and engagement.
Loyalty programs and mobile apps

Implement loyalty programs and mobile apps

Loyalty programs have always been a staple for driving repeat business, but technology takes them to the next level in terms of convenience and personalization. Now customers can join loyalty programs, earn points, redeem rewards, and access deals right from their smartphones.

Branded mobile apps help franchises boost engagement by integrating key functionality – menus, ordering, deals, location finders, and loyalty programs. Push notifications remind customers when new rewards become available or are about to expire. Easy repeat ordering also streamlines purchases for regulars. Gamifying programs through points, badges, tiered levels, and prizes also taps into customers’ psychological reward centers while creating habits around your franchises.

According to Forrester, 77% of consumers say loyalty programs are extremely or very important to influencing their purchasing decisions. The key for franchises to maximize loyalty from these programs is to make joining and participating seamlessly easy. 

Some additional quick ideas on leveraging mobile apps:

  • Exclusive deals and early access for app users: Offer special discounts, coupon codes, or early access to new menu items exclusively through the app to reward loyal customers who have downloaded it. This incentivizes downloads and drives engagement.
  • Personalized recommendations based on purchase history: Use data on customer preferences and order history to provide personalized recommendations for items they may enjoy. This tailored experience makes them feel valued.
  • Easy repeat ordering for favorites: Streamline reordering for regulars by saving previous orders or favorites lists for each customer, making it simple to purchase their usual again in just a few taps.
  • Location-based notifications: Send app notifications to customers when they are near a franchise location to remind them to stop in. This conveniently connects proximity with opportunity.
  • Virtual rewards wallet and instant apply: Allow customers to store loyalty points and rewards in the app for easy tracking and redemption instantly at the checkout through barcode scanning.
Targeted local digital marketing

Connect through targeted local digital marketing

One of the most direct ways to drive customer loyalty for franchises is by targeted digital advertisements to engage those already near their locations. Location-based marketing leverages geo-fencing to promote special deals, events, and localized messaging to customers when they are in close proximity – essentially catching them at their point of highest intent.

For multi-location franchises, this enables customization of messaging and offers down to the individual store level based on what resonates best with those communities. Franchisees can highlight key differentiators like local partners, regional ingredients/products, community activities or nearby attractions that connect their location authentically to surrounding residents and visitors. This localizes customer experiences beyond just showing the franchise brand itself.

Approximately 46% of search queries have local intent, so franchises capturing that demand in the micro-moment have a prime chance to convert new customers or welcome back lapsed ones. For those already loyal, geo-targeted digital ads keep the brand conveniently top of mind while out and about. Tools like Google Business Profiles, SEM/SEO, and social geo-ads reinforce branding and value.

Evocalize provides leading expertise in managing and optimizing local digital marketing at scale across franchise locations. Through machine learning and performance analytics leveraging the full franchise CRM dataset, Evocalize campaigns become continually smarter by testing variations of localized content, offers, graphics, and channel strategies. This maximizes the ROI of driving foot traffic to specific franchise stores. Our set-it-and-forget-it automated platform requires no added effort from multi-unit franchise marketing teams or franchisees while ensuring proper branding compliance.

Local franchise digital marketing made easy for anyone

Here are some additional ways to connect with customers through different types of targeted local digital ads to improve customer loyalty for franchises:

  • Social media ads: Geo-targeted posts on Instagram, Facebook, or TikTok promoting current in-store deals and promotions to nearby social media users to drive foot traffic
  • Google search ads: Location-based search ads that appear when customers search for related products/services near them
  • Brand awareness display ads: Eye-catching display banners showcasing what makes the franchise brand unique, geo-targeted to reinforce positioning and top-of-mind presence
  • Retargeting ads: Ads following past customers online to serve reminders about ongoing deals and encourage return visits

The key is utilizing different digital ad types and targeting approaches tailored to geographic areas franchises operate in. This surrounds customers with relevant branding and promotions customized to their local store when they are nearby and most receptive.

AI technology using data

Leverage other emerging tech like AI

Looking ahead, some promising emerging technologies could take customer loyalty programs to new heights through customization and convenience. Artificial intelligence and machine learning open possibilities for chatbots, predictive purchase recommendations, and inventory management. 

AI-powered chatbots can provide 24/7 customer service support as an always-available channel for questions, feedback or issues resolution. Bots can also make recommendations on items to order based on past purchase patterns or suggest new products to try based on demonstrated flavors/attributes the customer has enjoyed before. Over time the bot’s suggestions become increasingly dialed into individual preferences thanks to machine learning.

While the applications of these emerging technologies show exciting potential to boost loyalty longer-term, franchises must carefully consider responsible development and transparent use to maintain trust. As options develop in coming years, focusing innovation on true customer convenience and relationship-building will be key.

Here are some additional ideas around emerging and available technologies to boost customer loyalty for franchises:

  • Predictive analytics: Analyze purchase data to model and predict when customers will likely need to reorder items, then prompt them with a reminder offer
  • Smart appliances/devices: Partner with smart refrigerator brands to integrate ordering capabilities so appliances can automatically reorder common grocery items when stocks run low
  • Virtual reality experiences: Offer immersive VR previews of new menu items, store designs, or limited-time products to engage loyalty program members first
  • Augmented reality gamification: Design AR scavenger hunts, shelves quests, or location-based treasure games offering prizes, deals, and loyalty rewards

Customer loyalty for franchises

Leveraging technology to boost customer loyalty strategically differentiates brands. As described, solutions like CRM platforms, geo-targeted ads, branded mobile apps, and emerging innovations provide data-driven ways to customize engagement across locations. This conveniences customers with deals nearby, rewards repeat purchases, and incorporates preferences to provide personalized experiences that resonate.

While no shortage of options exist, many solutions can be complex to navigate. That’s where the managed service experts at Evocalize come in – providing easy-to-use digital marketing templates aligned to each franchise’s branding and informed by customer data for optimal ROI. Our tailored loyalty-boosting tools require no added effort while ensuring brands stay top of mind locally. Learn more about driving loyalty through Evocalize’s local digital marketing platform.

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