Using Loyalty as a Customer Acquisition Tool in 2024

Customer acquisition for your coffee shop is part strategy and part science. Acquiring customers is a process that never stops, involves experimenting with different tools and channels, and requires some creativity.  

Acquisition and retention go hand in hand, working together to ensure your customer base expands while your existing customer base converts into paying repeat customers. The best ROI and most straightforward way to optimize your existing customers is through your loyalty and rewards program. Optimizing it to become an acquisition tool. 

What is customer acquisition in Cafes?

Customer Acquisition in coffee shop

Customer acquisition in the cafe business is the process of reaching prospective customers through different methods and channels and engaging with them so they convert. Popular customer acquisition channels include email marketing, SMS, social media, paid ads,  blogs, cafe locations, and more. 

How a loyalty program helps your acquisition efforts

Acquiring that first-time customer is great! When a customer returns for a second purchase, a couple of notable things happen. Customers will reconvert on future visits, spend more per visit, and become your brand advocates by sharing your brand—even more so if there is an incentive via referrals. 

Using loyalty as an acquisition tool helps you to build a customer base that shops with you over a competitor. According to loyalty in cafes stats, 35% of a coffee shop’s revenue is generated by the top 5% of customers. This means that a core customer base will drive a significant amount of revenue.

Three Top Tips to Loyalty as an Acquisition Tool  

Tip 1: Have a loyalty program

Depending on the type of visitor that typically browses your cafe a loyalty program can help convince them to make that initial purchase. Many customers will actively seek out businesses that offer loyalty programs, especially if it’s a place they frequent. A loyalty program will drive customers to spend more. According to our 2023 Loyalty Report, shoppers using Gawapp rewards coupons (redeeming a reward) have a 16.5% higher AOV than those using non-gawapp coupons.

Customer Acquisition

While all visitor can get value from a loyalty program, two types in particular actively seek them out—experience seekers and value-driven decision-makers.

The second type of visitors attracted to a loyalty program is the value-driven visitors, which is not to be confused with a price-sensitive visitors. While price-sensitive visitors are looking for the lowest price possible, value-driven customers are looking to maximize the total value of their purchase, aka the highest quality of the coffee relative to the purchase price.

A loyalty program allows them to buy what they want while gaining points to help with future purchases. Points help them maximize value because of the rewards they are earning, which translates to discounts, free shipping, or free treats. 

Tip 2: Get referrals

Your community is your strongest source of recommendations, making referrals that much more valuable in an ecommerce setting. The more trustworthy the person sharing the referral, the more trust a potential customer will have in visiting the cafe, especially as a first-time customer. It’s estimated that “92% of consumers around the world say they trust recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising.” 

Rewarding points for referrals opens up peer-to-peer marketing, the most trusted acquisition channel.  A referral program has to be rewarding to both the person making a referral and the person receiving a referral. By giving your customers points or a cash-back incentive to refer their friends, you create a trusted communication channel with new customers by leveraging the ones you already have. We recommend also rewarding the friend to make it a win-win-win referral situation.

Tip 3: Use your rewards program as an event-based marketing tool 

With various social channels, viral videos, and increased competition in ecommerce, making your cafe cut through the noise seems extremely difficult. But it doesn’t have to. 

The cafes you can’t help but talk about are the ones you see the most often. This means that the more often your cafe engages potential customers, the more likely they are to remember it and prefer it. For the past decade, that’s meant funneling as much as possible into digital ads or getting as many eyeballs on your cafe as your budget will allow.

Simply spending money on ads won’t get you the high-value exposure you expect. Experimenting with your loyalty and rewards program will offer an opportunity to build a cafe community of customers who will engage and talk about your cafe. Offer experiential rewards when someone hits a certain tier in your VIP Program. These rewards can be limited-time products, exclusive product access, or VIP-only events. It’s also a great idea to experiment with time-based bonus points campaigns. 

Wrapping Up

Acquiring customers for your ecommerce site doesn’t have to be complicated. Acquisition and retention work together to ensure your customer base grows and converts into customers that support your ecommerce brand over a competitor. By focusing your rewards and loyalty program as an acquisition tool, you realize its foundation is a retention strategy.