Win-Back Campaign for Restaurants: How to Get Your Lost Customers Back

Running a restaurant includes winning or losing customers all the time. But if you’re not putting enough action in winning back your lost customers, you’re missing out on a major revenue-making opportunity.

Why? Because repeat customers are 9x more likely to convert than a new prospect (Source). So when you focus on retaining customers or winning back a customer that has already ordered from you, there are high chances for an easy yet effective win.

Wondering how you can make that happen?

Win back campaigns – is the answer! They are a proven formula that you can use time and again to get your lost customer’s attention and some fiery hot orders.

Where have you been? We hate goodbyes. Hello again!

Yes, this is exactly how you identify a win-back campaign. To explain them to you further:

Win-back campaigns are a series of targeted and personalized messages you send to your lost customers. They work because most of the times customers need a gentle nudge or an irresistible offer to get active again!

So how can you send a win-back campaign to your customers? We’ve got you covered with all the details. Let’s kick it off!

Who should the win-back campaign target?

This is the most important part of your win-back campaigning strategy. While there are a few set standards, it all boils down to you deciding who’s a dormant or lost customer for your restaurant. This metric may vary from restaurant to restaurant and requires a systemised segmentation of the audience.

How do you create a segment?

Find a shared quality or characteristic and divide the lost customers into groups according to that. You can even choose multiple characters/points to look at. Here are a few things you can consider to get started with the segmenting:

  • Whether these customers had high average order value or low average order value before.
  • On the basis of how valuable the customers are to you i.e. did they have high CLV or low CLV (Know how to calculate CLV for your restaurant here)
  • Whether they’ve been active on your online ordering site (even if they haven’t ordered) in the past few weeks. This will help in personalising the communication.
  • What’s the recency or frequency of the customer’s last orders. Look at this illustrated example to understand more:
segmentation for win-back campaign

Like in the example, recency and frequency are two of the most trusted metrics that can help you segment your restaurant customers. You can customise this system according to your restaurant’s needs.

How to send the win-back campaign?

Different mediums for sending campaigns

Managing your customer relationships should be one of your priorities. When it comes to sending a win-back campaign, there are three popular mediums you can use:

  • SMS – Campaigns through SMS are great at boosting your conversion rate and built lifelong customer relationships. It’s a quick medium – both for you and your customers. Just 160 characters, that’s right. Depending on the brand voice of your restaurant – you can be witty or straightforward in your /SMS copy.
  • Email – Emails are a great way to get your message to the customers. This medium gives you the freedom to be creative in the copy as well as use interesting designs to attract the customer’s attention. Win-back emails also work best in series, so you could send a set of 2-3 emails over a period of time to engage customers with different offers.
  • Push Notifications – This is one of the most effective ways of customer re-engagement. Push notifications could be used through your restaurant website or mobile app. Like SMS, these are also short statements with limited characters but prove to be extremely effective. They serve as a reminder for your customers about your latest offers, special dishes and anything else you want to share to make them take action.

What to send in a win-back campaign?

Here comes your creative space. All your win-back campaigns have a two-fold focus – to create a brand recall and to encourage customers to order. In order to this, here are a few ideas your content can be focused on:

Share what’s new

sharing new offers example
Have you launched a new menu category? Have an upcoming outlet opening? Are you screening the latest cricket match?

All these updates are key opportunities to attract lost customers. There’s something new for them to see and if it matches their interest, you might just score an order. Support these updates with images, GIFs or witty copy for high impact.

Ask for feedback

Sometimes asking where you went wrong or what you can improve is the simplest way to re-engage with a customer. It can give them a recall of your restaurant so that they order again or if they choose not to, you can have valuable feedback on how to improve your customer experience.

Offer an incentive

Who doesn’t love free rewards? This is a proven way to attract and win back customers. A few offers you can use include:

  • Providing % discount
  • Provide flat discount
  • Sending extra loyalty points
  • Buy 1 Get 1
  • Combo prices
  • Free drink/dessert on next visit/order

    Burger King' s campaign
    Burger King offers various discount options to win customers back

Contests or giveaways

Contest or giveaways are a cost-effective way, in terms of the number of engagement. If planned and presented in a way to get your lost customer’s attention they can lead to a lot of responses while you just have to reward 2-3 of them as winners. Here are a few contest ideas you can start with:

  • Guess the new location/food launch
  • Sitcom trivia
  • Name the menu dish
  • Bollywood quiz
  • Online food charade

Tips for a perfect win-back campaign

Now that you’ve segmented your customers, selected a medium and ideated a campaign, these 3 key tips will help you in setting it up for success:

Experiment with the language

Today consumers want to feel recognised and heard. They don’t want to be treated like bots, they demand personalisation. So how can you craft an apt messaging for your campaign?

Use of human analogies is an easy way to do so. It keeps your brand voice personal, which in turn increases the potential for engagement.

You can use these sentences to start your campaign with:

  • We miss you, *first name*
  • Haven’t seen you for a while
  • Can you keep a secret?
  • Was it something we said?

If you want to highlight a discount you can use:

  • We have discounted your favourite [food item/category]
  • Save 15% on your next order
  • Want a free [food item] for your birthday?

If you’re sending an email these could be your subject line or otherwise the first thing on your message through other mediums. While there’s no perfect formula for the messaging. You can always test different ideas for your customer base and get clarity on what makes them respond.

(#Tip: use customer persona’s to personalise your restaurant’s messaging. Here’s how)

Call to actions

A Call to Action (CTA) should be present in all your campaigns. Its job is to make the customer take the action you want. If you are sending your campaign through email – the CTA could be a visual button that catches attention easily.
If you’re sending an SMS, make sure it’s easy to understand and states exactly what the customer will get if they click on the link you’re giving. Ideally, one and a simple call to action is fit for this medium.

Burger Singh's campaign
Burger Singh’s clear CTA on match-day deals

Know when to stop

While it’s important to be in touch with your customers, you should clearly define when to stop. The best way to do is to include an opt-out/unsubscribe link with your campaigns. Then it’s the customer’s choice to remain with you and keep receiving offers or leave and move on. In both ways, it gives you clarity and better segmentation for your lists. You can then try different win-back campaigns for the people who’re still on your mailing list but not actively ordering.

Over to you

If you’re not sending win-back campaigns, you’re literally leaving money, that could be yours on the table. Before you say a final goodbye to your restaurant’s lost customers, it’s important to interact with them and provide a recall of your restaurant and its offers. Hope this post helps you in crafting a win-back campaign of your choice.

Want us to cover any other restaurant management or marketing topic? Share away in the comments!

Niharika Maggo

Niharika Maggo

Niharika is a Content Marketer at LimeTray. When she’s not busy wearing down the keys on her keyboard, she's found listening to podcasts, reading or drinking tea. She can be reached at