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5 Ways to Increase Customer Engagement within Your Craft Beverage Business

Increasing your customer engagement is a great way to ensure you are building customer loyalty and that they keep coming back to your craft beverage business. Discover 5 ways you can differentiate your business by increasing customer engagement.

June 6, 2019

The craft beverage industry is becoming more and more competitive with breweries, distilleries and other craft beverage manufacturers popping up every single day. In 2019, there were 8,386 breweries and 8.9% more compared to 2018, according to the Brewer's Association. According to the American Distilling Institute, as of May 2020, there are now 1,950 US craft distilleries in existence.

More than ever, craft beverage manufacturers need to continue to differentiate themselves from their competition in order to stand out among the crowd. One way to do that is to focus on increasing customer engagement. If you understand what your customers want, you can begin to build loyalty between each other to ensure when they want a drink, they go to their favorite place. You want your taproom to be their favorite place. This is why focusing on building an importance around customer engagement is so critical to your business.

In our experience, here are the 5 top ways to increase customer engagement:

  1. Increase on-premise activity by tailoring the experience to what your customers expect

  2. Interact with your customers via digital touch points

  3. Monitor online experience reviews for feedback

  4. Increase To-Go Sales

  5. Focus on Retention

1.) Increase On-Premise Activity by Tailoring the Experience to What Your Customers Expect

Visiting a craft beverage manufacturer, like a craft brewery for example, should be a unique experience, and not just like any visit to the local bar. Increase customer engagement by tailoring your guest's experiences from the second they walk in the door. A simple welcome can completely impact the way the customer feels about their entire experience.

Once a customer is in the door, do your best to cater to them.  Provide an experience, not just a beverage. Your craft beverage business has a story and the more your customer experiences the passion you have behind the beverage, the more they feel connected to your brand. Treat customers as individuals, not just a blanket statement. It’s been proven that a simple “Hi” and “Thank You” can go a long way in a guest's experience.

According to Andrew Coplon, the founder of the Secret Hopper, a mystery shopping service for craft breweries, found that guests are "greeted with a smile," “hello,” or "other welcoming gesture" on 81.4 percent of brewery visits. When a brewery employee greets a guest in this manner, that guest will recommend, and return based on that experience 94.9 percent of the time. When a brewery employee does not begin the experience with a smile, “hello,” or other welcoming gesture, that guest will only recommend/return 75.9 percent of the time.

To keep people coming back, notice overall trends in their beverage consumption and cater to the customers. Notice what drinks a customer might be drinking and recommend drinks based on their choices. It makes the experience at your craft beverage business feel authentic and personal and will keep them returning for more of their favorite craft beverages.

2.) Interact with your Customers via Digital Touch Points

Are you utilizing social media to the fullest for your craft beverage business? Regarding the mission to increase customer engagement, it is important to interact with social media touch points when people are posting about your beverages. This goes beyond just liking a photo that they posted on Instagram at your taproom. Take the time to interact with them. It shows others that you are passionate about your beverages and truly care about the consumer.

It is important to remember that a social media post could potentially reach a new market or audience that doesn’t even know your business. That is why it is important to be active and engage your consumers. Potential new consumers could be scrolling through their feed, see your interaction and be compelled to learn a little more about you.

Consumers love getting acknowledged by their favorite craft beverage business, so do your best to repost their stories or photos if it fits your brand; that will begin the process of fostering strong customer loyalty.

Don’t exist only to accept engagement. Instagram gives you the opportunity to like photos your fans take of your taproom, your events and your beverages.

Use social media as a tool to increase engagement, expand your market and continue to nurture your consumers’ positive experience online once they leave your taproom.

3.) Monitor Online Reviews for Feedback

Another great way to increase customer engagement, interact and get feedback is through online reviews. Yes, they won’t always be positive; That is to be expected, but you can still learn, grow, and show the consumer you value their opinion. Remember that good or bad reviews have an online following and how you choose to respond can impact your business. Find a middle ground for those negative reviews, and don’t be afraid to explore if there is an issue with your business or beverages based on reviews.

It is also important to know what people are saying about your business on the internet. This goes beyond their review of your beverages and should be more focused on their experience at your craft beverage business. As a business, you can always improve the customer experience, see where you are being successful, and see where you are getting things wrong. Don’t be afraid to admit fault in a situation. People appreciate a company they can empathize with. Of course, it is hard when a review paints you in a negative light, but see where the real issue lies. Is it a one-off situation that was preventable, or is it something that is continually mentioned that needs to be changed?

The best way to respond to that negative review is to thank them for their feedback, promise you will address the situation, and invite them back to change their perspective into a more positive one. Customers are usually willing to go in and adjust online reviews when they see their issues acknowledged by the business. Remember, use those negative reviews to shape your business. The last thing you want to do is invite back a customer that had a less than ideal time and have them experience the same thing again because you learned nothing the first time. Use this feedback to increase your customer engagement.

4.) Increase To-Go Sales

Not every form of customer engagement is measurable or something you can see. However, it is still an important aspect of increasing customer engagement to grow your craft beverage business. What is a simple way to increase engagement you can’t really see? Increase to-go sales, especially in the current COVID-19 environment. Don’t be afraid to be a self-promoter. Use to-go sales as a valuable part of your business if that is something you offer.

Again, this can go back to the experience at your business. See what beverages your customers have been drinking consistently and make suggestions based on the trends they like. According to Andrew Coplan from the Secret Hopper, consumers are 40% more likely to purchase beer to-go when asked.

Another great way to increase customer engagement from to-go sales is to make your beverages easily shareable. People are willing to line up and wait for a rare new craft beverage with a great label design, and consumers love to show off a beverage that is hard to get on social media. This expands your reach into a market outside of people that just follow you.

5.) Focus on Retention

If you provide a great experience, customers will come back. Focus on how to bring customers back by providing an experience they don’t want to miss. Make #FOMO real.

All the ways mentioned will help build customer engagement and grow your business, but the real task is to make sure they keep coming back. It is hard for a craft beverage business to thrive on just one-time visitors alone. Make sure you focus on retention, be true to yourself, and your customers will feel your authenticity and will keep coming back. Encourage ways for them to follow you on social platforms, so they can keep up with the happenings at your business, and entice them with new and interesting events and exclusive, rare beverage releases.

Conclusion

People want to feel like individuals when they visit your craft beverage business and they also want to understand what makes you different from the many other craft beverage manufacturers. Increasing customer engagement is a great way to ensure customers come back and it’s also a great way to get new people in the door as well. Create an experience for your customer both-in person and online in order to drive sales, differentiate and grow your craft beverage business.

Interested in learning more best practices to support growing your craft beverage business? Reach out to one of our industry experts to learn how our all-in-one beverage management software, Orchestrated, can make mastering your business a whole lot easier.

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