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Applebee’s drives foot traffic via targeted location-based mobile campaign

May 15, 2013

Applebee’s is enticing consumers to visit its locations through a new location-based mobile advertising campaign that incorporates menu items, a store locator and gift cards to bolster engagement.

The company is running the campaign within The Weather Channel’s iPhone app. Mobile advertising is an effective way for the company to drive in-store traffic, and, by adding location into the mix, the company is able to get customers in there faster.

“Mobile is no longer an option for restaurants,” said Shuli Lowy, marketing director at Ping Mobile, Beverly Hills, CA.


“A study performed by Neilson found that 95 percent of smartphone users conduct restaurant searches,” she said. “Of those, 90 percent convert within the day – meaning they go out to eat – and 64 percent covert within one hour.

“A mobile initiative is particularly important for restaurants. While consumers may take the time to do thorough research when going on a special night out to an extravagant steakhouse, they wont do the same when catching a quick bit to eat. More likely, the consumer will quickly look up a couple of local places while rushing about his/her busy day.”

Ms. Lowy is not affiliated with Applebee’s. She commented based on her expertise on the subject.

Applebee’s did not respond to press inquiries.

Mobile location
The Applebee’s mobile banner ad reads “See You Tomorrow. Applebee’s.”

When consumers tap on the mobile ad, the company asks them if it is OK to use their current location – consumers can choose either “Don’t Allow” or “OK.”

From there, consumers are taken to a mobile landing page, which features the nearest Applebee’s address on the top of the screen.

Through the mobile campaign, consumers are able to browse the company’s menu items, both classic and signature dishes.

Furthermore, consumers are able to give and share virtual gift cards, which they can send through email or Facebook.

Customers are able to select the special occasion, card amount and finally personalize it.

A campaign such as this is a great way for the company to build a relationship between its new and existing customers.

Nowadays, users are on the go and always have their mobile devices on-hand. Therefore, running a targeted mobile campaign is an effective way to capture a user’s attention.

Past efforts
Applebee’s is no stranger when it comes to mobile.

In 2011, the company introduced its Digital Gift Cards initiative that let consumers buy and send personalized gift cards through its online, mobile and Facebook channels (see story).

Most recently, Applebee’s highlighted mobile video content as part of a marketing campaign to help launch a new line of low-calorie meals (see story).

“Consumers are often making their last minute eat-out decisions on the go,” Ms. Lowy said. “Accordingly it is imperative that any major eatery have a mobile site where consumers can easily find nearby locations, menu items, and specials.

“There are a couple of targeting parameters in mobile that are particularly useful for restaurants,” she said. “Aside from the geographical targeting, the timing factor is also important for restaurants.

“Applebee’s mobile ads provides a well placed effort to reach consumers with relevant content; the mobile ads allow consumers to find a nearby Applebee’s chain, view their menu options and get additional mobile coupons to make the offer even more enticing.”

Final Take
Rimma Kats is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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Rimma Kats is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach her at

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