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A&W burger chain drives 20pc increase in revenue with mobile coupons

June 29, 2012

SMS program signed up 37,000 opt-ins in its first month

A&W quick-service restaurants drove a 20 percent in revenue this spring via a mobile coupon campaign that offered recipients a free burger.

Harman Management, which owns 180 A&W franchise locations, wanted to create a mobile database of opted-in customers that it could use to drive traffic into its locations. The initial offer was advertised on TV and radio as well as via signage throughout the 126 participating locations.

“They were looking to do something fun and engaging with the consumer outside of traditional media where they could see instant gratification and develop a mobile database that could provide last-minute offers to drive into location,” said Carrie Chitsey, CEO of 3Seventy, Austin, TX.

“You are already spending money on traditional advertising,” she said. “Adding a mobile component allows you to use those assets and capture information that that is reusable after your traditional marketing has expired.”

Mobile opt-ins
The program launched on May 1 ads and in-store signage urging consumers to text “BURGER” to the short code 70626 to receive a coupon for a free burger. The campaign also went viral through social media channels.

After texting the keyword to the short code, users then receive a message thanking them for joining the opt-in program and informing that they need to show their coupon code to a cashier in order to receive their free Papa Burger.

Harman Management worked with 3Seventy and AFA Krause to develop and execute the program

Within the first week-and-a-half, 22,000 coupons were sent while 37,000 unique opt-ins were signed up within the first month. To date, the program has received approximately 50,000 opt-ins.

Harman’s goal is to sign up 1,000 opt-ins per location.

Additionally, A&W saw a 20 percent increase in revenue as consumers came in to redeem their coupons and purchased a soda and/or fries to accompany their free burger.

Coupon redemptions
The coupons are a unique, one-time use coupon. In order to track coupon redemptions without the need for a point-of-integration, mobile and traditional Web sites were created for A&W employees where they could enter the redemption code on each coupon at the register.

“They haven’t been able to do a free burger coupon before because of coupon fraud,” Ms. Chitsey said. “The program gives a unique code by individual that is good for five days from when it was received.”

Since the launch, Harman is sending different, exclusive offers once a month to opted in users. These include holiday specials and discounts on food and beverages.

Some of the other offers have included a free root beer float and a Father’s Day offer.

Harman plans roll out the program to additional locations.

“It was engaging people in the store while they are in line or while they are sitting at home watching TV,” Ms. Chitsey said. “It was giving them a reason to go in and make a purchase. It is a way to get consumers engaged and get them into a location.

“It is a hot summer day and you get a text message about a free root beer float,” she said. “Now, you are thinking about a root beer float and I am driving behavior, because when you drive by an A&W you’re going to want to go in and get your root beer float.”

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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