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Carrabba’s Italian Grill applies social to mobile marketing strategy to reward customers

June 9, 2010


Jamie Miller of Carrabba's

NEW YORK – An executive from Carrabba’s Italian Grill talked to attendees of the Mobile Marketing Forum on how to apply a social aspect to a mobile marketing program.

Although location-based mobile social networking is on the rise, the channel is still in its infancy. Only 7 percent of the general public knows what these services are.

“We use Foursquare as a means of rewarding our loyal consumers,” said Jamie Miller, marketing manager at Carrabba’s, Tampa, FL.

Foursquare, Gowalla, Yelp and Loopt are the most popular mobile social networks.

Foursquare recently passed the 1 million user mark and is growing 60 percent per month.

The mobile social network’s primary purpose is to let users let their friends know where they are. By doing so and “checking in” at specific locations, users are able to collect badges and even earn points and rewards.

Carrabba’s is using Foursquare to promote deals at 232 of its locations nationwide.

The current promotion asks users to show that they are the Mayor of Carrabba’s and enjoy a complimentary dessert with the purchase of an entrée.


Webster Lewin of MS&L Group

What is a Mayor?

For those consumers who have been to a place more than anyone else, Foursquare crowns them “The Mayor” of that place.

Bars and restaurants like Carrabba’s offer “Mayor Specials.”

If someone else comes along who has checked in more days than the Mayor, that person steels the Mayor title.

Carrabba’s Foursquare promotion has seen 6,987 total check-ins and 178 mayors.

New York and Florida are the most competitive regions for Mayors.

Key metrics include the number of check-ins, gender and where people come from.

Carrabba’s is currently testing offers for people who check in at least five times a day.

Testing is being executed in Louisiana, Alabama and North Carolina.

“Our future initiatives will consist of pushing our promotional time periods,” Mr. Miller said. “We will continue to use the app as a traffic driver.

“We will also push Twitter and Facebook offers and work to give restaurant managers more hands on involvement with the program,” he said.

According to Webster Lewin, senior vice president and director of digital innovation and strategy at MS&L Group, 32 percent of U.S. mobile social users earn $100,000-$199,000 per year.

Nearly twice as many mobile social network users than online social networks users are likely to send text or mobile email.

Mobile social network users are more likely to buy mobile content and services than their online counterparts.

They are twice more likely to opt-in to receive SMS.

“Mobile social networkers are four times more likely to seek mobile coupons than online users,” Mr. Lewin said. “Sixty percent have responded to a mobile ad as opposed to 40 percent of online social users.”

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Giselle Tsirulnik is senior editor at Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach her at

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