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Creating a quick-serve restaurant mobile marketing playbook

March 27, 2010


Gib Bassett, Interactive Mediums, quick serve restaurants, QSR, SMS, text, mobile marketing, mobile

By Gib Bassett

Multi-location quick-serve restaurant businesses are increasingly taking advantage of mobile marketing techniques to drive floor traffic and sales.

Presented with numerous options – from SMS text messaging to mobile applications to the mobile Web – creating a mobile roadmap is critical to successful adoption of mobile marketing by QSRs. 

To successfully build mobile into their plans, QSRs require a partner who can advise on best practices as well as identify the right approaches given the unique ways each markets to its customers today.

A common starting point is to work with a mobile marketing technology expert to leverage the universal accessibility of SMS text messaging.

The following is an example of a roadmap often prescribed for QSR mobile marketers.

A “Think Global, Act Local” approach which helps rapidly create an opt-in mobile data asset containing information about mobile subscribers, but that also enhances and informs pre-planned marketing activities directed toward customer segments.

This data asset would lend corporate oversight of all mobile subscribers in such a way that at a local level, individual store managers could access and build upon the base of customers in their immediate geographies.

Also, this mobile data asset will offer the benefit of nationally directed campaign possibilities in a manner that would not conflict with localized campaigns.

Work with a select group of franchise operators as a basis for creating a mobile playbook, which would document the ways in which mobile is rolled out to, measured and improved by other franchises. 

By reducing the number of people involved initially, QSRs will be able to more rapidly implement the program with less risk. Proving value and documenting the effort has the added benefit of ensuring adoption by other franchisees.

Sweeps spot
Implement a localized sweepstakes campaign aimed at acquiring as many participants as possible. 

To this end, a “many small” prize approach is recommended, given evidence showing that multiple small value prizes are more effective at spurring direct response than a single large prize. SMS programs typically achieve 20 percent to 30 percent response rates. Gift cards are often used as incentive.

The sweepstakes would require participants to provide five pieces of information upon entry aside from their names: email address, ZIP code, age, gender and marital status. 

This information could be submitted in real time via text message interaction or on an online form available on the QSR’s Web site, all of which feeds the same database.

The sweepstakes would run for a period of one month, but be promoted in advance in media buys in the local market, including billboards, radio and television. 

Each spot would use a unique SMS text message keyword such that responses are traced back to their sources. This not only allows media buy effectiveness to be gauged, but also can be used to later connect customers with specific promotions – for example, male, 21, replies to billboard sweepstakes call to action, later opts into receiving alerts for promotions developed for a particular segment.

With the sweepstakes program executed and documented, respondents could be sorted by customer segment. Members of each segment could then be aligned to the mobile component of the current period’s marketing plans. 

The mobile data asset provides a ready basis for each promotion to be tailored to segments in the most relevant fashion to spur action.

Offers may take the form of coupons, limited-time, dollar-off discounts on selected items, or be informational in nature. These can each be unique, by segment and if applicable, media source, with responses tracked uniquely. 

Moreover, by capturing ZIP code information, offers can target specific locations.

Tweet dreams
If QSRs have Twitter presence, social media capabilities offered by some providers today allow messages to be broadcast to followers and also yield the ability to track messages forwarded by customers to their followers.

This essentially takes advantage of the one-to-many social media marketing opportunity to greatly expand the universe of consumers seeing a QSR’s messages.

Following localized execution and documentation, QSRs will have proven the value of SMS text messaging as sales in the targeted franchisees should meaningfully increase during the promotional period. 

With the playbook documented, mobile marketing may then be rolled out to all franchise operators, including a kit containing unique mobile club registration signage, calls to action and suggested local mobile marketing campaigns. 

Ongoing, new national and local campaign ideas can be tested in the initial development market before rollout.

Gib Bassett is director of sales and marketing at Interactive Mediums, Chicago. Reach him at

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