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P.F. Chang-owned Pei Wei adds 5,000 consumers to email database via mobile

November 1, 2011

Pei Wei used a special offer to encourage customers to sign up email subscribers

P.F. Chang’s restaurant chain Pei Wei Asian Diner recently used SMS messaging to build its opt-in database, signing up more than 5,000 names via mobile in two weeks.

The multichannel effort used social media, mobile and email to introduce a new entrée with a buy-one, get-one free coupon. In just two weeks, Pei Wei signed up almost 20,000 new email subscribers, one-third of which came in via text messaging, and has a coupon redemption rate of nearly 20 percent.

“Incorporating SMS into the effort was critical because it allows each guest inside our restaurant to sign up,” said Jason Miller, digital content and community manager for P.F. Chang’s, Scottsdale, AZ.

“Once guests leave our restaurants, signing up for email is no longer top of mind, and making it easy to sign up via mobile phone was important to us to make sure we made it as simple and seamless as possible to have our guests sign up,” he said.

Instant connection
Pei Wei is a division of P.F. Chang’s and has 173 locations.

The chain worked with ExactTarget to introduce its new Caramel Chicken entree with in-store signs and online promotions inviting guests to join the restaurant’s email list via text, web, Twitter or Facebook in order to receive a buy-one, get-one free coupon.

This is the first time the chain used mobile, a decision that was made following observations that a large volume of guests carry their mobile phones in the restaurants.

“We had tried using a few different QR codes in the past, but this was our first actual push into that channel,” Mr. Miller said. “Mobile really allows us to have an instant connection with those guests that want to interact with us, and it helps push all our other channels as well.”

SMS text messaging gives Pei Wei a way to engage with customers while they are in the restaurant and to expand its email and social media strategy.

The Caramel Chicken campaign was the restaurant’s most successful new email list growth effort to date.

We had a hypothesis that a large group of our restaurant diners were not signed up for email,” Mr. Miller said.

“The goal for mobile was to try to get as many of those people to sign up in a way that was simple and was available in the restaurant, when we have the most space to get our message across,” he said.

Pei Wei recently completed a text voting campaign and is looking into mobile-optimized sites and applications

Pei Wei does not currently have an SMS strategy for speaking directly with guests.

“We have not had guests do direct opt ins, because we feel that there is a perception that those sign ups are used primarily for discounts and offers,” Mr. Miller said. “We want to avoid having our communications becoming a discount channel.”

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

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