Dec. 9, 2016
By Joel Udwin, mobile products manager, Paytronix Systems
Americans spend an average of 2.8 hours a day on their mobile devices; 80 percent of that time is spent in just five mobile apps, including web browsers like Safari, and Chrome). Restaurant marketers need to ask themselves, "Do you really believe that your app is one of those five?"
Mobile apps are not a mobile strategy. Instead of simply launching a mobile app and expecting it to meet the needs of consumers, marketers need to craft a mobile strategy that stretches across all customer touchpoints.
Contrasting with the small number of apps a typical consumer uses, next year, 75 percent of Internet use will be mobile, according to media buying agency Zenith. That's up from 72 percent last year. Clearly, consumers are relying more and more on their mobile devices, and brands need to follow them there.
For marketers, a mobile strategy is no longer nice to have, it's a must have; a well-executed mobile strategy can boost the customer lifetime value of your guests. Below are a few examples.
A great mobile platform success story is Sprinkles Cupcakes. Founded in 2005, Sprinkles is a Beverly Hills-based chain of cupcake bakeries with 17 locations in the United States with plans to open in 15 more cities. Sprinkles has adopted a digital marketing focus as the best way to connect its strong brand identity to its millennial customers. It has two customer segments: those who buy large quantities for special occasions and those who purchase frequently.
Sprinkles created a card-less loyalty program that has 300,000 members; 92 percent of Sprinkles Cupcakes Loyalty Guests do NOT use the mobile app. That means if Sprinkles Cupcakes only had a mobile app its loyalty program would only influence behavior for around 21,000 people. Since Sprinkles Cupcakes is leveraging a mobile strategy that includes mobile-friendly websites, social integrations, and more, its program has an additional 271,000 people engaged in the program.
California Tortilla, a chain of franchised fast casual Mexican-style restaurants with close to 50 restaurants in seven states, launched its Burrito Elito mobile app in September 2015, to complement its existing mobile responsive web experience and to provide guests with an easier tool to earn and manage its Burrito Elito points.
To get its customers to engage via the mobile app, California Tortilla rewards guests with 10 points upon their first use of the app and a Free Taco on check-in to a newly opened location. This encourages customers to download the mobile app from the get-go and begin their digital engagement with California Tortilla.
Since incorporating a diversified set of mobile promotions into their program, California Tortilla has triggered a 107 percent increase in the number of app downloads. This has enabled California Tortilla to make the Burrito Elito app an integral part of its overall operations.
Jet Blue Mobile
We can also look outside of the food service industry for excellent examples of well executed mobile strategies. The Jet Blue Mobile Customer Experience, for example, allows customers to use their mobile devices to go online and search for and book flights. The flight confirmation is delivered by email and is followed up with an email check-in reminder. The customer can either check in online at this point or wait for an SMS message to do so before boarding the plan and taking off.
While each of these steps may have been taken on a mobile device, none of them required the Jet Blue mobile app.
Elevating the guest experience
How can a restaurant chain move from a mobile app to a mobile strategy? There are many new and existing technology tools that either extend the reach of a mobile app or allow brands to otherwise engage with customers on their mobile devices. They include:
- SMS — Text messages are a quick and effective way to reach customers with special offers and alerts.
- Online Ordering — Allows customers to skip the lines and order ahead.
- Survey — Helps involve customers in the merchandise mix by soliciting their feedback and advice on everything from new menu items to restaurant decor.
- Push/Pull Geofence — Identifies customers when they are within a designated circumference of a restaurant so that you can push out offers and alerts via email or SMS.
- Payment/Mobile Wallet — Facilitates more convenient payment options, such as pay-at-table that helps speed up and improve service for a better customer experience.
- Integrated Stored Value — Enables customers to recharge a digital gift / stored value card via their mobile device, or even to have their stored value card automatically top off when the balance goes below a designated amount.
- Responsive Web Page — Brings the power to easily manage account information, view account balances, and more in a mobile friendly format that will look great on any device your guest uses.
- APIs — Integrate all aspects of the mobile experience from the POS, to the rewards program or online ordering application.
- Social — Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and other social platforms should be part of your program too. Some restaurants are finding Facebook advertising an effective vehicle for driving guests to new store openings and encouraging them to join a rewards program.
The future of mobile
As mobile usage continues to climb, brands will need to keep pace with innovation and update their mobile strategies as necessary. In this ever expanding mobile environment, it is time that brands develop strategies that allow them to meet guests wherever they are.