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July 6, 2010

Mobile users value food, entertainment alerts

A Harris Interactive survey released last week by Placecast reports that consumers are willing, generally, to opt-in to mobile coupon programs that match up with their interests. Among 2,000 adults surveyed, more than half would welcome mobile discount programs for groceries, national restaurant chains, entertainment options and fast-food items.

Placecast reports that acceptance and use of these programs has grown significantly since an original study of mobile coupons in 2009.

"One-third of Americans who currently have signed up for mobile marketing alerts indicate that such services impact their decision to go into stores and 27 percent report that mobile programs have impacted their decision to buy products in physical retail locations."

June 28, 2010

Mobile Coupons Could Soon Replace Traditional Coupons

PITTSBURGH -- Many big name stores are eliminating the need for paper coupons by offering mobile coupons.

National consumer experts said they coupons work just like traditional coupons, by scanning a bar code that is sent directly to your cell phone. Target stores became the first to roll out mobile bar code coupons at stores earlier this year. Every, month the store offers five coupons on everything from sun block to cereal.

Experts said now department stores, cell phone companies and fast food restaurants are in the mobile coupon game.

Websites such couponsherpa.com, 8coupons.com, getyowza.com, mobilecoupon.com and the veteran coupon company Valpak.com connect consumers with retailers offering mobile coupons.

June 28, 2010

5 Marketing Tips from Pizza Joints

Pizza chains are the masters at mobile marketing efforts, while other segments lag behind. See what you can learn from them.

There are more than 270 million cell-phone users in the U.S., and most of them admit to never leaving home without their phone. With that many people walking around with their mobile phone, it is time to get smart about mobile marketing efforts and engaging customers through an outlet they always take to go.

In recent years, the pizza industry emerged as the leader and innovator in mobile marketing. The industry used mobile solutions to maximize sales, drive consumers to place orders, and deliver initiatives that were on-brand and relevant to core customers.

It’s time for other restaurants to join the bandwagon and use the power of mobile to increase sales. Lucky for marketers, pizza chains have done the heavy lifting in creating some great, innovative ideas. Here are some mobile marketing tips to take from the pizza chains.

Mobile Subscription List
Retailers can utilize mobile subscriber lists the same way they use e-mail or direct mail. Customers who subscribe to any of the chain’s SMS messaging campaigns receive alerts for sponsored events, promotions, and giveaways, keeping them in the loop for the latest happenings.

SMS Ordering
One major pizza chain offers the option to text in an order. Customers can go online to register their phone number and set up favorite orders. For example, a customer could set up “favorite 1” as a small pineapple pizza and an order of breadsticks. They then text “FAV1” to a designated number anytime they are in the mood for their favorite dish, and a text is sent back to confirm their order. After replying “Y” in approval, the process is complete and a small pineapple pizza and order of breadsticks is on the way. It’s that simple.

Mobile Coupons
Mobile Marketer recently reported a 5–15 percent redemption rate for mobile coupons, compared with 1 percent or less redemption of the traditional print coupon. The national pizza chains are taking advantage of the higher redemption rate and offering targeted mobile coupons. In this down economy, with people scrutinizing every dollar, the companies have found great success.

Recommending Specials and New Menu Items
Popular chains track customers’ order histories and use the information to text specials and new menu items customers will enjoy based on what they purchased in the past. One pizza concept’s coupons are optimized to reflect customers’ individual ordering histories and arrive via text. When users click on the text message, they are sent to a mobile site where they can simply click “Confirm” to place the order. Think about it: It is sending customers coupons for items it knows they are interested in. That can be hugely impactful on business.

Store Locator
Include a store locator option in the mobile plan. With some of the pizza chains, customers can text their zip code to receive a text back with the address and phone number for the nearest store. This no-brainer function helps build a mobile subscriber list and creates a new way for customers to find the business.

Other national chain restaurants are not using mobile solutions as effectively as they should be, and that’s a shame. After all, there is no way to reach consumers more directly (or with a more targeted message) than mobile.

Many of the top restaurant chains developed smart-phone apps to expedite pick-up orders. That’s great, but the number of to-go food patrons in the U.S. far outnumbers the number of smart-phone users. The rest of the to-go market—those without smart phones—should be tapped through mobile opportunities, too. Here are some examples of chains that could be doing more to target their on-the-go customers.

Bagel Chains
Popular chains today only utilize traditional ordering methods of calling in or ordering at the counter. Why not add a text-messaging option that allows people to text in their order before they arrive? This could also be used for a consistently catered order of bagels, where the consumer can set up a weekly order and simply text in a pre-set “favorite” so the order is ready to pick up in the morning. This eliminates customer waiting time and makes it that much easier to place an order.

Burrito Chains
Many of the big-name burrito chains have decent iPhone apps with interactive menus that allow customers to pick their ingredients and submit their order before they arrive. But these chains are leaving a large chunk of the 270 million cell-phone users on the table by only catering to iPhone users. Chains should incorporate an SMS component allowing that huge chunk of customers not using an iPhone to text in orders through a pre-set menu they set up online.

Large-Scale Family Dining Chains
Imagine if these national chains added mobile ordering to their car-side to-go programs. Customers could text in an order for their favorite burger and it will be waiting for them when they arrive. The whole car-side delivery function targets those in a hurry; why not take advantage of something that makes ordering even faster and easier?

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