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Why Mobile Messaging Is so Pivotal for Restaurant Brands

How mobile messaging helped Roundtable Pizza before and during the pandemic. 

As restaurants play catch up in a digital world, many brands are learning that one of the more familiar modes of communication is becoming one of the most important: text messages. While emails have a 5 percent open rate—and 30 to 40 percent of consumers turn off push notifications as soon as they download a loyalty app—up to 98 percent of SMS subscribers open mobile messages sent from restaurants, according to Mobivity. 

“Mobile messaging through SMS seems to get overlooked which personally I feel is a missed opportunity,” says Warwick McLaren, vice president of omnichannel digital marketing with Global Franchise Group, the parent company of Roundtable Pizza. “As a brand, we are consistently seeing SMS messaging outperform emails and push notifications from an engagement standpoint and that is due to the immediate nature of text messages. Email and push notifications still have a significant role to play in the respective customer journey, as everyone’s communication preferences are different. The challenge is that everybody’s inboxes are constantly cluttered with promotions and 40 percent of guests turn off in app push notifications. But SMS has a 98 percent open rate and that really gives you a strong base to work from when you are considering what type of message to send.” 

In 2018, McLaren and Roundtable Pizza, a full-service pizza restaurant on the west coast, began working with Mobivity, implementing its Unified Mobile Messaging™ platform to help build an SMS subscriber base. In order to do that, they tried different promotions, including offering diners a free signature item—six Garlic Parmesan Twists—if they texted the brand’s shortcode and opted in to receiving messages in the future. Having customers opt in serves two pivotal functions: for one, it ensures that all subsequent SMS campaigns sent to their phone are TCPA compliant. But just as important, it gains the brand a quality subscriber who is actively showing that they would like to have an ongoing relationship with the brand. 

With a loyal database of SMS subscribers developed, Roundtable Pizza was uniquely equipped at the outset of the pandemic to reach out to customers and let them know that they were taking steps to keep guests and employees safe, and that they were open for off-premises ordering. 

And when it came to mobile messaging campaigns that would directly spark sales, prior to the pandemic Roundtable Pizza was frequently running mobile messaging promotions tied to dinner offerings. The pandemic sparked a need to connect with guests during the lunch daypart to help recoup some of the revenue that was being lost when dining rooms were shut down. McLaren and his team worked with Mobivity and leveraged the platform’s artificial intelligence and expertise in tracking customer behavior in order to send messaging that would be delivered to the loyal customer base at an optimal time and contain messaging that customers would connect with. That messaging was often pushing a $7.99 bundle that turned the lunch daypart into a strength for Roundtable while their dining rooms remained closed.  

“Having to close our dining rooms meant we had to pivot quickly,” McLaren says. “The SMS channel played a major role in getting guests to engage during the lunch daypart and that has helped us tremendously. SMS is so timely, and when you can message a guest right in that sweet spot of when they are considering something for lunch it can have really great results. We live in a mobile world but breaking through the noise of a guest’s daily mobile behavior can be a challenge. Knowing that a guest is going to see your message is half the battle. With SMS we know our communication will be read. The key is ensuring that the message is relevant and targeted for the recipient.” 

McLaren and Roundtable will be relying on Mobivity as they grow into the future, having enjoyed the partnership that was formed in 2018 and helped them through one of the toughest years they could’ve imagined. 

“Mobivity has been a really great partner, they are very hands on with us and always there with any support we need,” McLaren says. “Their head of client success connects with our team and gets a great feel for the campaigns we want to send out. That relationship has evolved over time to where we’re sending multiple targeted campaigns per week, and it’s helped us so much, but over the past year especially. We’re very happy to be working with them.” 

To find out more about how your brand can add mobile messaging to its marketing mix, visit the Mobivity website