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Making the Case for Mobile Marketing: Finding the Perfect Blend of SMS Spices with Carrabba’s Italian Grill

The impact of mobile marketing can’t be overstated. According to IDC, more people in the U.S. will access the Internet through a mobile device than through their PC by 2015. In this new series, Elite Email takes a look at highly successful campaigns to uncover their mobile marketing lessons. This week’s case study: How Carrabba’s Italian Grill in Tampa, Florida Turned out a 35 Percent Redemption Rate

One part great content, one part timing, and a little smooth talking sprinkled on top for good measure. If you’re new to the world of SMS marketing, chances are your idea of the perfect text message follows along these lines to some degree. However, if you really want to stand out from the crowd, you’ll need to look beyond this rudimentary recipe and uncover the truth behind powerful and effective mobile marketing tactics.

To help you find the perfect blend of SMS “spices” that make up a great campaign, let’s dig into the tasty particulars of the top-notch initiative set forth by Carrabba’s Italian Grill in Tampa, Florida. This way, when it’s your time to whip up a winning batch of text offers, you’ll have all the ingredients you need to wow the eager customers waiting for your next great message.

Prepping the Kitchen

First off, it’s important to understand why Carrabba’s decided to enact this strategy in the Tampa market. Aside from the obvious desire to boost sales and increase foot traffic in its local restaurants, this brand also wanted to see if it could replicate, and exceed, the prior success enjoyed by the branches in the nearby Orlando region. With this in mind, the team behind this campaign laid out a four week stretch of text marketing. During this time, the goal was to reach a healthy five percent redemption rate – something any brand would be more than happy to collect at the end of a mobile marketing run. However, as you’ll soon see, this campaign went above and beyond in a major way.

Reaching out to the Audience

The outreach and education portion of this campaign featured segmentation on a variety of levels. First, each branch in the Tampa area set up a localized database to ensure a closer connection with repeat and unique consumers. Additionally, these locations also applied separate promotional strategies in an effort to appeal to varying patron groups. This specialized approach focused on early diners (4 P.M to 6 P.M.), late dining customers (8 P.M. to 10 P.M.), “Carside” carry-out patrons, Sunday lunch fans, and the “Happy Hour” demographic. Even though the promotional materials and outreach methods varied from group to group, each customer interested in joining the SMS list simply needed to text “AMICI” to the 82672 short code in order to join the contact list. Once on this list, members received a steady stream of relevant offers and discounts.

Exceeding Expectations in a Major Way

At the end of the four week campaign, the Tampa branches of Carrabba’s Italian Grill tallied up the results. In total, 443 local patrons joined the SMS contact lists, which in turn accounted for a 35 percent redemption rate. After dwarfing the original five percent goal, the team at Carrabba’s quickly made plans to expand this initiative to the national stage. Today, this campaign serves as the basis for a continuing bond between locations across the United States and the happy customers who can’t wait for the next great text message deal.

Creating Your Own SMS Success Story

Naturally, this is a lot to digest in one sitting. However, there’s a couple key themes to pick up on and help guide you during your next SMS campaign. First, even if you’ve already been around the block with your SMS operations, there’s always room for improvement. Even though the Orlando version of this campaign was a success, the team at Carrabba’s pushed the envelope in the Tampa market, and then later on a national stage.

Aside from constantly innovating your approach, learning how to break down your audience goes a long way toward specializing promotional offers and outreach methods. You might not have as many varied demographics within your base of consumers, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t at least learn to hone in on what each group likes and dislikes in terms of SMS marketing. If you can pull this tactic off, in addition to the rest of what you’ve learned from the stellar example set by Carrabba’s Italian Grill, you’ll have the perfect blend of SMS methods backing up your brand in no time.

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