Subway is one of the largest fast food franchises in the world, although not quite as famous as McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and Burger King… Its goal to be the healthiest alternative within the fast food sector has left an impression on its customers, who have become loyal followers of the chain’s nutritional advice.
As well as traditional advice, consuming less fat and calories, reducing salt intake and increasing consumption of fiber are included on Subway’s nutritional information found on its menus. These are full of vegetables and leafy greens, and devoid of cheese, bacon and sauces known for their high calorific content. The company wanted a push, however, to consolidate loyal customers, and Subway found the perfect tool in SMS marketing.
One of the franchises of Subway in the area of Buffalo-Rochester in the North American state of New York launched an SMS marketing campaign with the aim of increasing customer loyalty. Subway began the strategy with publicity in 16 of its restaurants, complemented by a number of marketing actions, together with a traditional publicity campaign on local radio and television. The main objective was to introduce the brand My Subway Mobile SMS to the public.
Customers that wanted to subscribe to the program just had to send a simple text to a number specifically set up for the campaign, the so-called shortcodes with five digits. After subscribing with an SMS message, Subway sent customers special offers and discount coupons on various products, also via SMS. One of the most successful offers in terms of responses included the incentive of getting a free Subway sandwich when you buy a drink, when you presented the coupon sent to your mobile phone to the cashier.
After several months Subway analyzed the response of the campaign, concluding that the most effective format for SMS marketing was sending between 4 and 6 messages monthly and including an expiry date for each offer.
16 restaurants got a far higher return on their investment than expected. Around 5,000 customers participated, sending 13,000 SMS messages. 9% redeemed coupons sent through the SMS campaign, far above the 1% who redeemed coupons sent through email. The conclusion of the results was clear: thanks to the “My Subway Mobile SMS” campaign, which included a buy one, get one free offer, Subway enjoyed a practically instantaneous increase in traffic of customers coming to their restaurants.
Similarly, the Subway website was an effective source of subscriptions for the customer loyalty program. Many customers provided their contact details to the company and signed up to the SMS program online, where just by filling in the fields (phone number and post code), customers received a text message of confirmation. The two-step confirmation ensured an opt-in process which allowed Subway to personalize weekly offers to the Subway restaurants closest to the customer’s home.
The information provided by Subway to subscribers included the all requirements of a good SMS campaign: a warning about the possibility of additional charges, a maximum number of monthly messages (10), HELP and STOP shortcodes, as well as information related to the offers on the coupons as well as in the SMS.
The success of the campaign launched in New York led Subway to roll it out in another area of the United States, and in a far higher number of restaurants. That’s how the “My Subway Mobile SMS” campaign was launched in 300 restaurants in the Seattle area, Washington state.