Mobile marketing advice from fast food brands

What’s the difference between a pizza chain and a burger joint when they create a mobile strategy? The pizza chain wants the biggest demographic slice, while the burger joint wants to supersize its engagement.

Seriously though, the different approaches to mobile marketing taken by Pizza Pizza and McDonald’s show just how many options businesses have when it comes to reaching users via their smartphones or tablets. All the juicy details were served up at Toronto’s Mesh Marketing conference yesterday. In a panel focused on mobile marketing, Amar Narain, the IT director of Pizza Pizza Ltd. talked about his restaurant’s mobile app.

About 18 months ago, Pizza Pizza’s CEO was inspired to launch a mobile app that would allow customers to order a pie right from their smartphones. A fan of Apple devices, and considering the current data of what device consumers were using at the time, iOS was chosen as the development platform.

“We had to pick and choose whether it was a BlackBerry, Android, or iPhone app,” Narain says. “We made the decision based on budgeting and where the consumers were going.”

Six months after launch, Pizza Pizza announced it had received 111,111 orders through the mobile app (a number conveniently matching up with its phone number). It was ranked number one in the Lifestyle app section in the iTunes store and won awards including a Webby, a Canadian Marketing Association Award, and a W3 Award.

Pizza Pizza chose to launch an app to iOS first.

Pizza Pizza took a risk in developing a mobile app and hoping the users would come to it, but it’s a leap that more firms should take, says Jason Chaney, the vice-president of strategy with Ig2. Chaney previously worked with Tribal DDB Canada, where he designed the strategy for McDonald’s “Your Questions, Our Answers” campaign.

It’s easy to say “we might not want to put all our eggs in one basket,” Chaney says. But the mobile landscape is changing so rapidly that you should start now, because the technology could be outdated by the time you finish and you’ll want to start all over again.

Just because mobile traffic is less than 30 per cent of your Web traffic now, doesnt’ mean it won’t be growing soon, he adds.

Statistics from comScore back up that statement. At the end of 2011, 45 per cent of Canadians were smartphone users. Non-computer Internet traffic is growing worldwide, and mobile traffic reaches 6.5 per cent of all traffic in Canada at the end of 2011. Expect to see bigger numbers from mobile for 2012.

But marketers face some real challenges in getting their message across on a platform with less screen real estate, according to Chaney.

“The screens are getting smaller and smaller and the ability to get a great branding experience across is diminished,” he says. “You can’t deliver any message that will convince anyone to do anything.”

It’s time to make mobile a primary marketing channel, agrees Jennifer Lum co-founder of Adelphic Mobile. While more media is being consumed via mobile, it’s difficult to approach those users appropriately using demographics. Pizza Pizza may have selected to reach iPhone users for example, but marketers don’t segment demographics by the type of device they use.

“The audience aspect is missing from mobile,” she says. “Mobile technology today is focused on the carrier space inventory and the device space inventory.” Ad relevancy is important so that the audience won’t consider it spam, chips in Naeem Lakhani, head of mobile at BNotions. Another point to consider when deciding between designing a mobile Web site or a mobile app is that apps allow for push notifications, while Web sites don’t.

Businesses have a lot of paths to consider when it comes to mobile marketing. As the fast food restaurant examples show, there’s more than one way to serve a meal.

Brian JacksonBrian Jackson is the Editor at ITBusiness.ca. E-mail him at bjackson@itbusiness.ca, follow him on Twitter, connect on , read his blog, and check out the IT Business Facebook Page.
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