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SMS Marketing: The Missing Piece to Your Loyalty Program

SMS Marketing: The Missing Piece to Your Loyalty Program

Restaurant loyalty programs find greater success when paired with a complementary text messaging strategy.

Piecing together the right digital marketing strategy is a challenge for every restaurant chain. Brands know that customer loyalty drives return visits and return visits drive revenue gains. The challenge is how to profitably optimize loyalty efforts. 

Some leading restaurant brands are adding SMS marketing to their owned digital marketing channels to strengthen loyalty and it’s working. They are achieving measurable gains in return visits, spend per visit, and revenue. 

Restaurant brands often find themselves swimming upstream in their digital marketing and loyalty efforts, and it’s no surprise:

  • Once the flagship digital marketing channel, email marketing is not the powerhouse for reaching guests that it once was due to a migration away from email by millennials and Gen Z. With a shrinking percentage of restaurant guests using email, brands are not able to reach many of their guests here.

  • To reach a broader, increasingly mobile-first audience, many brands have added loyalty apps, which have helped to expand the reach to those under age 40. However, brand apps are only used by a fraction of their customers.

Many of the most recognizable foodservice brands, including Chick-fil-A, Subway, and Dutch Bros. Coffee, are now discovering that the right messaging platform can do much more than launch them gracefully into text message marketing (often a gaping hole in their digital marketing mix) but also supercharge their existing loyalty program.

How a unified text messaging platform boosts loyalty

Breadth and Adoption are why many leading restaurant brands are adding SMS marketing to their digital marketing suite of owned marketing channels and making their SMS platform function as the very foundation of their digital loyalty strategy. 

Breadth of Reach

If a tree falls in the forest, did it make a sound if nobody was there to hear it? Similarly, if a brand sends out a message to 100,000 customers, does it make a difference if no one opens and reads it? 

The open rate matters because it defines the breadth of your reach. So, let’s compare the average open rates of digital channels:







While all three channels play an important part in a brand’s overall loyalty efforts, the fact is that consumers are far more likely to open text messages from businesses than messages they receive via company email or a company app.


We text 47 times a day, and 97 percent of us use texting messaging at least once a day. In other words, we live there. On average, we use the text messaging app more than any other app on the phone, even 2x more than we use the phone to actually call people.; 

“But will customers want to subscribe to yet another marketing channel?”

Yes! SMS messaging gets a thumbs up from 75% of consumers receiving opt-in company messages.

Any restaurant that can connect to guests through their mobile phone text messaging app will find it to be the channel that their guests most readily adapt to since they are already there. 

Once the customer has opted in to receiving text messages from the brand, there’s nothing more for the customer to do but check out that incoming DING! on their already-installed text messaging app to see who is reaching out to them.

“But will our brand’s guests open the SMS message once they see it’s from us and not their son or their bestie?” 

Actually, yes. Research shows that SMS messages from companies are opened and read within 3 minutes roughly 90% of the time and most are read in under 5 seconds — especially useful if you have a time-sensitive message for them like promoting a lunch offer you are sending out 30 minutes before that daypart.

“Okay, but will our guests do more than just open the message — will they actually become more loyal?”

Actually, yes again. At least as measured by bounce-back visit rates and coupon offer redemption rates. 

  • Text messaging coupon offer redemption rates are 10 times higher than other digital channels.

  • Customers sent texts convert at a 40 percent higher rate than those not sent texts, according to Velocify

Adding text message marketing to the suite of media channels a brand owns and uses to stay connected to customers will broaden any campaign’s reach to increase visit frequency and spend, all while amassing valuable first-party data.

Strategies for using text message marketing to boost loyalty

Restaurants can use SMS marketing to reach consumers at just the right time with compelling cross-channel offers that: 

  • Entice guests to join your loyalty program

  • Link them directly to an online ordering system

  • Improve their off-premise dining experience

  • Drive them back into the restaurant more frequently

  • Boost spending per visit

Text message marketing platform considerations

Selecting a foodservice-focused, enterprise-grade text marketing platform provider is essential. Enterprise-grade means the platform will enable you to amass first-party data and attribute any lift in sales to your text campaign. You’ll be able to manage that data across channels for designing and operating a truly unified campaign. 

Foodservice-focused means that the provider’s platform will have the bandwidth and capabilities to match the unique campaign requirements of restaurants. Your provider should have amassed enormous amounts of restaurant-specific data regarding what works and what doesn’t work in digital marketing and can therefore function as a strategic partner, not just a platform.

And by building a treasure trove of valuable first-party data, brands have an asset they can build on over time, implementing other solutions designed to personalize communications, boost offers and promotions for maximum profitability, and optimize their media investments to generate profitable growth.

Get the Text Marketing Evaluation Checklist for Restaurants

What about Mobivity?

You would be in good company if you choose the Mobivity Unified Messaging platform. Some of the most recognized regional, national, and international foodservice brands have relied on it, including:

clientlogosubway clientlogosonic clientlogocheckers clientlogorallys clientlogospapaginos clientlogosdutchbrothers

Unified Mobile Messaging gives restaurant brands and other foodservice businesses the ability to easily create and manage a text club, including the ability to send different messages to different guests based on their purchase habits or other categories. The right platform will hedge your bets for a successful SMS mobile messaging marketing campaign and unify all your digital marketing efforts.



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