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Johnny Rockets taps mobile marketing for personalized messages and offers

International restaurant chain Johnny Rockets is biting into mobile with a new mobile marketing strategy that includes SMS to better communicate with its customers.

Johnny Rockets is working with Tega Technologies’ Tegamobile division to integrate SMS, email and voice mobile marketing software. The strategy will enable the restaurant chain to delivery fully-automated campaigns, discount coupons and special event notifications to its customers based on their dining and location preferences.

“Johnny Rockets, with their use of email, text and voice, is taking a fairly low-tech approach, at least with this implementation,” said Brennan Hayden, vice president at Wireless Developer Agency, East Lansing, MI. “It appears the number one goal is to drive business into the restaurant. 

“They are using truly ubiquitous technology, rather than opting for the smartphone application route,” he said. “This approach is suggestive of the incredible range of options available when going mobile.

“So, if you look at the full range of mobile engagement possibilities, it would be shocking to see any restaurant that does not pick something from the mobile menu this year.”

Mr. Hayden is not affiliated with Johnny Rockets or TegaMobile and commented based on his experience on the subject.

Taking mobile seriously
Johnny Rockets will also use TegaMobile’s URClients  mobile marketing software to promote membership in its Rocket e-Club and incorporate SMS at major sporting events to reward responders with coupons for a free milkshake or burger.

This is not Johnny Rockets first move in mobile. In 2010, the chain celebrated its 25th anniversary with a marketing effort that lets consumers text to win a trip to Antigua or Jamaica from Grand Pineapple Beach Resorts and opt-in to receive future marketing messages (see story).

The news comes at a time when many restaurants are discovering the power of mobile to engage their customers, drive sales and build loyalty.

Burger chain Five Guys Burgers & Fries recently boosted repeat orders by using a credit card-on-file feature allowing customers to easily and securely place online orders via mobile or Web (see story).

Chili’s Grill & Bar recently introduced a new mobile app that lets users find nearby locations, get driving directions, view an updated menu and place orders with just the push of a few buttons (see story).

Applebee’s recently introduced a new Digital Gift Cards initiative that lets consumers buy and send personalized gift cards through its online, mobile and Facebook channels (see story).

There are 300 Johnny Rockets restaurants in 30 states and 16 countries. The restaurants serve classic American fare such as hamburgers, fries, onion rings and ice cream.

“I believe Five Guys was the pioneer in this space, with their apps for ordering online and pickup,” Mr. Hayden said. “The success of their efforts compels anyone in the specialty fast-food business to take mobile marketing seriously.”

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York