Mobile Commerce Daily is now Retail Dive: Mobile Commerce! Click here to learn more!

Old Chicago’s football challenge gets mobile makeover to drive retention

By repositioning its popular pen-and-paper game, called Beat the Leader, for mobile users, the chain is extending the reach of the revenue-driving game while driving traffic to its 90-plus locations. The online game, which was built as a responsive Web application, enables customers to log on weekly and challenge each other with a winner selection and win/loss confidence ranking system.

“Based on the user insights that were gathered from last year’s platform we invested in a UX revamp going into this season,” said Eric Dieter, co-founder of Movement Strategy.

“Mobile usage was on the rise last season and already this season we’re seeing over 50 percent of users, approximately 6,000, coming through their tablet or mobile device,” he said. “It was extremely important to plan and design for this trend.

“While the UX redesign was the main overhaul, significant improvements were made on the management side to streamline the process of identifying winners, sending notifications to participants, and managing accounts from an admin level. This improvement alone has drastically reduced time of staff required to handle the program.”

Old Chicago worked with Movement Strategy to deploy the digital platform.

Real-time rewards
Customers can sign up for the game at by registering with a Facebook account or email address and picking the location at which they want to compete. Players pick their winners and assign a confidence score every week. Those posting the top score win a $25 gift certificate to Old Chicago and anyone beating the leader gets a free appetizer.

Beyond weekly picks, the platform gives users the ability to challenge friends through social media, provides a real-time national ranking and reward system.

At the end of the contest, the outright national champion will win a trip to a professional football game next season.

With the bigger mobile focus, Old Chicago is hoping to increase retention and gain important usage information.

“With the improvements to the mobile experience we’re aiming for a 90 percent retention rate week over week – meaning users are returning to make picks and view leaderboards,” Mr. Dieter said. “In 2013 this was just over 70 percent.

“With a very simple interface that only requires a click and arrange action from the user, making picks on a mobile device requires about 50 percent less time,” he said.

“This is very much so an in-restaurant experience and we’ve accounted for that with the redesign and addition of digital leaderboards in each location. The idea is that users will compete through the platform but come into the restaurants to socialize with their fellow competitors, redeem coupons they’ve won, watch games and brag, of course.”

Digital extension
The digital platform is an extension of the restaurant group’s longstanding pen-and-paper challenge, which has always been a large revenue driver and centerpiece of Old Chicago’s annual activation around NFL season.

However, the pen-and-paper format meant it had a limited reach.

The Beat The Leader Web game debuted last season and saw 15,000 participants in over 90 Old Chicago locations engage with the game, resulting in more than 1 million picks making it through the platform.

“Game data is pulled into the application through a feed provided by the NFL, so users are able to adjust their weekly picks until the game begins,” Mr. Dieter said. “Once kickoff occurs, users can no longer adjust the pick for that game.

“Once games are over for the week, leaderboards are updated,” he said. “Users can see their standing in the store, against everyone participating in Beat The Leader and are notified if they’ve won that week.

“Coupons are distributed to winners via email and each week on Tuesday notifications are sent out to all participants to make their picks for the upcoming week.”

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