Rewards Network optimizes multiple sites for mobile while remaining nimble
By Chantal Tode
February 14, 2014
The iDine mobile site
Dining rewards program iDine saw an increase in mobile visits, page views per visit and enrollments as well as a drop in site abandonment and bounce rates after optimizing its Web site for multiple mobile devices, including tablets.
IDine’s parent company Rewards Network, which also powers the dining rewards programs for leading airline and hotel brands such as American Airlines and Hilton, was looking for a way to easily add mobile features to its numerous Web sites and also leverage existing assets. Recognizing the significant impact that mobile is having on how consumers make dining decisions, the company leveraged Trilibis’ SNOW framework to handle all code and layout optimization on the Web servers so that only those assets required by the target device are served.
“It was no small effort, but definitely worth it given what we are seeing in terms of our members and overall people who are looking for restaurants,” said Kara Walsh, chief marketing officer at Rewards Network, Chicago.
“Everything related to restaurants has gone so mobile, with more than 95 percent of smartphone users doing restaurant searches on their phone,” she said. “There is a very high conversion to dines, and conversions to dines within a day, so we put a lot of importance on this.
“Let’s do this in a way that we are not building out a huge mobile team within our midsize company to then find out what kind of impact it has,” Ms. Walsh said. “Let’s do something more nimble, see what impact it has and then that can help us make better decisions about staffing up a big mobile team.”
Leveraging existing assets
Mobile and tablet optimized Web sites for iDine and Rewards Network’s 10 largest brand partners were launched last summer.
Before the mobile Web project, Rewards Network was already seeing significant traffic coming from mobile devices for iDine, which has three million members, and on the Web sites it powers for various brand partners. However, bounce rates were high and enrollment rates were low on mobile.
Leveraging Trilibis’ framework, Rewards Network took its existing back-end architecture and assets for its Web sites, then added mobile-specific features.
The Trilibis framework is independent of the back-end and handles all code and layout optimization on the Web servers. It is able to override the existing Web site in order to show different elements to mobile users.
Using one codebase, Rewards Network can now deliver an optimized browser experience on a wide range of handsets and tablets while simultaneously minimizing the size and number of assets sent to specific devices, thereby reducing page-load times.
Dining discovery process
The goal of the project was to ensure that no matter where members physically are or where they are in the process of choosing a dining experience, the Web experience meets their needs.
“Our immediate priority and what we worked with Trilibis on is let’s make sure that we are covered in each of those scenarios,” Ms. Walsh said. “That they have an experience that is going to meet their needs, that they are not going to bounce off if they are looking to sign up for the program.
“That is why we saw really good success,” she said. “You can see that in just a dramatically decreased bounce rate and a dramatic increase in enrollments on mobile devices.
“Before I think we were losing what would have been an increasing opportunity as all of the dining discovery process and decisions have moved to mobile, we would have just been losing out more and more.”
Within one month of adding Trilibis’ SNOW technology, iDine saw mobile visits increase 66 percent and page views per visit increase 68 percent. The company also reports a two-fold increase in new mobile member enrollments.
The results were similar across Rewards Networks’ sites for its brand partners.
Going forward, Rewards Network plans to focus on more on delivering offers to members based on their location.
“I think we have done a lot of good work to be a helpful tool for our members to find out what’s nearby and make their dining decisions,” Ms. Walsh said. “What we are not doing yet and what’s important on the roadmap this year, is more actively pushing to them offers from our restaurants based on where they are, based on what we’ve seen in their behaviors.”
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York
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