Taco Bell unveils mobile strategy during IAB keynote
NEW YORK - Fast-food chains have realized that mobile has to be an integral part of their marketing mix, and Taco Bell's increasing investment in mobile is a case-in-point.
While the quick-service restaurant giant still invests heavily in traditional media -- especially television advertising -- mobile is becoming an bigger and bigger element of Taco Bell's marketing strategy, with the roll out of a mobile site, mobile apps and mobile advertising campaigns. Danielle Wolfson, senior associate manager of interactive marketing for Taco Bell, Irvine, CA, announced that Taco Bell will be rolling out a new application for BlackBerry devices and adding its full menu to existing apps in the future during her keynote presentation at the IAB Marketplace - Mobile event.
"Mobile has become increasingly important for us to target our out-and-about customers, whether it's late night or on the way to work," Ms. Wolfson said. "Mobile complements our core TV advertising, helping us stay connected to consumers from the couch to the car on their way to the store.
"Mobile is an important tool to get to consumers wherever they are to influence a purchase decision and help them find a local Taco Bell," she said. "Our strategy is to provide utility to our customers with Taco Bell locations and store hours via their mobile devices, driving them to our restaurants."
A subsidiary of Yum Brands Inc., Taco Bell is a quick-serve restaurant chain specializing in Mexican-style food such as tacos, burritos, quesadillas and nachos.
Yum is a Fortune 500 corporation that operates or licenses Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut and Long John Silver's restaurants worldwide, as well as A&W Restaurants in the U.S.
Taco Bell noticed consumers trying to access its wired Web site, which is Flash-enables, on their mobile devices, so the company recognized the need to launch a mobile site.
Phase one of the mobile site rolled out in February, with a store locator, information about the hours specific locations are open, nutritional information, allergen data and a partial menu, which has attracted 50 percent of total page views.
"Every five weeks or so we have new products, so we promote them on consumers' phones and we update the sites," Ms. Wolfson said. "Our goal is to provide the same functionality on all of our mobile platforms by adapting our mobile site to any device.
"Every five weeks we change our marketing creative and update our Web sites and apps," she said. "We optimize as we go, so our mobile platforms are really not static at all."
Taco Bell's mobile site includes versions optimized specifically for the iPhone and RIM's BlackBerry.
Phases 2 and 3 of the rollout, which Taco Bell expects to be completed by the end of the summer, feature free ringtones, a full menu and a function allowing consumers to locate the nearest Taco Bell automatically via their phone's GPS positioning, as opposed to having to enter their ZIP code or address.
Taco Bell has used its mobile site to complement its TV and in-store advertising for various promotions, including mobile Web placements promoting its Teen Foundation, urging visitors to give for graduation day to help teens graduate.
"Mobile is a great way to communicate with consumers, because everyone has a phone," Ms. Wolfson said. "We're using GPS technology to help get consumers to our stores.
"People always ask how to use mobile to drive sales, and you can't get any more effective than that, giving people directions to the nearest Taco Bell on their handset," she said. "Location-based services are really important for us, and GPS becomes very important when people are out and about."
As for metrics, Taco Bell reports that Apple traffic accounts for 53 percent of users accessing mobile stie, with the iPhone representing 40 percent and the iPod touch 13 percent.
BlackBerry devices account for 27 percent of Taco Bell's mobile Web traffic, making the second most popular platform. The T-Mobile G1 with Google represents 7 percent of traffic.
Taco Bell owns the short code TBELL and has used SMS for mapping inquiries via TacoBell.com and marketing, urging consumers to text in for in-store promotions such as Free Taco Day.
"We can ask consumers to opt in via an SMS, text in and get this, but it has to be more around a marketing campaign," Ms. Wolfson said. "We want to make sure we're focused on providing a utility for consumers, not annoying them.
"We want our mobile initiatives to be convenient to each consumer's lifestyle, but not forcing messaging on them," she said.
Downloadable applications also represent a huge part of Taco Bell's evolving mobile strategy.
As a mobile component to its "Why Pay More" promotion, Taco Bell launched the "Why Pay More Shaker" iPhone application, which calculates the various 79, 89 and 99 cent items on the restaurant's value menu (see story). GPS functionality for the app went live yesterday.
The iPhone application was created by the Hyperfactory, and the company is developing a similar app for BlackBerry, which will be scrollable instead of shakable.
Taco Bell has been promoting the app via a mobile advertising campaign on AdMob's network of publishers.
"People know we have a wired Web site, and they find it, but there are so many apps in the App Store, so consumers may not know that Taco Bell has an app," Ms. Wolfson said. "We're using mobile ads to get the message out and provide the opportunity to reengage with consumers.
"Also, when they see that an update for the app is available, that's another opportunity to reengage with people," she said. "We did tracking with the AdMob campaign, so we know how many people clicked through and how many have downloaded the app.
"We're looking at longevity, providing utility for consumers and letting people catch on to our mobile platforms, and using mobile to remind people who may have forgotten about the great value we have to offer."