arbyRBJust read a great article about mobile marketing for a restaurant in Oklahoma (

It made me think, with everybody and their brother trying out different campaigns that are designed to engage mobile users, what is actually working, and what is just fluff?

So, simply as an observation…

Hands down, the best use of mobile marketing that I have experienced so far is from Arby’s. Back during the Brew Crew season, they aired a commercial that said something along the lines of “Text ‘roastburger’ to short code 54321 to get your very own free roastburger!”

I couldn’t get the phone out of my pocket fast enough.

A few reasons why this is notable:

  1. I go to Arby’s about once every year. Come to think of it thats probably on the high side. Wendy’s on the other hand…
  2. I had not ever had a Roastburger before.
  3. I had never fallen victim to a mobile marketing campaign before.
  4. Like most people, I am EXTREMELY protective of my cell phone number – because I’ve seen what happens when you share your email address.

So I text in the phrase to the shortcode, and I get a response that says “Show this text to the cashier at your Arby’s and get your free Roastburger, with the purchase of a drink.” Like a good obedient marketing statistic, I go to my local Arby’s, show them the text, and sure enough I get a free Roastburger with no hassle whatsoever.

All in all, the Roastburger was pretty darn good. It probably cost them about $1.50 at their cost for the sandwich, but even that was offset by me having to buy a drink.

So that was at least six months ago. I haven’t been back to Arby’s since, and I haven’t received any followup whatsoever from them (phew). Even though they didn’t turn me into a new loyal customer, at the very least the found a creative way to generate the opportunity to to find loyal customers and new business. That’s what made it so successful, they didn’t focus on generating revenue, but focused on generating opportunity.

The execution of the remainder of their campaign is questionable at best. There was no request for follow up, no email subscription options, nothing. They had this wealth of opportunity for creating new loyal customers, and they dropped the ball.

Moral of the story: Mobile (SMS) Marketing is INCREDIBLY powerful, but you need to have the right message, and the right call to action. I don’t need to get updates on my phone about your employee of the month, because that lacks the spontaneity and urgency that the SMS platform should be used for. BUT - if you want to text me about free curly fries for anybody who comes by for lunch today, I’ll see you there at 12:01.