If there were an “Evolution of Mobile Marketing” chart, Tetherball would want to be known as the missing link. The Carmel, Ind.-based mobile marketing company launched a new radio frequency identification (RFID) loyalty platform on June 2, and client Dairy Queen is testing it with a franchisee in Rochester, Ind. If successful, the program could roll out in restaurants nationwide.
Dairy Queen customers who want to receive special offers opt for an RFID chip or Tetherball Tag, which is affixed to the phone like a sticker. Weekly specials for Blizzard Happy Hour deals or two-for-one Dilly bars, and such, are then sent out via text message. To redeem the coupon, customers’ RFID chips are scanned at a terminal at the restaurant. While no name or personal information is shared with the companies, a member’s buying behavior is tracked through an ID number assigned to each phone, so future customer offers can be tailored to specific menu items, time of visit or other purchase data.
Despite the growth of such mobile marketing tactics as coupons, sweepstakes, notifications and loyalty programs, the inability to measure effectiveness and deal with fraud have helped hinder it. With RFID, marketers can track their messages and cut down on counterfeit coupons.
“That’s a big thing for an operator, people forwarding coupons, real-time voiding,” said Jamie Guse, visual manager for Dairy Queen. “It attracted me and the franchisee to give this a try.” While he’s impressed with the redemption rates and believes “there’s a lot you can do with mobile marketing,” Guse also said it requires a lot of consumer involvement. He’s waiting to see if Dairy Queen diners are willing to expend the effort and, ultimately, whether deals will drive traffic to the test store.
“RFID loyalty programs create one-on-one, permission-based relationships,” said Jay Highley, Tetherball’s president/COO. “We can’t be too irreverent or they’ll just text the word, ‘Stop’ and poof, we can’t send any more messages.”
The text messages can alert members on everything from new store hours to special deals. About 25 percent of Dairy Queen customers responded to a free Blizzard offer and signed up for the RFID service. Currently, Dairy Queen gets a 10 to 15 percent redemption rate on its weekly offers. Highley says research shows that about 94 percent of those who sign up stay in a Tetherball Tag program for a year or more.
While McDonald’s is also a client, Highley wouldn’t say whether it’s going to test Tetherball Tag–only that many clients are interested in the emerging technology.