Charley’s Boosts SMS Campaign Participation By 900%

As of July 2012, more than half (55.5%) of mobile subscribers own a smartphone, according to Nielsen, which is a substantial increase from 41% during July 2011. Some merchants are considering the benefits of using mobile apps to engage consumers, but what about feature phone users? Short Message Service (SMS), or text message marketing, is an effective way to instantly communicate with shoppers at all times, whether they have a smartphone or feature phone. 

One merchant recently uncovered substantial benefits from reaching out to customer via SMS. Charley’s Grilled Subs — a restaurant chain specializing in cheese steak sandwiches — has successfully increased engagement among customers and overall purchases as part of the brand’s newest SMS-focused initiative called: “Charley’s Philly Steak Blitz,” reported Ben LaPlaca, Creative Director of Charley’s, in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. Since the first SMS campaign in 2011, Charley’s has increased participation by more than 900%.

For fall 2012, Charley’s chose a particularly active time period for the promotion.  “Given the time of year — football season — we know a ton of our customers are engaged in the sport,” LaPlaca said. “We wanted to run a promotion that was sports based, infused gaming, but still allowed us to drive traffic to our locations. By using SMS, our on-the-go consumers can participate with our brand and interact with the contest, helping us boost purchases and obtain data on our customers.” 


To participate in “Charley’s Philly Steak Blitz,” consumers receive a unique entry code every time they complete a purchase. By entering the number via text message and providing an email address, players will experience a digital simulation of a football game by either “running,” “tricking” or “passing” plays. Points are rewarded with every action, and players also receive an additional 100 points for every “touchdown” scored. Customers with the most points at the end of the campaign in mid-November will receive a variety of prizes, including cash rewards and Charley’s gift cards.

Obtaining Detailed Shopper Profiles

By using SMS, Charley’s is able to gather more in-depth data around shoppers, including their mobile phone numbers and email addresses. The merchant also has been able to extend the “Philly Steak Blitz” campaign to other channels, such as social media, to increase participation even further. 

“Our customers interact with us across multiple channels, including email, social media and through mobile devices,” LaPlaca said. “We wanted to create a platform to tie all networks together, creating unified, in-depth customer profiles so we can monitor and interact with our customers based on their unique preferences.”

 With this influx of data in tow, Charley’s now can establish 360-degree profiles of all customers, their purchasing patterns and the locations they frequent, LaPlaca reported. “Using any kind of mobile technology — especially customized, unique coding — allows us to get a lot of great analytics on customers,” he said. “We also can track the progress of specific locations, and see how this campaign is influencing sales. All these factors are beneficial to helping our business grow.”

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