26 May 2014

McDonald's educates and converts through mobile marketing

McDonald’s is thinking of new ways to engage the customer on a long-term basis with mobile marketing. Its Surprise Alarm app not only helps people get out of bed every morning, but also gets people to the restaurants to actually buy something, said Andrew Knott, Vice President, Media & Digital, McDonald’s during the Mobile Marketing Association Forum 2014 in Singapore.

The secret to the hit app, which made it to no. 1 on both the Apple App Store and on the Google Play store, is an offer every morning. It could be a cash prize, or a free treat that is stored in a digital wallet to like, share or redeem. “There is more incentive to head to a McDonald's for redemption,” said Knott. “It remembers what you like so it can tailor what it offers.”

In two months, McDonald’s was able to garner 15% of the smartphone population in Singapore, and 90% of those who downloaded the app actually activated it. The company saw a 15% redemption rate for the offers, which are only valid for a 24-hour period.

Ad on a table at a McDonald's in Singapore
Knott said the potential has moved from a campaign approach to a platform for on-going engagement, suggesting that there might be tieups with music companies for the morning alarm part of the app. 

Apps do not have to be dry when they provide information, either. Knott shared that the Track my Macca’s app used augmented reality to recognise the food that had been ordered, consults supply chain information and then transforms dining tables into cartoon villages in order to deliver customised information to the user by his or her location. “It is a good way to tell our nutritional story in a very transparent way and also in a compelling way,” he said.

For McDonald’s, mobile does not standalone but is complemented by other channels. “Mobile is a critical part of our future journey as a brand but TV will play a significant role,” he said. For example, McDonald’s through its mobile commerce partnership with NTT DoCoMo, which began letting DoCoMo subscribers buy food from the restaurant chain by using their mobile phones in 2007, has captured tens of millions of names from their delivery service. 

“We’re leveraging the data on a campaign basis, and populating it across all our platforms,” Knott said.