6 SMS Marketing Campaigns That Delivered Serious ROI

6 minute read

Upland Admin

Update June 27, 2016: Restaurant marketers, be sure to visit our Restaurant landing page for more information.

What’s the one thing that is never more than an arm’s length away, is always on, and causes intense anxiety when it goes inexplicably missing? Hint: you speak into it and it’s not a Talkboy… Ok, it’s your phone, you got it. By now, we are all well aware that we are absolutely obsessed with our phones. Every day, brands take advantage of this dependency to reach their consumers on the device that’s basically a 5th limb.

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If you’re unconvinced of the ROI of mobile marketing, today’s your day. From fast food restaurants to skin care brands to animal advocacy and family entertainment places, SMS marketing reaches customers and delivers results. Below are 6 incredible SMS marketing campaigns with serious ROI.

1) Carl’s Jr.

Carl’s Jr. is a quick service restaurant with more than 1,300 locations worldwide. With a billion different food options, Carl’s Jr. knew that it needed to find a way to reach hungry and impatient customers before they went elsewhere. What’s the best way to compete with other QSRs (Quick Service Restaurants) during the hot Summer months? Easy. SMS marketing. Carl’s Jr. created a limited-time offer for a burger and fries combo for only $2.99 instead of the usual $6.00. In almost no time, 20% of Carl’s Jr.’s opted-in customers redeemed their unique code at restaurants. For every $1 spent on the actual SMS campaign, Carl’s Jr. made $14 in new sales. It’s clear that short, time-sensitive offers deliver serious results.

2) Kiehl’s

Kiehl’s was founded in 1851 as a pharmacy operating in the East Village of NYC on 13th street. Since then, Kiehl’s has grown to over 250 stores worldwide, sells their products in high-end department stores, and has an online shop. Even after all of these advancements, Kiehl’s knew there was still a lot of business left on the table. Kiehl’s piloted a six month mobile marketing campaign with incredible results. Customers could sign up for the SMS campaign and receive 3 location-specific offers per month by texting KIEHLS to the short code advertised or by signing up and entering their phone number on the Kiehl’s website. After the pilot program ended, Kiehl’s learned that over 73% of the opted-in customers made a purchase as a result of receiving messages, and 81% filled out a survey to provide the brand with valuable feedback to improve the campaign.

3) Chuck E. Cheese’s

A loved and noteworthy brand among kids and adults alike, Chuck E. Cheese’s is the place where a kid can be a kid and an adult can sit down and watch their children be entertained by an anthropomorphic mouse. With over 500 locations, Chuck E. Cheese’s wanted to increase sign-ups for their email loyalty program by utilizing the power and ubiquity of SMS. Instead of relying on their pen and paper sign-up sheet, patrons were prompted to text their email address to the shortcode and join the Email Club. This new sign-up method accounted for 5% of the total daily sign-ups. Furthermore, the customers that opted-in to the program by text message, opened emails 10-20% more and clicked coupons 8-10% more than those that signed up using the sign-up sheet.

4) Redbox

When it comes to SMS marketing mastery, this automated video rental service is queen. During the holiday season, Redbox relied on the effectiveness of SMS to increase their Instagram followers by sending a link via SMS with the lure of finding out a special discount code. Using SMS to promote other channels makes so much sense due to its near perfect open rate and 36% average click rate. Another successful campaign involved their “10 Days of Deals” holiday promotion. During the ten days leading up to the holidays, Redbox encouraged customers to text DEALS to the shortcode for the chance to save between .10 and $1.50 off their rentals. The campaign was promoted to the brand’s 3 million followers on Facebook and 33 million email subscribers. Within just 10 days, 400,000 different customers participated in the campaign, producing over 1.5 million SMS messages.

5) peta2

Peta2 knows a thing or two about inspiring action and fostering change. When it came time to marketing their “Animals Don’t Smoke” initiative at Warped Tour, they knew SMS was the answer to accomplishing their goals. Concert goers texted BUTT to the shortcode and received an instant win message with directions to visit a booth at the concert and redeem their prize. Once opted-in, the attendee received a message asking the person to reply Y if they wanted the FDA to stop cigarette testing on animals. Over 25,000 people texted in to not only receive a free prize, but also to easily advocate for an important cause.

6) Texas Roadhouse

This national steakhouse chain launched a mobile loyalty program and within one year, accumulated over 60,000 new subscribers that receive location-specific offers and alerts. The restaurant infers that their mobile loyalty club members are their most loyal customers based on coupon redemptions and response rates. As a gift for enrolling in the program, customers received a free appetizer for their next visit. Texas Roadhouse customizes the notification experience by giving customers the option of receiving notifications via email, SMS, or both. Over six months, Texas Roadhouse experienced a 17% redemption rate for the sign-up offer and only 2.3% of the list opted out after the offer was redeemed.

That’s a wrap. If  you’re looking for a solution to help increase revenue, traffic, customers, and brand loyalty, while delivering a serious ROI, look no further than SMS marketing. Ready to create your own campaign? Check out our eBook on how to find the best SMS marketing provider.

How to select an sms provider//


Saettler, Michelle. “Texas Roadhouse Finds Mobile Loyalty Members are Biggest Brand Advocates.” Mobile Commerce Daily. 9 May 2014

Johnson, Laura. “Carl’s Jr. Franchise SMS Offer Generates 17pc Redemption Rate.” Mobile Commerce Daily. 26 August 2013.

“Chuck E. Cheese’s Increases Email Sign Ups Through the Mobile Channel.” Common Short Code Administration. http://www.usshortcodes.com/sms-marketing-case-studies/csc-case-study-chuckecheese.php#.VXhVv1xVikp

Hutzler, Kayla. “Kiehl’s Drivers Customers to Brick-and-Mortar with SMS.” Luxury Daily. 27 July 2011.

Kats, Rimma. “Redbox Reaches 1.3M SMS Messages During Mobile Promotion.” Mobile Marketer. 6 June 2011.

Johnson, Derek. “30 Mobile Marketing Case Studies You Need to Bookmark.” Tatango. 23 May 2014.

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