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Jun 19, 2012
Case Study

Email Marketing: 11% list growth turns branding promos into long-term investments for Tedís Montana Grill

SUMMARY: Marketing campaigns can be a flash in the pan. You spend resources, get a result and move on. However, you can design campaigns to pay off for months to come if you incorporate email list growth tactics.

Last year, Ted's Montana Grill strengthened its email database through three campaigns that promoted a new brand and menu. See how offline and online channels -- including mobile -- added 11% more subscribers, and convinced current recipients to update their contact information.
by Adam T. Sutton, Senior Reporter


Tedís Montana Grill had just updated its brand. The national restaurant chain has 44 locations in 16 states, and needed to show consumers its new style and menu.

Jessica Smith, Marketing Director at Tedís, planned three campaigns with her team in 2011. Each would use online and offline ads to drive traffic to a landing page that offered a coupon. The campaigns would
  • highlight new menu items (each campaign would feature a different set),

  • emphasize the new brand, and

  • drive incremental sales via the coupons.

However, Smith didnít want the three campaigns to be one-offs. She needed them to both drive immediate results and continue paying off in the months ahead.

"We wanted our media dollars to be an investment, long-term," she says.

She wanted to remarket to consumers after they responded. That way, the team could increase returns even after the campaigns had ended. Adding email registrations to the strategy seemed like a perfect solution.

"An additional email address is an additional member to our database, and we can communicate with them throughout the year," Smith says.


The marketing team designed the three campaigns to achieve two goals in addition to those mentioned above:
  • Attract new email subscribers

  • Get current subscribers to update their contact information

The team followed three steps in each of the campaigns:

Step #1. Create a campaign landing page

The teamís overall strategy was to encourage consumers to visit a landing page where they could view new menu items and sign up to receive a coupon. The team changed the page's featured items and offer in each campaign, but the strategy remained consistent.

Here are key features of the landing page and how they supported the campaignsí goals:

Images and branding

The right portion of the page included a large, high-quality image of a menu and a description. Smaller images of six products lined the bottom of the page, and could be clicked for a larger view.

These images -- as well as the logo, colors and other branded elements on the page -- introduced visitors to Tedís new brand and products.

Email capture form

To receive the coupon, visitors were asked to sign up for the teamís Big Sky email program. The page used a five-field form to request information:
  • First name

  • Last name

  • Email address

  • ZIP code

  • Preferred Tedís location

By integrating email registrations into the strategy, the team was able to build a list of new subscribers for later promotions.

Dynamic content

The team announced each campaign to its email database. The landing page detected visitors who arrived from these emails and adjusted its content. Instead of asking them to sign up, it asked current subscribers to update their contact information and to select a preferred Tedís location. It even pre-loaded their current information into the form.

Getting current subscribers to update their information strengthens the companyís database, helps the team deliver relevant content, and helps maintain strong delivery rates. Also, getting subscribers to select a preferred location enabled Tedís to segment its email marketing by this data point going forward.

Confirmation page

After submitting the form, visitors were shown a confirmation page with the following information:
  • "Thank you" message

  • Request to "follow" Tedís on Facebook

  • Button to find a nearby location

  • Featured menu items -- although they were featured last on the page, the images and descriptions of these items dominated the pageís content

This confirmation page encouraged visitors to continue their engagement with Tedís, and continued to emphasize the restaurantís new menu items.

Step #2. Drive traffic to the landing page

Many of the campaignís ads mentioned the coupon offer as an incentive. Others encouraged people to view menu items, such as Tedís new burgers. All the ads brought visitors to the campaign landing page.

Here are the key channels used to drive traffic to the page:

Newspaper ads and inserts -- the team advertised in newspapers that served regions with a Tedís location. The ads often included a nearby city name.

"We took a very local approach, both in the print investment and the digital investment," Smith says.

QR code -- many of the teamís offline ads included a 2D barcode and a call-to-action: "Scan the QR code with your phone to receive an exclusive offer." A different code was used in each region for tracking purposes.

Scanning the code brought visitors to a mobile landing page designed to render well on smartphones powered by iOS, Android and Blackberry operating systems. The landing page was a stripped-down version of the campaignís main landing page. It included the following features:
  • Call-to-action to sign up for Tedís email program to receive a coupon for a free order of onion rings

  • A five-field form

  • Product image

  • Sharing buttons

Online display ads -- the team ran banner ads on local websites, such as newspaper websites, in the target regions. Some ads promoted new menu items, such as Tedís new burgers, and others promoted the free offer.

Emails to database -- Tedís announced each campaign to its email subscribers. The layout of these emails adjusted in real time to the recipientsí devices, whether they were on a desktop or mobile device. The emails included messages and offers similar to those above, and brought visitors to the campaignsí landing page.

The team also tested whether this dynamic email improved results. In the first campaign, the team split its list and sent the groups different emails:
  • Email #1 -- standard email

  • Email #2 -- email that adjusted in real time to desktop and mobile devices

Looking at the results, the mobile-optimized email was a winner (see the results below). The team used its design from that point forward.

Social media -- the team also kept its audiences on Twitter and Facebook in the loop. The campaigns were mentioned on each social network, and followers of the company could take action by clicking to the landing page.

The team tested Facebook ads, but only used them initially.

"That was an experiment that we did in certain markets," Smith says. "We didnít really see a lot of activity with those, so we decided to pull them after the first campaign."

Step #3. Fulfill the offer via email

After people filled out the form, Tedís could have delivered the coupons on a confirmation page. However, the team decided to deliver them via email. Hereís why:
  • Weed out fakes -- some people enter false addresses, hoping to receive the coupon on a confirmation page. By delivering the coupons via email, the team created a barrier that prevented these people from gaming the campaign.

  • Welcome new subscribers -- the team allowed the email to serve as a welcome to new subscribers, giving them an immediate positive experience with Tedís emails. It also familiarized new subscribers with the email address and style they could expect in later messages.


"These were phenomenal results," Smith says.
  • Tedís email list grew 11% in 2011, due largely to these campaigns, she says. The year prior, the list had only grown 1%.

  • Tedís also increased its Facebook audience 57% in 2011, which brought its total number of "likes" up to more than 16,400.

  • The campaign drove more than 44,000 guests into a Tedís restaurant to redeem one of the offers.

  • 31% of the landing pageís conversions earned a new email subscriber.

"It is definitely significant growth for us," Smith says. "It is larger than we have experienced [before]."

Mobile email results

The teamís email test also showed good results. The message that adjusted for desktop and mobile devices had the following results compared to the standard message:
  • 11% higher clickthrough rate

  • 6.5% lift in primary conversion goal (fill out the landing page form)

  • 30% lift in secondary conversion goal (share the offer on a social network)

Creative Samples

  1. Campaign landing page

  2. Confirmation page

  3. Newspaper ads

  4. Newspaper inserts

  5. Mobile landing page

  6. Online display ads

  7. Emails to database

  8. Coupons delivered via email


BrightWave Marketing -- helped the team design and execute the campaign

Tedís Montana Grill

Related Resources

List Growth: 11% increase from sweepstakes for current subscribers

Email Research: Top 3 tactics to grow your list

List Growth: Viral sweepstakes boosts large email list more than 8%

Maximizing Email List Growth: How the New York Public Library drove a 52.8% lift in newsletter subscriptions

Email Marketing: The purpose of a subject line

See Also:

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