Dairy Queen serves up relevant offers to keep Blizzard fans coming back for more

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Dairy Queen gained nearly one million Blizzard Fan Club members via hyper-customized emails
Dairy Queen gained nearly one million Blizzard Fan Club members via hyper-customized emails

Client: American Dairy Queen Corporation
Agency: space150 and Silverpop

Objective: To grow Dairy Queen's Blizzard Fan Club, boost in-store sales, and improve customer service for fan club members

No matter how loyal customers are to a particular brand, they're more likely to socialize brand-related content when offered an attractive, clear-cut incentive. It's a concept some marketers overlook—but not Dairy Queen, says Loren McDonald, VP of industry relations at Silverpop.

“Marketers need to find out what their ‘ice cream' is—no pun intended—as in, what is it about the brand that people will actually want to share,” he says. “That's the beauty and the value of what Dairy Queen was able to do; they know what their ice cream is; their ice cream is their ice cream.”

Armed with this knowledge, Dairy Queen set out to increase its Blizzard Fan Club base while simultaneously giving members an extra scoop of customer service. To do that, the brand reached out to its digital agency space150, which in turn tapped email marketing platform Silverpop Engage.

“The goal is to make the entire database work harder,” says Matt O'Laughlin, associate media director at space150. “There are two ways to look at it: You can spend more money to acquire more people at the current click-through rate, or you can look more inward and see how to optimize what you currently have to make it work harder—we did both.”

That inward view included targeting the more than 2,000 fan club members who call Dairy Queen's customer service line with coupon-related queries each month. The brand worked closely with Silverpop to build an email lookup system that helps the customer service team easily verify and track coupon distribution.

STRATEGY: Space150 harnessed the power of social sharing through a series of simple initiatives with clear calls-to-action. One effort, dubbed Customer Appreciation Day, endeavored to drive traffic to Dairy Queen locations throughout January, a month during which, for obvious reasons, fewer patrons are in the market for ice cream. Local franchises that opted into the push were given a choice of three “Buy One, Get One” (BOGO) email offers to send to local Blizzard Fan Club members. The content of each email was hyper-customized to the recipient using relational tables, which enables Dairy Queen to construct detailed customer profiles for each email address in its database.

When summer rolled around, Dairy Queen launched its summer BOGO series, aiming to increase the number of coupon prints via email. Fan Club members were encouraged to recruit their friends to join the club in deference to Dairy Queen's “Summer Is Better Together” tag line. To help the offer go viral, the company used Silverpop's Share-to-Social feature to give Blizzard lovers the ability to share the summer BOGO offer on Facebook.

Creating “simple, intuitive, and obvious” interfaces for users is critical, Silverpop's McDonald says.

“Everything we do for analog or digital is about how easy it is for people to complete the thing you want them to do,” he says. “People are used to sharing, and whether it's retweeting or sharing on Facebook or posting to a Pinterest board, you should make their experience on email similar to that—it's the key to getting them to actually click links.”

RESULTS: Post-campaign, the numbers have been tasty for Dairy Queen. As a direct result of the seasonal BOGO coupon push, Dairy Queen grew its fan club by nearly one million members in nine months to roughly four million as of this writing, jumping 22% over the initial goal.

The Customer Appreciation emails garnered a 37% open rate and 83%  click-through rate, and the summer series emails exceeded Dairy Queen's previous coupon print rate by 37%.

“This push drove the most visits in the history of DairyQueen.com the day the coupon was sent,” O'Laughlin says. “It was a big deal for us to…show franchises and corporate that we can do impactful things digitally.”

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