Sundrop loyalty program integrates Facebook to promote restaurants

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Sundrop Systems, an Orlando, FL-based text messaging service provider, is integrating social media into its LoyalTXT program by using Facebook Connect. The program, which creates and builds marketing databases, is promoting a client base mostly comprised of local and chain restaurants, as well as retail stores.

Previously, the initiative placed its call to action on restaurant table cards, asking diners to text a five-digit number to join a loyalty program. However, Travis Priest, president and CEO of Sundrop, said the strategy wasn't effective for building databases.

“I think, for the consumer, this felt too much like marketing,” he said. “The call to action felt like a hard sell.”

Sundrop revised the initiative so that a restaurant employee can ask a customer for his or her cell phone number to join the program. The employee then enters it into the business' point of sale system, at which time a text is sent to the consumer. The message prompts the recipient to respond with an e-mail address to complete registration.

The branded e-mail contains offers from the business and drives users to LoyalTXT's Facebook application. Once the user grants permission, LoyalTXT can post reward notices, birthday gifts and other offers directly to the user's Facebook wall.

Karren Gilzen, owner of an Orlando franchise of Indigos Fruit Smoothies, said he's used LoyalTXT for two months and has added nearly 1,400 cell phone numbers and e-mail addresses to his database.

“Facebook will open up the business to the friends of regular customers who might not have ever stepped foot inside,” he said.

Indigos is launching the Facebook element of its campaign on September 14, offering anyone who becomes a fan of the company a free smoothie.

Priest said Facebook makes the program more viral.

“It's a simple way for consumers to opt in to an application they're interested in,” he said. “If someone sees that their friends are also interested, they're more likely to click. Integrating Facebook was the next logical step for us.”

Priest said the effort's goal is to ultimately create a loyalty program that utilizes e-mail, mobile, social media and direct mail. He added that consumers are often skeptical about these types of programs, so LoyalTXT gives incentives to participate. For example, if the promotion is to visit a restaurant five times to receive a free sandwich, the consumer might get extra “credits” by providing his or her gender or home address to more quickly receive rewards.

“When customers are provided real rewards quickly, they realize this isn't a bogus program, and they're likely to have repeat behavior,” he said.

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