Much has been written about the benefits of location-based services for small businesses, but national chains are no stranger to mobile technologies. And Fast food chains are taking note as consumers adapt to new mobile practices.
With mobile apps, text to order service and location based marketing messages, fast food companies are learning that mobile is very good for business.
A recent study from comScore and Yellow Pages found that local business search on the mobile Web grew 14% from March 2009 to 2010, and that mobile "unlocks a younger, wealthier user base to advertisers."
Fast food companies that moved into the mobile space early on have reaped the benefits. For example, Pizza Hut has offered mobile orders via SMS, its mobile website and an iPhone app since 2009.
According to Pizza Hut CMO Brian Niccol:
“[In the future, I see mobile] accounting for almost 50 percent of our orders.”
Pizza Hut also numbers among a handful of national chains that have partnered with Foursquare. Others include Chili's Grill & Bar, Papa John's and Starbucks.
Meanwhile, fast food joints have also had a lot of success on social media games. According to AdAge:
"Quick-service chains Subway, McDonald's, Starbucks and Burger King have the most unique check-ins on MyTown, a location-based game with more than 3 million users that provided the data."
People may not gain social points for checking into fast food places on a service like Foursquare, but there are plenty of other incentives to engage with those companies in mobile and social media.
Noah Glass, CEO of GoMobo, tells AdAge:
"I think people are checking in to fast-food places either because they think they are cool or are trying to score points. Or, more and more these days, people get benefits or direct incentives for checking in."
National chains have more chances to accrue check-ins on location-based services and social media games than small businesses. Meanwhile, services like ShopAlerts are starting to send out marketing texts to people as they walk near stores to get them to come inside.
Such services only connect with customers who opt in, but they are more passive than most mobile marketing, meaning people receive the messages whether they're using a service or not. And such methods are particularly effective for national chains, that may have stores in locations their customers are unaware of.