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Chipotle leads the way in cross-promoting SMS services

Resources & Blog

Chipotle leads the way in cross-promoting SMS services

Consumers want more SMS

SMS marketing is one of the fastest ways to get in front of your customers and instantly grab their attention. Over 70% of people say that SMS improved their overall experience of a business and 64% of customers believe businesses should use SMS messages to interact much more than they currently do. So, we aren't surprised that big brands are using text messaging to connect and increase brand awareness.

One brand that is leading the way when it comes to SMS is Chipotle. The fast food chain, which is highly popular in the US, specialises in Mexican cuisine with a fast-casual setting. With over 6.5 million followers across major social platforms like Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, and Twitter, Chipotle is one of the best brands for understanding the type of content that their fans want. What's most impressive, is how they cross-promote their SMS club, in-store deals, and other promotions via their social channels.

Chipotle's 'Boorito' Event

This year, Chipotle will be hosting its annual 'Boorito' Halloween celebration as an all-digital event. Approximately 500,000 mobile users will be offered the chance to receive individual codes that can be redeemed in exchange for a buy-one, get-one-free coupon. In order to receive this offer, customers must interact with each of Chipotle's social media accounts across Instagram, Twitter and TikTok. Special keywords will be posted across each channel that viewers must then text to 888-222 when prompted.

Pivoting For COVID-19

By going all-digital, the fast-food chain is hoping to avoid over-crowding within its restaurants in response to the pandemic. COVID 19 has put a halt on all of Chipotle's seasonal traditions, such as costume contests and trick-or-treating, however, they have found a new way to celebrate the scariest night of the year and raise their Halloween marketing efforts. The pandemic has had a wide-spread effect on all fast-food chains. Yet, Chipotle has stepped in the right direction by changing its marketing strategy.

While fans won't be able to celebrate in-person, Chipotle's new campaign still encourages brand interaction and social engagement. This year, the campaign focuses on getting customers to make a purchase for delivery via the app rather than ordering in-store. By taking this option, they have shown great adjustment in pivoting due to the circumstances.

Chipotle's Love Of SMS

Using SMS to engage with customers isn't a new trend for Chipotle. Over the last ten years, they've launched many successful campaigns that use text messaging. Typically, these campaigns focus on major events such as sports finals, public holidays, and festivals.

A great example is their campaign during the 2019 NBA Finals which offered fans the chance to win a free burrito. Every time an announcer said the word 'free', Chipotle would tweet out a keyword that customers could text to them with to enter the competition to win a free burrito.

Going back further, Chipotle ran a campaign in 2013 titled 'Adventurrito'. This was a twenty day event that allowed fans to complete a scavenger hunt which featured virtual puzzles. Again, a free burrito was on offer to participants. The fast food chain offered clues to customers in exchange for mobile phone numbers. While customers received free burritos, Chipotle was quietly building its SMS marketing list for future campaigns and competitions.

Cross-Promoting SMS Via Socials

It's well known that customers are more likely to make a purchase when they are gently pushed down the sales or marketing funnel. A great way to achieve this is through cross-promotion and using social media platforms as a base point but not solely relying on them to convert. Chipotle is a great example of how to do this successfully because they use their social presence to launch campaigns but then push fans further down the funnel by using other channels.

Firstly, they start by focusing on social media, where they have their biggest follower base. Chipotle's target audience are those below the age of 35. Therefore, TikTok is a particularly good platform for the business as the largest user group on the app are between the ages 16 and 24. Of course, they're also heavily active on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

However, Chipotle has acknowledged that social media doesn't always convert into sales and that fans aren't guaranteed to see every post. After all, they're fighting with lots of other fast food restaurants and global brands to be seen.

On average, only 8% of a brand's total likes on Facebook will see a post. For Chipotle, this means that only 264,000 of their 3.3 million followers will see each update. Additionally, research suggests that Instagram engagement rates are just 1.1% when an account has over 100,000 followers. So, again, only 11,000 of Chipotle's 1 million Instagram followers are likely to engage with each post. So, while socials are a great starting point for campaigns, a significant number of fans are potentially losing out on hearing about promotional offers and discounts. So, while socials are a great starting point for campaigns, a significant number of fans are potentially losing out on hearing about promotional offers and discounts.

This is where SMS marketing comes into the equation and can be extremely effective. While texting creates a personal connection with fans, it also removes competitor noise. As Chipotle has shown, by using SMS, the pressure from competitors is relieved as it creates a personal connection with customers that removes competitor noise. Instead of competing for space on social media or via paid ads on Google, companies can speak directly with customers and prospects through texting.

Therefore, Chipotle's strategy is extremely well balanced. They use their biggest platforms on social media to promote competitions but then let SMS marketing take over from there. As customers opt-in, they become subscribed and are eligible to hear about new updates directly without the worry of algorithms.

As 98% of texts are opened, almost all of Chipotle's fans are likely to read and acknowledge their updates. They can also ask customers to provide zip code details and use geo-targeting to provide updates and competitions from specific regions and stores. So, what this does, is ultimately push customers down the funnel and create personal relationships and brand affiliation.

What Brands Can Learn

Chipotle has developed consistency with their competitions and campaigns. They run numerous events throughout the year that provide customers with a chance to win either free burritos or a discounted meal. Typically, these competitions are tied to big events throughout the year such as sports finals, public holidays, and festivals.

This level of commitment has helped to create a trusting relationship with fans that have grown to expect fun competitions, prizes, and ways to engage with the brand. So, if you're a brand that is thinking about replicating Chipotle's success, be sure to plan multiple campaigns and ensure that you are incorporating a cross-channel strategy to increase your SMS marketing success.

Cutomer Account manager
Cutomer Account manager
by Jeremy Josselin | Head of Business Development

Hi, I'm Jeremy, Head of Business Development at Reach Interactive. I have a background in international business and I love seeing how brands communicate with consumers on an international level.


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