Q&A: Taco John's Renée Middleton on How to Make Emails Viral
Mexican fast-food restaurant chain Taco John's recently launched an interactive marketing campaign focused on taking its email-based fan club messages viral through text messaging, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
The campaign, powered by Indianapolis-based email marketing firm ExactTarget, invites customers to text message or visit the Cheyenne, Wyo.-based company’s website to become members of its Potato Olés Maniacs email club. Potato Olés are a popular potato nugget offering from Taco John's.
To learn more about how Taco John's made its email campaign go viral, eM+C spoke with Renée Middleton, vice president of marketing for Taco John's.
eM+C: Why did you decide to take your recent email campaign viral?
Renée Middleton: We had an existing email program, but it wasn't very different from anything else in the market. In addition, while it had grown steadily, it wasn't as dynamic and engaging for our customers as we wanted.
As a result, we took a step back and thought about evolving our email program by building it around our most unique and poplar product, Potato Olés. Along with our advertising partner, Preston Kelly, we decided to make it fun for our customers, so we came up with a name to describe the enthusiasts who love Potato Olés — Potato Olés Maniacs — and centered the campaign around this.
The Potato Olés Maniacs campaign invites customers to text message or visit our Potato Olés Maniacs website. From this platform we deliver fun content, such as allowing our brand enthusiasts to upload videos of people stacking Potato Olés.
We know that providing fun content on a regular basis will drive interest and passion from our brand enthusiasts.
The site also asks visitors if they want to become members of the Potato Olés Maniacs email club.
These pages give our Maniacs more ways to talk to us and allow us to have an ongoing dialogue with them.
eM+C: Do you have any results from the program so far?
RM: Our program launched in early July, and it’s on track to meet the goals we've set for it. In our first month, we've signed up more than 14,000 new members, and the growth rate continues to be on track.
We work on the email program with ExactTarget and get all the analytics we need to track how effective the program is. And on a monthly basis we put together a marketing dashboard that tracks all programs for Potato Olés Maniacs, from email/website traffic to Facebook to Twitter.
eM+C: Can you offer our readers any best practices for taking their email messages viral?
RM: From a purely tactical standpoint, a key aspect of allowing a message to go viral is to make it as frictionless as possible. Give your audience many ways to share your messages — whether it's adding the standard forward-to-a-friend functionality or the "Share on Facebook" bookmark. People share content in many ways, so it's important to embrace this behavior.
And while it's very important to provide calls to action and easy-to-click/share options within emails, it's still most important to give them a reason to share. If it’s good content, it’ll spread. That’s what we want to do with Potato Olés Maniacs.