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7-Eleven rolls out mobile marketing test campaign in 200 stores

7-Eleven Inc. is testing a mobile marketing campaign in San Diego, with approximately 200 of its stores participating in the program.  

The test runs through Dec. 31. During this time, local residents can send the keyword FAST (in Spanish, RAPIDO) to short code 72579.  In response, they will receive a message informing them which of 7-Eleven?s best-selling beverages they have won. 

?We are experimenting with mobile marketing to see how customers will react to getting coupons from 7-Eleven for free proprietary beverages,? said Margaret Chabris, director of communications at 7-Eleven, San Diego. ?Basically we are just testing to try and get a sense of whether customers like it.

?This test is part of our ongoing strategy of targeting the millennial demographic, which is tied to their mobile phones.?

Four of the convenience retailer?s most popular drinks are featured in the test ? a free Slurpee frozen carbonated beverage, Big Gulp fountain drink, fresh-brewed hot coffee and the latest proprietary drink, Iced Coffee. 

The promotion is limited to one free beverage per day at participating 7-Eleven stores.

Why mobile for 7-Eleven?

For millions of Americans under the age of 34, texting has become a preferred method of mobile communication, in some instances replacing phone calls. 

According to a 2008 Nielsen study, the number of SMS text messages sent has surged ahead of voice calls. 

The report found that U.S. mobile subscribers sent and received on average 357 text messages per month, compared with making and receiving 204 phone calls a month.

The text message offers recipients two ways to redeem their coupons at participating 7-Eleven stores.

Customers with Internet access on their wireless devices will be able to click through to a screen displaying a UPC bar code, which can be scanned at the cash register. 

For other wireless users, the 7-Eleven sales associate can enter the selected numeric code on the cash register for redemption. 

The codes are only good for the free beverage indicated in the coupon. The message also includes an invitation to receive future text messages with 7-Eleven news and offers. Recipients can opt-in by replying YES.

The mobile marketing test is supported by both general and Hispanic-targeted radio, outdoor and mobile advertising.  Participating 7-Eleven stores will communicate the promotion with bilingual point-of-purchase signage.

This is not the first time 7-Eleven is using mobile. The convenience chain achieved a 7.5 percent click-through rate in a mobile game pre-roll ad campaign last year.

The 7-Eleven campaign ran on a random variation of games on the Didmo ad-delivery platform network (see story).  

And now the company is testing mobile marketing for database building and customer relationship management.

The mobile couponing platform was designed and is being executed by GMR Marketing.

"Our consumers are mobile; therefore, it?s critical that we communicate with them where they are," said Daniel May, marketing manager at 7-Eleven. "Our customers use their phones up to 18 hours per day and, to a growing population, it?s replacing their computer and home phone."

Mr. May said that this first effort with 7-Eleven's mobile marketing agency, GMR, allows it to test several elements of the promotion,  including English / Spanish preference, media effectiveness, product-offering interest, redemptions verses participation, day-part participation, and phone and wireless carrier types. 

"With the powerful metrics we can gather, we?ll be able to better hone our mobile strategy for 2010," Mr. May said. "The mobile test with the optional opt-in gives us an opportunity to build a database of 7-Eleven customers through their most personal electronic device -- their mobile phone." 

"With the data captured in the campaign, we can continue to provide them with valuable offers and announcements of specials in the future," he said.