As much as I adore McCafe and drink it every day, in analyzing McDonald’s website it falls within the status quo. To make matters worse, for a commerce powerhouse with an annual revenue last year of $27 billion, I’m really not lovin’ McDonald’s lackluster mobile applications. The main impetus for the strict assessment is by comparing the outstanding efforts of companies that lack the massive PR and Communication resources of McDonald’s but nonetheless do the best push/pull marketing with what resources they do have, especially in the mobile application arena.
(Rhodes, 2015) Other ways to get people to your website is to:
- submit to directories and yellow pages
- put your website in signature and in all twitter feeds
- blogging (fresh content; key words with categories and tags)
- Make crowdsource requests;
Mobile Phone applications
There is no argument anymore to validate why a mobile app isn’t important in the promotional landscape. “In May of 2013, 56% of people owned a smartphone; 2012 there were 1.2 billion app users across the globe with number expected to grow to 4.4 billion by 2017; 56 billion smartphone apps and 14 billion tablet apps were downloaded in 2013; and 80% of mobile time now is spent using apps. (Kent, 2014)”
So how exactly does McDonald’s fall short with the McD app (1 million downloads) and the McDonald’s “I’m Lovin it” app (500k downloads)? With 47 million customers daily, the number of folks that have downloaded the app is small. This could be because of no mention of the apps on their website. When opening the McD app., at least 15 different push offers appear– such as buy-one-get-one-free (BOGO) food and McCafe ice coffee. Unlike the website, The McD app does point out the free McCafe Rewards program and Mondays featuring free small coffees. Another push window appears when tapping on the BOGO offers for the need to sign-up/login. Once a person is in the store, all they have to do is tap their McD app to “pull” which offer they want and show it to the cashier within 2 minutes. Besides being able to use offers, the site implores pull options to find the closest McD as well as enter special offer codes you may see on other media sites.
The McDonald’s “I’m Lovin it” app is almost a complete waste of time and features the same restaurant locator but is completely pull measures for career info or leaving feedback. The comment/feedback feature is one of most long procedures ever experienced by requiring and exhaustive 15+ prompts just to leave a comment. Being a commerce powerhouse, McDonalds should have the best bells and whistles possible on their mobile app. There also aren’t any social media links on any of the mobile apps, even though the website lists at the very bottom the page pull options to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube and Tumblr.
Successful apps are useful to the brand’s core demographic, entertaining or enhance the product experience in some way. So what are some good examples that other Forbes darlings are using?
“Starbucks recently updated their app to add shake-to-pay and digital tipping features as well as a purchase history feed. This app has led to mobile payments quickly making up 14% of in-store transactions for Starbucks. The Walgreens app takes prescription refills to another level by just scanning the label, and when it is ready to be picked up, the app will send a text message alert. It also features a “Steps” section that earns you points for walking, running, and tracking your weight. Other features include Pill Reminder, Pharmacy Chat, and weekly coupons. The Chipotle and Domino’s app allows users to easily order a meal on the go. Similar to its online ordering system, Dominos features the pizza tracker, where users can watch their order through every step of the process. The Zappos app stands out for its comprehensive approach to customer service. Many of its features were recommended by customers, including product videos, social sharing, saved searches, and notifications for re-stocked items. It also has a dedicated customer support line to easily get problems resolved. (Kent, 2014)”
Another McDonald’s direct competitor with a little more oomph in their mobile application is Taco Bell. “In 2014 the food giant ran a mobile ad campaign promoting their new “Happier Hour” nation-wide. The visual advertised a $1 drink specialty that was available from 2-5pm. It also included a variety of ways to keep a user on track with actually participating in the offer. In the ad, you could choose to have Taco Bell remind you at the start of Happier Hour (by adding it to your calendar app), to remind you when you were physically nearby a Taco Bell, or share the information with a friend by sending them a funny gif. (Adler, 2014)”
Push/Pull Techniques with Sharing/Social Buttons
“(Temin, 2014) There aren’t many places left where organizations can have total control over what is said about them, especially on the internet. But corporate websites can still provide a center of control, continuity and clarity of message. A website – compellingly done – can capture a brand, and encapsulate its positioning for all to see.”
To drive traffic to its website, McDonald’s presence on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and Pinterest would be considered more pull and “soft” push by simple small banners to connect to the website or social media cross channels. Very rarely do their television ads, print or outdoor ads push traffic to the website. Below is an ad to get a free Big Mac but it’s only for a regional McDonald’s website on Long Island, N.Y. (limcdonalds.com). As soon as you reach their site, they have a great push floating banner that list upcoming opportunities to meet Ronald McDonalds.
Fresh content present?
“As part of IMC, the website is one piece, the hub to see the whole brand offering. If you want to get people to your website for engagement write fresh content; stagnant content hurts your search engine rankings. (Rhodes, 2015)”
Congrats McDonalds! I applaud your fresh promotional offer from Feb. 2 through Valentine’s Day where random expressions of affection can be redeemed as payment for food. According to the Huffington Post, “Winners will be randomly selected at pre-designated times at participating McDonald’s locations, and a McDonald’s employee will instruct them to perform a “random act Lovin’. The company will announce the “Pay with Lovin’” campaign in a commercial slated to air Sunday during Super Bowl XLIX.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ojg9DDyUwM
Future Branding Recommendations
As Ammunition Groups Robert Brunner puts it, “Branding is a gut feeling and you can’t explain where it comes from.” I agree with Brunner and it’s just a gut feeling that whatever strategy McDonald’s is using, especially in the social media arena is lacking. Maybe that was one of the reasons McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson was fired this week. “I think that it’s very fitting that they’ve selected the chief brand officer,” he (Christopher Rowane, a portfolio manager at Bahl & Gaynor Investment Counsel, which owns roughly a million shares of McDonald’s) said. “This is really where we’re seeing a little bit of a vacancy in McDonald’s. They’re trying to really find their brand to be able to drive same store sales growth. (Reuters, 2015)”
Create a Plug-in, Template or Widget or offer other free service. “Having a specific free service that is useful and intuitive could attract a plethora of users. A widget or plug-in is a design to enhance a platform. It is designed to entertain or make life easier for users. Keep this in mind when developing. For example, you can make a WordPress plugin or Joomla template. Make sure people know who made it and where they can find your website. Heaton, 2010)”
Here are a few recommendations I offer to boost McDonalds IMC presence, especially in the much needed social media realm:
- It’s not a question of being more aggressive, it’s giving customers a better experience. There should be no reason in the world that you can’t order McDonald’s food online, a delivery service wouldn’t be a bad option as well.
- Add a “Payin’ & Lovin’ it” option to the mobile app.
- Consolidate the two mobile apps into one.
- Have an actual online video or photo contest with Vine or Instagram, just to name a few!
- Integrate more promotions via social media in the U.S. that are only offered internationally such as the “save the sundae cone” campaign in Malaysia.
- Make getting feedback a priority in an effort for improving the customer experience. To keep expected negativity as part of an improvement process–this can be a dedicated customer service phone line where customers would receive incentives for all suggestions and commentary.
Come on McDonald’s, your traditional media presence is good but beef up your social media game and make me love you even more—it’s never too late!
Adler, B. (Nov. 18, 2014). These Five Brands have the Best Mobile Apps.
Athavaley, A. (Jan. 29, 2015). McDonald’s CEO Thompson Leaving after Tumultuous Run.
Brunner, R. Brand Consistency for Website Navigation, Social Media and SEO (Slideshare.net, 2011)
Heaton, C. (Nov. 18, 2010). 50 Ways to Get Your Site Noticed
Kaufman, A. (Jan. 30, 2015). McDonalds will soon accept hugs as payment.
Kent, E. (April 16, 2014). There’s an App for that: Creating Your Brand’s Mobile App.
Rhodes, J. (Jan. 26, 2015). Websites: Push and Pull Marketing. MMC 5006 Lecture. University of Florida.
Kessler, S. (Oct. 6, 2010). 13 Branded Mobile Apps that Got it Right.