How Jersey Mike's tripled a target ROAS

With sophisticated customer identification, the sandwich chain used digital media to build intent among its current and prospective customer base.

With 1,745 locations across the U.S., Jersey Mike’s brings in a lot of customers. But not everyone who visits the sandwich chain is a part of the brand’s loyalty program, which is its primary source of customer data. When the brand saw an opportunity to reconnect with lapsed customers and acquire new ones through marketing, Jersey Mike’s realized it needed a partner with experience in digital marketing for restaurants to successfully accomplish this.

This challenge is not new for restaurant brands. Many struggle with uniting their point-of-sale data outside of loyalty programs to understand non-loyalty customers.

As Jersey Mike’s revamped its marketing efforts in fall 2019, it sought new strategies to connect with this previously unknown audience through digital media, which needed to start with properly identifying and reaching those individuals.

Editor’s note: This campaign took place prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting impacts on restaurant brands. Epsilon continues to work with Jersey Mike’s on its evolving digital media strategy.

Millions of previously missed opportunities

“Our goal was to test if digital could help us reactivate guests who hadn’t purchased in at least three months,” says Jeff Hemschoot, marketing director at Jersey Mike’s. “We also wanted to target customers who have dined at competitors.”

Jersey Mike’s turned to Epsilon Digital to first identify lapsed and net-new customers, reach them through personalized display advertising across relevant publishers and measure the results: For example, how did each message actually influence the individual?

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Using Epsilon’s CORE Transact data set, which comprises third-party transactional data from 1.5 million merchants and multiple credit card types, Epsilon helped Jersey Mike’s identify customers who had made a purchase with the brand in the previous three to 24 months but had not returned to one of its locations. Additionally, the brand could use the same data set to identify and reach more than 20 million people who had purchased with competitors in the previous two years.

Because the solution was focused on lapsed and new customers, current customers were removed from any potential campaign activation, giving Jersey Mike’s a more accurate picture of its results. In contrast, many identity partners can’t accurately remove current customers from a brand’s marketing campaigns—even with seemingly considerable effort. While some partners exclude recent visitors or remove a person based on one of their devices, these actions do not accurately assess a single individual’s full digital activity—which gives brands running campaigns with these partners a falsely low customer-acquisition cost because they’re seeing existing customers as “new” customers.

Customer profiles lead to relevant messaging

Now that Jersey Mike’s knew who to talk to, the next step was identifying what to say to each person. Using Epsilon’s data, coupled with AI-data activation, Jersey Mike’s could reach each individual with a relevant message unique to that person based on demographics, online behavior and past purchases—all in a privacy-compliant way. Additionally, Jersey Mike’s leveraged the fact that 60% of these customers visited sandwich shops at lunchtime and 40% went there at dinnertime to influence when each person saw an ad from the brand.

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Because each message wasn’t intended to gain an immediate sale—someone who saw a display ad while reading an article wasn’t likely to walk straight to Jersey Mike’s and buy a sandwich— the goal was to develop intent that resulted in actual sales over time. By sharing relevant messages with the identified audience throughout the digital day—always optimizing for publisher sites, apps and devices—the campaign helped keep Jersey Mike’s top of mind. So the next time someone craved a sandwich, Jersey Mike’s would be a likely choice.

Curbside appeal 

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has been incredibly difficult for restaurants, the one silver lining is that many customers are now becoming known to restaurant brands in the digital environment as people purchase through digital channels for delivery or pick-up. The key will be aggregating that data on the front end, and then activating it to deliver personalized marketing across channels to each individual based on past purchases and behavior with the brand. For example, if a customer continues to order delivery or pick-up after the restaurant opens back up, make sure to send that person deals, offers and messaging relevant to delivery options instead of in-store offers.

“Epsilon’s solution helped us find the customer at the right time and on the right device,” says Kelly McGee, digital director at Jersey Mike’s. “Finding customers that have dined at competitors with the transactional database is something we haven’t been able to do before.”

Jersey Mike’s focused on two primary offers for this group: a $2 off “We Miss You” promotion to lapsed customers and a “Free Chip & Drink” promotion to new customers. Using CORE Transact, Epsilon could accurately measure the campaign through credit card data to track each sale and tie it back to the individual message—not extrapolated from a sample size of purchases.

“One of the unique things about working with Epsilon was the ability to track sales. Not only could we do it on our end with coupon redemptions, but also on their end with credit card data,” McGee says. “This was really useful.”

Remarkable ROAS

Results snapshot:

  • $35:1 ROAS—significantly higher than the goal of $10:1
  • 78% of new customers made at least two purchases
  • 72% of reactivated customers made at least two purchases

Throughout the campaign, Epsilon tracked and measured results—which resulted in a $35:1 ROAS, far exceeding the goal of $10:1. Additionally, 78% of the new customers made at least two purchases, while 72% of reactivated customers did so. The campaign demonstrated the often- untapped potential of reaching out to lapsed customers, who are already familiar with the brand, but simply may not have visited in a while.

The cornerstone of the campaign’s success was customer identification: Epsilon’s data and identification told Jersey Mike’s exactly who its customers are—and who they are not—and offered an activation channel to reach them. Because Epsilon provided concrete transactional data, Jersey Mike’s can show franchise owners, who pay for marketing efforts, the powerful results of their spend.

The collaboration and expertise led to impressive results. “We blew by our target ROAS, and we were overwhelmed by the success of this program,” Hemschoot says.


Image credit: Tim MacPherson/Getty Images