Growth Marketing


How Sonic Drive-In Drives Sustainable Growth Through Meaningful Moments

Team Braze By Team Braze Feb 13, 2023

Do a quick search for the best way to engage and retain your customers and you’ll find countless growth hacks. But do any of them actually work in today’s economic climate? Did dumping a bunch of ad spend into paid channels ever get brands closer to growing their customer base? Given today’s business environment, it’s clear growth at all costs is neither sustainable nor advisable. Instead, the most resilient companies out there know the path forward is to build a customer-first experience that keeps people coming back for more.

A customer-first experience all comes down to pinpointing the most meaningful moments in the customer journey. For inspiration on how to do this and build resiliency into your customer engagement strategy, the QSR industry is the place to look. COVID-19 forced leading brands like Sonic Drive-In to pivot both digital and in-person experiences and completely remapped the way QSR businesses engage with their customers. As if that weren’t enough, it’s helped many of these businesses grow in a more sustainable way as a result.

For key takeaways and advice on how to leverage data to drive more meaningful impact, we spoke with Brittni Shull, Director of Digital Marketing at Sonic Drive-In at FORGE 2022, our annual customer engagement conference.

4 Ways Sonic Drive-In Unlocks Creativity Using Braze

#1: Driving users to opt into push notifications

Regardless of the current economic environment, driving sustainable growth remains a steadfast goal amongst QSR brands like Sonic. This time last year, the Sonic team met with Braze to dig into the data around their customers’ meaningful moments. The Sonic App serves as a gathering place for the stickiest experiences the brand offers, so encouraging customers to opt-in to push notifications was key. They quickly identified the segment of customers who opted in for push were of high value. Opted-in users are the most primed to take advantage of rewarding offerings like limited-time promotions. To grow this segment, they used Braze to launch an in-app takeover campaign that targeted users who had yet to opt-in to push. These users then received a deep link for user settings that enabled them to opt in.

#2: Growing most valuable customers with strategic partnerships (Braze and Apple Pay)

For QSR brands where it’s common to combine brick-and-mortar with digital experiences, having the right channels on your side makes the partnerships at your disposal even more powerful. At Sonic, they discovered their most valuable customers—that is, those likely to spend more and stick around longer—were those who opted in to push and leveraged either Apple Pay or Google Pay. Using Braze in concert with Apple Pay, Sonic could execute campaigns across Apple’s digital channels, like promoting a Sonic Reward to members of their database. Additionally, using Braze Canvas Flow, our customer journey orchestration tool, the Sonic team could further segment email campaigns that increased awareness of Apple Pay and Google Pay as payment methods within their app. This allowed Sonic to drive higher conversion rates among their email audience.

#3: Meaningful moments drive a robust lifecycle strategy

Focusing on these meaningful moments has enabled Sonic to shift their customer engagement strategy in a more savvy direction. “High-value actions have allowed us to focus on three key areas: Retention, acquisition, and monetization,” Brittni says. Getting clear on their customer engagement goals for each stage of the lifecycle has pushed their campaign strategies to be more personalized, responsive, and intelligent to customer preferences. What’s more, Braze reporting enables their team to quickly evaluate the customer data they have at their fingertips even as they’re strategizing which consumer to go after next. Says Brittni, “I’ve learned TONS simply by getting into Braze and playing with segments to understand different ways we can use campaigns to keep users engaged and show appreciation for our most loyal guests.”

#4: Building a better customer journey in real time

Who said the fun has to stop once your campaign’s launched? Sonic has learned first-hand the importance of iterating campaigns on the fly. When it comes to populating the customer journey with meaningful moments, Canvas Flow has helped to unleash the creativity of its marketing team. “Canvas is fantastic for ongoing campaigns and we’re finding new ways to incorporate usage with monthly app rewards,” says Brittni. They use Canvas to build and deploy their welcome series, attrition series, send birthday rewards, and launch fun-spirited challenge campaigns. They’re also continuing to explore how to tie in audience paths using our new Audience Sync feature and tinker with action paths to make every campaign as personalized and engaging as possible.

Ready to mine the value of your brand’s meaningful moments?

If you’re looking to deliver the brilliant customer-first experiences today’s consumers demand, personalization is table stakes. Responsible for driving an average revenue uplift of 10-30%, our team has worked to take the guesswork out of defining what exceptional personalization looks like—even as privacy regulations continue to accelerate and impact businesses.

Find out how brands and teams can leverage a data-driven approach like Sonic’s to make an impact in today’s landscape in our exclusive guide: Personalization: The Key to Your Digital Transformation.


Team Braze

Team Braze

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