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It was unseasonably hot in Palm Springs last week and it wasn’t just the temps that were off the chart. So was the content at Mobile Shopping 2017, including a session we hosted with Papa John’s.

Leanplum’s VP of Global Marketing, Joyce Solano, kicked off the event on Tuesday morning sitting down for a fireside chat with Michael Wyant, Director of Enterprise Data and Analytics, at Papa John’s International. During their 20-minute conversation, they explored how Papa John’s takes a digital-first approach to engaging and retaining users, how they’re personalizing the user experience, and what’s on the horizon for the company.

Digital Dominance

More than 60 percent of Papa John’s total sales now come from digital, and 70 percent of those digital orders come from mobile. Which, when you think about it, makes sense. When was the last time you called to order a pizza?

Michael attributes this to the ability to understand it’s paramount to meet the customer where they wish to transact. Papa John’s leadership knows their technology has been a differentiator within the industry. In 2001, Papa John’s became the first national pizza chain to offer online ordering. In 2007, it launched mobile ordering via text message, and in 2010 it introduced the Papa Rewards program. As a clear leader in digital innovation, Papa John’s wants to be thought of as much for its technology as it is for its physical brick-and-mortar stores.

However, that’s not to say Papa John’s has it all figured out just yet. It’s learning more about the effectiveness of its strategies, and those will continue to evolve. As a result, Papa John’s has created a new Enterprise Data and Analytics Team, which Michael now leads. The focus is on personalization, customer loyalty/retention, and one-to-one marketing.

As a digitally-focused company, that also has brick and mortar stores, Papa John’s has a number of ways to measure digital. Some are traditional KPIs, such as conversion rate and transactions, while other are more advanced, like engagement and propensity.

As Michael puts it, “At the end of the day, it comes back to the the most important traditional performance metric: Y-O-Y growth (irrespective of channel).”

The Power of Personalization

Personalization is also becoming a larger focus for Michael and his team moving forward. However, to do this effectively it’s important to first understand Papa John’s target customer.

As Michael points out, “We have a very diverse set of customers, but they share a common interest in our brand promise: better ingredients, better pizza.”

Not surprisingly, its app users are some of its most loyal customers. Papa John’s views being installed on a user’s phone — their most personal device — as an intimate experience. Michael and his team don’t take this lightly. It’sa responsibility to continue innovating and creating a great customer experience.

One of the more surprising customer insights for his team has been the number of out-of-market sports fans. Papa John’s pizza sales increase whenever there’s a sporting event, holiday, etc. Being more aware of users’ specific interests, like their favorite teams or pizza orders, enables Papa John’s to enhance its marketing capabilities to create a unique experience for everyone.

For example, during this football season, Papa John’s launched a campaign called the NFL Experience. It presents users with an option to obtain game day reminders for their favorite team. Users are notified before the start of their favorite team’s game or before halftime, reminding them to order a pizza if they haven’t already. Michael explained that historically, this messaging strategy was based on geography, which neglected out-of-market fans.

Not only has this new campaign enabled Papa John’s to make ordering pizza easier for the customer, but it has also provided a level of personalization the company couldn’t offer before. The early results of this experience have been impressive — and the season isn’t over yet!

Pizza of the Future

Customer satisfaction is the number one priority for Papa John’s. It is constantly conducting market tests across their 5,000+ locations to better understand how it can continue to improve the customer experience. As evident by their recent reorganization and Michael’s newly created team, the thirst for data and analytics is growing and will only become a source of greater innovation in the future for Papa John’s.

Papa John’s is currently using geolocation for area campaigns, tracking in-app events to improve the user experience and app performance, and push notifications for pizza tracking. It’s also utilizing features like Touch ID to make it as easy as possible to authenticate and order a pizza.

In addition to capitalizing on these app capabilities, Papa John’s also has regular campaigns to reward their loyal customers with point drops, double point days, and tasty rewards. It does all this using App Inbox, a highly convenient way for customers to find communications from Papa John’s, like limited-time offers and promo codes. Especially when push can sometimes get lost, particularly with iOS users, App Inbox is a great way to keep timely information top-of-mind. It is also less invasive than email, push, and text.

As Papa John’s continues to leverage this consumer touchpoint, it will listen to the data and tailor the experience to each individual user. In many cases, it’s finding this may be the most effective or preferred method to communicate to a segment of users, but it’s still testing and collecting data to determine the best approach. As Michael put it, “The data will steer us in the proper direction.”

That big pie in the sky is looking pretty good for Papa John’s.