Food

23 posts categorized

December 02, 2014

Crank Up Your Marketing Efforts for Christmas

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As the holiday shopping season draws near, it’s important to “amp up” marketing efforts. Let’s check out a few holiday promotional tactics small businesses can implement and subsequently increase brand recognition while ensuring customer loyalty.

 

Email Marketing

A straightforward option, email assorted blasts to opted-in customers about deals, sales and other promotions, and create holiday messages discussing new promo codes or other exclusive, limited-time offers. Existing customer discounts and free gift cards with purchase are generally the most successful email blast options, as they build brand loyalty and referrals in addition to increasing sales. Find an appealing holiday template, add the right information, and go from there.

 

Content Marketing

Whatever you “put out there” for your customers should engage them--don’t simply go for the boring sales pitch. Place attention-grabbing content on social media channels, blogs, press releases, articles, videos...think funny holiday clips, last-minute tips, guides on using your products, fun and helpful newsletters, and more. Information on day-before-Christmas ordering is another great content marketing method.

 

Social Media

Social media is a viable option for promoting your brand and products. Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook all provide real-time access to customers and their online communities, with social media marketing even more essential during the holiday season. Upload holiday-themed images to your accounts, such as product shots in holiday settings or stores/offices decorated for the season. Provide regular updates on holiday promotions, sales, return policies and shipping cut-off dates, but don’t forget to add fun seasonal facts and similar information as well. Promoting gift card opportunities with links back to official websites is another option.

 

SMS Marketing

Text message marketing is becoming more and more prevalent, as it provides an easy, cost-effective method for reaching the vast majority of your customers instantly. Send holiday promo codes to opted-in customers, as well as exclusive holiday coupons and sales alerts. Advertise Christmas-themed discounts and specials to potential customers who opt-in, and enjoy a larger database you can utilize all year long.

 

Open House 

Another excellent Christmastime marketing idea is to host an open house at your place of business if applicable. Provide cookies and warm cider and or mulled wine, as well as free gift-wrapping for shoppers. Raffles, discounts and other special promos also work when advertising an open house, as do cross-promotional efforts, such as offering handmade chocolates from the confectionary across the street. If your business caters to children, have a friend or co-worker dress up as Santa and hand out candy canes or Christmas-themed coloring books while taking free photos with customers and their little ones.

These are just some of many marketing options to try this holiday season. Good luck, and Happy Holidays. 

November 24, 2014

6 Thanskgiving Ideas for Restaurants

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Thanksgiving is a tricky time for restaurateurs to negotiate. Many eating establishments simply close for the day, unwilling to compete with the home-cooked fare being prepared in homes across the country. 

For most restaurants, that’s probably a fairly sensible idea. But just because you’re closed doesn’t mean you can’t capitalize on the holiday. In fact, by giving your staff the day off and minimizing your overheads, and helping customers prepare for their family Thanksgiving meal, your business could turn a bigger profit closed than open. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some top tips for making the most out of this year’s Turkey Day.

Make Dessert

With so much food to prepare for the big day, the idea of outsourcing some of the culinary responsibility is very appealing. Why not use your expertise to sell desserts or side dishes to customers as a way of relieving the pressure? Take pre-orders so you know exactly how much you need to order, and ask customers to pick their dishes up on Wednesday before 2pm so you can close early, safe in the knowledge you’ve made some extra cash.

Provide Supplies

In the same vein, you can make the most of your unused assets when closed for Thanksgiving. Offer chairs, tables and utensils at knock-down rental prices. Even if you throw in the washing up, your costs will be minimal. 

Offer a Seasonal Incentive

Take a holly leaf out of Christmas’ book and run a promotional schedule that counts down to the big day. Starting the Sunday before Thanksgiving, offer customers a 20% on wine one day, a half-off coupon for entrees the next, and so on up until you close. It’s a good way to generate more business to see you through the Thanksgiving slump.

Christmas Meal Vouchers

With Christmas around the corner, why not tie in your Thanksgiving promotions to the upcoming holiday season? Unlike Thanksgiving, it’s not uncommon for people to eat out on Christmas Day, so offer a deal on the latter that only applies if they buy before the former. Use the opportunity to entice customers to sign up for text alerts – it’s one of the most effective mobile marketing tactics there is.

Takeout Deals the Night Before

Again, you are well-positioned to alleviate the pressure on Thanksgiving cooks by eliminating the need for themcto make dinner the night before. Offer mobile coupons for takeout boxes on Wednesday November 26. Even if you don’t usually offer a takeout service, it’s a winning mobile marketing strategy; you can make a selling point of the service being a one-off, never-to-be-repeated deal.

Close for the entire weekend

Here’s an interesting one. It might seem counter-intuitive to close shop for the days following Thanksgiving, but it can work wonders for staff morale, bringing them back to the restaurant with renewed energy. Remember, most people are thinking about retail - not restaurants - on Black Friday, and between shopping for deals they’re working their way through all the leftovers. Instead of risking a quiet couple of days, close on Friday and Saturday and return with a bang on Sunday for the start of the Christmas craziness.

 

 

 

 

November 20, 2014

How Clubs & Bars Can Grow Their SMS Lists

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SMS marketing may be a new concept to club and bar owners, however many are finding the dramatic difference this strategy makes in terms of customer satisfaction, revenue and much more. Since text messaging is now one of the most effective forms of marketing available, let’s check out how bar and club owners can grow their SMS lists and therefore their customer base:

 

Focused Campaigns

Focused campaigns directly targeting those interested in your particular bar or club is a strategy that meets the needs of customers. Because of such direct targeting, no resource is wasted and the right messages go to the right consumers. And since SMS marketing lists generally require opting in, you’re assured the messages you send are read by interested customers, some of whom may visit your establishment the day the message is sent.

 

Incentives

Incentives are a huge part of attracting customers, so adding an exclusive coupon code or deal for consumers in text messages is an ideal way to get the positive response you want. Feel free to get as creative as you want, from codes that translate to free drinks to deals that include discounted entry.

 

Blogging

Everyone is blogging these days...including bars and clubs. Use this medium to grow your client base and spread your message. Write about upcoming events and specials, holiday parties, happy hour, and anything else that’s relevant. Include funny images of employees, amusing top 10 lists, and more. Add information about text message opt-ins at the end of each blog and watch your SMS list lengthen.

 

Social Media

Social media tools are yet another effective way of reaching consumers and letting them know about your SMS list(s). Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram...use these tools to let people know why they should join your list and how it will benefit them.

 

Referral Bonuses

Increase your customer base via referral bonuses. Provide existing customers with free food, drinks and other specials for referring friends and family to your business. Not only are you growing your SMS list, you’re also ensuring existing customers remain happy.

 

Wrap-Up

Bar and club owners are utilizing other means to let customers know about SMS lists, such as print media. Advertising in newspapers and magazines are two options, though you may want to go beyond print and use email or other means. Whatever you decide, know that SMS marketing lists are a fantastic way of increasing business as well as brand awareness. 

November 19, 2014

Why SMS is Perfect for the Hospitality Industry

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Every patron of a hotel or restaurant wants to be entertained, and mobile devices have to get creative in order to enhance a user’s experience. There are a great deal of factors that go into travel planning:  filling in multiple fields for car rentals, flights, and hotels, side as well as the numerous metrics involved on the business end. All in all, there is a whole lot of data to crunch for everyone. That’s where SMS marketing comes in.

The solution is to develop an effective mobile marketing campaign that revolves around three key points: customer service, customer loyalty, and effective mobile integration. By straying away from the necessity to garner future business at the point-of-purchase, hospitality corporations can galvanize their user base by sticking to these key points.

1. Customer Service

Customers want to know that they have access to customer service directly from their mobile devices. By providing text messages that tailor to their guests, the hospitality industry has made some great strides in reaching their customer base. They can provide up-to-date information about on-site events, as well as dining options, facility features, and more. Most importantly, businesses can follow up with their clients’ experience through the incorporation of SMS surveys.

In one terrific example, MGM Mirage has provided great customer service through their mobile marketing platforms. They offer real-time promotions texted to their guests’ phones, in addition to property information and entertainment options for the benefit of the consumer. By tailoring their messages based on their guests’ history, they have served to drive revenue and track the precise desires of their clientele.

Exacting customer service is the front line of a successful mobile marketing campaign, and it goes hand-in-hand with loyalty programs.

2. Customer Loyalty

When a business provides incentives for their clients through loyalty, they serve to garner repeat business from their clientele. By incorporating short codes into the SMS experience, used with VIP or Special membership incentives, businesses can not only gather more information about their customers, but they can enhance their overall experience.

The Hard Rock hotel and restaurant chain has seen a great deal of return customers through their loyalty program. Using an SMS platform, they promote events and products with right-time and right-place offers. In addition, Harrah’s casino has also launched a beta version of their mobile rewards program through their Rio property. Using short codes – like text RIO to 227466 – guests can opt-in to a loyalty program that provides them with one exclusive offer per day for four consecutive days. (Most guests stay at the Rio for four days, hence the number of offers.) Both hospitality companies provide apps for their loyal users to check their rewards points, browse offers, and learn information about the properties as well.

3. Mobile Integration

By integrating multiple mobile platforms into an SMS campaign, hospitality corporations can take advantage of the full potential of mobile users – without forcing them to remain in the SMS platform for more information. In addition to text messaging services, many companies utilize apps, email, and websites, as well as the old-fashioned, personable phone support for their guests. The result is a more effective SMS campaign: where text messaging systems may come up short, the other platforms can pick up the slack.

Eldorado Hotel and Casino has had great success in a multi-platform marketing campaign. Combining social media and email with SMS, Eldorado has improved their customer engagement. They initially target their guest via SMS with special offers at their restaurants and night clubs. The text messages allow users to opt-in to their loyalty programs (text ELDORADO or LEGACY to short code 71266) providing their email addresses as well. This has garnered an extensive SMS and email list for the Eldorado hotel, and has increased their booking and revenue – a direct result of the SMS campaign.

SMS marketing campaigns have seen a great deal of traction in the past couple of years, but many in the hospitality industry seems to have had a difficult time incorporating them into their marketing strategies. It’s time they wake up and recognize: customers want real-time, multi-platform attention in the form of exclusive offers and an enhanced customer experience. An effective SMS campaign can provide the framework for the hospitality industry to increase customer awareness and keep their clients coming back for more.

 

 

 

 

 

October 30, 2014

Want a Personal Shopper? You Probably Already Have One

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Always dreamed of having a personal shopper? You probably already have one...in the palm of your hand.

A new survey by Perception Research Services International, a company that specializes in shopper

research, found 76% of smartphone owners use their devices for shopping purposes.

The survey notes “53% of smartphone owners rely on their devices to compare prices, 49%

to read customer reviews, 48% to search for product information, 48% to check for sales or

coupons, 37% to get product information from a manufacturer’s site, 34% to get a friend or

family member’s opinion, 31% to make a purchase, 31% to enter a contest, and 17% to view

a product demonstration.” Out of the 1,450 American adults surveyed, over half owned a

smartphone.

 

Consumers use their smartphones when shopping for a range of products, including electronics,

clothing, computers/software, groceries, cosmetics, furniture and appliances, cosmetics and

personal care products, office supplies, home decor, and pet supplies among other items. QR

codes are among the most popular mobile commerce options, with consumers using codes to

learn more about products and promotions, participate in loyalty programs and receive rewards,

read customer reviews, and obtain store addresses.

 

“Retailers and manufacturers need to adapt to a world in which shoppers are armed with a

tremendous amount of information at their fingertips—about the brand to choose, the price

to pay and the place to buy,” notes Jonathan Asher, executive vice president at Perception

Research Services International. “Retailers know they will continue to lose a certain amount of

sales to online purchases, and they must accept that some showrooming will occur. The key is

to find ways to capitalize on those opportunities in which shoppers are in their store examining

products, and make it compelling for them to make purchases there rather than go online—or to

some other retailer—to do so.”

 

Marketers are therefore encouraging shoppers to buy new products or services based on

previous purchases and shopping patterns. Companies such as shopkick and Paypal are

utilizing Bluetooth-enabled beacons to link consumer in-store data to mobile marketing. Taking

advantage of location-based technologies and tracking buyer history has subsequently made

recommending products and services to consumers easy and efficient. Even third-party

manufacturers can benefit.

 

Beacon hardware manufacturer Roximity is developing marketing technology that leverages

beacons. For instance, a supermarket using Roximity’s technology could allow a third-party

brand, such as Dole, to utilize its beacon network for a particular promotion.

Startup companies are quickly getting on board with location-based technology, using mobile

not only to help consumers find their businesses, but to add understand what products

customers like and how to incentivize greater purchases.

October 26, 2014

Why is the Hospitality Industry so Slow to Embrace Mobile?

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New research from Omnico indicates that UK consumers are less likely to use mobile devices to engage with hospitality service providers when compared with other industries. Just 13% of consumers said they would use mobile to interact with hoteliers and travel agents.

This reticence is understandable when examined from the consumer point of view. People ultimately want a better user experience, but with so many metrics to consider when booking a holiday, it’s possible that small screen devices are given short shrift. Filling in multiple fields – car rental, flights, hotels etc – is a hassle even on a desktop. Even on a mobile-optimized site or app, there’s simply too much information to divest for a quality user experience.

Thankfully for the industry, the point of purchase is just one step in the process. There is still plenty of scope to create a compelling mobile marketing campaign that simply hands off to desktop at the point of sale.

And despite the apparently-negative data collated in the UK, mobile usage has been steadily increasing in the world of hospitality. A Forrester survey from last year identified a 450% increase in mobile bookings since 2009. Some analysts predict mobile sales will be worth $26 billion by the year’s end. That’s one in five online travel dollars!

The biggest mobile marketing strides have been made post-purchase, with 75% of travelers using a mobile device to shop and book activities while on holiday, according to Forrester. Clearly, this is where the hospitality industry is benefitting most: reaching consumers who are already on vacation and for whom smartphones and tablets are the only readily-available web-connected device.

If you’re trying to create a mobile marketing campaign that works, focus on enriching the entire experience, not just selling vacations. Offer portals for booking restaurants. Provide information on local tourist sites. Gather user reviews that could help future customers. Break your mobile marketing strategy down into three key practices:

  • Promotion. Offer last minute deals, hotel discounts or coupons. Mobile – and especially SMS messaging - is perfect for issuing time-sensitive information.
  • Loyalty Rewards. Offer loyalty points with personalized incentives attached. Track data to give reward customers with the things they like. If they’re clocking up thousands of miles, offer air miles. If they use the same hotel chain around the world, try to partner with that hotel to offer discounts.
  • User Experience. Keep customers up to date on new destinations. Send weather forecasts, or travel directions. Stay engaged throughout their trip and solicit feedback in the form of reviews.

A balanced mobile marketing strategy is of vital importance in an aggressively competitive industry. The beauty of mobile is the ease with which you can subdivide customers according to personal preference, so even if your primary booking platform is your desktop website, stay plugged in to mobile and you’ll reap the long term benefits.

August 12, 2014

How to Devise a Mobile Marketing Strategy in the Hospitality and Travel Industries

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Nowadays, consumers expect a great deal from travel and hospitality companies, particularly when it comes to ease of access and information in utilizing their mobile devices. Travelers are using their mobiles for all of their needs: booking flights and accommodations, researching events and local hotspots, as well as restaurant reservations, of course. Mobile engagement is at an all-time high for these travelers, with an estimated three out of four people using devices while on a trip – that’s more than four times as many people using their mobiles to enhance their travel experience since 2009.

Corporations in the travel and tourism business have been at the forefront of keeping travelers connected via their mobile devices. The level of engagement is unparalleled. The mobile platforms in place can empower customers to find local, real-time information, and they allow these corporations to make recommendations for customers according to their preferences. Customers, in turn, can read reviews, compare prices and amenities, and score loyalty points. Best of all, customers may send and receive immediate feedback from their purchases and their experiences, increasing customer spend and attracting repeat business. And the best companies in this business are now rising to the top, managing to give the customer that “ideal experience” throughout their travels.

Creating a Mobile Marketing Strategy: Incentive, Experience, and Rewards

Devising a mobile marketing strategy requires an adherence of three specific best practices. First, a business must focus on incentives: travel deals, discounted fares and hotel stays, even parking coupons. Promotion codes are an excellent way to track advertising, offering free upgrades or deals on dining out. Second, businesses must enhance customers’ experience throughout their travels. In the age of Yelp, several bad reviews can spell disaster for a business. Cater to guests needs: update them on local events and when rooms are prepared, keep them apprised of new offers, and be sure to warn them of any potential trouble (i.e., bad weather, directions to locations, etc.). Finally, customers expect rewards for their loyalty. Give them points and coupons with detailed information about their membership: list their mileage balances, what they’ve purchased, their reservations and confirmation codes, as well. For repeat business, offer them discount codes and find out how their trip went by asking for their feedback.

Every aspect of a mobile device goes into this mobile marketing strategy. Marketers should incorporate all kinds of communications, from SMS, push, and email, to a good old-fashioned phone call. By carefully designing a targeted strategy according to your customer’s individual preferences, marketers can thereby properly execute the right level of customer engagement. The benefit to the consumer is right up-to-the-moment information and access, while travel and hospitality corporations may track customers and market to them directly in order to maximize their reservations and revenue. All in all, the key to a good mobile marketing strategy in the hospitality and travel industries is to increase and enhance customer engagement. The best in the business practice this and – with a little ingenuity and the right direction – your travel or hospitality business could also benefit from the latest in mobile technology.

August 01, 2014

How the Hospitality Industry Can Use Mobile Marketing

 

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New research from Omnico indicates that UK consumers are less likely to use mobile devices to engage with hospitality service providers when compared with other industries. Just 13% of consumers said they would use mobile to interact with hoteliers and travel agents.

Consumer reticence is understandable. Booking a holiday is a complicated affair. With so many factors to consider and cross-reference, small screen devices are given short shrift. Negotiating a variety of websites and filling in multiple fields on car rental, flights and hotels is a hassle even on a desktop browser; on a mobile device it makes for a positively unpleasant user experience. There’s simply too much information to divest

Thankfully for the hospitality industry, the point of purchase is just one step in the process. There is still plenty of scope to create a compelling mobile marketing campaign that simply hands off to desktop at the point of sale. 

And despite the apparently-negative data collated in the UK, mobile engagement has been steadily growing in the hospitality world. A Forrester survey from last year identified a 450% increase in mobile bookings since 2009. Some analysts predict mobile sales will be worth $26 billion by the year’s end. That’s one in five online travel dollars! 

The biggest strides have been made post-purchase, with 75% of travelers using a mobile device to shop and book activities while on holiday (according to Forrester). Clearly, this is where the industry is benefitting most: reaching consumers who are already on vacation and for whom smartphones and tablets are the only readily-available web-connected device.

If you’re trying to create a mobile marketing campaign that works, focus on enriching the entire experience, not just selling vacations. Offer portals for booking restaurants. Provide information on local tourist sites. Gather user reviews that could help future customers. Break your mobile marketing strategy down into three key practices:

  • Promotion. Offer last minute deals, hotel discounts or coupons. Mobile – and especially SMS messaging - is perfect for issuing time-sensitive information.
  • Loyalty Rewards. Offer loyalty points with personalized incentives attached. Track data to give reward customers with the things they like. If they’re clocking up thousands of miles, offer air miles. If they use the same hotel chain around the world, try to partner with that hotel to offer discounts.
  • User Experience. Keep customers up to date on new destinations. Send weather forecasts, or travel directions. Stay engaged throughout their trip and solicit feedback in the form of reviews.

A balanced mobile marketing strategy is crucial in such an aggressively competitive industry. The beauty of mobile is the ease with which you can subdivide customers according to personal preference. So even if your primary booking platform is your desktop website, stay plugged in to mobile and you’ll reap the benefits in the long term.

June 04, 2014

Starbucks Brewing Summer Campaign

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As life slows down and the summer heat turns up, the need for that morning hot cup of joe may not be as necessary. By that same token, the quiet lull and warmer weather make it the perfect time for Starbucks to brew a new marketing campaign pushing its summer menu of cold drinks to an audience with less on its plate (Yes, even this ubiquitous beverage giant needs a helping hand to draw business). So, ladies and gentlemen, we enter the age of the Frappuccino.

These chilled delights are currently the star in the coffee store chain’s galaxy of beverages. And, like its new and unique menu of icy blended drinks, Starbucks is taking unique steps of putting their brand in customers’ hands - sans cup sleeve - by using the power of SMS and MMS text message advertising.

Having depended on the typical concoction of signage and other conventional ads to get the word out about new products, Starbucks has weaved a web of multiple touch points, once again using a mobile marketing campaign as a means to bring more customers into their stores.

Using Twitter and Facebook to lure fans, Starbucks has also made this campaign front and center on its website. In fact, the moment you go to the starbucks.com home page, the campaign is hard to miss, “Say Yes to What’s Next...Text SMILE to 22122.” As SMS marketing goes, once customers opt-in using the ‘SMILE’ keyword to the shortcode ‘22122,’ they will receive text messages delivered directly to their cell phones about new products and other promotions.

This latest mass text campaign is similar to one Starbucks did last year. This time, customers will be treated to an SMS trivia contest where they can win prizes. The contest is also a vehicle to incentivize subscribers to take action and recognize devices for personalized future content. But, rather than going for the ‘Venti’ approach to texting, Starbucks is limiting the number of texts to just six per month. However, with more than six million followers on Twitter, nearly 37 million likes on Facebook and 23,187 stores in 64 countries, including 12,973 here in the United States, this newest campaign is sure to off-load a few million Frapps.

While this might be a monster of an example for business owners grappling with the idea of taking their brand mobile, there are a few facts about SMS marketing to know:

  • 91% of adults keep their smartphones within arm’s reach
  • 9 out of 10 mobile searches lead to action
  • 90% of text messages are read within three minutes of delivery
  • 70% of mobile searches lead to action within an hour
  • Mobile coupons/offers receive 10 times higher redemption rates than print coupons
  • 33A% of U.S. mobile users prefer offers via text
  • 50% of recipients respond to text offers


Understanding the power of mass SMS text marketing, businesses everywhere can take advantage of the convenience, affordability, personalization, immediacy and efficiency that SMS has to offer. Like Starbucks, by connecting with customers on the single device that has the most dependable reach, more businesses can watch their cups runneth over.

 

May 09, 2014

Starbucks Announce SMS for Summer Drinks

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An increasing number of businesses today are using mobile technology to help boost sales. Starbucks' new “Frappuccino Fun All Summer Long” SMS and MMS campaign launch, for instance, is just the latest way that mobile technology has been helping to increase revenue for the world-famous coffee empire.

How the “Frappuccino Fun All Summer Long” Mobile Marketing Campaign Works

The new summer digital marketing initiative sends consumers up to six MMS and six SMS messages per month in exchange for opting in. The company is issuing calls-to-action through these text messages as well as through the company's mobile app. Starbucks' Twitter and Facebook posts also contain similar consumer calls-to-action.

Once they are signed up, consumers first receive a welcome message introducing them to the “Frappuccino Fun All Summer Long” SMS and MMS program. This new marketing campaign features humorous scenarios attempting to demonstrate just how much some Starbucks customers love their Frappuccinos. For example, one scenario features an eagle who is holding a drink and dancing, while another shows a cat holding a Frappuccino. The drink disappears and leaves in its place a kaleidoscope of colors that shoot from the cat's paws.

Texting Keywords to Short Codes and Other Key Mobile Strategies

Asking consumers to text a keyword to a short code is a simple way of getting potential customers to opt in, and Starbucks is using this strategy in a variety of ways. One summer mobile marketing campaign message on Starbucks' Facebook page features a Frappuccino that has had eyes drawn onto it. The message encourages consumers to text the keyword STRAW to short code 22122. “What has a green straw and wishes it had thumbs?” the ad says. The answer: “This guy.”

Within the iPhone app inbox, one marketing message prompts consumers to text the keyword WOOHOO to the same short code. Once consumers have done so, they will continue to receive the “Frappuccino Fun All Summer Long” marketing campaign's messages.

For Starbucks, Continued Success with Mobile Marketing

Starbucks recently announced its second quarter 2014 results, which are extremely promising. In fact, the company's success may help other food and beverage retailers who are hesitant to embrace mobile technology realize that doing so is a smart business decision. All in all, Starbucks has been pleased with the effect that mobile marketing has had on its bottom line, especially when integrated with other strategies such as the company's highly successful loyalty and gift card programs.

The company's recent marketing efforts have also included its Teavana business reinvention attempts, as well as partnering with Oprah Winfrey. Just a few months ago, the coffee giant also unveiled an enhanced mobile app which enables digital tipping and digital receipts. Previous Starbucks mobile campaigns have included an SMS trivia contest and last year's summer campaign, which was similar to “Frappuccino Fun All Summer Long.”