How Church’s Chicken® Took Control of Their Brand Online
- Food Services
- 950+ domestic locations
- Atlanta, Georgia
In the beginning, there was chicken
These days, Church’s Chicken is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, but when it was founded in 1952, it was just one restaurant, situated across the street from the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, serving what would eventually become its signature fried chicken, jalapenos and Honey-Butter Biscuits™. Today, with more than 1500 global locations, Church’s brings its famous down-home flavour to fanatical customers around the world.
Church’s built a tremendous customer bedrock and cultural presence — but they were hitting a ceiling online
In the nearly 70 years since opening its first restaurant, Church’s Chicken has cultivated a loyal customer base. People who love Church’s seriously love Church’s. For that reason, Church’s set out to expand beyond their core, to reach new customers, particularly on digital channels, where impact and ROI were perennially hard to measure.
“We get incredibly high scores for our food from our guests — it has great flavour and it travels really well — that’s what we’re known for,” states Alan Magee, Vice President of Digital Marketing and Technology at Church’s Chicken. “We had the opportunity to expand that reach to a new audience. We’ve been talking to our core customer for a long time — that’s somebody who comes out to one of our restaurants a couple of days a week. We wanted to reach those people who are buying QSR but, for some reason, Church’s was just outside their consideration set. This was a shift in our strategy to expand our customer base.”
To achieve this, Church’s attacked the opportunity from every front. They launched a new brand advertising campaign, media strategy and, crucially, created an elevated digital approach. “We needed to capture those people who are performing unbranded searches for QSR and fast food and introduce them to Church’s,” Magee explained. “The question then becomes, how do we get them the information they need when they’re trying to make that decision about what they’re going to eat in the next 10 minutes?”
A multi-pronged solution to bringing a bricks-and-mortar legacy brand to the digital surface
Church’s Chicken uses Yext to manage the digital facts about its brand. Yext enables brands like Church’s Chicken to update and maintain important brand information across their websites, mobile apps, internal systems and the entire knowledge network — approximately 175 digital services globally, including Google, Amazon Alexa, Apple, Bing, Facebook, Yahoo and Yelp. Church’s Chicken also set up conversion tracking, to better understand the revenue impact of its online efforts.
“Before Yext, we really didn’t know how many people were viewing our listings,” says Magee. “What’s the impact of media? What’s the impact of seasonality? Of these limited-time offers and promotions? Now, not only are we able to see that we’re driving activity — of people finding us in search and visiting our pages — but then we can see if we’re turning them into taking an action (conversion).”
Beyond measuring ROI, these insights have been particularly informative in painting a more complete picture of where gaps in customer education exist, thus empowering Church’s to be more targeted in their efforts to make sure the right information is being delivered at crucial decision-making moments.
“In the future,” continued Magee, “We will be focusing on continuing to drive those digital transactions. We are still relatively new in digital ordering. Our guest, who’s been with the brand for years, only knows to come through the drive-thru or walk up to the front counter and order. So the power of a good search experience — to be able to say, ‘Hey, here’s your one-click Order Ahead,’ whether it’s ordering through Google, or through our website — I think that’s at the core of how we’re going to grow because that’s where people are spending their time. This is how people are increasingly accessing the brand today. We want to be there at all of those access points to turn interest into a transaction.”
And the numbers tell the story: Church’s now has a considerably elevated presence at those consumer access points
Between September 2019 and April 2020, Church’s Chicken experienced a 218% increase in listing impressions, compared to the same period in 2018 and early 2019. 43% of the search queries that it now appears in results for are unbranded. In addition to a 20% increase in clicks for directions, a 21% increase in website clicks and a 55% increase in clicks-to-call over the same period, the brand sees an online conversion rate of 12.84% for Yext solutions — this includes a 1.07% conversion rate for its pages and 39.34% conversion rate for its listings.
Church’s Chicken drives an estimated $17.6M per year (annualised) with Yext solutions. Clicks for directions on their listings and pages drives the most estimated revenue of any customer action click: $3.7M per year (annualised).