How Burger King has transformed its marketing

09 Jan. ‘19

We’ve written up more than 40 success stories about online marketing automation, but that doesn’t mean Mindbox is only for internet retail.

Today we bring you the story of Mindbox-powered marketing automation in Burger King, a decidedly bricks-and-mortar type of business.

Our first step was to automate promotions so that POS terminals ran smoothly with no delays and partner discount codes were given out automatically without intervention from cashiers. Next we helped to launch the first pre-ordering mobile app in the country, which at the time of writing already has more than 3.3 million users. After that, we set up targeted promotions and personalised customer communications.

Burger King

Founded in 1954, Burger King has more than 12,500 outlets worldwide with a combined daily footfall in excess of 11 million.

Burger King entered the Russian market in 2010 and has since become the second largest restaurant chain in the country, with more than 660 outlets serving around 500,000 customers daily.

What the customer needed

Burger King cashiers invite customers to participate in two types of promotions to encourage additional purchases:

  • A coupon that can be exchanged for a discount or free item from the menu, e.g. «Buy two portions of fries and get a free drink»
  • A code that can be exchanged for bonuses from Burger King partners. For example, buy a «Tank Burger» and get a bonus code for World of Tanks.

Codes used to be printed on cards which the cashiers gave out to customers who bought the Tank Burger. However, problems arose with a limited number of cashiers pocketing the cards and selling the codes on the internet. Some cashiers simply forgot to hand them out.

In order to prevent such irregularities, Burger King management decided to eliminate human intervention from the process by teaching their internal IT systems to calculate promotions in real time and apply them by printing the codes on till receipts. A lot of time and resources were invested in adapting their internal systems and POS software.

The first iteration didn’t fare as well as they hoped. Their POS system took a long time to process orders and queues began to grow. After this experience, Burger King decided to deploy a separate, dedicated marketing platform that would handle code printing and open up new marketing opportunities with unified customer profiles, targeted promotions and personalised messaging.

What Burger King acheived with Mindbox over two years of operation:

  1. Promotions can now be launched in a couple of hours as opposed to a number of weeks.
  2. Partner codes are automatically printed on receipts (or sent via email if orders were placed via the Burger King mobile app).
  3. Client data is stored in a centralised database for use in personalised promotions.
  4. We helped develop the first restaurant pre-order mobile app in the country. In the first six months of operation it has come to account for 4% of revenue.
  5. The mobile app now has 3.3 million users.

Read on to find out how all this happened.

How Burger King selected its marketing automation platform

The choice came down to two options – Salesforce and Mindbox. The main selection criteria were that the system be transparent and reliable and that it must reduce marketing and IT department workload.

Sergey Ocheretin
Sergey Ocheretin,
Chief Digital Officer
at Burger King

Salesforce is big and expensive and goes far beyond just CRM functionality. The processing is more financially-oriented, and that’s why we chose Mindbox. From the moment we first tried it we just liked it and couldn’t put it down.

Victor Marenchuk
Victor Marenchuk,
Head of brand marketing at Burger King

From a marketing perspective, my main stipulation for the choice of platform is that everything should work perfectly, with no printing errors or system glitches.

What Mindbox did for Burger King

We began working on the Burger King project in 2016.

  • February 2017 — integration with POS, all codes and promotions now processed in Mindbox, POS terminals run like clockwork.
  • March 2017 — created unified customer database.
  • January 2018 — designed mobile pre-order app and assisted with its launch.
  • October 2018 — launched loyalty programme in mobile app and began sending out messages.

Reduced time to launch new promotions

Burger King runs partner promotions to increase its own sales. Customers are invited to purchase a promotional menu item that comes with a bonus code from one of its partners, for example:

  1. Buy a Tank Burger and get a bonus code for World of Tanks. The code is automatically printed on customer receipts.
  2. Code for free books and 20% off orders at the LitRes online bookstore. Burker King mobile app users receive their code via email.
  3. Code for free Vkontakte (leading Russian social network) profile stickers, automatically printed on receipts when customers purchase Chicken Fries. The code is redeemed via the Burger King chatbot in Vkontakte.
Email with LitRes discount code for customers ordering via the Burger King app
Email with LitRes discount code for customers ordering via the Burger King app

Prior to deploying Mindbox, launching promotions was a complex procedure:

  • Marketing created a project description for POS developers to implement.
  • POS developers evaluated the project requirements and modified the POS software as necessary.
  • The same developers then tested the modified software and installed it on POS terminals in restaurants across the chain.

With this process it took from one to two weeks to implement just a single promotion, which was not conducive to the expansion of the chain’s partner programme. Burger King needed a fast and simple method of creating promotions that would not slow their POS terminals down.

The solution

In November 2016 Burger King deployed the Mindbox platform, where all promotions are now configured. The integration eliminated any further need to modify POS software. The time required to configure and test a promotion was reduced from two weeks to two hours. Half an hour later, POS terminals and self-service kiosks begin printing promotional codes on receipts.

Now all the Burger King marketing team needs to set up a joint promotional campaign is Mindbox and a pool of partner codes.

Victor Marenchuk
Victor Marenchuk,
Head of brand marketing at Burger King

The nightmare is over, with Mindbox it takes no more than two hours to set up and test a promotion.

Nikolay Selishchev
Nikolay Selishchev,
Senior marketing manager at Burger King

Mindbox let us expand our partner network and work with internet companies like the electronic bookstore LitRes and online learning portal “Smotri.Uchis”.

Faster POS terminals

Before Mindbox came along, new promotions with complicated back-end rules that took a long time to calculate sometimes led to long queues at the tills. When such situations arose, it would take a whole day for technical support to rectify the problem.

When long queues form because of slow POS terminals, business suffers. Money and resources invested in marketing and advertising are lost. When customers come to a restaurant in hopes of getting their promised discount, many will see the queue and turn away. Thousands of dissatisfied customers across the country is not a good return on marketing investment.

Even worse, the lagging POS terminals were jeopardising relations with the target audience of the very promotions that were slowing them down. The average spend of customers who came for the partner code promotions was twice that of regular customers.

Prior to implementing online monitoring, technical problems were identified and addressed manually:

  • Cashiers reported errors to technical support.
  • The retail director and regional managers randomly visited restaurants to check that promotions were running properly.

Burger King needed a real-time monitoring solution that would keep track of how promotions were working on POS terminals and immediately report any malfunctions.

The solution

Once integrated with the POS system, Mindbox took over the entire process of applying promotions and recalculating menu item prices. Any irregularity in communication between Mindbox and POS terminals is instantly reported via email to Burger King technicians, allowing them to quickly and accurately pinpoint the source of the problem, be it in the POS terminals, the internal network or in Mindbox itself.

Victor Marenchuk
Victor Marenchuk,
Head of brand marketing at Burger King

Previously I would go into our BI system and just see the previous day’s sales without any corellation to footfall data. Now I get data about sales volumes linked to POS terminal occupancy rate and footfall. When a problem arises I can question everyone involved in the process to find out what happened and where. In nine cases out of ten we find that the problem was down to data synchronisation problems on our server, and not in the Mindbox CRM system.
UCS now reports fewer problems with receipts not printing and the POS terminals run more smoothly because we reduced the load on them by deploying an external CRM.

Below is a screenshot showing the Mindbox integration dashboard. The left column lists all the processes relating to POS software and promotions, with the next column over displaying their status:


Burger King also introduced its own metric to monitor the time taken from a cashier registering a receipt with a promotional item and its slip being printed. This metric was not to exceed 0.5 seconds.

Automated printing of promotional codes on receipts

Burger King partners with other companies to attract affluent customers whose typical spend is twice the usual average. Customers purchasing a Tank Burger, for example, receive a World of Tanks bonus code. Similar promotions were run in conjunction with Vkontakte and LitRes.

Prior to Mindbox, bonus code distribution followed the standard pattern used in most companies. Burger King received a pool of codes from each partner and then printed them on cards or flyers. The printed codes were handed out to cashiers to give to qualifying customers. The process was difficult to monitor and gave rise to instances of staff dishonesty.

The solution

Till receipts are also a medium for communication with customers. Mindbox can generate a personal message that can be displayed to the customer on POS or auxilliary tablet screens, printed on receipts, sent to their mobile app or delivered via email. These messages can contain any information stored in the system, such as the customer’s name, loyalty points balance, all-time spend and so forth.

This capability was used in order to eliminate manual handling of bonus codes. Mindbox automatically selects an appropriate code and prints it on the customer’s receipt.

Mindbox lets Burger King track the number of distributed and activated bonus codes, and configure alerts to notify when codes are running out
Mindbox lets Burger King track the number of distributed and activated bonus codes, and configure alerts to notify when codes are running out

Consolidated customer data from different sources into a unified platform

Burger King held its customer data in various ERP and CRM systems. With purchases stored in one system and behaviour data in another, it was difficult to build a clear portrait of customers.

This setup also led to duplication, where correlated data for one customer were stored in multiple entries in different systems. Duplication gives rise to spam – if the marketing team sends out a mass mailing to the entire customer database, some will receive two or more copies of the same message.

The solution

At the core of the Mindbox system is the CDP (Customer Data Platform) which can collate together fragments of customer information (purchases, behaviour, personal data) from different systems. The CDP allows businesses to create a complete portrait of each customer. The resulting data are complete, clean and easy to use.

Burger King uploaded customer data from all its various sources into Mindbox, where they were compiled into a single database of 6 million unique customer profiles.

Unified customer profile in Mindbox
This is what a unified customer profile in Mindbox looks like. Here we can view the customer’s personal data and history of interactions with the company, whether they use the mobile app and what mass mailings they receive

With all customer data neatly unified, Burger King can now segment its customer base and send its customers only the messages that are relevant to their interests. For example, customers with a total spend of between 5,000 and 10,000 roubles (approx. £60 to £120) will receive a discount code for 5% off their next purchase.

With a properly organised and clean database it’s much easier to identify customers that have not purchased in a long time, and take measures to encourage them to return. The marketing team can simply define a segment and configure an automatic campaign to send out gift tokens redeemable against purchases. Regular visitors won’t receive these messages.

We helped develop and launch a pre-order mobile app

The mobile app reduces queues at restaurant counters. Users make their orders via the app in advance (e.g. on their way to the restaurant) and pick them up when they’re ready without waiting in line.

Moreover, the app enables Burger King’s marketing to address the user directly with discounts, promotions and personal offers. In future the app could provide an interface to a loyalty programme account.

The solution

We started designing the mobile app in May of 2017. In September we announced the launch and released a beta version for testing. In January 2018 we uploaded the first general release to the App Store and Google Play.

Victor Marenchuk
Victor Marenchuk,
Head of brand marketing at Burger King

The 29th of January is a very special date for us. We had our annual conference in Moscow where all the directors and regional managers get together. It was also Cyber Monday and we were selling Whoppers for 29 roubles (approx. £0.33). We had to stop the promotion two hours after it started because the restaurants ran out of patties. We added a whole lot of new customers to our database that day. Of course, there was the downside that we had to close doors after just two hours, but it was on the whole a very positive day for sales with serious growth and a big boost in the number of app users.

Mindbox took on three main aspects of app development:

  • UX/UI — we designed the user interface for the pilot version of the app.
  • Architecture — how the app interacts with the CRM.
  • Business processes — what the app should do and how.
The Burger King app on the App Store
The Burger King app on the App Store

The app currently accounts for 4% of all revenue. Burger King plans to increase this to 7% by the end of 2018.

Loyalty programme and personalised communications

The marketing team at Burger King appreciates the importance of not losing contact with customers who have started to use their mobile app, and to this end they decided to introduce automated and manual email campaigns along with a loyalty programme.

The solution

Burger King contracted EmailSoldiers to develop their mass-mailing strategy and content. The first mass campaign was delivered in April 2018.

In addition, we set up some triggers:

  • Customers who haven’t made a purchase via the app for a month receive 100 bonus points and an email invitation to spend them.
  • 20 days after installing the app, if the user hasn’t made a purchase for 10 days they will receive an email with a meal discount.
  • 35 days after installing the app, if the user hasn’t made a purchase for 10 days they will receive an email with a list of all promotions that are currently running.

Triggered campaign resultss

22.4 %Average open rate

4.15 %Average CTR to App Store and Google Play

Triggered email with a list of all current promotions for users who haven't ordered via the app for ten days
Triggered email with a list of all current promotions for users who haven’t ordered via the app for ten days

The loyalty programme was launched in September 2018, with promotions and bonus points for purchases and inviting friends to use the app.

The loyalty system is points-based. For example if a user hasn’t logged in to the app for a long time, we send them an email with bonuses that can be redeemed against the price of a purchase.

Email to customers who have not made a purchase through the app in a long time, awarding 100 points that can be redeemed against the price of an order
Email to customers who have not made a purchase through the app in a long time, awarding 100 points that can be redeemed against the price of an order

We also set up a referral programme wherein users are awarded additional bonus points for inviting friends to use the mobile app.

In October of this year we set up push notifications with special offers like “Buy a burger and get a free soft drink”.
Results from mobile app and mass mailing:

  • Mobile app user base has grown to 3.3 million.
  • 70% of app users make repeat orders.

Future plans

  • Extend mass mailing reach to social networks and messenger channels.
  • Introduce a prepaid system where points can be exchanged in advance for a regular purchase of a particular menu item.
  • Let customers pay part of their order at the till using loyalty points via the mobile app.
  • Show cashiers personalised promotions to offer to customers.
  • Gather information about customers’ favourite menu items and offer discounts on those items at the till.
Victor Marenchuk
Victor Marenchuk,
Head of brand marketing at Burger King

What Burger King says

Promotions were launched in the timeframes I set out for them and they proved profitable. In several situations my expectations were exceeded because previously I had no idea that there were ways to reduce the number of problems, and to identify and solve those problems.

Now I just send out a pool of bonus codes and ask for them to be entered into the system. I get a reply straight back telling me everything will be good to go within two hours.

What I don’t like: I don’t like that I still have to think. Ideally I wouldn’t have to do that. IDeally someone would do all the thinking for me and then write and tell me that they’ve taken care of everything 🙂

What I do like: I’m getting a better understanding of how the system works. I’m not an IT guy, my job is marketing, but all the complicated stuff was explained in simple terms – how promotions work, how sequences work, how things should be set up. What I like most is that I get asked for clarifications – «we’re launching this now, do you want this bit to be like this or like that? Do you want to use this sequence or that sequence?» There are lots of projects and not enough time to think through all the minutiae and I don’t have any precedents to refer to, so it’s very important to me that we have experts who know exactly what they’re doing and can advise how best to set things up.

Sergey Ocheretin
Sergey Ocheretin,
Chief Digital Officer
at Burger King

I’m really pleased with the Mindbox integration and system architecture. I only started getting into it deeper this year when we really began working with it in earnest. I saw how various things are set up and configured. I’d say there’s room for improvement but I can understand how everything works.

I definitely wouldn’t recommend it to KFC or MacDonald’s 🙂 Mindbox is a «terrible system», «nothing ever works», «it’s nothing but trouble» 🙂

Our next major goal is to engage with our clients in social networks. We’ll be focusing much more on online activities.

In summary

Burger King tasked Mindbox with improving the procedure of enabling and running promotions on POS terminals. Promotions previously had to be enabled by the POS terminal software developers, a process which took from one to two weeks. The POS terminals were struggling to do three things at once – take orders, apply promotional modifications to the order, and print receipts.

Now promotions are enabled on the Mindbox platform. We take care of:

  • Enabling and running promotions in all Burger King restaurants across Russia and in the mobile app. Promotions can now be set up in two hours instead of two weeks.
  • Printing partner bonus codes on receipts. Bonus codes are automatically printed on receipts when an order contains a promotional menu item, and POS terminals no longer freeze up.
  • Monitoring POS terminal status in all restaurants in Russia. The Mindbox admin console displays the health status of POS terminals and promotions in all restaurants across the country. If a malfunction occurs, our system immediately sends an alert.

With the problem of POS terminals and promotions solved, we set about doing a whole lot more:

  • Cleaned up the Burger King customer database.
  • Helped designe their mobile app.
  • Used the sanitised database to launch campaigns promoting the mobile app.
  • Integrated a loyalty programme with the mobile app featuring coupons, promotions, bonus points for purchases and inviting friends.

The Burger King mobile app has 3.3 million users, 70% of whom make repeat purchases.

The Mindbox team

George Rossinskiy

George RossinskiyProject manager
Ilya Tsirulnikov

Ilya TsirulnikovLoyalty programme product owner
Maria Vekshina

Maria VekshinaEditor
Nadezhda Marincheva

Nadezhda MarinchevaMarketing director