Digital Marketing, Email, Social Media Case Studies, Email Marketing Advice

Runza Combines Social Media and Email – Something to Chew On

Remember, the goal isn’t to be good at social media. The goal is to be good at business because of social media.

Here’s one of the best ways to live that creed. Proactively use your social outposts to drive behavior among your current and prospective customers that has a higher value than just a one click “follow” or “like.”

We get so caught up in social media empire building that we sometimes forget that we’ve already invested years of effort and many dollars into building other elements of our businesses, like websites and email lists. While it’s true that these legacy programs are the Jan to social media’s Marcia, that doesn’t mean they aren’t tremendously effective.

runza facebook pageThat’s why I was happy to see Runza Restaurants using their custom Facebook landing tab as a sign-up mechanism for their “Tast-e-mail” program. “What’s a Runza” you ask? Son, you clearly are not a Husker. Runza is as much a part of Nebraska as corn, Tom Osborne, and the penis of the prairie (the iconically phallic state capitol building).

Runza is a (perhaps not coincidentally) football-shaped pie filled with delicious ground beef, onions, runza insidecabbage and spices. Sort of like haggis, but wrapped with dough instead of stomach. Or, the world’s most fabulous Hot Pocket.

One Goal. Multiple Channels

Runza’s commitment to the Taste-e-mail program doesn’t end at Facebook, either. The home page of the Runza website devotes significant real estate to email sign-up (although I wish you could subscribe from the home page itself, rather than having to click to another page. Conversion studies have shown that being able to sign up without a click increases response rate considerably)

It’s interesting that the website sign-up for Runza’s email program asks for mobile phone number to opt-in to text message offers. I love this idea, but curiously the Facebook sign-up form doesn’t include this field. Puzzling, since upwards of 150 million people access Facebook from a mobile device monthly.

I also wish that Runza (and almost all companies) asked for Twitter handle and/or Facebook address. This would make it a lot easier to determine how Runza could connect with its customers in social media, could it not? Instead of asking for birth year, city, and state (plus zip), couldn’t Runza instead ask for Twitter handle? And wouldn’t they be more likely to get that information?

Immediate E-Gratification

Runza does a great job with the initial email once you’ve signed up. Within seconds I received a confirmation with a bar coded, time stamped offer. That’s the way to do it. Drive action by putting a time limit on redemption. If I was still in Nebraska, I’d be at drive-through right now.

runza in storeI don’t, however, love the way Runza handles the in-store sign-up process. It’s terrific that they are promoting the Taste-e-mail via tents on each table in the restaurants. But, they ask me to go to the website or ask an employee for a sign-up form. Seriously? The Runza website doesn’t allow sign-ups from a mobile device, so I either need to take a picture of the sign-up form, steal it, or go to the counter and ask a harried Runza worker for a paper form. None of those options are very convenient.

Why aren’t they directing me to Facebook (which isn’t even mentioned). Or better yet, why aren’t they allowing email opt-ins via text message – a fantastically effective way to build email lists at point-of-sale?

Mmmm. Social Media plus Email Marketing. Mmmm.

There are many elements of this Runza program that I love, including their commitment to a particular, high value, user action (email subscription) across multiple channels. I love the Facebook landing tab. Asking for mobile phone number is smart, too. Yet, there are details of this program that could be improved, and the inconsistencies in data collection and approach lead me to presume that different people at Runza are responsible for different components of this effort – as is often the case.

The best practice is to first take the cake you’ve already bought, and then add social media frosting to it. And the optimal way to do that is to use one set of bakers.

Overall, this Runza email/social effort is done well, and if you ever find yourself in Nebraska, you need to try one. Trust me.

Facebook Comments


  1. says


    Fantastic example of how social & email can complement each other, and how to help people move from your potential audience to your actual one (to use your comparison from September 22).

    They ought to simplify that signup form, though – it’d be cool to get their Twitter handle, but that form is getting a bit long as-is. I’d probably lose the Confirm Email and Last Name fields to make some room for a Twitter handle while keeping the form from getting out of control.

    Oh, and thanks for making me hungry while lunch is still 3 hours away… 😉

  2. Remig1209 says

    I agree with your point in which the ‘in-store’ effort is an epic fail when there are so many already connected through mobile technology. The use of a mobile barcode or a snaptell type service would be a great way to integrate the ‘in-store’ experience. Nice post.

  3. says

    Jay –
    Great case study and insights. The other compliment I would add is that I like the design of the welcome email and the fact that it isn’t one big image, like almost every email I receive. Even without images turned on, I could read all of the content of the email so i (or a user) can decide whether or not they want to download the images and take advantage.
    I would also agree with Justin that they could simplify the sign up form and try to get additional ideal information later.

  4. Craig Samborski says

    Great piece. It is very curious how the opt-in process is so…well…dated. Seems like that would be an easy fix to what is otherwise a nice program.

    Thanks Jay Baer

  5. says

    This is an excellent case study, email marketing sometimes gets lost in the social media hype but this example shows how well various mediums complement each other.

  6. says

    Love this: “…legacy programs are the Jan to social media’s Marcia”. I’m glad to see you encouraging the use of traditional marketing methods in combination with social media as opposed to social media replacing them. As a marketing exec in a technology company, I can tell you it’s frustrating to read all these social media blogs saying traditional marketing is dead. It’s not. We use it every day as do many of my colleagues throughout the industry. I think it’s important to add social media to the mix as another way to go beyond communicating with customers and actually connecting with them. But social media isn’t the only trick up our collective marketing sleeves.

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