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Lessons Learned from a Digital Deployment

Devising a successful digital strategy can be a complex undertaking, due to the fluid nature of the medium. The standard for digital projects is forever changing, so there is much to consider, but first and foremost, there must be collaboration between marketing and IT to foster a strategy that meets the brand’s objectives. Everything we execute on behalf of the Rita’s Italian Ice ( brand must be born out of our brand purpose — “The Care and Feeding of Happiness.” We approach every marketing channel with that filter.

For digital, we look for placements and programs that align directly with the brand and consumers, while deploying technology that is easy to use, fun and engaging. Our approach with any technology that is deployed is that it is also meant to be ever-changing — so as not to grow stale as consumers’ expectations grow. We want Rita’s to be a part of what’s happening every day, but not forced. In order to find that balance, we work closely with our partners to identify placements, channels, programs, etc. that make sense.

Areas of opportunity
Location. There have emerged great prospects for marketing from a hyper-local perspective; however, there are nuances at that level that must be considered. With our new mobile loyalty partner, Relevant (, we have initiated the use of beacons at each of our locations. Our new mobile app not only has the ability to point guests to the nearest Rita’s, but it gives loyal fans more ways to earn rewards and engage via social media. Now, fans can share their Rita’s experiences with their personal social networks directly from the app. This has greatly improved the user and franchisee experience by being more accurate. It also opens the door for expansion into customer- and location-specific push notifications in the future. This improves the guest experience for Rita’s fans by enabling them to more easily earn rewards customized to their personal preferences.

Social. Our new app allows easier integration and synergies with social media for our customers, as well as more opportunities for our brand to connect with them. We all know that the social media landscape is constantly evolving and changing, but what remains the same is the consumers’ desire for immediacy. Our goal is to continue to be where they are and create a quick, relevant and fun user experience.

3 Keys for a successful rollout
1. Measured momentum. Don’t try and push everything out at once. A staggered approach to deploying technologies or new initiatives is wise as it can help to ensure that each deployment is executed well and up to standards of excellence. This also helps when you want to have a schedule of deploying new programming on a regular basis.

2. Communication. You can never over communicate, whether it is to your internal stakeholders, your franchisees or your customers. The success of any program relies on the support of everyone within your system. Make sure everyone is included in the process and aligned so that you can have flawless execution.

3. Adaptability. One of the reasons we chose to team with Relevant was the company’s willingness and ability to grow with us as we deploy new technologies. We work closely together to ensure that everyone is aware of what’s coming and how to leverage that. Being positioned to embrace whatever new technology or method that our customers want is key to success.

What was your first job?
Administrative assistant at an independent television station in Philadelphia.

Who inspires you?
My children.

What are your hobbies?
Movies, reading, acting in local theater.

What technologies excite you?
Anything that promotes education or the betterment of the planet.

Sage Advice:
Stay true to your purpose.

What is one other job that you would like to try?
Life coach.

What is one goal that you would like to achieve in your life?
Learn how to ride a horse.

What three people would you invite to lunch?
Maya Angelou, my father, and Benjamin Franklin.

What is your favorite book?
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.

What is your favorite vacation spot?
Sea Island, Georgia.

Robin Seward is the chief marketing officer for Rita’s Italian Ice. Prior to joining Rita’s, Robin was the vice president of brand marketing for Arby’s Restaurant Group.

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