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The Drum Awards Awards Case Studies Affiliate Marketing

Why Pizza Hut focused resources on helping key workers during the pandemic


By Awards Analyst, writer

October 14, 2021 | 5 min read

Partnerize and Navigate Digital won the ‘Most Effective Use of Affiliate Marketing’ category at The Drum Awards for the Digital Industries 2021. Here, the team behind the winning entry reveal the secrets of this successful project...

The challenge

The original goal of the partner program for Pizza Hut Delivery in 2020 and into 2021 was to leverage the delivery arm of this globally known restaurant outlet to respond quickly in supporting the business during the unprecedented challenges faced in 2020. However, it quickly became apparent that the channel could be utilized to underpin the wider business goal of giving back to NHS workers during the height of the pandemic.

As such Pizza Hut tasked Navigate Digital to:

  • To find a way to support NHS employees and other key workers during the Covid period.

  • Maintain and, if possible, increase orders and revenue from the partner channel through the provision of sensitive and appropriate messaging reinforcing the stay at home messaging during the pandemic with already established partner programs.

  • To act quickly to incorporate new closed user groups that benefit frontline workers during the pandemic.

  • To monitor the effectiveness of these new user groups in appealing to their demographic, tracking partners click through rates and revenue against more generic partner programs.

  • Maintain AOVs from 2019 to ensure a stabilized revenue stream which could help support the business during this challenging time.

The strategy

The adoption of closed-user groups into the program allowed Pizza Hut Delivery to specifically focus on essential workers, ‘giving back‘ in the form of discounts, increasing consumer value while also inadvertently driving incremental sales. Having never accessed closed user groups before, Navigate approached partners such as ‘Blue Light Card’ and ‘Health Service Discounts’ through the Partnerize platform. The inclusion of these providers offered a means for Pizza Hut Delivery to tailor its messaging and promotions to this unique audience.

The campaign

The campaign was launched in March, soon after stay at home orders had come into force, but continued throughout 2020 and into 2021, ramping up during periods of full lockdown. The newly enhanced, user-friendly Partnerize interface empowered Navigate Digital, on behalf of Pizza Hut, to automate previously manual tasks and speed execution. This allowed Navigate to quickly make changes and optimizations to programs, adapting creatives across multiple partners to align brand messaging for Pizza Hut Delivery during these unprecedented times. This level of automation allowed the new Pizza Hut Delivery closed user group campaigns with Blue Light Card and Health Service Discounts to be launched rapidly within a 48-hour turnaround. Tracking of these campaigns was monitored through the Partnerize platform and it quickly became apparent that these groups were performing incredibly well. The more targeted approach aligned to consumer needs was clearly paying dividends.

The combination of the outcome-based model, scale and automation, delivered effectively what Pizza Hut needed – operating leverage. While not seeing the revenue from restaurants, the business needed to justify every pound spent on marketing efforts and the partner channel offered the most viable route to support this whilst also aiding the wider business goal of rewarding key workers.

Pizza Hut really went above and beyond to ensure it could support those who were putting their lives on the line during the pandemic. While it had its own financial concerns with restaurant closures, it focused its energy on supporting local communities, donating 300,000 free meals to NHS workers. Incorporating closed-user groups into its partner programs, which specially focused on this demographic, further enhanced these efforts.

The results

The results from this campaign were unintentional but incredibly welcome. While Pizza Hut Delivery of course wanted to help support the wider business during dine-in outlet closure, this campaign originally began as an opportunity to reward NHS workers for their outstanding work during the pandemic. However, in focusing on this demographic they found a real niche in aligning messaging and discounts with closed-user groups which delivered staggering results:

  • The launch of these new closed user group campaigns was executed by Navigate Digital within 24 hours of receiving the green light from Pizza Hut.

  • Partnerize’s unique API-based platform equipped Navigate to pivot in response to unpredictable market changes in real-time, resulting in a 45% increase in partner website clicks YoY.

  • During the second half of 2020, the closed-user groups accounted for 15% of all partner sales.

  • The partnership channel experienced a surge of 37% in orders and 52% in revenue YoY, contributing over £4.5m to total business revenue and thus helping to support during restaurant closures.

  • AOVs in 2020 delivered a 10% increase YoY with closed-user groups a significant contributing factor to this.

  • Pizza Hut Delivery is now looking to create new closed-user groups with other audiences, such as students, teachers and others in social services related roles.

This project was a winner at The Drum Awards for Digital Industries 2021. Find out which of The Drum Awards are currently open for entry.

The Drum Awards Awards Case Studies Affiliate Marketing

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Navigate Digital

THE CHALLENGER BRAND AGENCY Navigate Digital is the performance marketing agency of choice for challenger brands, delivering cutting-edge expertise for a truly...

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