McDonald's Offline Promotions Drive Online Traffic

McDonald’s used to be an American institution; like Christmas decorations at Thanksgiving and candy on Halloween. It is now and international phenomenon, serving nearly 54 million customers each day in 120 countries and territories. Many of us have memories of when we were younger, begging our parents to take us to get a Happy Meal. Similarly, I remember begging my parents to take me to McDonald’s so I could collect Monopoly game pieces.

This past October, McDonald’s held its Monopoly game as it does every year and I decided to check if it had any impact on McDonalds.com site traffic. Surprisingly, it did, by a whopping 234.4%. Why is that surprising? Well, it’s because there was little mention of the Monopoly game at McDonalds.com and the online game was hosted on a separate domain, monopoly.corsis.com.

Many of you are probably saying, "So what? People went to McDonalds.com assuming the online game was hosted there. They probably went, discovered the game wasn’t there, and then left." WRONG! In addition to more unique visitors McDonalds.com received a much greater attention share for the month of October; more than double the domain’s normal attention share, meaning during the month of October, visitors to McDonalds.com spent twice as much time as they typically do.

In addition to the staggering traffic to McDonalds.com in October (2.75 million), monopoly.corsis.com had over 5 million visitors in October. Counting visitors to both sites only once, nearly 5 million more people were exposed to McDonalds’ online properties than in August (before the Monopoly promotion began). Considering that the Monopoly game is mainly focused offline, that is some amazing traffic being driven by an offline promotion. But that’s not all I discovered"¦.

This last graph shows traffic to McDonalds.com prior to this past October. Notice the major spikes in traffic? Every one of those spikes is the result of drastic traffic growth and is associated with an offline promotion.

McDonalds is having great success at driving traffic through its promotions. It’s pretty remarkable considering that all of these promotions were primarily offline and all online aspects were hosted by a third party on a different domain (Promotions.com, now Corsis.com). Based on the data, if I were an online marketer for a brick and mortar company, I’d take a page from McDonalds’ playbook and create some buzz through an offline promotion.

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