QSR Innovators: Del Taco VP of Marketing Technology Erin Levzow
Digital marketing veteran Erin Levzow has joined Del Taco as its new Vice President of Marketing Technology, a newly created role to help the brand boost its digital offerings. Brand Innovators caught up with Levzow to talk about her new role and how the QSR is adapting to digital this year.
Digital marketing veteran Erin Levzow has joined Del Taco as its new Vice President of Marketing Technology, a newly created role to help the brand boost its digital offerings.
Levzow will be responsible for leading the QSR’s marketing technology team and developing strategic, integrated programs that are designed to drive loyalty and increase visits. This includes running the brand’s mobile app, digital ordering and CRM strategy, as well as managing third-party delivery partnerships.
Levzow joins the QSR company as the category has generally held steady during the pandemic year. Unlike traditional dine-in restaurants, which have been hard hit by the coronavirus, QSR brands have performed much better. Those that offer drive-thru, like Del Taco, tend to perform the best. Prior to the pandemic, an average of 70 percent of fast food revenue came from drive-thrus, according to the NPD Group. Revenues from drive-thru generated $8.3 billion across the QSR industry in March, up from $8 billion in March 2019. Del Taco reported $120.7 million in revenue in Q3, up 4.1 percent over 2019.
Building on this momentum, Del Taco is pivoting to improve its digital program in order to make online and mobile ordering much easier so that consumers will continue to order for pick up or delivery.
Levzow brings a wide breadth of experience in marketing technology, mobile apps and ordering technology, as well as building loyalty and rewards programs. Ranking on Mobile Marketer’s Top 25 Women to Watch in Mobile Marketing list, she brings more than 15 years of marketing experience in hotels, casino gaming and restaurants to the new role. Levzow is known in the industry for her insights in mobile, digital, social media, loyalty and ecommerce.
She comes to Del Taco from Marcus Hotels & Resorts where she served as Vice President of Marketing and Ecommerce/CMO. Prior to that, Levzow served as Vice President of Marketing/CMO at Freebirds World Burrito. She has also held senior marketing roles at Wingstop, Palms Casino Resort, MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment Corporation.
Levzow joins Del Taco just in time for annual promotions such as National Guacamole Day in September and Tacoberfest in October, both campaigns to help promote taco consumption and platforms to promote Del Taco being named by Thrillist Fasties as the Best Fast Food Taco in America.
Brand Innovators caught up with Levzow to talk about her new role and how the QSR is adapting to digital this year.
Del Taco created this new role of Vice President Marketing Technology to help build up its digital offerings as technology becomes more critical for customers. Can you tell me about the new role and what you hope to accomplish with it?
I am leading all marketing and technology for Del Taco. They have a great foundation and we are just ready to take it to the next level whether that means looking at how we produce and how we use loyalty to all of the other facets of technology and our enablement and our CRM.
I am very excited to be joining such an amazing brand. It is especially exciting, especially due to the learning of the covid effect. Now people can work remotely quite successfully. I’m enjoying living in the Midwest and working for an amazing brand that is throughout the United States. Learning that everybody doesn't have to be together all of the time has been really interesting.
The pandemic has been a hard year for restaurants, but QSRs are still able to attract customers through low contacts options like delivery and drive-thru. How has Del Taco been adapting to this shift in consumer behavior?
We were already built for drive-thru and all of that. We were already in a great position whether it is through delivery through our own app or for people already coming through the drive-thru to remind people that we are here with what they love: fresh tacos, and they are delicious.
What kinds of campaigns are you working on?
I am relatively new to the role, but I will say that crispy chicken has been around for awhile and we have more stuff coming out. We will be really focused on what we know that we do really well.
As you saw for National Guacamole Day, we ran a very successful campaign around our guacamole. Our guacamole is very fresh, it is made in the restaurant. It is truly fresh, which is kind of crazy for a QSR brand and the passion that is put into this brand is just astounding and what you are able to get for the cost is amazing.
You mentioned that you are improving the loyalty program, can you tell me a little bit more about that?
I am still new to the role, so there is still a lot of learn and understand. But I believe that we need to really focus in on our customer and that is what the team here already does really really well. My goal is to add technology to do that to continue to focus on the customer. But it is just another arm of what already exists. Currently there is not a loyalty program so it is something new that the brand would be exploring.
You have a strong background in marketing for hotels and restaurants. Is there anything unique about marketing tacos?
It is funny you ask because when people ask about my background and how I have worked in so many different industries, they ask, “how do you change your marketing?” I always tell them that marketing is about understanding what the consumers wants and needs are and then meeting them there. So whether it was with a Vegas dream vacation, I never sold them just a hotel room, I was telling them about the escape they could have.
Whether it was Wingstop and wings, and the craveability of it, tacos aren’t too far off. There is a huge passion behind tacos.People love tacos, that is why an entire day of the week is dedicated to it, Taco Tuesday. Although I am a big believer, every day could be taco day as far as I am concerned. It is really about understanding what people crave, when they crave it and then meeting them there. And then understanding why sites like Thrillist and other brands have named us the best taco, and reminding people why they don’t want to go anywhere else.
What kinds of research are you doing as a brand doing to understand these customers?
We do talk to our customers and do a lot of research behind what people’s wants and needs are. Do you need tacos in your life? I would argue that yes you do. But others might say, “No you don't need them, you want them.” So it is really important that we are understanding our consumers’ wants and needs whether it is through digital research or in-person research.
What kinds of technology will you be adopting for the brand?
That is still to be determined. A lot of this is going to be found in the discovery phase. But the goal is to look at how to meet our customer where they want to be met.
Do you have anything special planned around Halloween or the upcoming fall and winter holidays?
Absolutely, whether it is a national holiday or something like National Guacamole Day, which as far as we are concerned is a national holiday, we do, of course, have a marketing calendar built around all of those holidays.
Any of our promotions and our celebrations are something that someone can get excited about. When you download our app, you immediately get an offer, Once people have our tacos, try our tacos and get engaged with Del Taco, they keep coming back and that is something that has been amazing about working with this brand.