Kelly Fitzpatrick

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“Big Data” is still a concept that many leaders in the restaurant industry are trying to grasp, and one of the tactics for experimenting with customer data collection and targeting is the card-linked offer, seen in a recent program at Boston Market.

The Denver-based fast-casual chain ran a test of edo Interactive’s card-linked offers in May 2012 and is running a similar program this year, where customers are given a $3 rebate instantly when they spend $15 more on a debit or credit card linked to receive such offers. Consumers enroll in the program through their banks or credit card issuers, which then alert the cardholders to offers from merchants like Boston Market via email, text or no deposit bonus casino mobile-app notifications.

The pitch to cardholders is that the debit cards they already use daily would then function as loyalty cardspring at stores they visit, without them having to clip coupons or print out daily deals.

Boston Market pays a small fee per redemption, but the card-linked offers have resulted in greater average checks when redeemed, largely paying for themselves, said chief brand officer Sara Bittorf. Other guardrails for the nearly 500-unit chain’s investment in card-linked offers include a total budget that Boston Market can set for a promotion, which ends as soon as the rebates and fees meet that amount.

One of the greatest benefits of running a card-linked offer, she added, is the demographic information and purchasing behavior Boston Market can see by tracking what customers do with their linked cards at the restaurant.