It has been nearly two years since Church's Chicken first embarked on a digital transformation focused on reaching new guests with digital media and creating loyalty with engaging experiences at every interaction. In that time frame, digital has been a key driver of the brand's positive sales and growth, with 2020 turning in impressive results from this key focus area.

The popular QSR chicken brand saw a 540% increase in Order Ahead sales in 2020 compared to the previous year, third-party delivery sales increased by 77% in the same period, and web digital conversion rate reached 16%. Like much of Church's steady growth and success over the past five years, the secret lies in a strong spirit of innovation and a renewed ability to be quick and nimble in adapting to both challenges and opportunities.

"The digital success we are seeing now is because of plans and initiatives first put in place in 2019," shares Alan Magee, Vice President of Digital Marketing & Technology for Church's. "The industry has been shifting to a digital-first approach over time and the pandemic has only accelerated this consumer behavior. Church's digital transformation allowed us to pivot quickly in response to COVID-19 and we even ended the year with six months of consecutive positive sales as a result. Our investment in building both integrated and consumer focused digital platforms continues to allow us to thrive as a brand"

The end of 2020, marked the completion of multiple initiatives all aimed at sales growth, market presence, and operational efficiencies. Highlights include:

Relaunch of with a focus on mobile optimization

  • Nearly 85% of guests engage with the brand on a mobile device. A new website, channel strategy, and mobile welcomer (location finder) were rolled out to help guests go from first impression to desired action within three clicks.

  • Since launching the mobile welcomer, conversion increased 27% among mobile users.

  • There has been a 295% positive growth in digital restaurant engagements.

CRM Platform Relaunch

  • In addition to the revamped web experience, Church's also made dramatic enhancements to its new mobile app, email platform, and launched a new customer database in order to create more personalized and dynamic communications.

  • Active loyalty engagement increased by 40% in 2020.

Expanded Social Media Presence

  • A new social media playbook, with a focus on community engagement with loyal fans, micro-influencers, and in-market engagement campaigns broadened Church's footprint across the social media landscape.

  • Fan engagement grew 63% year-over-year between 2019 and 2020.

  • Impressions were up 146% from 2019.

  • Church's successfully executed three engagement campaigns – Drive Thru Graduation, Camp Smokehouse Backyard Giveaways and, most recently, the Church's Chicken Sandwich Truck.

Expansion of E-commerce (Church's To Go)

  • Church's added Google Ordering and Curbside Pick-up to its existing Order Ahead and Drive-Thru options.

  • Third-party delivery expanded to a total of eight (8) brand partners live in nearly 90% of domestic locations, offering additional reach and faster speed of service.

  • Together, these efforts produced an 87% increase in off premise revenue year over year.

One of the significant points within the transformation was the Church's mobile app. Magee and the digital team performed an end-to-end overhaul to include more robust functionality. Guests can now make contact-free pick up orders, access exclusive app-only promotions, and save favorites for easy re-ordering. Because of this, Church's saw an uptick in adoption among GenZ and Millennial audiences, particularly following the launch of the new Church's Chicken Sandwich.

"Most importantly, we translated our increased digital position into sales," adds Magee. "That is a critical benchmark for us as the digital space becomes more crowded and competitive. We're out to grow our customer base in ways that drive traffic and create loyalty, because it's ultimately the experience of Church's quality food and authentic hospitality that makes people Church's fans for life."

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