Food & Beverage

How Dickey’s Barbecue Pit Turned SMS Marketing Into its “Secret Sauce”—Driving 460%+ Subscriber Growth Over 3 Months

Dickey's barbecue food


opt-in rate of Instagram Story sign-up


CTR of welcome message


subscriber growth over 3 months

Learn how Dickey's Barbecue Pit uses text messaging to directly engage its audience and communicate special offers, limited-time deals, and more.


Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants, Inc., the world’s largest barbecue concept, was founded in 1941 by Travis Dickey. For the past 79 years, Dickey’s Barbecue Pit has served millions of guests Legit. Texas. Barbecue.™ At Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, all meats are smoked onsite in a hickory wood-burning pit. Today with more than 500 locations in 44 states, loyal guests are what keeps Dickey’s thriving in every community.


Dickey’s Barbecue Pit was looking for a new channel to directly reach its audience and drive incremental revenue.


Partner with Attentive to directly engage Dickey’s Barbecue Pit audience via text messaging. Launch branded sign-up units across channels to quickly grow a list of email and SMS subscribers. Communicate special offers, limited-time deals, and more.


Dickey’s Barbecue Pit uses Attentive’s “Email-First” sign-up flow on its desktop and mobile sites, allowing the brand to collect emails and phone numbers simultaneously. It also uses Attentive’s Instagram Stories sign-up feature, which allows Dickey’s Barbecue Pit to tap into its Instagram audience to seamlessly convert followers into text messaging subscribers.

We started with a mobile sign-up unit, since that’s where the majority of our traffic comes from, and later added the sign-up unit to our desktop site, too. We also placed a large emphasis on social, reaching an audience who’s already very comfortable using their mobile device. The sign-up process is super easy and has been very effective for Dickey’s.

– Richard Chellew, Director of Digital Marketing, Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants, Inc.

Some of the ways Dickey’s Barbecue Pit uses its text messaging channel includes sending campaigns surrounding a few of its established special offers—such as “More for Monday” (which features a $4 Classic Pulled Pork Sandwich) and “Wild Westerner Wednesday” (which highlights its “Wild Westerner” sandwiches for a special, one-day-only price).

Dickey’s Barbecue Pit also introduced new limited-time deals to subscribers, such as “2 for $24,” offering two meal plates for a special price, and the popular “Kids Eat Free.” To cater to its on-the-go audience, Dickey’s Barbecue Pit offers free delivery—either on its own or in addition to other current offers. Understanding that segmentation is key to sending more relevant content, Dickey’s Barbecue Pit uses geo-targeting to send location-specific messages to its subscribers.


Dickey’s Barbecue Pit’s list growth strategy has been extremely successful. The brand saw a 460%+ increase in SMS subscribers in just three months, with its Instagram Story sign-up driving a 19.2% opt-in rate. “We’re giving our audience the option to choose how they communicate with us—helping us cut through the noise—which is part of the reason SMS is so effective for Dickey’s,” said Chellew.

Dickey’s Barbecue Pit also sees success with its campaign messages—with its welcome message driving a 74.3% click-through rate. “We’re seeing very widespread adoption of SMS across different demographics. The subscribers who are active on this channel are very similar to the audience we’re seeing visiting our stores or ordering online. We are seeing all ages of our audience members adopting this channel—it’s been really great to see,” said Chellew.

With SMS, it’s much easier to get your message seen. We’ve hit KPI’s and are moving toward our business goals. And, during the pandemic especially, being able to stand out and communicate with subscribers to give them what they care about has been key to our success over the past few months.

– Richard Chellew, Director of Digital Marketing, Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants, Inc.

Looking ahead, Dickey’s Barbecue Pit plans to scale its SMS marketing channel even further. While it currently uses geo-targeting to segment certain text messaging sends, the brand plans to use this feature in more ways to deliver even more relevant content. Dickey’s Barbecue Pit also plans to launch automated messages through Attentive’s Journeys, which will allow it to set up triggered text messages that are automatically sent to subscribers based on behavioral data, such as abandoning a cart or making a purchase.

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