After less than a year under chief marketing officer Brandon Rhoten, Papa John’s is once again in the market for a new CMO. Although things seemed to be going well for the chain, Rhoten’s departure is proof that sustained success in the chain restaurant world is tough, particularly for pizza brands.

Pizza labels account for more than a quarter of total traffic to restaurant brand sites, according to Gartner L2’s Digital IQ Index: Restaurants. But while their desktop sites are often sophisticated, there’s room for improvement on mobile, especially for Papa John’s. Despite offering innovative mobile-specific features like Payshare—a Venmo plug-in—the chain sees a mobile site bounce rate significantly higher than that of fellow pizza brands like Genius brand Pizza Hut, which sits five spots above it in Gartner L2’s ranking.


In order to differentiate itself from the pack, Papa John’s needs to take mobile optimization a step further. For example, coupon offers and buttons to order for pickup and delivery should be as visible on the mobile site as they are on desktop, while online order pages should be mobile-optimized. Brands that go beyond the basics of mobile optimization can ease the path to purchase and sway customers who are wary of making mobile purchases. By doing so, Papa John’s can maximize use of scarce visible real estate on mobile and keep users’ attention.

The path to pizza is paved with good intentions and in Papa John’s case, good strategies. However, it seems good enough isn’t enough to satisfy today’s digital consumer.

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