As discussed in my last post, strategically launching new customers and setting them up for initial success is something we take great pride in here at Extole. With over 250 Consumer to Consumer (C2C) Social Marketing programs under our belt, our Client Services and Strategic Services teams understand how to plan and implement successful programs based on each customer’s specific needs and objectives.
To recap my last post, I talked about the two key over-arching components that make up the marketing strategy of a C2C social marketing program, incentive and promotion, and how we make our initial recommendations on those fronts. This time, I’d like to extend on those concepts and discuss how we optimize and improve upon on those initial recommendations to keep ‘moving the needle’ through a program’s life cycle.
To set the stage, I’d like to share a social referral program case study from one of our long-term customers. Launched in early 2011, the program incentivizes their existing customer base to become social advocates. The initial offer structure rewarded advocates with a $10 iTunes gift card for referring their friends, and referred friends received $10 off their first purchase with the brand. This initial offer structure was recommended because:
1. The incentive is balanced, or equally compelling for the advocate and friend.
2. The advocate has incentive to share more, as there is no cap on rewards.
3. The friend’s discount is applied directly to the shopping cart, providing direct incentive to try the brand.
The customer’s promotion strategy was also in line with our Best Practices. They were able to initiate a few high-volume placements utilizing their owned assets: an email drop to their existing user base announcing the program, a highly visible homepage placement and a footer link across their website. They also launched with a couple very strategic touch points, or placements, where their customers are most likely to feel an affinity for the brand and share: the order confirmation page and in email going to customers when their orders had shipped.
Our goal for this program was to generate 500 new customers per month. In the first few months, we saw significant new customer acquisition, growing month-over-month, but not quite to the extent that we were targeting. Over the course of the following months, we tested a number of optimizations to see if we could better compel the brand’s customers to become advocates.
1. Swapped the advocate’s reward from iTunes to an Amazon.com gift card.
2. Changed the friend’s offer from $10 off to 10% off.
3. Revamped the incoming friend’s experience to make it highly personalized.
All three tests resulted in success: the change in the advocate reward resulted in a 15% increase in sharing, while the change in the friend’s offer combined with a personalized friend experience increased conversation rates by 20%. After six months live, we exceeded our goal by driving 650 new customer acquisitions in September 2011.
With the above improvements to the funnel in place and the holidays around the corner, we shifted our optimization focus to promotion. At our suggestion, the customer added four new promotional placements in October: My Account page, Weekly Newsletter, a Facebook tab, and a monthly remarketing email to all participating advocates. The resulting spike in volume saw October 2011 and November 2011 yield 1,000 and 2,200 new customers, respectively. Then, for December, we introduced a one month holiday offer where advocates would get double rewards ($20) for every friend referred before the end of the year. This resulted in the largest month the program has seen to-date, with over 4,000 new customers transacting in December 2011.
Even after the hustle and bustle of the holidays and the incentive returning to $10, we maintained a monthly volume multiple times higher than previous non-holiday months. We continue to optimize and improve by testing all program messaging, testing banners on the brand’s website to increase advocate click-through, and by upgrading the product as we release new features and functionality.
These days, we consistently hit 2,500 new customers per month and we anticipate breaking our current record of 4,000 as we approach this year’s Holiday season. Plans for future testing include further segmenting users, testing new incentives and offer structures, and running additional episodic special promotions.
All-in-all, this case study is a great example of a successful C2C social marketing program that utilizes a mix of a compelling offer structure, an effective promotion and ongoing testing and optimization based on Extole’s best practices and extensive expertise and experience in the field.