Many marketers have scratched their heads over the question of how to get new customers and keep them. (In fact, that’s what all marketers scratch their heads about.) The marketers at American Giant were no different — except that they faced the added challenge of a brand devoting its resources to American manufacturing and top-quality materials over traditional marketing and retailing. How was it going to succeed? As this Integrated Solutions for Retailers article details, American Giant turned to the passion of its existing customers and to Extole’s referral marketing platform. And it wound up driving 10% of its transactions by doing so.
American Giant launched in February 2012 with the mission of delivering high-quality and affordable casual wear made in the good ol’ U.S. of A.. With consumers facing the choice of poor quality or way-too-high prices, it made sense for the company to focus on construction and design. Although sales were initially slow after launch, satisfied customers continually spread word among their friends and followers about the company’s great clothes. This is when American Giant decided they wanted to turn all that positive social media into positive sales. They engaged Extole and waited for their traffic to reach a level that would allow them to set up a successful program.
Luck struck in curious fashion during the 2012 holiday season: American Giant sold entirely out of stock. People were talking about the brand so much that the company happily expanded its production efforts. It also recognized the right time to begin turning all the talk about the brand into something measurable and scalable. As Don Pillsbury, American Giant VP of sales and marketing, says, “…if the people want to talk, let them. Why not make that conversation measurable and sweeten the deal with incentives for advocates and their friends?
Once American Giant established its referral marketing channel, it gained the ability to create and fulfill rewards for its advocates and could target the customers with the largest social followings. From there, things really started happening. 21% of customers acquired via referral become advocates themselves. Referrals also contribute to “another double-digit growth figure for the company,” according to Pillsbury. Extole’s platform has helped drive sales and helped the company forecast future numbers. To Pillsbury, that’s just as important. “To be effective with referrals, you have to be able to control all dimensions of the process – including promotions, campaigns, and incentives.” For American Giant, referrals are not just about amplifying existing conversations. It’s about “analytics to understand the cache and quality of referrals, which promotions are working, and where you have the greatest opportunities with your advocates.”