Ernan’s Insights on Marketing Best Practices

Monday, August 26, 2013

How Viral Emails Can Drive More Sales than Promotional Emails

The Challenge: Viral emails can often generate greater response and revenue than sales-focused emails. Following are examples and tips for sending engaging/interactive emails that do not contain sales pitches or feature products.
HP Social MediaAirbnb Case Study
The holidays are an important time for the travel company Airbnb. They recognized that holiday greeting emails are very common and devised a unique campaign. They developed a way not just to send a holiday message, but an interactive campaign that encouraged customers to send a thank you note to travel hosts that assisted Airbnb’s travelers during the year. The email was sent with the purpose of getting the audience to engage with one another, not to drive revenue.
Response and engagement rates were very strong:
• 52.3% open rate — up from the previous average of 27% to 30% on regular marketing emails.
• 26.5% click through rate — increase over the 8% to 12% on regular marketing emails.
The subscribers who used the tool sent an average of 7.5 emails.
Airbnb increased sales with 600 bookings as a result of this non-promotional email.
Career Builder Case Study
Career Builder tied in a very successful viral email campaign to their widely acclaimed Super Bowl ad featuring chimpanzees performing common office duties. The campaign was named Monk-E-Mail and uses personalization to engage email subscribers and ease of use to ensure follow through of customizing and forwarding emails.
The engagement and increase in the site’s popularity as a result of the campaign was staggering:
• CareerBuilder was rated the #1 career site.
• 29 million unique users visited the site within the first four months (25% increase in traffic); more than 55 million total visitors.
• More than 150 million Monk-e-Mails have been sent and played.
• 22% of message recipients went on to send their own messages.
1. Timing is important. Airbnb is in an industry where travel is not an everyday event; the holiday email campaign was good timing because December is a time for travel or planning future travel.
2. Personalization is key. Airbnb pre-populated the emails with each customer’s bookings from the previous year and included images of each user’s profile, making it easy to send the message.
3. Be Humorous. As CareerBuilder showed, a viral email is your chance to lose the serious sales attitude.
4. Ease of Use is essential to enable a high volume of viral actions.
5. Do Not Muddy the Message. Once you decide to go non-promotional, do not include any promotional content. Concentrate on the focus of engagement.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Hewlett-Packard - 5 Actions to Improve Social Media Effectiveness

The Challenge: Social media has become one of the most important points of contact for consumers. Marketers however, seldom access the gold mine of information waiting on their fan pages. Tech giant, HP does. They’re raising the bar for social interaction by developing an innovative strategy that’s setting the standard for customer engagement through social media.

Happy CustomerSo, while it is evident that companies are “in” social media they need to start becoming actively involved. A J.D. Power and Associates report notes that “businesses need to understand how their consumers use social media and then develop a strategy that addresses their usage patterns.“

One company who fully embraces this concept is Hewlett Packard. They entered the space by taking two full years to listen to their customs and determine where they were having conversations.

They grew their social media community from its original 350+ members to over 2.4 million likes/fans on Facebook. Referrals from social networking sites have doubled.

Referrals from social networking sites have doubled.

HP’s online "Expert Days" have attracted hundreds of thousands of customers since their inception in 2009.

This activity has empowered employees to directly reach and converse with customers. There has been a ten time increase in blogging and social media activity by employees who go through the company’s social media training program prior to any customer communication involvement.

A key element in HP’s social interactions is that they integrate their social media with all customer touch points, not just for offers and contests. They also optimize and scale social media to ensure consistent customer experiences for different customer segments, geographies and languages.


• Give Customers a Platform for Product Feedback. Through social media channels the company gets valuable feedback about products. They then feed this information to product and content teams for valuable insight into the development of future technology.

• Encourage Community Engagement.  A dedicated staff manages community engagement to provide value for customers. They also recognize customers who assist their fellow social page fans. This program is set to expand for top community contributors.

• Designate Community Ambassadors. HP has over 100 people called "Experts" who answer questions on the Forums. They include both HP customers and HP employees, and provide expert, free, 24-hour real-time access and advice on various topics of customer interest.

• Create Channel Integration. The company is working on a system by which customers can post a question in Facebook that can automatically tap into the HP Support Forum.

• Set Policies and Train Social Staff. HP sets specific social media policy standards. They train all staff involved in social media so that there is both consistency in social experience as well as consistency in brand messaging.