Monetizing Social Media
Discover Acquires New Cardmembers with StrongMail Influencer Social Referral Marketing Campaign - Forrester Groundswell Award Entry
August 03, 2011 | Kristin Hersant
By partnering with StrongMail and using its Influencer referral marketing solution, Discover has been able to generate quality new accounts and a ton of social media buzz. The details and results are detailed in the following award submission for Forrester Research's annual Groundswell Awards. You can check out and rate our official entry under the B2C Energizing category.
Discover Financial Services & StrongMail Entry for Forrester Groundswell Awards
Company: Discover Financial Services
Discover Card's New Cardmember Acquisition department was tasked with launching a simple, cost-efficient, effective refer-a-friend marketing program that would facilitate cardmember brand advocacy to enhance its brand and drive new cardmember acquisition. In order to achieve this objective, Discover partnered with StrongMail to leverage its Influencer word-of-mouth acquisition solution. Working together, they identified the goals, designed the campaign and proceeded with a soft launch in May 2011.
The highly effective social-media powered referral marketing campaign offered cardmembers $50 Cashback Bonus for each friend that they could entice to become a cardmember via a reciprocal $50 Cashback Bonus. The offer is introduced via an online ad to cardmembers logged into the Account Center or recently redeemed. Once they click, the Influencer experience enables them to share the offer via email, Twitter, Facebook and other social channels. Since launch, they have realized a 25% click rate with 3X and 10X sharing multiple through social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter respectively. Through this program Cardmembers have referred those within their social graph.
Discover Financial Services was looking to drive new cardmember acquisition in a way that attracted quality applicants as well as strengthened its brand. While traditional refer-a-friend programs are fairly common within the financial services industry, Discover Card wanted take a more innovative approach that allowed them to carefully target who would receive the offer and then leverage the power of social media to facilitate the referral. Equally important, Discover wanted to generate this brand advocacy with a cost-efficient and effective program that could be launched in a relatively short time-frame. It also wanted a way to identify their biggest social influencers and brand advocates, so they could leverage and nurture this community more effectively.
In order to achieve its objectives, Discover turned to StrongMail's Influencer word-of-mouth acquisition solution and its accompanying social media marketing services. Working together, Discover and StrongMail developed a compelling, social-media-powered refer-a-friend program that carefully targeted cardmembers during relevant online experiences.
By offering a Cashback bonus to both the cardmember and the referred cardmember, Discover was able to effectively tap two powerful motivators: self-benefit and altruism. While rewards are important, Discover understood that ease-of-participation was also essential for success. Using Influencer, Discover made it possible for the account holder to easily refer friends via a range of social channels, including Facebook, Twitter and email. Without leaving the Discover Account Center, they could share to social networks or access email addresses via their webmail accounts to send personalized invites.
Further motivating participants, Influencer sends participants regular updates on the success of their sharing activity, including who has signed up for accounts, who has only clicked, and who has yet to respond. By providing this information, the account holder is able to remind individuals to participate, or invite more friends to increase their reward potential.
Discover also benefits from being able to identify their biggest brand advocates by volume of sharing activity and the number of new accounts that activity generated. Using Influencer, Discover can drill down on the sharing activity of each referrer, including the reach achieved through multi-generation sharing, as those referred turned into brand advocates. With this data, Discover is able to gauge the influence of its customer base to drive new accounts, as well as develop programs to nurture relationships with its brand advocates.
Discover was able to successfully energize its best customers to share the referral offer with their friends, and the results have been impressive. The program been successful in generating new accounts and has become very popular, generating a 25% click rate among the targeted users who see the online offer. The program has also succeeded in generating social media activity around their brand, as Discover has seen a 3X and 10X sharing increase on Facebook and Twitter since its launch. Finally, the program met their budget and timing goals, moving from concept to reality within 3 months.
Posted by: Kristin Hersant at 5:19 PM
August 03, 2011 | Kristin Hersant
StrongMail has played (and continues to play) an instrumental role in the success of Castrol's social CRM program, which led to the development of its Liquid Engineering Crew loyalty website and other supporting and complementary social communities. The details and results are detailed in the following award submission for Forrester Research's annual Groundswell Awards. You can check out and rate our official entry under the B2C Energizing category.
Castrol & StrongMail Entry for Forrester Groundswell Awards
Taking care of automobiles and maximizing car performance is what Castrol knows and does exceptionally well with leading-edge technology and a careful attention to quality.
But what Castrol really wanted to know was to how to build an ongoing conversation and ultimately loyalty with key influencers – car and racing enthusiasts.
Our strategy was put together with the following in mind:
- Create a unique brand experience that drives participation across multiple social and user communities
- Develop unique personas with social technographics overlay
- Building a targeted email communications program that encourages sharing, engagement and purchasing
StrongMail helped Castrol not only learn more about their customers’ needs, interests and behaviors but also developed an innovative communications and community strategy that rewarded participation and drove loyalty, sales and brand advocacy.
Castrol’s “Liquid Engineering Crew” (LEC) loyalty website (www.castrolcrew.com) was developed to ignite conversations, cultivate relationships and drive commerce across the social internet.
Execution and Use of Media
Working closely with Castrol’s research team, StrongMail surveyed existing subscribers and customers to better understand their interests, needs and behaviors including what they do online – their social media profiles
StrongMail built a robust content and communications program that included the development of several unique social communities (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr) and an innovative loyalty website that integrated these communities to create a unique experience for key influencers. The free membership loyalty website encourages users to participate by accumulating “Castrol Credits," which can be redeemed for Castrol merchandise, racing memorabilia and tickets to racing and sporting events. Credits are accrued through participating in forum discussions, signing up for racing alerts and LEC newsletter emails and signing up for Castrol’s Engine Warranty Program.
The aim of the integrated marketing program is to nudge customers beyond discussions about “motor oil” and toward a conversation around their true passion – cars and racing.
With more than 2.1 million auto-related conversations taking place online each month, a twenty-five year relationship with John Force Racing and a recently announced partnership with Major League Soccer and the NFL, Castrol has quickly expanded their presence beyond traditional car and racing enthusiasts.
Through our joint efforts, the program was not only able to align to corporate objectives and consumer needs, but has also been successful in driving participation, sharing, advocacy and sales.
LEC users’ engagement is evaluated through quarterly reviews, focused on increased performance in targeted criteria including:
- Number of registered users and fans across social media profiles.
- Number of forum posts and comments.
- Number of monthly Castrol blog views and comments.
- Overall increase in delivery, open and click rates of monthly LEC newsletter email.
Through this program, Castrol has seen large increases in activity across all areas of the LEC, including membership, traffic engagement and participation. As the most active user areas, discussion forums and Castrol blogs each saw an increase of 400% between Q2 and Q4 2010, with activity continuing to increase daily. Castrol sweepstakes and product promotions have seen an increase as well, with LEC banners and buttons typically contributing anywhere from between 8% to 21% of the total clicks and entries to a typical promotion.
In addition, Castrol’s social communities grew an astonishing 2,000% in just nine months and received 5 out of 5 stars for post quality from Facebook. The Facebook rating compares engagement across similar fan pages of similar size. Perhaps most significantly, Castrol’s email and social media effort now leads all other media in conversation and represents one of its most successful channels for driving rebate conversations and, ultimately, purchases.
Since implementing the LEC, Castrol has taken over discussions. Our monthly reports have shown that Castrol has since gone from being on par with competitors in terms of discussion mentions, to consistently leading all competitors in discussion mentions in mainstream media, online forums, Facebook and Twitter.
In conclusion, with StrongMail’s help, Castrol took the time to understand its customers, built a strategy that supported corporate objectives and leveraged the right tools, technologies and techniques to facilitate participation and purchasing. This concentrated effort has resulted in steady increases across all of Castrol’s social profiles as well as increases in participation and activity on Castrol’s LEC website.
Liquid Engineering Crew loyalty website
Castrol USA Facebook
Castrol USA Twitter
Castrol USA Flickr
Castrol USA YouTube
Posted by: Kristin Hersant at 4:28 PM
StrongMail Reduces Customers’ Use of Technical Support by 50% with Social CRM - Forrester Groundswell Award Entry
August 02, 2011 | Kristin Hersant
With the success of StrongMail's online customer community, Spark, we have submitted the following case study for Forrester Research's annual Groundswell Awards. You can check out and rate our official entry under the B2B Supporting category. And now, on with our award submission case study...
StrongMail Forrester Groundswell Awards Entry
In 2010, business was booming, but StrongMail began to feel the limits of its existing support infrastructure, which wasn’t effectively scaling with its growth.
Part of the problem was that customers had only a couple of paths to talk to StrongMail – technical support and their account manager. While customers had additional access to forums and a self-service portal to open support cases, customers preferred to pick up the phone. To most of StrongMail’s customers, a call to its customer support number seemed the easier path for just about any question they had, technical or otherwise. Often, the questions revolved around best practices and strategy, which then needed to be routed to StrongMail's account management team.
Additionally, like most companies, the size of the staff needed to provide customer service at StrongMail was driven by a formula: as you grew your customer base by “x” you needed to add "y" headcount, which has a significant impact on the cost of providing service. This was exacerbated by StrongMail's rapid growth. In order to overcome these challenges, StrongMail began looking for an effective social business solution to power an online customer community.
Customer Community Goals
StrongMail had five goals it wanted to achieve with its customer community:
- Cost-effectively scale its existing customer support model
- Improve customer satisfaction
- Improve quality of support information
- Improve communication with customers on an ongoing basis
- Receive feedback on desired features and product direction
After reviewing available solutions, StrongMail selected Jive Software to power its new customer community. StrongMail also opted to take a social CRM approach and integrate Spark with their support case logging process in salesforce.com, providing customers with a single, centralized resource to meet all of their support needs.
Implementing a Social CRM-Powered Customer Community
Working with Jive, StrongMail deployed "Spark" in April 2010. This external, customer-facing online community integrated directly with StrongMail's formal case management processes, enabling collaboration with other customers, promoting self-service, and giving StrongMail a platform for engaging more broadly and more frequently with its customers.
The Right Approach Fuels Rapid Customer Adoption
Three months after implementing Spark, the interactive community had already attracted 78% of StrongMail customer's base. A year later, that number is now at an impressive 95%, with over a thousand users. Of all Spark members, 56% log-in on a regular basis to find answers to their questions and 50% report using technical support less as a result of having Spark available to find answers.
StrongMail achieved these engagement levels by investing in the right technology and implementing an effective strategy developed in conjunction with Jive experts. They also formed a cross-departmental steering committee that was led by Marketing and included representation from Support, Services, Account Management, Product Management and Sales. Working together, StrongMail was able to structure the community in a way that provided quick access to information and that encouraged collaboration with other customers and internal StrongMail experts.
The cross-functional team enabled StrongMail to successfully integrate Spark into every customer touch point – from the customer onboarding process through to monthly account management meetings, support interactions and the StrongMail product suite. The marketing team also used an effective combination of email marketing, Twitter, Facebook, an evangelist program and offline events called “Spark Ups” to foster and drive ongoing engagement with the customer community.
Spark has had a huge impact on increasing customer satisfaction and interaction with their customer base.
- Customers are quick to answer questions from other customers.
- Educational materials are being viewed and discussed widely on a regular basis, which has a direct impact on reducing support calls.
- Internal StrongMail experts outside the official Support team are interacting with customers, which plays a role in strengthening connections with the company’s customer base.
- Product management has received valuable feedback for enhancing future product versions.
Spark has exceeded company goals with the following quantitative metrics:
- 95% adoption rate amongst StrongMail’s active support customers
- 56% of those users log into Spark regularly to find answers
- 97% of Spark users find it to be a helpful resource
- 57% of Spark users report that they first visit the community to find answers to their questions
- Only 6% of customers visit Spark to log a Support case *only*
- 50% of customers report that they have reduced their use of technical support by using Spark to find answers
In summary, StrongMail’s Spark community has been a great company success that has increased the quality of service delivered to its customers, fostered a sense of community between StrongMail customers and employees company-wide, and enabled the company to scale its high-quality support in a more cost-effective manner.
Posted by: Kristin Hersant at 2:43 PM
Social CRM is a relatively new term in the world of online marketing, but the concept behind it is based on age-old direct marketing principles. In my most recent column for eM+C, I talk about the importance of social CRM and it should be applied to your best customers.
You can read the article below or click on the following link to read it at eM+C.
eMarketing & Commerce (eM+C)
Social CRM Starts With Best Customers
July 29, 2010 By Michael Della Penna
I’ve been reading a lot about social CRM recently. Lots of talk about combining data and intelligence from multiple channels, how to merge and understand structured and unstructured data, and the critical role algorithms play in helping brands anticipate a consumer’s next move. But what struck me most while reading through the numerous articles and analyst reports was the apparent lack of focus on identifying and catering to best customers.
If best customers — approximately 20 percent of your customer base — account for 80 percent of sales, then one would think identifying and striving to create a unique experience for those shoppers would be the goal of nearly every marketer on the planet.
While I’m not suggesting brands abandon their efforts to leverage social media to connect, engage and influence all consumers, I am suggesting they think more strategically around identifying best customers and creating unique and special experiences for those customers. So, how should brands approach such efforts? Start with the following basics:
1. Listen: To build a unique and engaging experience, listen to and understand the kinds of conversations customers are having and, specifically, what they're saying about your brand. Insights gained through listening can often identify a shared passion (be it travel, sports, music, finances, etc.) that's essential in engaging best customers in ongoing conversations.
2. Learn: If your brand has a loyalty program and robust data, you’re already a step ahead. If not, you’ll want to conduct some proprietary research across your best customers to understand how they use the social web, and to inform your segmentation and marketing strategy further. This research will also be critical in developing enhancements to your existing programs and developing new social programs that not only appeal to your segments, but offer value.
3. Engage: By now you’ve gained a good understanding of your key customers and influencers. The next step is to build a truly unique and special experience for them, leveraging all touchpoints: website, email, customer service desk and presence on social networks. Take the time and effort to build a lifecycle communication program for every segment, paying attention to community management. Rethink your loyalty programs — perhaps shift your focus from promotions to rewarding best customers for participating with your brand — be it their community contributions, social network activity or brand advocacy.
4. Influence: As you begin to engage your best customers, don’t forget the “social” in social CRM. Leverage social tools to facilitate and encourage sharing and brand advocacy. Flag and thank active customers, and reward them for their advocacy.
Finally, track and anticipate what’s coming next. The greatest benefit of focusing on your best customers is the ability to manage and execute based off the data. Amazing things begin to emerge when you not only know who your best customers are, what segment they fall in, what products they like and how often they use them, but also their email activity, loyalty/purchase activity and social activity.
By analyzing this data, leading brands can build algorithms that drive lifetime value and improve campaign and marketing performance across channels. So for all of your thinking about social CRM, remember that the first group you want socializing their experiences with your brand are your best customers. Make their experiences with your brand memorable, and arm them with incentives and tools that enable them to participate and advocate for your brand.
July 28, 2010 | Kristin Hersant
Email marketing and
social media are by far the preferred mediums by which consumers and
brands connect and communicate. When
combined, they offer businesses more ways to interact with customers and
gain insights from these conversations to strengthen their relationships with
However, besides social media marketing and email marketing solutions, businesses increasingly need the right advice and strategies to embrace the social customer. That’s why StrongMail announced today the formation of an integrated email marketing and social CRM agency, ThreadMarketing.
This doesn’t mean that
StrongMail will suddenly become a vendor of customer relationship management
platforms. That isn’t what Social CRM is all about.
Social CRM is first
and foremost about a different perspective on client programs, customer loyalty
programs and multi-channel contact moments with the "social customer." It is
leveraging the data and insights gained from marketing activities in social
channels to build more relevant conversations that drive results.
Traditional CRM has its roots customer service. Social CRM is more of a mindset, whereby the customer
experience is placed before all else and the mentality and marketing strategy
of businesses is purely aimed at the customer, his needs, preferences and
measurable digital signals.
Social CRM: The Management of Customer
Experience is Marketing
In this view, various
forms of online marketing such as social media marketing, email marketing,
referral marketing etc. are all combined, integrated and adapted into the
buying cycle and impact customer satisfaction.
In our increasingly
social world, where the consumer uses various channels to call on peers,
influencers and communities for advice and sharing, Social CRM provides marketers with an integrated
client-oriented strategy of using data and tools to identify participative
communities and segments, honor communication preferences and meet customer needs
ThreadMarketing: an Integrated Social CRM Strategy
for an Integrated Marketing Reality
The final goal of Social CRM thus becomes a data-driven, targeted, participative, two-way and continuous interaction strategy, as personal as possible, whereby the value for the client is central to marketing. CRM becomes a never ending process of conversations, optimization and conversion, with marketers mining the data and leveraging it to improve the effectiveness of their cross-channel marketing initiatives.
That is exactly why
StrongMail has formed ThreadMarketing,
a new type of agency that empowers Fortune 2000 brands with Social CRM strategies and creative design,
while helping them make optimal use of integrated social
media marketing, email
marketing and other
Guidance to Improve Conversion, Engagement and Efficiency
Using a powerful
framework, ThreadMarketing will help you to Listen, Learn, Engage, and Influence
key consumers so you can work smarter not harder.
ThreadMarketing provides marketers with key services such
as strategic consulting, listening and monitoring, proprietary research,
segmentation strategy, data collection and surveys, databases and loyalty
engine design/development, lifecycle program development, award-winning
creative, website development, campaign execution, community management, and
innovative loyalty and participatory marketing programs that drive success.
Businesses like Castrol,
People.com and Johnson & Johnson have used this guidance to improve the
relevance and thus efficiency of their marketing strategies. Combined with the
power of our solutions, we offer you all you need to engage your customers in a more effective manor, generating impressive results.
It’s what marketers asked for. It’s what we promise with ThreadMarketing.