How Social Media Generated $300,000 in Software Sales in a Weekend

social media case studiesLogos Bible Software has worked hard to build its email list of 300,000. So choosing to shun that email list for its Black Friday promotion says a lot for the chosen alternative – social media.

Practically every other online retailer – and Logos is 100% online – blasted customers with their post-Thanksgiving email promotions.

But this software company solely relied on social media, from testing its ideas to launching the promotion to letting the resulting word of mouth do the work for them.

In response, Logos generated $300,000 in sales in those few days – three times what it brought in during the same period the year before. Not only did it add to the bottom line, but also Logos significantly expanded its fans, followers and customer connections to support future efforts.

“Without social marketing, it [the promotion] would have gone nowhere because we didn’t spread the word ourselves,” explained Dan Pritchett, VP marketing and business development at Logos. “We wanted to give a reward to people who are socially connected in our community.”

Organization:

Logos Bible Software

Social Media Handles & Stats:

Highlights:

  • Logos generated $300,000 in sales for the Black Friday to Cyber Monday long weekend – three times what it brought in during the same period the year before.
  • The team responded to about 2,000 emails, generating sales of 2,000 Logos Bible Software titles.
  • Logos didn’t spend any money on marketing or advertising for the promotion.
  • The marketing VP conceived and launched the promotion in about an hour’s time.

Testing the Waters

Since opening in 1992, Logos Research Systems, Inc. has grown from a couple of programmers in a basement into the largest developer of Bible software and a worldwide leader in multilingual electronic publishing.

logos bible software

With 220 employees, the Bellingham, WA company partners with approximately 130 publishers to make over 12,000 electronic Bible study resources available to customers in more than 160 countries in a dozen languages. Typical customers are pastors and anyone with an interest in Bible study.

In recent years, Logos has run Black Friday promotions, but as of four days before Thanksgiving 2010, the company had not planned anything. With some of his marketing team already off for the holiday, Pritchett tested the beginnings of an idea using Facebook.

His simple post asked what customers wanted to see on sale for the biggest shopping weekend of the year. Customers responded enthusiastically, with 116 weighing in about what they wanted.

logos

What do customers want to buy on sale? Just ask.

“I don’t think I had figured out what we were doing at the time. That first post was to help me get some ideas,” Pritchett said.

With that, the idea came. Pritchett didn’t want to publish low prices on the web that might live online forever, leaving customers to wonder when they might dip that low again. Instead, the promotion he conceived was designed to give customers deals on what they really wanted, rather than on what Logos wanted them to buy.

Here’s how the deals worked:

  1. Logos asked customers to email in the three titles they most wished were on sale.
  2. Sales reps then looked up the special prices for those items and replied personally to each customer.
  3. Customers had just 48 hours to decide to buy any or all of the products.

“You tell me what you want to buy and I’ll give you great deal on it,” Pritchett said. “Let’s have some excitement on Black Friday, a virtual door buster.”

One Hour – From Concept to Launch

While the sale was unique in itself, the promotion was equally impressive. From concept to launch, Pritchett spent just one hour on the promotion.

He simply blogged about the sale, and followed with a post each on Facebook, Twitter and the company’s own forum. That was it. No emailing the customer base.

black friday blog

A single blog post, and one post each on Facebook, Twitter and the company's forum, launched the promotion.

From there, social media’s snowball effect took over.

“Originally we were considering emailing our entire customer list, but soon realized that the word of mouth had already spread far enough on our deal that we couldn’t handle any more business!” he said.

Fans began spreading the word to friends on Facebook and retweeting the link to the blog post. Some of those same customers posted and tweeted again after they purchased their sale items. Two bloggers created spinoff posts about the sale.

Logos further encouraged word of mouth by including hyperlinked Twitter and Facebook icons on the electronic receipt emailed to customers. Through Twitter and Facebook application programming interfaces (APIs), customers could click those icons to populate tweets and posts automatically with news that the customer had just purchased from Logos.

However, the biggest traffic took place on the software company’s own social site – its forum – home of 42,000 registered customers. The thread generated 241 comments and 13,182 views.

“Our users picked up the message and created their own thread on the forums. We didn’t even start it – they did,” Pritchett said.

logos forum

Customers started their own thread about the sale, generating more than 13,000 views.

Staffing Up

The response well exceeded the company’s expectations.

“Immediately after posting the offer we began to receive email requests, and by the time our staff came into work around 6 am, we had hundreds of requests for pricing already in the inbox,” Pritchett said.

Logos beefed up the sales team to respond to emails as quickly as possible. Easing the launch of the sale, lower price points were already in the sales database, ready for reps to extend to customers when asked. Nearly all products had some discount associated with them, though at varying percentage reductions.

Yet, Logos didn’t see any direct costs for the promotion. Those scheduled to work later in the week simply changed shifts to that weekend. And of course, getting the word out required no investment.

“It was pretty magical,” Pritchett said. “There really were no other costs associated with it. No printing, no postage, no mailing.”

2,000 Products Sold

In total, the team handled about 2,000 emails, generating sales of 2,000 Logos Bible Software titles.

“Sales for the same period last year were $200,000 lower and we had a better economy last year – and our Christmas special was already available during a portion of last years’ period,” Pritchett said.

But the benefits go beyond the weekend’s sales. Through the promotion, Logos added hundreds of new fans and followers to its social media community. Plus, the company now has a record of what specific customers want but didn’t yet buy, and their most current contact information, which will empower future direct sales efforts. The company also plans to leverage the feedback from Facebook about what products customers wanted most.

“In one weekend the sales staff was able to generate a list of the top three favorite titles of 2,000 of our best customers!” Pritchett said. “For all the people who weren’t able to buy, we now have a great prospecting list, and we also have a better idea of the preferences of some of our most engaged consumers.”

Lessons From Logos

Social media = agility

The company’s VP of marketing and business development tested the waters for his idea on Facebook and then launched the promotion three days later. Social media provided the agility this kind of turnaround demanded – if the sales infrastructure is there.

“Just do it. You don’t have to have it well thought out and brilliant,” Pritchett said. “I just wanted to write a blog post and see what happened.”

Follow with tried-and-true relationship selling

While social media got the word out, the Logos team stood by to respond to each customer email or question.

“Relationship selling takes over at that point,” Pritchett said.

Be ready!

Be optimistic and staff up. If your promotion catches fire, you want to be prepared to process every order possible.

What do you think? How have you used social media to learn what your customers want? Can you cut out traditional outbound channels like email marketing and rely solely on interactive means such as social media? Leave your comments in the box below.

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About the Author, Casey Hibbard

Casey Hibbard is Social Media Examiner's case study writer. She is also president of Compelling Cases Inc. and author of Stories That Sell: Turn Satisfied Customers into Your Most Powerful Sales & Marketing Asset. Other posts by »




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  • http://www.MasonMediaToday.com Mason

    I like how they added a FB/Twiiter hyperlink on the receipts. Thanks for the article! Do you think the forum activity was an essential dynamic to the success of this weekend campaign? What kind of impact would there had been without their forum?

  • http://blog.socialmediahq.com/ Nick Robinson

    Great case study! How did they beef up the sales team so quickly? That would be good information to have for setting up contingency plans for unexpected success.

  • http://twitter.com/BizBlogBuzz David Worrell

    Good reminder that what customers really want is a bargain. As much as we would like to think that our customers are “rabid fans”, what really gets them tweeting is a discount. (This was also the conclusion of a recent IBM study.) If you believe this, and I do, then it compels you to make your social media promotions drop-dead simple. This is not about “engaging” or “activating customers” or even “building a more personal relationship”. In the end, its about money. Coupons and discounts will out-pull cool content 10-to-1 everytime. Don’t believe me? Compare Groupon to Scavenger. ’nuff said.

  • http://www.colemanmg.com Antonio Coleman

    what are gigantic number just for a weekend..it just shows that the internet is making many companies successful..

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  • Dawn

    Yes, great no nonsense campaign giving the customer what they want at a price they are willing to pay, & the company can afford is a recipe for success!
    http://www.bobbepin.com

  • Mike Lawson

    Finally, a “proof is in the pudding” ROI message for all the social media naysayers out there — especially execs still sitting on the fence. Thank you SME!

  • CaptiCorrie

    Just when I was about to unsubscribe from your email list and give up on you as only doing product/book reviews and advertising your own seminars, you post a great case story like this. Thanks – just the kind of content I like!

  • http://rhogroupee.com/ Rosemary ONeill

    This also shows that sometimes “going with your gut” and not waiting for a massive marketing analysis is the right thing to do. Thanks for sharing this amazing story!

  • PhilMershon

    Great article, Casey! Wouldn’t it be cool if more businesses let their customers tell them what they would buy if it were on sale?!

  • caseyhibbard

    Thanks Nick! I think they just moved sales shifts from the week ahead for more coverage during that time but it was a holiday weekend so pretty impressive that they were able to get more coverage. I got the impression their reps were motivated by the income potential.

  • http://www.marketingm8.co.uk Peter L Masters MCIM

    A great article for sure! More proof for the nay sayers of Social Media! This is the ammunition the Social Media marketers need! A big thank you, I can see some Blog post inspiration here without a doubt. Thanks Peter

  • http://www.marketingm8.co.uk Peter L Masters MCIM

    Mike I hadn’t seen your ‘nay sayers’ comment when I wrote my post! Great minds and all that…

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  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Plenty more great stuff coming Captico :)

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  • http://twitter.com/GetLocalShopprs Wishpond

    This is a very smart. Instead of simply putting everything on sale they made the customer feel in-charge by letting them choose which product they wanted a deal on. It isn’t very transparent but it makes the customer feel special to receive a discount when they ask for one.

    And only being available for 48 hours piggy-backed perfectly on the Groupon model.

  • http://www.planetlefthanded.com/fender-guitar-history.html Fred

    I think it was a great idea to ask customers or fans what do they want instead of just advertise any other deals. Awesome idea, great for them.

  • http://twitter.com/GetLocalShopprs Wishpond

    You’re right that the best way to garner mass attention through social media is with a huge deal, but it’s not a sustainable model. You can’t offer huge deals every day and stay in business for long. If you want proof of a company successfully building personal relationships check out @comcastcares. Victoria’s Secret Pink’s Facebook Page gets thousands of Likes (referrals) every time they post content.

    Discounts are an easy shortcut, but content and engagement are what will truly build your brands image, something major brands have been doing for a long time with TV ads.

  • http://twitter.com/SimonLeslieNZ Simon Leslie

    I just love the fact that God is using social media to spread the good word ;)

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Amen brother!

  • http://twitter.com/DanPritchett Dan Pritchett

    The forum activity was great. It got so much traffic it kept the sale thread at the top, and it created a place where the users were talking each other into purchases. Some were discussing price, but some were also getting recommendations on what titles to buy. Since we have over 12,000 titles, it was a great place for the users to take over the sale as their own and help each other figure out what to purchase.

  • http://twitter.com/DanPritchett Dan Pritchett

    Our sales team is amazing. They came in on Thanksgiving weeked and some worked from home. Without such a dedicated team we never would have been able to pull this off.

  • http://twitter.com/DanPritchett Dan Pritchett

    I totally agree Rosemary, that is one of my favorite things about social media. We are all in this together with our customers. If you develop a relationship with your customers through social media and reach them on their level, they will have a fierce loyalty to you and your brand.

    You can take an ambivalent customer base and turn them into supportive fans that are routing for you and want to see you succeed. They are excited that you are willing to try something on a hunch. Go with your gut, give it a try, see what happens. Your true fans and best customers are there with you and will be happy to go along for the ride.

  • http://www.alpharettarealestateguide.com Sabine Taylor

    Certain industries can see a faster return on investment and for others it takes more time….but I am glad that this customer experienced a profit.

  • http://blog.adminitrack.com/ Adminitrack

    An excellent example of how simple social engagement can generate huge rewards for business.

  • http://twitter.com/D_Elms D_Elms

    To state what to me is obvious but seems to be skimmed over here: this campaign worked because they had built up their communities over time previously — probably using a lot of e-mails — and this is not a result that could be expected from a fledgling social media presence.

    What they managed to do was get the core group of their followers to spread the word. In the process they also identified, if they didn’t know already, who are the most fanatical and/or best influencers among their followers.

    Inspiring.

  • Lauren

    This is what my question originally was. How many fans and followers did they have to start with? They had to have thriving social media accounts from the start to spread the word in the first place.

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  • Roisin @ Osmosis Ireland

    What a fantastic endoresment of the sales power of Facebook. It also goes to show that even as Facebook introduce further restrictions on promotions you can get a deal out there without breaking the rules if you think creatively!

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  • http://www.facebook.com/adam.lang.ucf Adam Lang

    This is an incredible social media case study especially from a company that sells Bible Software. It really shows if used right how powerful a social media campaign can really help a company.

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  • http://www.squidoo.com/best-laptop-under-700 John Kavan

    As I understand, It’s much better to use social media than email because it’s much faster that way. Recommendation from one person to another ,then follows. In this marketing specialist hits the right target market by letting the prospect clients find them rather than the other way around. That’s a good strategy.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/best-laptop-under-700 John Kavan

    As I understand, It’s much better to use social media than email because
    it’s much faster that way. Recommendation from one person to another
    ,then follows. In this marketing specialist hits the right target market
    by letting the prospect clients find them rather than the other way
    around. That’s a good strategy

  • http://www.austinbriggs.com Austin Briggs

    Well, given that I delete sales letter without reading them (and I guess at least a few other folks do), this is a brilliant strategy. Lots to learn from this article, thanks! 

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  • Liliana Martínez

    Dear David Worrell, I´m interested in the study of IBM, can you send me it? Thanks.
    Liliana Martínez @Lilie_Mtz rocioliliana@yahoo.com
    Have a nice day :D

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