Logos 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.”
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.
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.
“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:
- Logos asked customers to email in the three titles they most wished were on sale.
- Sales reps then looked up the special prices for those items and replied personally to each customer.
- 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.
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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.
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.”
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.