All Posts in Viral Marketing

January 4, 2018 - No Comments!

How Gilt Bounced Back from Dropping Sales and Positioned for $250M Acquisition

Everyone is buzzing about you...

Sales are rolling in…

Until…

BAM! 💥

Your company hits a wall. The PR shine you once had has worn off. Sales are slowing drastically. And everything you try barely moves the needle.

What do you do? Throw in the towel?

Ecommerce retailer Gilt faced this very problem. And (spoiler alert!) managed to stop the slide and keep the company alive, resulting in a $250 million acquisition in 2015.

We’ll talk about how they did just that (and what your company can do if facing a similar situation).

But first...I want you to understand the Gilt story. We need context.

In 2007, Gilt launched with a bang. Specialising in flash-sales, 💥 💰 🛍️, this cutting-edge online retailer’s first offer was 50%-off Christian Louboutin shoes 👠 👠. The offer excited masses of fashionistas, nearly crashing the popular new site.

And it looked like Gilt’s initial success was no fluke. The company saw continued success, with sales growing from $25 million in 2008 to an impressive $425 million in 2010. 💵 🤑 💵

Like many businesses, though, Gilt was not able to maintain the same trajectory of growth they achieved when they first launched.

Fortunately, they found a solution.

A referral programme.

But not any old referral programme. They built a brand new model, merging refer-a-friend and loyalty incentives under one umbrella.☂️

The Gilt Insider is a dual-purposed loyalty programme that would both grow word of mouth sales and increase basket value (or the cost of items in a typical customer purchase).

If those milestones sound like something your business could use, here’s a step-by-step guide to making a Gilt-style programme work for you.

Start the Problem

Before they could solve the dipping-sales issues, Gilt-ers needed to understand what was actually happening.

There were two primary culprits:

  1. Overextension of the brand
  2. Poor customer retention

Let’s talk about both.

Starting in 2010, Gilt ventured into full-price items in retail, travel and foods, creating new sub-brands for each. They soon discovered that spreading their wings wasn’t such a great idea.

When overall sales started to drop off, Gilt leaders knew something had to change.

First order of business?

Drop the extra dragging them down.

So long, full-price brands.

But waving goodbye to high-dollar extras alone wasn’t enough. Gilt still needed to capture and retain customers.👱🙋👨

Turns out, keeping customers is particularly difficult for retailers using the flash-sale model.

Customers do love 😍 a discount. I mean, really love a discount. In fact, coupons and vouchers, for example, can even cause the increase of oxytocin levels in the brain.

But here’s the rub.

Retention Science reports that while sites may be able to induce a sale with deep discounts, they will struggle more to retain customers, finding that 93.8% of customers who make a flash-sale purchase fail to make another purchase 😟  from the same site within a six month period. 📅

93.8%? That’s pretty much everybody. And no business can survive on the 6.2%.

Enter the loyalty programme.

Your key takeaway: Before starting your referral program, clearly define your problem; know what you’re trying to solve. Even though a referral programme helped Gilt, gaining new customers wouldn’t have gotten them over the sales slump.

If they didn’t also handle how their brand was brought over-extended, they would likely have not been able to stay afloat.

Critically consider the issue (or issues) that may be standing in the way of your success before you proceed with planning your program. A programme is only as successful as its foundation.

Don’t Forget Customer Loyalty

Participants in this dual-purpose programme, called the “Gilt Insider” programme, can earn points by spending money on Gilt or referring fashion-loving friends. 👗

They can also decide how they use their points, making rewards less one-size-fits-all and more tailored—just like the fashion brands they are offering for sale on the site.

gilt referral marketing viral loops

With an ongoing rewards-for-referrals model, Gilt can constantly capture referrals, even from the customers who have recently become aware of the brand. More importantly, Gilt retains their formerly one-and-done customers as they keep coming back to spend their points exclusively at Gilt.

To help customers see how they could use their points, Gilt built a beautiful explainer page.

gilt referral marketing viral loops

This page shows customers how they can spend their points and earn more. Want to save $20? Start referring your friends, and you’ll get there.

Your key takeaway: Getting new referrals is important, but keeping your existing customers is as wise as it is cost effective. With average customer acquisition costs ranging from $7 to $315, depending on the industry, working to maintain your existing bank of customers is costly. By giving your most dedicated customers a programme that rewards...and rewards...and rewards…you can get your customers to stick around (and buy more). 👊

Encourage Customers to Act Now and Again

Gilt’s success depends not only on recruiting new customers but also on doing something that flash-sale retailers are notoriously bad at—getting customers to come back often.

To dissuade customers from going months and months between purchases, Gilt set a relatively short expiration date on their points—six months.

To maintain their points balances, Gilt Insiders must make a purchase from Gilt at least once every six months. 🗓️

If a customer doesn’t make a purchase, his or her entire points balance will expire. The prospect of losing not just some, but all, points is enough to encourage many participants to make a purchase.

And, of course, Gilt doesn’t expire these points without warning. They send several, spaced reminder emails to give customers a heads up and encourage them to make that points-saving purchase.

Though some would consider selecting a relatively short six-month window risky, with clear reminders, Gilt continues to find success with this model.  

Your key takeaway: While most loyalty programme experts agree that having a point expiration is an important motivator to making a purchase, the debate remains regarding the ideal term. Your programme’s mission is to give customers and potential customers a reason to act now.

Whether you use expiring points or limited time referral offers, you can benefit from forcing customers to stop pondering the purchase and just buy already. 

Consider Making it Exclusive

As Gilt Insider customers gather points, they also climb levels within this program.

Developing a tiered program, with enticing benefits on each level, adds an element of exclusivity.

Depending on the number of points they earn, Gilt Insider programme participants can climb to Select 🥉, Premiere 🥈 or Noir 🥇 tiers. Each tier offers its own exclusive benefits, with the most sought-after reserved for Noir members.  

gilt referral marketing viral loops

Noir members enjoy waitlist preference and get a 1-hour preview of new items added to the site—a substantial lead on other competitive flash sale shoppers chomping at the bit.

Because tier status is re-evaluated annually, customers have yet another reason to keep on referring and spending, fuelling the continued success of the programme and, by connection, the continued success of Gilt.

Your key takeaway: By providing exclusive access, Gilt taps into customers fear of missing out (FOMOand creates a sense of urgency. Offering something to an elite group of buyers makes other customers aspire to be one of these high rollers. And, if they have enough aspiration, they may just make the purchases necessary to get there.

So, do you want to create a referral program similar to Gilt? We've got you covered.

This template is inspired by Gilt and it's the best way to let your store visitors refer their friends.

It's that simple!

In case you’re interested to launch a referral program like Gilt, we have your back! Save yourself some time.

Cheers 😉

December 15, 2017 - No Comments!

Why word of mouth, not paid ads, is the future of marketing

The first question that emerges when discussing any possible solution to a problem is ‘why?’

Why virality and word of mouth?

I would say because it’s a marketing channel based entirely on your product and it doesn’t rely specifically on any other channel.

Then I would provide extra support to my argument by saying that word of mouth is the primary factor behind 20% to 50% of all purchasing decisions and also it’s 10x more effective than traditional advertising, as people are really sick and tired of being pushed to buy things.

Paid advertising is almost dead.

Relying on ‘rented’ space to acquire loyal customers, is a risky practice.

Plus, by increasing virality,  you decrease your CPA as more people get to use your product by keeping your marketing budget at the same level.

I bet that you hear a lot about the power of word of mouth. But what is it really?

Word of what?

Word of mouth is a phenomenon where people love something so much, they just cannot stop boasting about it, until everyone gets to try it. And if anybody has something bad to say about it, then these passionate fans are able to go full berserk in order to protect it.

Why word of mouth, not paid ads, is the future of marketing

It sounds stupid, but it happens.

Let’s see 4 simple things- at least in theory, you can do to generate word of mouth for your product:

  1. Have a great product, meaning that your product should solve a problem even for a small niche and actually work the way it’s supposed to.
  2. Keep your customer support in high priority. Humans love being treated well!
  3. Build communities! The big bang of the internet happened not because of products but because it offered the ability to people to finally belong somewhere. Building a community is vital, and if you ask me, it’s better to start building one for your niche even before having a product to sell.
  4. Love your customers. Help them in any way that you are able to! If you have a saas product, you can write a case study about them, or just support them by buying something they sell.

Actually, about customer support, I have a funny story.

During a marathon troubleshooting session, a  support engineer of Rackspace heard the customer was hungry, so she ordered them a pizza! How can the customer resist to not talk about this?

Another funny case is Shazam. Its users didn’t even have to talk about it!

When scanning for a song using the app, they would hold their phone near to a speaker. That, of course, raised the obvious question around them:

‘Dude what are you doing?’

The power to create curiosity is more powerful than words as curiosity is integrated into our DNA.

Virality Vs. Word of mouth

So, what’s the difference between virality and word of mouth?

Virality is a phenomenon where people spread the word about an offering, in the context of using it, rather than loving it, which is what happens with word of mouth.

In other words, virality has always to do with some sort of reward. Love, on the other hand, is unconditional.

Why word of mouth, not paid ads, is the future of marketing

I have 2 examples for you:

Kickstarter leverages user campaign for virality, as when a campaign creator spreads the word about his project, he helps Kickstarter reach higher user adoption.

The same mindset applies to product hunt. When a hunter submits a  product, both the hunter and maker spread the word about it,  bringing in more people in the platform.

Now, we know that both virality and network effects lead to growth but they are not the same by any means.

Eventbrite, for example, uses virality but not network effect, as in order for the organizer to get more registrants for their event, they have to spread the word in other platforms and external networks.

On the other hand, a platform like LinkedIn is designed to use network effects as you have to be a LinkedIn member in order to connect with other people through it.

As you can understand, virality is a business design problem and not just a marketing strategy. You have to make it part of your business model in order for it to work.

Now, there are 2 types of virality which I will explain and I’ll also give you some examples to get inspired by how you can get them to work for you.

First, we have Pull Product Virality (PPV), product virality where existing users require people in their network to join to gain value out of a feature.

You can see that type of virality on an app like Splitwise where you need friends on the product to input money owing and money lent. Or, with Whatsapp where you should have your friends and family in to communicate.

Snapchat also works the same way because need friends in Snapchat to see snaps and be seen.

Then, we have Distribution Product Virality (DPV), product virality where existing users spread awareness of a product to their network.

Instagram’s cross-posting was a game changer for them; You can share your photos on Facebook and Twitter and even non-users will get in.

The same thing happened in Facebook’s early days.

If a tagged friend wasn’t on Facebook, she would receive an email prompting her to create an account.

Why word of mouth, not paid ads, is the future of marketing

How to measure Virality

The way that someone can measure virality is through the calculation of viral coefficient or the k-factor.

The k-factor is the total number of registrations per unique inviting user.

So, if 1 in 5 of your users will successfully recruit a new user in their first month, your viral factor is 1/5 = 0.2, and our initial 5,000 users will recruit another 5,000 * 0.2 = 1,000 users in month #1.

I will get you out of the trouble to look for industry benchmarks on that by saying that for a consumer internet product, a sustainable viral factor of 0.15 to 0.25 is good, 0.4 is great,  and around 0.7 is outstanding.

But here’s the problem:

When our viral factor is less than 1, we acquire users at a decreasing rate until we grow no more.

That isn't an outcome that anybody wants, so is there something we’re missing?

Yes! We are missing all of the other channels with which you can acquire users like the Press, direct traffic, inbound marketing, paid advertising, SEM, SEO etc.

You see it’s truly rare to attain a viral factor of more than 1.

As I told you, you can measure virality by using the k-factor, but this is just an indicator of how your referral marketing works.

In order to see how virality affects your overall growth, you have to take into consideration your amplification factor.

Why word of mouth, not paid ads, is the future of marketing

The number of users acquired through non-viral channels by our amplification factor will reveal the real growth of your user base.

You can calculate the amplification factor by dividing 1 by the result of subtracting of your viral factor from 1.

In case I messed you up, you can see the equation in the image above.

Apart from your main marketing funnel, you can have multiple sub funnel, and your viral loop is no exception.

You should treat your viral loop as a funnel with several stages that can be optimized, so as to maximize your viral factor.

Here’s a basic anatomy of a viral funnel:

  1. The top of the funnel is the step where the user becomes aware that she can invite someone.
  2. Then the second step is where the users submit the invite form.
  3. The third step includes them sending the actual invitation.
  4. Then the fourth step is where the invitee gets the invitation
  5. The fifth and last step is when the invitee accepts the invitation and registers.

Why word of mouth, not paid ads, is the future of marketing

 

TL;DR

  • Paid advertising is rented space.
  • Word of mouth is the primary factor behind 20% to 50% of all purchasing decisions.
  • Virality and Word of mouth are not the same thing.
  • In order to see how virality affects your overall growth, you have to take into consideration your amplification factor.

I think this article gave you enough arguments, as for why Virality & Word of mouth wins over paid advertising. I'm curious to hear your arguments about the subject, so hit me us up in the comment section

December 8, 2017 - No Comments!

6 Ways To Grab More Participants For Your Referral Campaign

Whether you want to increase your sales or push your brand’s awareness on a new high, a referral campaign is always a wise choice in order to broaden the top of your marketing channel.

So, let’s say you build your referral campaign; now what?

People flood your page and you get millions of participants. Yeah, right.

It almost all occasions, it doesn’t work like that.

There are thousands of referral campaigns that might interest you, but you’ve never heard of them.

So, how do you make sure that your referral campaign lands on as many eyeballs as possible;

And how do you make sure that you’ll turn the simple visitor to a participant?

I got your back fam. 💪

Here are 6 ways to grab more participants for your referral campaign.

1.Give your existing customers an extra push

The best way to ensure that your campaign will get the number of participants it deserves is if people are sharing it.

Your customer base is far more likely to become your early ambassadors, so why not give them a boosted incentive to do so? If they truly enjoy your product/ service, they are more likely to recommend it to their friends.

In case you’re running a milestone referral campaign, you can instantly reward them for getting in your program by giving them a headstart in comparison with non-customers.

2.Make it really easy to share

Less is more, they say.

Obviously, if you’re about to spam users with a bunch of nonsense before they are allowed to share your campaign, most probably they won’t.

2 steps are enough:

  1. Sign up step
  2. Sharing step

You can allow users to signup by email or social media account, but in the sharing step, you must be really cautious.

People actually like to have a limited amount of choices; that way they don’t have to think.

So, apart from a clean an understandable UX design, try to keep the sharing options to the minimum.

Email is a to-go choice and you should also add 1 or 2 choices for social media; mostly the ones where your game is stronger. That way you ensure that people will share your campaign in places where you can support your level of awesomeness.

Pro tip:

Dropbox used the best invitation hack I’ve ever witnessed.They offered the option to sync your contacts from Gmail, AOL, Yahoo!, etc.

BOOM!

3.A 2-side reward always wins

If you are running a referral campaign for an eCommerce, a great tactic to follow is to offer 2-sided rewards- that way both the referrer and the referred have something to gain.

This is exactly what Airbnb did by offering $25 discount for accommodation booking to both sides. This referral program became known as the ‘altruistic referral’.

Actually, Airbnb tested 2 variations for their referral campaign:

  1. Variation A was based on single-side reward offering 50$ to the referrer.
  2. Variation B offered 25$ to both the referrer and the referral.

The results of their experiment showed that Variation B brought 25% more referrals than Variation A.

4.Put it everywhere.

This is pretty obvious, right? You should demonstrate your amazing referral campaign on any of your digital properties.

You can start by putting banners on your website and blog. If you’re running an app, send your users a notification. In case you have the budget, you can also run a sponsored post on Facebook.

Note, that in Facebook ads, it’s better to go with videos.

Try to capture in a few beautiful seconds all things that your referral campaign has to offer- and please, show your face; it’s important!

In case your wallet doesn’t allow you to spend on ads, you should probably prepare your Facebook audience for your campaign.

A great way to do so is by gathering messenger subscribers using a bot from a service as Manychat.

Recently, I created a bot for my new venture, Growth Hacking University that subscribed people on our pages messenger when they commented on a certain post by using a given keyword.

I've also made a video explaining how I did it:

5.Up your follow-up game

When I started working as a marketing consultant, I was doing nearly anything for our newly founded company.

I was writing articles to attract leads, I was a sales guy and a consultant.

Sales were always hard for me because I felt like I was pushing people to finally buy. I hated follow-ups. The sad truth is that following up is the only way to close a sale.

The same mindset applies to your referrals.

The only way to make people refer to their friends and colleagues is to communicate to them a sense of urgency to them. No one wants inactive users.

Just email them to show them how close they are to achieve a goal, or consult them on how to get closer if they need to.

6.Sneaky remarketing

This is another brilliant way to follow up, without spamming their inbox. You can set a retargeting pixel on the page after the user signs up.

After that, you can create some beautiful ads to run only to users that are not so active.

A good tactic is to incentivize them by giving them a boost like the one that I described in the first section of this article.

TL;DR

Just by launching a referral campaign for your business doesn’t ensure that people will fight each other to get on-board. The good news is that there are 6 things you can do, to get the maximum number of participants possible:

  1. ‘Boost’ your existing customers.
  2. Make it easy to share.
  3. Use 2-side rewards.
  4. Announce your campaign on all your digital assets.
  5. Follow up inactive referrers.
  6. Retarget users to incentivize them to refer more friends.

Now it’s your turn to rock.

Cheers 😎

 

December 1, 2017 - No Comments!

How Airbnb Built a Billion $ Growth Formula

Remember when people first started using “google” as a verb?

It’s every startup’s dream—beyond making lots and lots of money, of course.

It’s the arrival. The moment when there’s a universal acceptance that your company as the go-to provider of a product or service…so much so, that people now use your brand as generic noun or verb.

Pass the Kleenex. Xerox a copy. Relax in the jacuzzi. Enjoy fish and chips with a coke.

And now...paying to stay overnight in a neighborhood flat or borrowing a local family’s rollaway bed while you travel...you’re airbnbing.  

So how did this scrappy, born-out-of-necessity, startup make their claim to fame?

For starters, they had a great idea. But everybody’s got an idea, right? What brought Airbnb to billion-dollar status was how they grew that idea, that is, how they increased their number of guest arrivals from 21,000 in 2009 to 80,000,000 in 2016. 😲

It was its well-timed and well-implemented referral marketing programme.

Let’s talk about how they did it.

How Airbnb Built a Billion $ Growth Formula

Let your customers do the convincing

So you’ve got a new product, but the world is not knocking down your door to download your app or use your service?

Well, you’re not alone.

Not everyone wants to be an early adopter, and that was certainly the case for Airbnb.

What’s more, when Airbnb launched their service model, they were met with concerns—travels and hosts alike worried if they could trust a stranger.

Jumping that hurdle began with this fundamental insight: a whopping 92 percent of people say that they find recommendations from a peer more compelling than advertising.

We know how powerful word-of-mouth advertising is when used to sell any product or service. But for the services Airbnb offers, the power of a word-of-mouth was be even more critical for accelerating growth.

By building a refer-a-friend-like program that gave experienced customers the mic—along with background checks and a hefty insurance policy—Airbnb could reduce (if not eliminate) those fears, making travelers and their hosts more travel-ready.

Current customers became the trusted brand advocates new customers really want and need to hear from.

As Jason Bosinoff, Airbnb engineering manager, said in an article for Medium, “Airbnb experiences are so personal. People use Airbnb to unlock incredible experiences — anything from weekend getaways with friends, cultural exchanges, and once-in-a-lifetime events like honeymoons.”

And the referral approach is just that...personal.

Go big…and go home

When starting a referral program, everyone has the same question: What will entice people to sign on, sign up and most importantly, to refer others to do the same?

For Airbnb, the answer was simple.

Experiences. 🗽 🌉 🗼

They wanted to build a database of world travelers, ready to rent apartments, rooms, and homes the around the globe.

So the home-sharing company incentivized would-be travelers offering travel credits—$25 when a referred friend rented from Airbnb and $75 when a referred friend listed his or her property for rent on the site.

What’s particularly advantageous about this referral tactic is that Airbnb can detract swag hunters simply looking to collect loot or swag and instead, increase referrals of people who would actually travel. ✈🚆 🚁 🚍 

How Airbnb Built a Billion $ Growth Formula

Travellers who participate in the program can earn up to $5000 worth of lodging fees they can use to try out the service. 💰 🤑 💰

That’s certainly enough to pay for lots of mini-break weekends. 🚗 🏘

It’s up to the traveler to decide whether to spend these credits as they are earned, or save them up and use all at once.

Sounds really awesome to a traveler, doesn’t it?

For Airbnb, however, the approach was a little risky.

Here’s why...

To offer these travel incentives, Airbnb had to open up their wallet and pay some cold-hard-cash. When a traveler got a credit for accommodations, Airbnb still had to pay the host.

With this double-sided reward model, Airbnb was (and still is) putting their money where their mouth is betting that once customers try their service, they’ll return. Otherwise, Airbnb is just tossing money out the window.

If you’re confident in your product or service model — as Airbnb was — taking this sort risk just might be worth it, as the reward can be so sweet.

Know your bullseye and keep score

Before you launch a referral program, you need to set a realistic goal and identify metrics that you’ll use to measure success or failure.

How Airbnb Built a Billion $ Growth Formula

Airbnb made sure they were aiming at a reasonable target by first running a closed beta test of its referral program.

To start, Airbnb offers the travel credit incentives for referral only to their existing 2,161 existing members.

The result? 2,107 new members joined, this nearly 1:1 growth ratio was a clear indication that this program would be a likely success.

From there, Airbnb identified six specific metrics to track, including:

  • Number of monthly active users sending invites
  • Number of invites per inviter
  • Conversion rate to new user
  • Conversion rate to new guest
  • Conversion rate to new host
  • Revenue impact potential

They looked at their growth in these areas historically (before the referral program) to see what they could reasonably expect from this program.

The results determined that the Airbnb team could expect their numbers in these categories to increase anywhere from 20 to 90 times their current standings.

This range provided a way to decide if the live referral programme was successful in their attempts at bolstering their business through referral.

To see how their actual performance measured against their projection, Airbnb tracked growth every step, A/B testing new content and landing pages and using customised dashboards to make the information accessible.

And Airbnbers surely delighted in watching the numbers climb, as we know now exactly how successful this effort proved to be.

Ultimately, what Airbnb is trying to do is build a community of travel-loving followers. And their referral program is only one of the ways they are making “airbnbing” a choice preferable to booking some boring old hotel room.

November 17, 2017 - No Comments!

How Robinhood Got Nearly 1 Million Users Before the Company Even Existed

It’s a tale as old as time.

How Robinhood Got Nearly 1 Million Users Before the Company Even Existed

No, not that one.

This one:

  1. You get an idea for a revolutionary product or service.💡
  2. You launch the next big thing on your website. 💻
  3. You invite your family, friends—perhaps even your LinkedIn network —to download your app or buy from your store.
  4. Despite your efforts, your launch ends up being less “big thing” and more small potatoes.

🙈

Read more

November 3, 2017 - No Comments!

MailChimp Made Its Mark With Masterful Giveaways And Funky Swag

Whether you’re heading to an event and need swag for your promo table, or trying to increase brand name recognition, every company’s got a use for swag and could benefit from a well-planned giveaway.

But that’s also the problem, isn’t it?

Every company gives stuff away.

That means, your customers already have a drawer full of pens, tees, squishy stress balls and glossy stickers from the last event they went to.

If you want to be different and have a meaningful, memorable, sure-to-keep-your-company-top-of-mind giveaway, then it’s critical you treat the swag process as more than the act of thumbing through a promotional catalogue or website.

One company that’s done just that with surprising—even weird—swag? MailChimp.

We ❤️ MailChimp. 📧 🐵

Everything about their brand, in fact—from the cheeky monkey, Freddie (no offence Lil’ Poogy), to their approach to design.

We even tried to get a tour of its headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, the last time we were there. But no success. 😞

If their rate of growth is any indication, we’re not the only ones feelin’ the love.

Since the company’s launch in 2001, this self-funded email marketing platform has grown like crazy, gaining 14 million users and reaching $400 million in revenue just 15 years since its launch.

While their drool-worthy swag and engaging rewards aren’t the only reasons for company growth, certainly they’ve played a part in building the brand and its reputation.

These forward thinkers have created some of the most sought-after merch we’ve seen to date.

What’s their recipe for giveaway success?

Let’s take a look at these MailChimp-inspired giveaway tips.

Curate the right merch

According to Mailchimp, choosing the right merch begins with thinking about giveaway products from the right perspective.

At MailChimp, employees consider freebies less as marketing swag and more as thoughtful gifts.

While the Atlanta-based team hopes to yield a return on its investment, they’ve asserted that there’s no way to determine with certainty if the latest MailChimp colouring book, MailChimp windbreaker or Freddie & Mannie stationery picked up at a giveaway table will result in a sale.

But it ultimately doesn’t matter, because giveaways are all about the customer experience.

Let’s make this idea real: What would you think if you received as a gift the latest piece of swag your company ordered?

Would you respond with “oohs and ahhs” and couldn’t wait to use it?😍

Would using the gift make you feel like a kid again? 👶

Or, would you say... “meh” 🤷... instead?

If you’d be less than impressed, then why would you expect your customers to feel any more enthusiasm?

You already care about your company, but your customers don’t…yet.

Endear your customers to your brand by selecting swag that creates this feel-good moment.

It’s like giving your customers a hug 🤗, but with swag. 🛍

Because let’s be honest, pens and mugs can be cool. But a monkey pen holder that lives well beyond the life of my Bic pen and sits on my desk for years to come, well that’s so much cooler.

MailChimp didn’t have to guess whether customers would think the swag was cool. From assessing the softness of Freddie plushies to ensuring the durability of tote bags, to trying on winter hats, MailChimpers selected and tested each gift with care in-house.

Why?

To make sure that the treats used to tempt their customers are adequately…well…tempting.

And it’s worked.

Their merch is so tempting, in fact, that people have begun to collect MailChimp swag—some even willing to buy MailChimp merch that may have once been free.

Commission the right manufacturer

In their nearly two decades, MailChimp has done quite a lot of memorable stuff—but almost nothing quite as notable as one particular giveaway.

Tiny hats for cats. 😻 ❤️ ❤ 😻 ❤️

And no, we’re not joking.

In a killer contest, which ran in November of 2012 on Facebook, MailChimp offered participants crocheted hats for cats (and tiny dogs, too).

All a pet-parent needed to do to earn a chance to win one was to sign up for MailChimp’s email list.

This ingenious event was the perfect storm of giveaways, bringing together both the already viral nature of cats and people’s love for their pets and need to post pet pics on social media.

It became a viral campaign—cat video included.

The result? Tons of hats for a ton of cats needing to be sent all over the world. Who’s gonna handle manufacturing and logistics?

Fortunately, MailChimp figured this out before they promised to deliver feline headwear. By partnering with manufacturing and fulfillment company Amplifier, MailChimp prepared to deliver on promises.

They gave customers what they said they would give them, when they said they would give it to them.

MailChimp valued Amplifier so much that they considered this company their secret weapon, keeping their relationship secret for quite some time so as to not lose their competitive advantage.

Choose the right method

We’ve all seen those annoying sweepstakes spam pop-ups.

“CONGRATULATIONS! You’ve been selected…”

No thanks! 🙅

And then there are the social giveaways that ask you to follow 5 different people, comment on a photo, tag three friends and send in your email address.

I don’t know about you, but the prize would have to be seriously awesome for me to go through all of those steps.

If you want your customers to participate (let alone remember you), you need to give them something memorable, delivering your giveaway in a decidedly distinctive way.

That’s exactly what MailChimp did when it gamified its Freddie squishies giveaway.

Check more here 👉 fuzzco.com/work/best-ever-mystery-giveaway

Website visitors enjoyed an interactive landing page, full of animated objects, that encouraged them to search through the items, looking for the hidden prize. Only when they found the reward and clicked on it could they enter.

Engaging? Definitely.

Memorable? You bet.

Giveaways and swag helped MailChimp become the inbox dominators they are today, but that feat wasn’t achieved simply by the acts of running the giveaways and handing out the swag.

It’s the way in which they approached, planned and implemented these promotions that’s made all the difference.

So, do you want to create a campaign similar to Mailchimp? We've got you covered.

This template is inspired by Mailchimp.

People can join your competition, just by putting in their info. You give them the chance to increase their chances of winning by referring their friends, every friend is one entry.

It's that simple!

In case you’re interested to build a giveaway like Mailchimp, we have your back! Save yourself some time.

Cheers 😉

October 20, 2017 - No Comments!

Would Someone Spend $18,000 to Win Your Contest? Jet Made it Happen.

Listen, I’m pretty competitive.

Whether it's a game of football or who can finish a beer first, I’m in it to win it.

But even my competitive streak has never driven me to invest $18,000 toward winning a contest. I mean, that’s how much a brand-spanking-new 2017 Honda Civic 🚗. would run me.

So needless to say, when news of a man who shelled out this much cash for a chance at winning a Jet.com referral marketing contest crossed my desk, I was intrigued to say the least.

Jet.com eric martin

Who am I kidding 😲 ? I questioned his overall sanity.

And I wondered what in the heck this company had offered to inspire him to spend the equivalent of two years of uni tuition.

The short version is this: Before its launch, Jet.com (a startup wanting to compete with Amazon.com) ran a growth hacking contest.

The result?

Besides the fact that some guy invested $18k securing a win, Jet.com gained a quite the number of “insiders,” which most certainly contributed to their later multi-billion-dollar acquisition.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Let’s dig into this brilliant referral marketing campaign, then you tell me...

Could you copy this model and inspire that kind of investment from your referral marketing participants to grow your business—or perhaps come even just a little close?

It may not be as difficult as it seems.

Jet.com’s Recipe for Referral Marketing Success

1. Give the people what they want.

Jet.com knew that the only way to ensure a strong launch was to build some online buzz; and what better way to do it than to hold a contest?

But this wasn’t your run-of-the-mill giveaway offering free product, swag or a cash prize, Jet.com decided to tempt participants with something more valuable—shares of their business.

Jet.com giveaway

And they weren't just giving away a share or two... they were giving away 190,000 shares spread across 10 winners.

Yowza! 😱

Here’s the breakdown:

At the end of the contest, the winner earned 100,000 shares of Jet.com stock (no, that wasn’t a typo. I said 100,000 shares).

Participants in places 2 through 10 received 10,000 shares each.

Your actionable tip:

Ok, so you might not have 190,000 shares of your stock you want to part with. But the takeaway here is that you must give participants something of value.

Logically, people are going to put more effort into your contest if you are offering something they actually want.

A free t-shirt is nice, but not many people are going to invest much time or energy for a chance to win a shirt to add to their probably-already-overflowing drawer of tees.

So don’t just copy your competitors. Think outside the box (📦 🕺) and offer something that hasn’t been done before.

2. Show participants their progress along the way.

What did contenders have to do to add these shares to their portfolios?

Simple. Get people to sign up as a Jet.com Insider.

At sign up, each contest participant received a unique sign-up link so that Jet.com could attribute referrals. Participants shared these links with friends and promoted Jet.com’s insider program on social media using their unique links.

Jet sign up page

People hoping for a win didn’t have to guess as to how they were doing. There is a reason stadiums have a scoreboard, after all.

In this same vein, Jet.com provided regular email updates to content participants showcasing their place on the leaderboard.

A virtual leaderboard—a sure way to motivate the competitor in all of us—tracked those with the most referrals, specifically, the top 10.

Jet.com giveaway

By feeding their referrers a steady diet of data, Jet.com empowered those racing for the top spots, keeping the contest alive day after day.

Your actionable tip:

Follow Jet.com’s lead and give your participants information on how well (or not well) they are doing.

Your ultimate goal is to get as many leads as possible.

By reporting your referral program competitors’ progress, you encourage those going after the prize to ramp up their efforts, in turn ramping up your lead list.

3. Get the word out far and wide.

When Jet.com launched their referral program, they managed to obtain some serious media attention, which worked out to their advantage.

The man who ended up winning those shares learned about the program when in a Bloomberg Businessweek article.

Were this program not featured there, he might have never discovered it. And Jet.com would have been down the 8,000 referrals he generated. 😬

By getting the word out, Jet.com managed to catch the attention of their contest winner—father of two, Eric Martin works as a product specialist…or I should say, worked. He also ran for Congress in 2012, but his run ended in a disappointing 5th place finish Republican primary.

Martin heard about the Jet.com contest and entered it late in the game, starting in January despite the fact that the contest had been going on since November.

jet eric martin

In the case of Eric Martin, it wasn’t slow and steady wins the race. It was, instead, pretty much the opposite of the Tortoise in the Hare.

In just three weeks, he signed up 8,000 people by investing 18K between Facebook advertising and marketing the promotion on Swagbucks.com and GiftHulk.com, giving him the #1 spot on Jet.com’s leaderboard.

Your actionable tip:

Posting your program on your website and social media channels and hoping for organic traffic isn’t going to be enough. Pay to play with boosted social posts and traditional media to spread the message and get the attention of a larger crowd.

You can’t just depend on an “Eric Martin” finding out about your promotion accidentally.

So how did Jet.com make out in the end? And what about Eric Martin?

At the end of the day, the referral program model worked out pretty sweet for Jet.com.

Yes, they gave away 100,000 shares 💰, but they ended up getting what they wanted – a strong customer base.

Before they even launched, Jet.com had amassed quite the collection of customers — 350,000 to be exact, thanks in large part to their referral program.

Jet.com

The company had some hiccups—they had to give up on charging a $50 membership fee three months after launching, for one—but it looks like it worked out pretty well for them. Their big payday came when Walmart.com bought them for $3.3 billion in early 2016.

Oh, and as for Eric Martin...while he’s keeping mum as to exactly how much this deal netted him, experts say it somewhere between $10 and $20 million. 🤑

He’s suddenly seeming very wise indeed…

And in case you were wondering, Eric Martin himself is still at it. He won 50,000 shares of investing start-up Nvstr in May of 2017.

So, do you want to create a campaign similar to Jet? We've got you covered.

This template is inspired by Jet.com. People can join your competition, just by putting in their info. Then, the more friends they invite, the higher they climb up the leaderboard.

It's that simple!

jet.com viral loops

In case you’re interested to build a giveaway like Jet.com, we have your back! Save yourself some time.

Cheers 😉

September 15, 2017 - No Comments!

How Dropbox grew 3900% with a simple referral program

This is the 3rd addition to the "How the hell did they pull this" series- it’s not official, I just like to name things.

During the past few months we wrote about:

It’s already a cliche to try to convince you if referral programs work or not (of course they do) and why, so instead this article is solely focused on the how.

Numbers are important

Dropbox’s referral program is possibly one of the most famous cases of referral marketing done right. Almost a decade later, it’s still used in numerous case studies showcasing how referral programs can contribute to a company’s growth engine- or even be the engine itself.

Let’s have a quick dive in Dropbox’s metric history:

  • September 2008: 100K registered users
  • December 2009: 4M registered users
  • September 2017: 10B evaluation + 1B revenue.

What happened between 2008 and 2010? Well, Dropbox managed to double its user base every 3 months, resulting their users sending 2.8M invites in April 2010.

Dropbox Viral Loops referral

People, we’re talking about a 3900% growth in 15 months! 

OK, enough with numbers. Let’s get straight to the chase: how did they do it?

Obviously, it’s not all due to the referral program; they gathered a ton of feedback, they constantly improved their product and they kinda put a battle in order for VC’s to trust their money to them.

SInce I’m not the best dude to talk about business development, I’ll have to put this aside and try to explain the factors that put this referral to the pantheon.

How the referral functioned

The philosophy of Dropbox’s referral program was very plain. Since the product offered storage space in the cloud, they decided to reward people with more free space not only for referring their friends but also for accepting an invitation.

dropbox Referral Viral Loops

In order words, we’re talking about a 2-side referral program for a compelling product, that rewarded both sides for completing the desired task; registering for Dropbox.

We provide the easiest way to build a referral program inspired by Dropbox.

The details that made a champion

It was part of the onboarding process

Onboarding users can be such a pain. When people go on to start using a software or service, they expect they’ll have to fill out some details. I don’t know about you, but when the onboarding process of a product I’m dying to use is easy, a smile carves my face.

Dropbox knew this and not only made the whole onboarding a six step piece of cake, but they integrated their referral program in it as a final step

Just like saying ‘thank you’ by offering more of the product.

People had a clear view of the benefits

When someone decides to use a product, they exactly know what they want from it (whether they get what they expected or not is another story). In Dropbox’s case, people wanted cloud storage; the more, the better.

dropbox-viral-loops-referral-marketing

I get constantly asked what is one of the top 5 skills in marketing. I’ll be damned if copywriting is not one of them. Because context beats content.

That’s why instead of ‘Invite your friends’, Dropbox framed the referral as ‘Get more space’.

Ridiculously easy invitation process

After the user got hooked with ‘getting more space’, the next step was to make it as easy as possible to get it. It was clear that they had to bring their friends on board.

They could do so via social media sharing or by just sending their unique referral link in whatever way they wanted (messenger apps, email, SMS, handwritten cards, etc.)

viral-loops-dropbox-referral

But here lies one of the best invitation hacks I’ve ever witnessed. Email is powerful, but sending your invitations to your contacts one by one, Dropbox offered the option to sync your contacts from Gmail, AOL, Yahoo!, etc.

Victory!

People knew their referral status

If you’re planning to create a referral program, listen to me; and listen to me good. You want to push users to make enough referrals in order to attain a prize goal.

How do you do it?

The easiest way is to make it visible to them how close they are to attaining this goal. I see this in a lot of referral campaigns; I complete the steps, invite my friends and then...Nothing!

viral-loops-dropbox-referral-

No notifications or no email, informing how many of my friends actually successfully registered from my referral link. This is a huge mistake, people!

Dropbox included a panel that was accessible anytime by users, so they can see how the invites performed.

A Viral Loop on steroids

I became a member of Dropbox from a referral (what a surprise, huh?). I received an email from a friend, signed up, and then I received another email informing me that I was given 500mb for accepting my friend’s invitation.

“Sweet”, I thought. In the very same email, there was a P.S.; ‘To get even more space, invite your friends or upgrade your Dropbox’, with 2 links placed respectively.

Dropbox grabbed the opportunity in my WOW moment and offered me additional value by prompting me to get more without paying a dime. Their referral’s goal was to attain a bigger audience reach, not a boost in their revenue.

It was a chance to open their funnel in a very cost effective way by just showcasing their will to offer more for less.

TL;DR

Let’s recap all the important info from the Dropbox story. First, they managed to attain 3900% user growth in 15 months. They did so, by constantly improving the product, coming head to head with VCs, and by building a legendary referral program

The referral program had 2-side rewards and was an overall success because:

  1. Offered an extended version of the same product.
  2. It was part of the onboarding process.
  3. People had a clear view of the benefits.
  4. It made it ridiculously easy for people to invite their friends.
  5. People knew their referral status at any given time.
  6. They managed to build a Viral Loop.

There you have it! Now, I’m going to step back and think what the next addition to the ‘How the hell did they pull this’ series (the name remains totally fictional, but I’ll fight for it).

viral-loops-dropbox-referral

In case you’re interested to build a Dropbox-style referral program, we have your back! Save yourself some time.

Cheers 🙂

September 8, 2017 - No Comments!

Free Webinar: How to kick ass with referral marketing

You may have already seen it somewhere; in case you haven’t, I’m talking about our very first webinar. We’re hosting it on a weekly basis (every second Wednesday at 9 am PDT) focusing on the truth about viral & referral marketing.

How to kick ass with referral marketing. 🤘

Why you might want to watch the webinar in the first place? But, you’ll learn more about referral marketing and how you can integrate it into your marketing strategy.

The most important aspect of this broadcast comes into play right after the whole lecture thing comes to an end.

I’m talking about the live Q&A.

Our customer success manager, Helena, will be available to answer any question you might have about referral marketing and campaigns. Since she’s responsible for helping our customers to pick and set up their campaigns, we couldn’t think of anyone better for making things clear for any of you.

In a sentence, we'll break down everything your marketing team needs to know.

What are the topics covered in the webinar?

Why referral marketing is a new superpower

This is the key question; the ‘why’. Why it’s crucial for your business to acquire new customers with viral and referral marketing?

Just think that ads need to be really well thought and targeted, but as if this wasn’t enough more and more users have adblock enabled. Referral marketing a new way to acquire customers for your business.

viral loops webinar

How viral loops can help you get more referrals

Don’t think viral marketing as a marketing tactic or a growth hack. Viral and referral marketing is a scalable untapped marketing channel for your business.

Every business is different. The same applies for referral campaigns, as there’s no such thing as ‘one size fits all’ here. With our guidance, you’ll be able to pick the right type of campaign to acquire new customers or turn your existing ones in ambassadors.

viral loops referrals

How to incentivize people to refer friends

We will show you some tips for a successful referral marketing campaign as well as some KPIs to track in order to be able to optimise it and get more word of mouth.

The big truth to be told is that in order to make people refer their friends you have to offer the suitable reward for them. But how can you know which is the right one?

That’s exactly why we’re here!

viral loops webinar harrys

Success stories

Most of you have probably heard of Dropbox’s famous referral program or Airbnb’s.

If you search on Google you’ll find a ton of case studies and articles about them.

So, in this webinar we won’t talk about these.

We will give an extensive look on how industry leaders like Jet, Harry’s and Vision Mobile used referral program to build and audience before launching, or to spread the word for other types of campaigns.

webinar viral loops jet vision mobile harrys

Come say hi!

As I wrote in the beginning, after the main course of the webinar you’ll have to opportunity to ask us anything about referral marketing (or just say ‘hi’).

We’ll be more than happy to have you with us!

Cheers 🙂

August 7, 2017 - No Comments!

What rewards should you offer on your referral program?

In some of our previous articles, we analyzed the importance of building a referral program for your business, plus how companies like The Hustle & Harry’s did it - in a very successful way.

Since we made it for you easier than ever to build your referral program with Viral Loops, I thought of preparing this article in order to help you considering the most interesting aspect of your referral campaign.

The rewards.

By now we’ve seen a plethora of  referral programs; that’s enough for us to know that apart from copywriting and well-planned following up with referrers, the rewards you’re willing to provide is one of the things that can make you or break you.

First of all we should cover what’s considered a great referral reward and what’s the worst choice you can make.

The best referral rewards one can think of

To set this as plain as possible, the worst choice you can make is to reward people with something that doesn’t have to do anything with your brand identity - directly or indirectly.

That being said, no iPhones for 50 successful referrals for a shoe retail business.

The point of a referral program is not to bribe people to talk about something they don’t care about.  Yes, you’ll surely get more referrals by providing an iPhone than free shoe laces for a lifetime, but the reason you build a referral program in the first place is your need for quality leads.

Great rewards align perfectly with what your company or brand stands for. What you offer should boost the connection between your user/customers with you; it should put people in a position where they can’t do anything but to talk about you.

I know that this kind of things might sound poetic to you, but I got your back. This piece is dedicated in helping you find the right reward.

Free products

This is an obvious choice. You give free stuff to people for referring their friends. There’s not much to say about it, as Harry’s has already shown how to do it right.

Harry’s followed the concept of a “Milestone Referral Campaign”, meaning that when people reached a specific number of referrals (milestone), they instantly win the corresponding prize.

There were 4 milestones in total:

Referred 5 friends = free shave cream
Referred 10 friends = free razor
Referred 25 friends = free premium razor
Referred 50 friends = free shaving for a year

Harry's milestone Referral Viral Loops

Internal currency

This concept of rewarding revolves around the idea of giving to your users a little extra in exchange for referring you to their friends. This is exactly the system that Dropbox used in its referral program.

Dropbox rewarded with more space on their servers, for each successful referral. The more friends your referred, the more space you got.

dropbox Referral Viral Loops

Discounts

This is the most popular option among eCommerce and marketplace businesses that choose to run a referral program.The best practice to follow is to offer 2-sided rewards- that way both the referrer and the referred have something to gain.

This is exactly what Airbnb did by offering $25 discount for accommodation booking to both sides. This referral program became known as the ‘altruistic referral’.

airbnb Referral Viral Loops

Company Swag

People love stickers, cool t-shirts and colorful socks. Oh, they also love to feel like they are part of a movement. One of the best ways to reward them for being your ambassadors is to make them feel they are part of your team; a team needs a uniform.

A few weeks ago I wrote how The Hustle used company swag to build and establish a kick-ass email list. Be like The Hustle.

Hustle milestone Referral Viral Loops

Exclusive content

When you’re starting off, the fact that you can’t afford to give the reward you want can get awfully irritating. But a valuable reward is not always something that has a big monetary value.

There are things that money can buy, such as your attention and affection towards your users and ambassadors. It’s things that you might have in your stash and will make people’s lives easier.

Recently, Growth Summit used exclusive access to eBooks, videos, webinars and PDF guides to intrigue people to share the event with their friends.

growth summit milestone Referral Viral Loops

Early access

The feeling of trying something first is a hipsterish sin that I can’t keep myself from committing, but that’s the way that most of us work. Allowing priority listing to your top referrers is a game changer.

You know why? Because it’s a competition, and almost all the achievements of our kind are based on the fact that we are competitive beings. Robin Hood and HeyEngage used a leaderboard campaign to gather all the email addresses they needed in order to launch to a pre-warmed audience.

Robinhood Referral Viral Loops

Access to private communities

This is kinda of a combination of making people feel part of the team along with the promise of exclusive content. Facebook groups are thriving and people are dying to part of a community.

The Hustle (once again) offers access to their private Facebook group in exchange for only 4 referrals.

Hustle milestone Referral Viral Loops

Company stocks

Jet gave free stock options just for becoming an early email subscriber. The used a leaderboard referral program to give to the top 10 referrers 10,000 stock options, and the top referrer received 100,000 stock options.

Eric Martin referred the most people to Jet.com.  At the time, Eric disclosed that he spent just $18,000 on online ads in order to drive Jet.com signups.

When Walmart acquired Jet.com for $3 billion, Martin's share became worth of $20 million. Not such a bad incentive, right?

Jet Referral Viral Loops

Pure copywriting

The comes one time in everybody’s life that we have an epiphany about how this world works. For me, it was the moment that I realized that you can get from anyone, anything, by just using the correct combination of words.

All kinds of rewards described above might not even matter. Back in the day that GrowthRocks started, they thought that a great way to generate clients, was to educate their market about what growth hacking is.

The application for the free seminar was through a landing page. GrowthRocks searched for a way to make people invite their co-workers, partners etc. but had nothing to give in return.

That’s why they made an offer that people could resist. After submitting for the seminar, attendees got informed that growth hacking is a team sport, and if they want to get the most out of the seminar then they should invite their teammates.

The outcome: 66% of attendees referred at least one friend.

Before you go

As I wrote in the beginning, referral rewards are kinda of a big deal- or deal breaker. The best way to decide what’s the best for you, you can start by considering the options you have in hand.

Search for rewards that will push the awareness about your brand a bit further with the assistance of your happy ambassadors.

Don’t overthink. Work with what you have and don’t forget that when you can offer more, you should probably do it.

BTW, we're hosting a webinar on viral & referral marketing this Wednesday. Claim your spot now and come chat with us. ✌️

Cheers 😎