When Shoo-Foo, one of my clients, decided to do a promotion with ethicalDeal, a Vancouver-based group-buy company, we knew we wanted it to bring in the most attention possible, but we also thought it was going to be a small test run as a healthy first step for any future group buys we might participate in.
We had a look at our closest competitors, who had recently been featured on ethicalDeal at the time. They sold about 130 coupons. Not too bad, but we wanted a challenge, so we set a goal to sell 150, and if we met that goal, we would give ourselves a treat.
We sold 298.
How did we do it? Here’s how I coordinated and worked on the launch of the deal:
1) Before agreeing to do the deal, I asked about subscriber counts, target market profiles, spending habits of buyers, and other data to make sure that ethicalDeal was the site for us to be on. This is important. I had someone from a shabby daily deal site contact me and I would NEVER jeopardize a company’s rep by having them be featured there. Find out how they got their subscribers. If the numbers are too high and they can’t answer your questions, something is wrong. I liked ethicalDeal for their honesty, and their professionalism.
2) It was made clear in the office that doing a daily deal was not about sales. Companies that do it for mere sales are kidding themselves. It is about acquiring new customers and in a sense, is a marketing cost. And so, for us it was dubbed “acquisition cost.”
If you want to do a daily deal for sales and think that customers are going to magically come back to you, think again. For one, doing it for sales is silly because you are losing profit big time. For another, if you attract deal scouters, you can bet that next time they need services or products like yours, they will go to the next best place offering a coupon in their inbox. And if you do a bad job or give them a bad product (which I’ve seen happen), you can bet they’ll be telling other people not to visit you again, so in the end, you’ve paid to lose customers. Dumb.
If you take the view of customer acquisition, you will prepare your deal so that every aspect of customer experience is excelled to the point that NOT coming back to you would be senseless for them. Who doesn’t want to do business with a company that goes above and beyond their expectations?
3) We read the contract carefully and pointed out errors or tiny clauses that needed to be clarified. EthicalDeal was amazing at understanding and answering all our questions until we had a contract that fit us both. They also offered a very fair rate (we didn’t even have to negotiate on that point), and were quick to pay our portion of sales the day after the deal closed. So thanks to them for that.
4) We chose a strategic time to launch the deal. Although we were open to a weekday if it meant a launch in two cities, Annalea at ethicalDeal recommend the weekend, and we went with it – more time to produce sales and we would get the “don’t bother me at work” buyers too. We wanted a gift-buying holiday to promote our new gift sets, and the closest was Valentine’s. But we also knew we would be at a tradeshow the actual Valentine’s weekend, so we picked the weekend before. As you’ll see later in this article, being available to our customers was top priority while the deal was live.
5) We rightly assumed there was a responsibility on OUR part to make the deal a success. I am a daily deal buyer and subscribe to all the daily deal e-mails out there that I can find. I am AMAZED at how bad of a job most companies do with their daily deal. Here are some no-no’s that I was determined not to let happen with the Shoo-Foo deal:
- No company representative available answer questions on the online forum.
- Not having TRAINED staff on the phone ready to take calls from interested buyers.
- Not providing answers, right off the bat, to questions that are OBVIOUSLY going to be asked by viewers (shipping cost is such a common one, and yet daily deal forums are always crowded with questions like “how much will cost to ship to ____”).
- Not helping visitors find important things on your site to make their investigation as fast as possible (such as where to start shopping, ALL products that are available, and so on).
6) I proceeded to create a landing page for the deal, which would provide our contact info, FAQs to the deal, and would highlight the things we most wanted to “sell” as a company – our product benefits, our company story, and so on. Everyone who clicks on a link to our site from the ethicalDeal page would come to this landing page. This way we can also track conversion rates and visitor counts using Google Analytics. We would also be able to split test the effectiveness of the landing page with future daily deal landing pages, to see what tactics prove to be better at creating more sales.
The landing page went through several revisions. Most thought the first version was fine. It had a “shop now” button, a part telling people that Shoo-Foo was a wholesaler (in case anyone was interested, you never know…), a link to our survey where people could win a prize, and the ethicalDeal logo.
However, after watching an Internet marketing video by Eban Pagan called “Your Magnetic Message” (thanks to my brother), and after talking with the owner of Web Friendly (again, my brother) for a while, it was decided that what needed to be highlighted on the page were the top reasons WHY anyone should buy bamboo towels or linens.
So I did just that. I thought about it. What makes the Shoo-Foo product so great? It’s not just that it’s green, and it’s not just that it’s a “quality” product – anyone can say that about their product. It’s also not that the company has a great story or that the company is doing a survey on bridal registries.
No one cares.
In marketing the term WIIFM comes up a lot – “What’s in it for me?” Customers are selfish buyers with little time. Say in an instant why they should care about your product, and you’ll get their attention. And, according to Eban Pagan, don’t be “cute” either. Just say it plain and simple.
So here is what I came up with, in the end (this took HOURS of work by the way!):
7) We tested our e-commerce system and prepared it for the deal. Sure, there are always going to be kinks in this area, and for any company doing a daily deal. Questions that come up, unique order requests, and so on. But no company has an excuse to not test and try how the coupon is going to be received. A customer’s experience could be ruined by something like this, and you can be sure they won’t be coming back, so forget about “customer acquisition.”
8) We set up a flat-fee shipping rate for our immediate area, and another for the Island, since ethicalDeal was going to launch us there too, as their first deal in Victoria (woo hoo!). That would solve a lot of shipping-related inquiries that would otherwise have been a waste of our time to deal with.
9) We read through the document that ethicalDeal sent us on everything we needed to know about launching a successful deal. Yes, we actually read it. When I saw that document I couldn’t believe businesses out there actually get something that comprehensive and don’t use it as a tool to train their staff. Boy have I got a story about a restaurant that didn’t read their stuff….(but that’s for another post, and I can’t blame them because when I went on exchange to Europe I didn’t read the bright orange book titled “things you need to know before landing in Amsterdam” until after I got there, and boy, did that get me into trouble).
The document prepped the boss, the admin and shipping department and me, the marketing consultant. For example, it taught us to set up a separate e-mail account for all deal-related inquiries.
10) I personally read, edited and checked the links of the write up that ethicalDeal had sent us. We couldn’t control the writing they put on their page or in their e-mail subject line (too bad), but we could check for mistakes. There were plenty. Mostly typos and grammar mistakes. I don’t think anyone reads the copy on daily deal sites anyway, but still, it’s important not to look unprofessional that way.
11) We re-scheduled our schedules to be available for the deal buyer questions! That’s right, I worked on a weekend and we made sure someone was going to answer the phone the entire time. In the evenings we monitored the forums to make sure no one was waiting for a response – even though it was outside regular business hours (cause we’re not snobs like that and actually wanted the deal to succeed). I myself have not bought deals in my deal-buying lifetime because the silly business owner didn’t get back to me fast enough and phone calls and e-mail also didn’t get me anywhere. One time I actually saw a daily deal company put up as their policy that they don’t answer forums outside business hours (probably in their time zone too, which was even worse of a thing to do).
12) We e-mailed everyone we knew the day of the launch – our current clients, retailers, people we met at tradeshows, and even our personal friends, to let them know about the amazing opportunity to save 50% on our products, which they already love. This was meant to remind them about us, let them know that we care about them, and to encourage them to buy more, of course!
13) We broadcasted the deal on social media. We constantly let people know about our deal, and the deal was re-tweeted and talked about on Facebook. It was great. Thanks to tweeps who did a RT for us!
14) We fixed problems immediately. For a while we got so popular that our site went down for a few minutes. We were on the ball and got it fixed right away. Our host and e-commerce guy was fully aware of the deal and its importance.
15) We exceeded our expectations. When we neared 150 we thought, ‘great!’ and asked our social networks to help us reach our goal. Then the count kept going up. For a while it staggered at 173….then staggered somewhere in the 200s…and finally closed off at 298 (Vancouver and Victoria together).
A little while later Neil Godin wrote about our deal in his Marketing Dangerously blog. He was surprised we would tell our existing clients about the deal, but also proud of it.
I know our own marketing of the deal helped a lot – I won’t tell you how many referral dollars I got on my own for helping ethicalDeal get new subscribers, who eventually bought our deal! And that’s not to mention the other people at the office who shared it.
And that, my friends, is how it was done. If, when launching your deal, you keep in mind the customer experience, you’ll likely do everything I did (if not more), without even thinking twice about it.