Case study: Doubling sales through social media

Organic tea brand Steaz came to Chemistry needing to generate nation-wide awareness and drive Steaz sales at Target stores -- and quickly. Steaz's new presence in 1,500-plus Targets nationwide had just quadrupled its shopping audience -- in geographic and demographic markets where the brand was practically unknown. The brand needed to keep that window of opportunity from shutting as fast as it had opened.

Why social?
Three factors converged. We had an audience -- moms -- that indexes through the roof for online and social media; we had a budget that was a fraction of most of Steaz's competitors' budgets; and we needed immediate impact. Social media is a long-term proposition, but the startup time and cost is well below that of traditional marketing channels. And one other factor was in our favor: We were confident that the brand (socially responsible, health-focused) and product (natural, organic, healthy) were ideal for word of mouth (WOM).

We felt that if we could get moms talking about Steaz, the sales would follow. To initiate the process, we sent roughly 30 sample kits before Thanksgiving and another 30 before Christmas. We offered to provide giveaway prizes to bloggers who wanted to make use of them.

Our arsenal:

  • Internet coupons: Many family shoppers use social networks to share "deals."
  • Social media marketing: Listening tools such as SocialMention.com and Viralheat, as well as Facebook and Twitter.
  • Twitter party: We wanted to kick the campaign off with a bang to get maximum exposure in the social media channels. We sponsored a party on the subject of how and why to select organic and natural foods when you are at the grocery store. The event generated 2,830 tweets in a one-hour period.
  • PPC search: We knew that increasing buzz would spike the number of searches for Steaz (search went up 30 percent as buzz increased). Investing in PPC allowed us to capture the audience that picked up the buzz and went to Google to learn more. Through search, we drove roughly 20,000 site visits.
  • Facebook Ads: A highly targeted and effective means to increase awareness and increase our Facebook fan base. 2.7 million impressions and 1,930 clicks.
  • Blog: Eric Schnell is one of two founders of Steaz. He is charismatic and passionate about social responsibility and health. A blog provided us with a means to show the human side of Steaz as well as address subjects that the audience showed interest in (sugar content, etc.).
  • Email: Steaz has a robust database of opt-in consumers. We sent two emails to all 68,000 in the list.

Great expectations. Greater returns.
We were confident that we would generate 50,000 coupon downloads, 1,000 new fans/followers. Our goal was to get Target to notice the little tea brand it had just adopted.

Actual results were 250,000 coupon downloads (with a 20+ percent redemption rate), 6,000 blog and social network mentions, and more than 3,000 new fans/followers. Steaz's December sales were double its previous best month ever. And Steaz shelves in Target stores nationwide were emptied.

Ready. Fire. Aim.
I suppose the best social campaigns are thought out in advance and in detail. This wasn't one of those. Steaz came to Chemistry in late October, needing a campaign that would be over by New Year's. Rather than starting with a thoroughly laid out plan that was then executed on, we started with a strategy and adjusted tactics as we went.

An inherent advantage of web marketing is that you can monitor and adapt as your campaign is in motion. For example, we learned from the first reviews we saw posted online that moms were eager to find alternatives to soft drinks for their families. So we decided to sponsor a Twitter party on the topic of selecting healthy products when shopping. We were also able to "see" the individuals who were most passionate about the products, so we decided to create live gatherings with these bloggers as hosts. This required responsiveness -- and the trust of our client. Responsiveness was a challenge as Steaz is a small company that was stretched thin trying to keep up with Target and Whole Foods demands. Steaz marketing VP Lee Brody moved into our offices, and we were given the authority, and trust, to make tactical decisions.

Next time?
With 20/20 hindsight, we should have pressed Steaz earlier to increase production. There were signs that the campaign was generating interest and results above expectations, but we were hesitant to increase production and get stuck with excess inventory. Needless to say, a lack of inventory did slow a very steep growth path.

We were also surprised by the number of bloggers who asked to review Steaz. We did not have a system for selecting bloggers and communicating decisions back to them. We did respond to all requests, but the delayed responses no doubt frustrated some.

Paul Magnani is SVP of digital strategy at Chemistry.

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Comments

Scott Perry
Scott Perry May 12, 2010 at 4:26 PM

Phenomenal. Well done! great to see you bring together so many actions from so many platforms to create such a massive boost in such a short amount of time.

It can be a small company's best and worst day of their life to hear that a big chain is bringing you in, but as long as you stoke demand to create sales, then you've laid down an excellent foundation for reorders from the store and repeat purchases from consumers if they like your product -- and stick around beyond the coupons to stay a part of the Steaz community.

Katie Safrey
Katie Safrey May 4, 2010 at 12:36 PM

This is a great case study, kudos on attaining such stellar results!

One of the great advantages of social media is the ability to adapt and adjust a campaign as you go. Social media is also fantastic for those who need to get a campaign off the ground quickly.

Great to see that you learned some lessons for next time as well. Thanks for sharing those lessons with us here - good things to keep in mind as we execute social media campaigns of our own.

Katie Safrey, Affect Strategies
@ksafrey

Cara Rolinson
Cara Rolinson May 3, 2010 at 5:52 PM

Thank you for the wonderful case study Paul. Working with you and Steaz has been very rewarding. Our social media team including Shelley Jack and Kim Moldofsky is fantastic to work with, everyone brought their own energy to the table and the execution was well received by consumers, beverage and healthy food industry professionals and our contacts at Steaz.

Cara Rolinson
@cararolinson (and @steaz)

Sally Witzky
Sally Witzky May 3, 2010 at 2:27 PM

Excellent and well-written case study. Love the fact that you included what you did well and what you'd do better next time. Glad to see the bloggers were reaching out to you for reviews rather than the other way around.

Sally Witzky
http://tractiongroup.com

Maya Grinberg
Maya Grinberg April 30, 2010 at 1:16 PM

This is a great case study pointing to the success that can be had when simple social media strategies are executed in an engaging, focused, and interactive way! Steaz and Chemistry sound like they worked together really well to understand their set of users and cater to their interests--I bet the users were thrilled with the outreach too!

I especially liked seeing the numbers on the coupons claimed-- many people go to interact with brands on social networks for the discounts and coupons. You can create your own promotional coupon campaigns to run inside your Facebook Fan Page without any complicated technical knowledge-- check out Wildfire (http://www.wildfireapp.com) to see all the promotional campaigns you can run to engage your users (coupons included) that can be set up in minutes and customized to your brands style and flair.

Good luck with your users!

Kim Moldofsky
Kim Moldofsky April 30, 2010 at 10:25 AM

I was delighted to be part of Paul's team on this project. He assembled, directed and a motivated a great group including Cara Rolinson and Shelley Jack. Amy (@resourcefulmom) coordinated the Twitter party and did a great job not only the night of the party, but also working with our team before and after.

It's amazing what we accomplished in such a short period of time. Steaz is a great product with a mission that resonates with today's consumers. Paul figured out the how to bring it all together for this campaign.