Whisper Marketing

Windycityparrot.com is an e-tailer specializing in exotic bird supplies.  Their site is popular but their visit volume represents a tiny sliver of US bird supplies market.  I am sure they would love introducing more customers to their site.

Here is a potential solution.  Who do exotic bird owners know?  That’s right, other exotic bird owners.  Windycityparrot.com should run a small scale experiment-

1. Pull up email addresses of their 100 most loyal customers (ranked by average order value, buying frequency and length of relationship).

2. Around early November send this list an email with a message that boils down to: because you are a valued customer we would like to send a box of 50 complimentary holiday cards.  Click here to pick your favorite design.

3. On click customers are taken to a page with 3 holiday card formats.  Card cover has a beautiful high quality picture of a bird (holiday themed) with a message on the inside.  Message choices vary from generic to funny.  Customers can even mix and match their selection of 50 cards.  The card itself has no branding except for the phrase bit.ly/exoticbird in small font on the back.

4. By the 3rd week of November these customers receive a box of bird holiday cards.

5. They now send their cards to friends and family.

I’m not a printing expert.  I believe bulk buying 5,000 (assuming 100 shortlisted customers) + mailing the card box costs $7,000.  People who visit bit.ly/exoticbird are redirected to http://www.windycityparrot.com/?utm_source=card&utm_medium=print&utm_campaign=holiday%2Bcards.  <—This long url tracks card marketing campaign in Google Analytics.  To customize for your site visit http://www.google.com/support/analytics/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=55578

200 days later the company logs into Google Analytics, accesses Traffic Sources –> Campaigns report and measures revenue, transaction, conversion and per visit value numbers.  The company already knows new converts have a lifetime value of 3 transactions.  Using this they calculate card campaign net profits.  If ROI is greater than 3x the program is expanded.

Related article: KuKuRuZa Gourmet Popcorn

2 thoughts on “Whisper Marketing

  1. I like this idea until you mention there’s no branding but a shortened website address.

    If the customers are getting free holiday cards, wouldn’t they be okay with at least the full website address? Why would they type in a shortered website address if they don’t know where it takes them?

    The other part that’s hard to swallow is sending printed cards. Why not offer free exotic bird e-cards “sponsored by… [with the link to the website]” that customers can access anytime for any purpose?

    I think it’s easier (and fewer steps) to get visitors for a website who are already online rather than to make them turn on their computers, and type in the website, shortened or not.

    • Hi Derek,

      I think if customers sense this is a pure marketing exercise they wouldn’t participate (or only a skewed group would participate).

      While I prefer shortened url I can see why an e-tailer would use the full address.

      “The other part that’s hard to swallow is sending printed cards. Why not offer free exotic bird e-cards “sponsored by… [with the link to the website]” that customers can access anytime for any purpose?”

      I believe physical cards are more personal. But that’s a personal choice.

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