Referral programs and word-of-mouth campaigns are optimal ways to boost brand awareness and conversion rates via social networking sites. J. Hilburn, a provider of custom tailored menswear, traditionally relied on referrals from its personal stylist advisors for new customer acquisition. However, the retailer has implemented a way to identify and reward brand advocates more effectively.
After launching a social referral program with Extole, a social marketing-as-a-service program provider, J. Hilburn successfully generated more than 10,000 social shares across Facebook, Twitter and email. With the new program, the retailer also drove 600 new transactions, equivalent to approximately $250,000 in sales.
The program, launched September 2011 via Extole’s Consumer To Consumer Social Marketing platform, rewarded $50 in store credit to referrers as well as their friends. Customers were able to share the discount campaign with friends via Facebook, Twitter, email and personal URL. At the same time, the retailer was able to reward brand enthusiasts effectively and create stronger loyalty among its consumer base, according to Neal Patel, Vice President of Technology, J. Hilburn.
“We wanted our brand advocates to be rewarded for ‘spreading the word’ and helping us grow our customer base,” Patel said. “By offering the rich reward of ‘give $50, get $50,’ we anticipated this would increase the level of interaction between existing and potential customers.”
Following the first 45 days of the program, J. Hilburn’s marketing team accurately identified more than 1,000 brand advocates, with each advocate sharing the promotion with approximately 12 friends. The average order value was more than $315.
Prior to partnering with Extole, J. Hilburn’s offline referral program was a manual, time-consuming process, according to Angela Bandlow, Vice President of Marketing, Extole. By translating its campaign to social networking sites and email, the retailer was able to analyze sharing behaviors more efficiently.
“J. Hilburn knew they had a powerful base of enthusiastic customers and wanted to leverage those advocates,” Bandlow said. “Extole’s Social Referrals application enabled J. Hilburn to identify advocates, reward them for promoting the brand to friends via email and social networks, and drive new customers and sales.”
Online social referral programs allow retailers to develop more intimate, one-to-one relationships with consumers, according to Bandlow. By tracking and responding to customer feedback, retailers can understand shopper preferences, behaviors and insights. Retailers also can reward loyal customers with coupons, sales and access to behind-the-scenes content, in an effort to create a more engaged audience.
“In creating this two-way communication, consumers feel closer to brands, which increases loyalty and, ultimately, brand advocacy,” Bandlow said. “Brands can leverage these new high value advocates to promote their products and/or services to their friends, creating a new marketing and sales channel.”