There are a variety of online marketing campaigns that have come and gone over the years. Like comment spam, pop up ads and co-registration many deserve to stay in the past and only serve to annoy on the small percentage of websites still practicing them. Of course, there are some online campaigns that made it big and disappeared for no good reason. In this post, I will provide a case study for one such old school marketing campaign that we recently ran for ZippyCart and Killer Infographics, which has brought us a great deal of success in a short period of time: The 70 Websites Challenge
The Old School Premise:
In 2005, Virgin Records released an online campaign that gained immediate viral appeal called 72 Bands. This was a competition to identify all 72 bands represented in a single image, and it wasnt easy. Thousands of bloggers reposted the image, with comments coming in by the hundreds as people worked to determine which bands were in the image and discuss how they were visualized. In a sense, it was a mix of Wheres Waldo and an infographic, sans the data. As time went by, dozens more images like this were produced but the success was never as large as 72 Bands.
Fast forward 6 years later to August 29, 2011 in which the 70 Websites Challenge, a joint campaign between ZippyCart.com, KillerInfographics.com, and CoreCommerce.com launched. Following the premise of 72 Bands, we created an image with 70 websites visualized. Those who could identify at least 50 of the 70 websites were entered into a drawing for a free store from CoreCommerce.
How Did Zippycart Do?
The campaign got off to a slow start. Not too many people understood the challenge nor could they identify the websites. This brought us to Lesson 1: Make it more universal. We chose to showcase major websites online, but there are millions of websites online, many of which are considered major by their visitors, leaving much up to interpretation in the image. Virgin chose to showcase well-known bands, and while there might be millions of bands, there are not too many bands that are popular, in the grand scheme of things.
Despite this slow start, traffic to ZippyCart.com increased and stayed up when compared to weeks prior (Lesson 2: dont launch a campaign before a 3 day weekend):
After examination, it was clear that this spike was not a result of seasonality. Over the next few weeks, traffic remained 50% higher than average on business days:
Of course, in this day and age, links are very important and companies try to launch viral campaigns for the sake of gaining inbound links. In week one, the 70 Websites Challenge main page received 54 inbound links, the entry form gained 18, and the blog post had 6. While these are OK numbers, the most interesting increase was to the home page of ZippyCart.com, which gained an additional 228 inbound links over the course of the 3 week campaign!
How Did Killer Infographics Do?
The primary goal of the campaign was to drive traffic and links to ZippyCart and educate people about CoreCommerce. That said, Killer Infographics wound up benefiting from this campaign as well through customer acquisition and retention. This occurred in 2 ways:
- Inbound leads increased two fold during the weeks following the campaign.
- Customers started to get involved in the challenge and email us directly with guesses and questions for the contest. This allowed the team to grow stronger relationships with those customers, discuss their current needs, and make plans for future orders.
Was It A Success?
Did this campaign go viral? No. Everyone hopes that campaigns will go viral and if you dont have that hope, you arent trying hard enough. Still, we live in a time where social media adoption is a necessary key to anything going viral, and this didnt have the response from Twitter and Facebook everyone had hoped for (Lesson 3: Consider using tools on Facebook like an event page to hype up a campaign). That said, this campaign did more than earn its money back in a few short weeks: links are still coming in, customers are still contacting us, and traffic still creeps up every few days as more people learn about the challenge.
As an infographic design firm, we know that infographics are a great way to get a lot of links and traffic fast, all for a low cost. Still, infographics are data driven, and therefore many of them are restricted to a certain date and time since data changes. The image from our 70 Websites Challenge, on the other hand, can entertain people for a long time to come. Just as people newly discover Virgins 2005 campaign of 72 bands, we think this old school technique has a lot of opportunity to succeed anytime.