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Here at Elephant Towers we’ve recently helped a new, online clothing retailer to launch.  As with all good retail launches, we kicked things off with a beta site, giving us time to really get to know our consumers, trial the website, build a following and find out what we needed to do next.

The usual practice (which we employed) was as follows:

  1. Launch beta website, sit back and panic as you realise the 101 things that need to be fixed
  2. Set up a SurveyMonkey survey, asking questions about the brand, website and consumer opinion/behaviour
  3. Purchase a small, targeted B2C list through the very nice people at Experian and send out an eshot offering 30% off the first purchase, if you complete the survey
  4. Set up social media (Twitter, Facebook and YouTube) to promote both the brand and site and ensure that links are strewn, with abandon, through all email and website communication
  5. Sit back and panic (we did a lot of this) that you’ve forgotten something

The initial response to the above activity was very positive.  Through a combination of expertly targeted copy (naturally) and a jolly cracking product line, the first lot of feedback we had was positive.  Open and click-through rates on the eshot blew the averages for this type of thing out of the water – largely because of a really specific, informative subject line.

However, we weren’t happy with that and, one week later decided to embark on some online advertising with the triple objective of a) increasing our Facebook following, b) getting more people to complete the survey, and c) finding out a bit more about our consumers.  We carefully tested each decision against these three objectives.

So, what next?  First, we set up two text adverts – one just a generic ‘here we are, this is what we do’ advert and one specifically mentioning the 30% off discount, if people reviewed the website.  We launched both of these on Google, using a list of competitors as key words.

We then took both adverts and launched them on Facebook, this time using a list of profile types (things people were interested in that we felt aligned with our brand) as key words.  In all cases we linked the advertising to the homepage, where a nice big banner explaining about the survey was waiting.  The results from each were enlightening.

Putting the traffic to the site that both of these generated to one side for a moment, what did we get from them?  In the case of the Google advertising, in the main, we found that more people were interested in the 30% advert, than the generic brand advert.  They had logged on to ‘buy’ and were searching for brands that specifically met their objectives.  We got a clear understanding of which competitor brands were generating search traffic and which prompted people to take a look at our site.  This presents many opportunities for refining our brand message to ensure we’re talking to consumers effectively and ‘on message’.

Facebook, however, was a totally different story.  In this case, we had positioned ourselves on the basis of ‘interests’ and, as a result, the majority of people clicked on the generic brand message advert.  In their case, they weren’t interested in discounts; they were interested in brand engagement.  We were able to use the advert to build the community… so much so that another week on, we ditched the 30% off advert and added in another, directly linking to the FB page. Within 48 hours we had doubled our ‘likes’ and were getting good interaction with potential customers… we’d even generated some sales… all before the official launch date!

The moral of the story?  Advertising isn’t just a way of telling your customers about you… it’s a way of finding out more about them… and with the ability to track right through to specific activities on your website, what are you waiting for?