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Tickets and Pies

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I've been obsessed with creating promotions recently.

I've been studying the art of positioning promotions and precisely how a promotion is launched, and I've been experimenting with what I've learned.

Let's talk about two promotions.

Free Ticket Promotion

First, a follow-up on the Search Engine Strategies ticket giveaway that I discussed in "The Promotion Recipe." My conversion rate (people who signed up to be eligible for the ticket) wasn't as good as another promotion I was doing. My SES promotion had an 11.1 percent conversion rate, while my eMarketing promotion had a 23.1 percent conversion rate (a conversion in this instance was when a visitor signed up).

I blamed that on the lack of a bonus offer for people who signed up to potentially win the SES ticket. My other promotion had a bonus offer.

So, I added the same bonus to my SES promotion that I offered in my eMarketing promotion. It was a long format, in-depth video tutorial, "Become a Success with Google."

This instantly changed my conversion rate. In fact, it ended up surpassing both total sign-ups and conversion rate.

  • EMarketer Stark State Giveaway: 23.5 percent conversion rate

  • SES Giveaway: 26.9 percent conversion rate

That conversion rate is based on "total displays." If I look at just "unique displays," meaning total number of unique people who saw the form and not people that maybe came back to it a couple times, these are my conversion rates:

  • EMarketer Stark State Giveaway: 40.8 percent

  • SES Giveaway: 42.4 percent

I want to emphasize these numbers to you because they are stratospheric! I rarely see these kinds of conversion rates with my corporate clients. Standard rates are closer to between 2 and 5 percent.

I believe I achieved much higher conversion rates because I had a free bonus tied to a giveaway campaign.

To be clear: My goal here was to increase my e-mail list. There was no cost to me. SES always offers me a free ticket because I speak at the events. I asked if I could get a free ticket to give away at the other event. They were happy to give it to me because I was going to promote their event.

The next time you're involved in an event, think about asking for a free ticket to give away.

Pie Promotion

Now let's talk about pies. My wife, Rocky, volunteers for The Salvation Army in our city.

She found out that The Salvation Army was planning on serving Thanksgiving Day dinner to 200 homeless and needy people. They had all the food they needed. But, for one reason or another, they didn't have any pies.

I don't know about you, but Thanksgiving isn't the same to me without pie.

So, she went out and bought 20 pies at $8 a piece. She asked me if we could do a pie drive. I set up a really quick page telling her story. Please don't donate, but I left the page up so you could see it: http://www.sagerock.org/

The goal was to get people to donate $8 to buy a pie. Each pie would serve 10 people. This was all promoted through social media.

I sent out one post to Twitter and Facebook: "$8 Click here: http://bit.ly/63KM4U It will make a difference."

Using Bit.ly for shortening URLs is cool because it gives you statistics. Here's what it told me:

  • 69 Total Clicks

  • Top Referrers/Referring Site Click(s): E-mail Clients, IM, AIR Apps, and Direct: 50; www.facebook.com: 12; twitter.com: 5; m.facebook.com: 1; Seesmic Desktop: 1

It also showed me that the link was retweeted four times.

The 50 clicks referenced in "E-mail Clients, IM, AIR Apps, and Direct" include mobile apps. I'm pretty sure that's a major way people accessed this link.

From one Twitter post we received 12 donations in less than 12 hours. That's nearly a 17 percent conversion rate. Again, unbelievably high.

In "Sage's Twitter Promotion Experiment," I concluded that maybe social media wasn't a great place for asking for money. Using Twitter, I tried to raise money for a charity I ran for in the Chicago Marathon. In this case, I asked for the donation directly in the tweet.

But in my pie campaign, I did it a little different. My call to action this time was to get people to click into my site.

So, my Twitter copy was meant to sell people into clicking. Then I could use an entire Web page to make my plea for an $8 donation.

This will be my strategy from now on. I don't suggest asking for the sale in social media. Just ask for the click.

Next time, I'll make sure the donation button works for people who are on devices like Blackberrys. I almost lost a sale because the person wanted to donate but, while he could read the Web page, he couldn't see the donate button.

Also, I posted the e-mail link to the donation page in a Facebook conversation thread with this person. I sold another pie because one of his friends read the discussion.

I used PayPal for this. Next time, I think I'll include the e-mail link in the page as well as the button.

And finally, because my page was so minimal, it rendered well on a mobile browser. It's highly important that your page be mobile friendly, based on the fact that so many people clicked on the link from a mobile app.

Meet Sage Lewis at SES Chicago on December 7-11, 2009. Now in its 11th year, the only major Search Marketing Conference and Expo in the Midwest will be packed with 70+ sessions covering PPC management, keyword research, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), social media, local, mobile, link building, duplicate content, video optimization and usability, while offering high-level strategy, keynotes, an exhibit floor, networking events and more.


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