Cabela’s, Performics, and Performance Marketing

While browsing around the ‘Net trolling for compelling articles and information about all things Web marketing, I found an interesting press release. It was titled: “Best Performance Marketing Campaign” for the 2009 ad:tech awards.

The gist of the press release was that Performics‘ winning campaign, “Online Traffic Makes Instore Buyers,” creatively used online coupons through paid search to drive offline traffic to Cabela’s retail locations across the country. Ten percent of all consumers who clicked retrieved a coupon, and 40 percent of the coupons distributed were redeemed at a retail location.

That seemed like it was right up our alley because we’ve been talking about dissecting interesting promotions. I tracked down Emily Brennan, group account director from Performics, to talk with about the promotion and then put together a little Q&A interview about the campaign.

Here’s the outcome of my interview. I’ll give some observations at the end.

Sage Lewis: Can you give a quick summary of the campaign and why you created it?

Emily Brennan: Cabela’s wanted to utilize search to promote an in-store event and drive traffic to their store locations. The Cabela’s search engine marketing campaign was created to support important sales events at select retail stores across the United States.

SL: Were there preconceived goals for the campaign before you started? If so, what were they?

EB: Yes, we specifically set goals for this campaign and used past paid search performance and research studies as a guide for setting our goals. The coupon retrieval rate goal was three percent and the coupon redemption rate goal was 15 percent.

SL: How did the preconceived goals match up with the actual results?

EB: The program far exceeded our preconceived goals. Coupon retrieval rates were more than triple our goal, at 10 percent, and coupon redemption rates were nearly triple at 40 percent.

SL: How did the campaign come about? Was this proposed by Performics or by Cabela’s? Did Performics say, “We want to create a cool campaign for you?” or did Cabela’s initiate it?

EB: Performics had previously worked with Cabela’s to support the retail store locations through geo-targeted campaigns that drove online searchers to store locator pages. This joint effort laid the foundation for Cabela’s retail group to better understand and appreciate how search can support the company’s brick-and-mortar retail locations. As a result, the Cabela’s retail group proactively approached the Cabela’s Internet group and requested specific online support for the store event.

SL: How collaborative was the campaign? Was there a lot of interaction between Performics and Cabela’s during the process or was it fairly in one company’s court?

EB: The campaign was very collaborative. The success can largely be attributed to the long-standing and deep-rooted partnership between Cabela’s and Performics, which fosters a working environment in which all parties work together to ultimately yield the best results for the program.

SL: Which departments were involved at Cabela’s?

EB: Performics worked with Cabela’s Internet marketing and retail groups for this campaign.

SL: Was there any push back by anyone at Cabela’s on the campaign or was everyone excited about it?

EB: Everyone at Cabela’s was very excited about the program and even more excited about the results, which surpassed all expectations.

SL: Would you do a similar campaign again?

EB: We would absolutely do a similar campaign again. Using coupons to measure the impact of search on offline conversions is an effective, low barrier-to-entry means of lifting consumer engagement. This strategy also demonstrates to client retail groups the power online marketing, and search in particular, has to increase visibility and successfully market brick-and-mortar locations.

SL: What did you learn from this campaign to help make future campaigns better?

EB: The campaign was an all-around success for Cabela’s, and we would certainly employ the same strategy and tactics for future campaigns. Cabela’s expanded beyond the direct marketing channel and ventured into search to engage loyal consumers and drive them to specific store locations. Integrating these online and offline marketing strategies proved to be a successful and inventive tactic that we’ll continue to draw on moving forward.

What Can We Learn Here?

Because this was such a wild success, there isn’t a lot of dirt to reveal here. They exceeded their expectations and everyone involved was happy with the results.

We can, however, learn a lot from the things that went right.

First, they had preconceived goals:

  • 3 percent coupon retrieval rate goal.
  • 15 percent coupon redemption rate goal.

Setting these goals ahead of time is crucial to the success of a campaign. Without preconceived goals, every campaign at its very best could have been better. Don’t fail to agree to what success looks like ahead of time.

In this case, the outcome shattered their expectations:

  • 10 percent coupon retrieval rate goal.
  • 40 percent coupon redemption rate goal.

It would be interesting to see if they’re more daring in future campaign predictions.

Notice this answer: “…the Cabela’s retail group proactively approached the Cabela’s Internet group and requested specific online support for the store event.”

Campaigns tend to be more successful when they come from inside a company versus from an outside consultant. This likely had a big impact on the success.

However, a consultant can facilitate an environment of self-discovery. My recommendation is to try to get the client to make this as much their idea as possible.

There was a total commitment to this project from inside Cabela’s. Cabela’s and Performics share a lot of trust. That makes these kinds of campaigns much more likely to succeed.

I can’t stress enough how internal perception determines the success of something like this. Cabela’s believes in Performics and trusts them. That allowed Cabela’s to get behind the program 100 percent.

A company of any size can simply and affordably set up a campaign like this. Consider how you could use SEM (primarily CPC because it’s immediate) to get people to your promotion. It’s a quick way to get a lot of exposure without having to rely on a more natural, viral spreading of awareness.

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