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Jul 17, 2002
Case Study

How to Get Sales Prospects to Return to Your Site Again and Again and Again -- Try a Treasure Hunt

SUMMARY: Experts say it takes seven contacts to convert a prospect into an actual buyer. This means you can market your brains out to get lots of traffic to your site, but unless that traffic returns repeatedly, few may ever buy anything from you. Matt Graves, Internet Marketing Manager for, tackled this problem head-on by testing an online daily sweeps campaign based (loosely) on McDonald's MONOPOLY T campaigns. Can an offline B2C tactic work for a B2B site online? Will online sweeps entries actually turn into paying customers? Find out here. (Includes lots of useful screen shots and sample email copy for your...


"These are really old school people you are talking
about," Matt Graves, Internet Marketing Director at, describes his target market, "If you ever go to a
paper and pulp show, there is a lot of back slapping going on."
But not a lot of Web surfing.

Last year Graves used every direct marketing to business tactic
he could think of to drive these old-school business execs to the
site; including direct mail postcards, space ads and mentions
in prominent industry magazines, trade show booths, and pay-per-
click advertising on Google.

However, just as with any other marketing campaign, driving
traffic to your site one time is not enough. To maximize the ROI
from all these traffic-driving campaigns, Graves needed to get
top prospects to:

1. Visit the site repeatedly so they were more likely to
become buyers

2. Visit many different areas of the site to be educated
about the's offerings

3. Opt-in to an emailing list so Graves could send them
emailed promotions to convert them into buyers.

4. Refer colleagues to the site, so Graves would get more
highly qualified traffic to convert into sales prospects, and
then into buyers.

To cap it all off, Graves' budget for this part of the campaign
was less than $5000.


Graves wondered if there was a way to use an ongoing
sweepstakes, such as McDonalds' MONOPOLY® game which gets
millions of people to visit the restaurant more frequently to
gather game tokens while it is running.

Could an offline B2C tactic work for a
B2B Web site?

He pulled's Content Production Manager Steve
O'Byrne into a meeting to brainstorm the idea out. Together they
came up with the Treasure Hunt campaign. (Note: links to plenty
of sample screenshots and emailed notes below.) Here is how it

Step #1 - The offer

Graves knew that you do not have to offer a huge prize to be
successful with a sweepstakes. In reality, people are often more
inclined to enter sweeps with smaller prizes that they believe
they can win.

On the other hand, he wanted an offer that would be compelling
enough that executives would take the time to return to the site
repeatedly, day after day for up to three months. A free Palm™
just would not do it.

Graves decided the Treasure Hunt offer would be a $1,000 cash
prize. Low enough to believe you can win, fun enough to be
compelling. Plus, to extend the campaign's lifetime, he decided
it would be $1,000 per month for three months.

Step #2 - The creative

First O'Byrne added a button with a little graphic of a pot-of-
gold to the top of's home page left navigation bar
reading "Treasure Hunt Register to win $1000 a month Click

Everyone who clicked got a vertical pop-up box that took up about
1/3 of their screen. The box very briefly explained the sweeps
premise, "Find Today's treasure [graphic of pot-of-gold] on the
website and click it to enter. A new treasure every day! You
must be a member to play. Click here for free membership."

(After the first month's winner was picked, O'Byrne added that
winner's photo and name to this initial pop-up box as well, which
made it much more powerful because prospects could see a real
exec just like themselves had won something.)

People who clicked to sign up for membership next saw a screen of
sweeps rules and a form to join in.

Next, every business day for the three months the campaign ran,
O'Byrne "hid" a pot-of-gold graphic in a different place on the site. Often it was hidden below the fold, so
seekers had to scroll and really look for it, hopefully
noticing that page's other content at the same time. Graves
picked each day's page on which "features I wanted to showcase."

Each business morning, everyone who had already entered the
Treasure Hunt got a quick text email telling them what section of
the site the pot was in that day. "Today's
treasure is located in the Newsprint Grade Center. Go find it
now and increase your chances of winning!"

When visitors clicked on that day's pot-of-gold, another pop-up
box appeared reading "Congratulations! You found today's
treasure. To register to win, please complete and submit this
form." The form only required name and email address, because
Graves knew asking for more information every day would
drastically reduce entries.

However, there was one non-required box to fill out: "Tell a
friend and earn extra points: Friend's email"

This generated an automatic text-email to the friend's email
address, which was very brief and polite. "Dear Sir/Madam, A
friend of yours has referred you to," etc. (Link to sample
below.) Per privacy best practices, only one single email was
sent to these addresses and the email names collected were not
used for any other purpose whatsoever.

Step #3: The follow-up

Everyone who entered the Treasure Hunt was also registered as a
trial member of's product, a $339 per year business
information subscription. Graves used a trial conversion series
consisting of emailed sales messages, faxed messages, and direct
mail to convert them into becoming buyers. (See link below for
more information on his "killer trial series.")

RESULTS's already healthy sales grew 184% during 2001 Graves says the Treasure Hunt campaign which was
conducted June-August (traditionally slow sales months) was,
"probably the most successful and cheapest direct marketing
initiative we did."

In total, the Treasure Hunt generated about 1,000 new sales leads
a solid 10% of which converted into buyers.

Although Graves admits, "Some people who opted in to receive
daily emails probably got tired of them by the third month", he
definitely saw a "frenzy of activity" when the daily email went
out. "On average we got about 300 treasure pick-ups a day."

That means each day about 1/3 of the 1,000 entrants visited the
site to search for treasure, which is an astonishing success
record demonstrating that people will revisit your site many,
many, many times if you give them a reason they find compelling.


Link to screenshots and email message samples:

Link to "Selling Subscriptions" report which includes details on
Graves' trial conversion series which converts 10% of free trials
to buyers:

Link to
See Also:

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