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May 14, 2008
Case Study

Unconventional Tactics Lift Sales: Online Game & Giveaway for Scientists Beat Revenue Goals 278%

SUMMARY: Can B-to-B marketers effectively use consumer marketing tactics? The answer is yes! With the right product line and the right campaign, you can deliver strong results.

A technologies marketer supplemented its standard data-rich marketing with an online game. By designing the game to promote specific products and mining customer purchase behavior to deliver a targeted reward, the team saw a 13.79% conversion rate and beat its revenue goals by 278%.
Marketing measurement instruments and lab supplies to scientists and researchers typically requires communications heavy in detail and data, says Christine Cox, Marketing Programs Manager, Agilent Technologies.

Last summer, though, Cox and her team wanted to try a new campaign that would stand out from the typical, data-heavy efforts they frequently run. “Think about getting all that email from us, our competitors and scientific journals. We wanted to break through their inbox and wanted our customers to have a little fun.”

They had been experimenting with B-to-C marketing for a line of consumable lab materials -- vials, syringes, and the like. They wanted to see if they could launch a full-fledged campaign to boost sales in a new fun way.

Cox was inspired by online campaigns she had seen from travel companies and other consumer retailers. So, she and her team developed an online, interactive game and giveaway that offered specific customers a diversion. The game was designed to promote brand awareness and boost sales of Agilent’s consumable products.

Here are the 5 steps they took:

-> Step #1. Pick theme based on key products

Cox and her team designed an interactive experience with a seasonal theme to promote a select group of products. Called “Summer of Fun Giveaway,” the campaign featured bright, colorful Flash animation of a beach scene, complete with graphics of palm trees, surfers and Caribbean music.

Visitors to the Summer of Fun site first had to register by providing:
o Name
o Company name
o Email address
o Mailing address (for delivery of the giveaway item)

The game required participants to click on a grid of tiles to uncover three matching images of the company’s products. Cox and her team selected products that were high-volume, low-cost items typically used in a lab setting to prepare samples for analysis and work with Agilent instruments.

They also looked for a group of products that had a high cross-sell potential, knowing that if a customer needed vials, for instance, they would also need syringes.

The three product images the team selected:
o Syringes
o Vials
o Lamps for liquid chromatographs

-> Step #2. Customize user experience and giveaway

They worked off a database of US customers with certain product needs and purchase behavior. The information was used to develop a customized list of potential game players.

Depending on which Agilent products a customer had purchased, they would see:
o Images of vials and syringes
o Images of vials, syringes and lamps needed for certain products

All users who played received something based on their purchase history:
o Customers who were not frequent buyers received a 15% promotional discount code for future purchases
o Frequent and loyal customers received either a branded beach towel or small cooler

Anticipating that some customers would share the URL with friends and colleagues, they also designed a default-game setting for viral visitors. Visitors who registered for the game using a personal email account, such as Yahoo! or Gmail, received a towel or a cooler.

“If you usually buy from us and are a loyal customer, you’d get a towel or cooler. For folks we’d like to see purchase more -- customers we’d identified as those we wanted to increase our business from -- we gave an additional discount.”

-> Step #3. Establish quantity limits and deadline

Anticipating a viral response, they set game rules that protected them from providing too many giveaway items and blowing their marketing budget.

The official game rules established:
o Limit of 500 towels and coolers awarded
o Two-month time period for users to play

-> Step #4. Use multi-stage email promotion

When the game was ready to launch, Cox and her team promoted it through a multi-stage email campaign.

Here are the emails they sent:

- First message
The first message was sent under the subject line: “Agilent’s Summer of Fun Giveaway … everyone wins!” It featured bright HTML graphics that mimicked the summer theme of the Flash game. A custom link to the landing page contained the business intelligence required to serve customers the appropriate group of images and giveaway offer based on their past purchases.

- Second message
Two weeks after the initial email, the team sent a follow-up message. Customers who hadn’t clicked the link were reminded to play the game. Customers who had played the game were reminded to use their promotional discount code to purchase products, or were told that their towel or cooler was on the way.

- Third message
Two weeks before the end of the giveaway campaign, the team sent a third email message focusing on the deadline. Customers who hadn’t clicked were told that this was their last chance to play the game. Customers who had won a 15% promotional discount were reminded to use their code before it expired.

- Fourth message
After the two-month period, customers who had won a 15% discount received a phone call from a telesales representative. It gave them one more chance to purchase products with their discount.

-> Step #5. Track customer response

Cox and her team regularly perform customer analysis to segment their database for ongoing communications based on three customer segments:
o Loyal
o Grow
o Win back

Tracking which customers played the game and their subsequent buying behavior helped them plan for future marketing. For example:

- Customers who played the game and purchased products might join or remain in the “loyal” segment. It made them eligible for more business rewards, such as a gift card to an ice-cream retailer or special preview access to technical and product information.

- Customers who still hadn’t increased their buying activity and continued to reside in the “grow” segment might be eligible for future campaigns offering further discounts to encourage purchases.

- Customers who dropped off might be segmented into “win-back” campaigns.


Cox was right: Researchers like to have a little fun, too. The Summer of Fun campaign beat its projected incremental revenue goal by 278%. “This really blew it out of the water,” she says.

The first email to launch the campaign and the first reminder email generated a 35% lift in the response rate Cox typically sees from sales-generating messages. Even better, 13.79% of the customers who played the game bought products, which Cox says was a significant increase over the typical campaign conversion rate.

The success of the campaign has validated Cox’s belief in adopting some consumer marketing tactics for transactional vs consultative purchases. And her strategy has caught the attention of colleagues. A marketing team from another Agilent division is planning to develop a similar campaign for their channel partners.

Useful links related to this article

Creative samples from Agilent Technologies’ Game & Giveaway campaign:

Brandmovers - helped design and build the campaign:

Agilent Technologies

See Also:

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