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#10. mySBC eBill Service: Trees in the Forest of Change

mySBC eBill Service: Trees in the Forest of Change MarketingSherpa Summary:
This campaign uses elements that we've seen before quite a few times in the overcrowded field of viral e-card campaigns. Consumers get to play with an interactive form (including adding their own audio) and then send a silly e-card to friends. We've all been there, done that, got the t-shirt. So why did it make Sherpa's 2006 hall of fame? Check out the landing page. It's the best we've ever seen for this type of campaign because everything's included above the fold on just one page. You don't have to click through a screen by screen process to send an e-card. And we bet that meant considerably higher response rates.

MarketingSherpa Summary:
This campaign proves it's entirely possible to invent a highly-compelling viral marketing site even when you're not marketing it as entertainment (no videos, no games), nor forcing respondents (who in this case were "green" consumers) to act as your viral agent to claim a reward. Almost half a million have converted so far … very impressive.

Yes, this campaign demonstrates that with thoughtful design and execution viral can work for almost every brand and demographic online.

Agency: Rodgers Townsend
Client/company: SBC
Brand campaign was conducted for: mySBC eBill Service
Launch date of campaign: 7/1/2005
Target audience/demographic: Candidates for electronic billing

Campaign Goal:
To increase net new subscribers to the mySBC eBill Service, particularly those choosing paperless billing. This campaign needed to be relevant for both our typical b-to-b customer as well as the client's consumer customer.

Creative concept was to build an online "forest" to tie into the National Arbor Day (NAD) promotion of $1 donation to NAD for each net new paperless subscriber. Users could "plant their tree" in the forest on their way to sign up for eBill, share it with friends, and come back to visit it and see the growth of the virtual forest.

Seed Strategy:
Email messaging to both consumer and business customers who did not yet use eBill service directing them to the site.

Paper inserts into customers' paper bills directing them to the site.

Buzz Generated:$1_P3322/

Specific (Goal-Related) Campaign Results:
91,613 "trees" planted in nearly 9 months. Nearly 20,000 new Permission Marketing opt-ins. Current pageviews of approx. 85,000 per month. The site kicked off with steady growth slightly above expectations, and has grown (and continues to grow) well beyond expectations, and won SBC and RT a 2006 National Arbor Day Award for "leadership in the cause of tree planting, conservation and environmental stewardship".

Best of all, 453,000 new eBill accounts were started, mostly as a direct result of the campaign (aside from this, the client was not running any other campaigns for a six-month period beyond a few banners on its own site.) The more than four-fold discrepancy between the 91,613 trees and the 453,000 new e-Bill accounts can be explained by the fact that some consumers signed up more than one account for eBilling at a time, and that "planting" a tree was not required for sign-ups at the site. Roughly three out of every four visitors was charmed enough by the idea they signed up for eBilling but didn't take the extra step to plant the tree afterwards.

Biggest Learning:
Integrate more user personalization to make the site more intriguing to return to - show the "growth" of individual trees over time and/or the impact of each tree's life in the forest. Ongoing communication from the site to those who had planted trees, inviting them back to share their tree growth with friends.

Plus, allow site visitors one-click access to the true end-goal of the campaign, so that those who do not want to experience the full viral interactive function, but are ready to convert immediately, can do so.

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