Dec 11, 2009

Using Twitter For Promos Without Being a D-bag

eep_from_denmarkIn celebration of of our Forever Free Plan, we wanted to launch a promotional t-shirt giveaway. Free email marketing, free t-shirts.. makes sense right? In the marketing world they call it synergy, but it just seemed like a great way to help spread the word about MailChimp while celebrating our users at the same time.

Our goal wasn’t necessarily to amass more Twitter followers or Facebook fans just for the sake of increasing our follower count. After all, with both Twitter and Facebook the number of fans or followers you have isn’t significant in any real way. Sure, the more fans you have the larger the group of people who will see your message, but that doesn’t necessarily dictate their level of interaction/engagement with your brand or business.

Chart showing a 42% increase in our Fan growth

Chart showing a 42% increase in our Facebook fan growth

During the brainstorming process, our t-shirt promotion idea went through a bunch of different iterations. In a nut shell, we didn’t want to do anything spammy that might piss off Twitter (a la the #moonfruit debacle), or worse yet, annoy our users. As Chief Twitter Officer (CTO) around these parts, I’m particularly protective of MailChimp as a brand as well as our public perception. Not to mention the fact that my ass was on the line considering I’d be the first to hear about it if the t-shirt giveaway was not properly executed and managed.

a small selection of the people we sent shirts to

a small selection of the people we sent shirts to

Let’s face it, asking people to re-tweet your message and include a hashtag is unoriginal and boring, not to mention really annoying. And it would be especially problematic for a brand like MailChimp that uses Twitter as a support channel for users. Think of all the questions and customer love we’d miss out on due to the influx of promotional tweets.


Anatomy of A Promo

We came up the idea to work with the chimps downstairs in the MailChimp DesignLab™ to create a landing page for our t-shirt giveaway. The page would have two basic modes– on, meaning the name/address/t-shirt size form fields were visible and able to be filled in, and off. The DesignLab™ would build a simple back end for the page using PHP and MySQL that would allow me to login, turn the form on or off, and export a CSV file of everyone who had successfully reserved a shirt. I would make the shirts available in batches of 50, which was just an arbitrary set number that we decided on– not too big and not too small.

t-shirt form in 'off' mode

t-shirt form in 'off' mode (click for full size image)

We asked our users to follow us on Twitter and/or Facebook so that we could notify them (by tweeting or posting a status update with a link on our fan page) when a new batch of t-shirts became available.

t-shirt form 'on' (click image to view large)

t-shirt form 'on' (click image to view large)

People Love Free Stuff

It turns out that people love free stuff. Especially well designed, awesome looking free tshirts. In Part II of this post, we’ll be delving into more charts and graphs, analyzing what worked, what didn’t, and what we learned the second time around.