Company: Rickshaw Bagworks
Contact: Chris Schroeder, marketing communications manager
Location: San Francisco, Calif.
Annual revenue: Confidential
Number of employees: 25
One can hardly deny that online testimonials are valuable, but those generally come after the sale. What if you could start that engine earlier by introducing a social component while customers are still excitedly anticipating the arrival of their new purchases?
Custom bag manufacturer Rickshaw Bagworks found a way—using a potent blend of Twitter and personalized landing pages—to notify customers, applaud them on their selections, introduce their friends to the brand, and encourage additional sales.
That approach may require an extra boost of creativity to work for some products and services, but it could be well worth the effort. Just wait until you get a load of the results from this campaign.
Rickshaw Bagworks is a San Francisco-based company that designs and manufactures made-to-order messenger bags with a focus on sustainable design, minimal-waste manufacturing, and eco-friendly materials.
Like the personalized nature of its products, the company strives to deliver unique buying experiences that help customers forge more intimate connections with its brand. Local customers, for example, can visit the company's facilities, meet the team, and select the fabrics that will be used to make their bags. Building these types of connections also supports word-of-mouth, so it made sense for the company to try to emulate that experience online.
"We were looking for some way to personalize the online transaction and bring the same excitement as when someone comes to the factory," says Chris Schroeder, marketing communications manager at Rickshaw Bagworks. "We also wanted to socialize our e-commerce transactions and give them a more emotional component so that we could share beyond our own network by creating something people want to share with their networks, as well."
Via research, Rickshaw Bagworks singled out Twitter as the social network most widely used by its target audience, best for customer service-focused initiatives, and easiest for quickly disseminating information and timely updates.
Accordingly, the company began asking customers to provide their Twitter handles during the checkout process. Company staff then started snapping pictures of each new bag before it was shipped, uploading those images to Twitpic, and tweeting those images out to followers. Each post included the customer's Twitter handle and the hashtag #FreshBagFeed for tracking (e.g., "Tweed meets camouflage. We're in LOVE. Great choice @floflidesign #FreshBagFeed").
"This is different than the average social media post," Schroeder explains. "We're giving them a personal stake in it, and it's a way to get them excited about what's coming."
The idea was a good one, except that the Twitpic landing pages that displayed each photo didn't effectively support the Rickshaw Bagworks brand experience. The pages displayed third-party ads, including some from a major competitor. So the company turned to fellow-San Francisco firm BO.LT for assistance in developing a better, branded landing-page program for this effort.
BO.LT developed a page template that matches the Rickshaw website aesthetic. The template can be personalized for each order by simply including the two star elements—a photo of the customer's made-to-order bag and the tweeted message that led the customer to the page.
"Tweet" (Twitter) and "Like" (Facebook) buttons are clearly displayed below each personalized message to encourage sharing. In addition, the page includes a "Design your own!" call-to-action button for referred visitors, and displays links to follow the company on Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, and Vimeo.
The page also features a behind-the-scenes video of how the bags are made and who makes them. That works to both forge a more personal connection with customers and increase confidence among prospective buyers.
"We want to make sure that if the link gets shared and the people who land there have never heard of us, they can get introduced to our brand and click through to our actual site," says Schroeder.
He adds that this approach provides advantages in search engine optimization (SEO), as well, particularly because each call-to-action button serves as an inbound link for the company website.
Schroeder says 60% of online customers respond to those messages in some fashion, either by retweeting or replying.
"They're like online reviews. People are excited about their purchases, and other people are hearing a lot of goodwill [toward our brand]," he says.
Most of the landing pages are receiving a minimum of 10-15 views. One received more than 1,500 views, though that's unusual; highs typically range between 300 and 500 views.
More important, the click-through rate from those pages to the Rickshaw website averages between 15% and 24%, and an estimated one out of every hundred views results in a new sale.
The following are key to successfully running this type of campaign:
- Producing something share-worthy. Because its product is the customer's own creation, Rickshaw Bagworks didn't have to do much persuading to motivate customers to share and show off their good work. But you can achieve the same effect, even if your product or service isn't the most engaging, by making the campaign personal and prompting your customers to create or contribute something that truly matters to them or makes them proud.
- Making it easy to share. Integrate recognizable share buttons for the major social networks into your page design so that your audience can spread the word about you with a click. AddThis, ShareThis, and GetSocial Live are popular plug-ins you can use.
- Closing the loop. Every landing page should include a call to action for its intended audience. In this case, Rickshaw Bagworks includes multiple calls to action to appeal to different visitors. For customers whose bags are featured on the page, the company not only urges sharing but also aims to continue the conversation by asking that they connect with the brand on social media sites. The primary call to action, however, is reserved for those customers' personal networks (i.e., potential new customers). Rickshaw Bagworks uses a large, orange button to encourage those visitors to design their own bag, while the behind-the-scenes video and images of friends' creations stimulate action by building trust and offering social proof.