Lessons in Groupon® and other adventures in social shopping.

aka: The day my client wanted to kick me in the head….. for all sorts of reasons.

In case you haven’t noticed, Groupon® is breaking the web today. People are raving about the Gap’s Groupon strategy (I agree, it’s great timing with back to school) and simultaneously complaining about the monstrous case of online hiccups.

But since I’ve got your attention, it seems like the perfect time to share the lessons I learned when I sent one of my own clients down the mystical magical path of…. SOCIAL SHOPPING.

What worked for us.

Early research. After a few months of going back and forth with Groupon about details and logistics, we didn’t seem any closer to actually getting it on the calendar. So I got creative and found an obscure holiday that related to my client’s business. Then I sketched up some promotional ideas and dashed an email to my Groupon contact: “Hey! Here’s the perfect day for our Groupon – can we have it?”

Creative thinking. When I sent the email to Groupon requesting our “day”, I also let them in on some secrets: we were already working with a local radio station to promote the obscure holiday, coordinating free samples in downtown Minneapolis over the lunch hour, and planning a separate “party” at the retail location. They were hard-pressed to say no to us, seeing that we already had a strong promotion plan of our own.

Utilizing relationships. Having written and placed radio spots for my client, I had an advocate at the station. So when I was mulling over execution, I contacted her to share my ideas and said, “What else can you put together for us?” With that, I had an entry point for the short flight radio campaign and the appearance in downtown Minneapolis. Because I asked for it. And she also made it easy for me to create two versions of our radio ad – one that ran before the event, and another written specifically for day-of.

Social power. I knew I’d be working on-site all day to manage logistics, live promotions on social media, and anything else my client needed. But then I remembered we also had a pool of local, enthusiastic fans on Twitter: so we pitted them against each other for the chance to be official event reporters, in exchange for fancy badges and free product. It enabled me to do more in the background, and gave my client a chance to interact more closely with her fans.

Smart PR. I’ll admit it, PitchEngine is my favorite way to create and share news with the media.  If you use the free account, your pitch is active for only 30 days – but that doesn’t mean you can’t change the content during that time. I published a teaser release three weeks before the event, and alluded to the Groupon promotion (we weren’t allowed to publish specifics until the day of). On the day of the event, I edited the release to reflect real-time details and the specific Groupon promotion.

So, how did it go?
The press release had nearly 1000 views in its 30-day run.
With Groupon, my client gained 709 new customers in one day.
At the downtown event, we handed out samples and coupons to nearly 150 people.
Instead of one official Twitter fan reporting on the event, we had three. Two of them even created a Facebook page for their personal campaigns. And each of them lent unique voice, video and photography to the event.
At the retail location, nearly 100 customers visited to redeem Groupons, try more samples, and make additional purchases. And we actually ran out of some products.
Web site traffic spiked 1000% on that single day, with a bounce rate of 13%, and visitors spending an average of 4-1/2 minutes on the site.

I know what you’re thinking…. AMAZEBALLS!

But that’s not all. Stay tuned for the conclusion of this story from Adventures in Social Shopping:

When Groupon Goes Ballistic.

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