December 21, 2011, 4:57 PM

BlendTec shows how to measure the effects of a social marketing strategy

The blender manufacturer uses coupon codes and analytics to track shoppers.

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Social media is where blender manufacturer BlendTec connects with consumers. The company’s YouTube channel has more than 440,000 subscribers and its videos have been viewed more than 181 million times. In addition, more than 85,000 shoppers Like the retailer’s Facebook page, and at least 7,300 consumers read Blendtec’s tips and recipes on Twitter.

That kind of attention is nice, but it doesn’t pay the rent. So BlendTec.com, No. 716 in Internet Retailer's Second 500 Guide, looks more deeply to determine whether social media buzz is translating into sales—one of the main marketing challenges faced by online retailers when they use social media to drum up sales.

“We’re in the business of making and selling blenders,” says Nate Hirst, BlendTec’s global marketing analyst. “If people are regularly using their blenders they’re more likely to either want to upgrade the blender they have or recommend their Blendtec blender to a friend.” Because the first step to getting people to buy a blender is getting them to click from YouTube, Facebook or Twitter to Blendtec.com, that’s one of the primary measures the manufacturer tracks to gauge its social marketing success.

In addition to using Google Analytics to track its traffic from social sites, the retailer also analyzes other metrics, such as the conversion rate of shoppers who click through and the percentage of shoppers who use coupon codes shared on a social network, to get a sense of whether its social media efforts lead to sales. “It’s not complicated, but it works for us,” says Hirst.  

While BlendTec has worked to measure how well social marketing resonates with consumers, many other retailers have not. Only 59% of respondents in a recent Econsultancy.com Ltd. survey said they can attach some return-on-investment metric to the money they spend on social marketing. Part of the reason 41% of respondents said they had no gauge of social ROI is there’s no established formula that all businesses can use, says Graham Charlton, an Econsultancy.com editor.

BlendTec focuses on measuring sales that result from exchanges on Facebook. After an initial Facebook Like, for instance, the manufacturer engages with consumers by providing information, such as a recipe for cranberry sauce it posted just before Thanksgiving, additional giveaways, and by highlighting features of its new products. To account for the sales that result from consumers entering its contests, the retailer gives shoppers unique coupon codes that are tracked upon redemption. While Hirst won’t say how many codes have been redeemed as a result of those contests, he says the figure nearly doubled his expectations.

BlendTec’s social marketing campaign fits with the manufacturer’s other marketing efforts, which are largely focused around branding, says Hirst. When consumers are familiar with the brand, that awareness leads to sales, he says.

Read more about how retailers are measuring their social marketing efforts in the January issue of Internet Retailer.

 

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