December 2, 2009, 12:00 AM

Sierra Trading Post gets social with holiday marketing campaigns

Outdoor gear and apparel retailer Sierra Trading Post stepped outside conventional marketing campaigns this holiday season. It launched two contests using social media such as blogs and social networking sites Twitter and Facebook.

Outdoor gear and apparel retailer Sierra Trading Post stepped outside conventional marketing campaigns this holiday season. It launched two contests using social media such as blogs and the social networking sites Twitter and Facebook.

The first contest focused on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, and asked consumers to share their thoughts about the busy shopping day on Twitter by using the #FreeBlackFriday hashtag in a tweet, making posts on Facebook or on personal web sites, and by submitting comments on a special Free Black Friday page set up by the retailer. Sierra Trading Post is No. 73 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide (a PDF version of the company’s financial and operating profile can be ordered by clicking on its name).

Sierra Trading says 1,700 people commented on the Black Friday page during the contest, and many others submitted comments via other methods. The retailer says it received so many entries that it ended up awarding more prizes than originally anticipated. Sierra Trading gave away five $500 shopping sprees and 45 individual $20 gift cards. The grand prize winners included a shopper who wrote a poem about the retailer and a soldier in Kabul, Afghanistan, who said shopping on Black Friday helps her deal with homesickness.

“We got so many comments that our marketing team had to spend a lot of time going through them all and selecting the 50 finalists,” says Sierra Trading web marketing manager Justin Johnson. “We didn’t have a lot of specific criteria to win when we posted the contest, nor did we specify a lot of criteria for judging. We wanted to see what visitors came up with and we got a lot of really positive feedback. Some of the voters cast their vote based on creativity, some based on the commenter’s understanding of our company’s value and products and some based on other factors like humor.” Sierra also offered all participants who didn’t make it as a finalist a coupon. “We wanted everyone to win something for taking the time to visit our page,” Johnson says.

The second contest centered on the Monday after Thanksgiving, also known as Cyber Monday, and asked consumers to guess how much money shoppers would save at on that day. features a daily savings ticker at the top of its home page showing how much shoppers are saving throughout the day. Shoppers could view the ticker on Monday and then guess savings for that day until 5 pm MST.

Consumers could Tweet their guesses using the #STPCyberMonday hashtag, post a guess on the retailer’s Facebook page, or add a guess as a comment on the retailer’s blog. They also could post an entry on a personal web site and e-mail Sierra Trading the link. Consumers could submit three guesses. Sierra Trading says it received about 2,000 entries through its site plus additional guesses via social networks and e-mails.

The winner won a $1,000 gift card with a guess of $1,535,709-$571 off the actual savings of $1,536,280. Additionally, nine runners-up each received a $20 gift card.

“Ultimately, we were hoping to generate some buzz about the contest that would educate visitors about our everyday values and the special events we have to offer our customers,” Johnson says about the Cyber Monday contest. “The page got a lot of visits and the customer feedback has been very positive and exciting.”

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