June 11, 2010, 2:49 PM

How aspiring models drove traffic to an online apparel retailer’s site

Contestants to be the next model representing Deb Shops created content—always with the retailer’s URL.

Lead Photo

David Larkins, vice president of marketing at marketing services firm NetPlus Marketing, speaks on social media and search marketing at the Internet Retailer Conference 2010.

A social media campaign conducted in 2009 by retailer Deb Shops to find the next teen model to represent its company yielded a 10% increase in site traffic for an eight-month period, increased the retailers Facebook fans by 500%, added 75,000 new names to the retailer’s opt-in e-mail marketing list and lead to record sales for the retailer in September 2009, David Larkins, vice president of marketing for NetPlus Marketing, which coordinated the campaign for Deb Shops, told an audience at IRCE in Chicago. 

Keys to the campaign, which lasted about eight weeks, were guiding the content put out by prospective models entering the competition. Each model was provided guidelines for how to create a Vote For Me fan page on Facebook and videos for posting to YouTube, how to create blogs, and what to say when interviewed by local radio stations and newspapers. Instructions were provided through e-mail exchanges and Facebook conversations, according to Larkins.

Contestants were asked to be sure to include the URL to Deb Shops and DebGirlModelSearch.com in their marketing endeavors, which significantly boosted organic search rankings for the retailer. The campaign further boosted organic search rankings as it went viral, with web users passing online content on to others.

“A lot of the contestants had their own Facebook fan pages, some had friends creating video on why they should win that included the site’s URL, and many of the contestants created alliance pages, where they shared commentary,” says Larkins. “The value that social marketing content can bring to organic search results is tremendous.”

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