1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. created a mobile campaign that gave consumers free digital stickers for Mother’s Day through native in-app delivery on messaging platforms like LINE Messenger, Kik and Viber. The interactive digital stickers also drove traffic to the 1800flowers.com e-commerce site, increasing revenue during a critical time for the brand.
Objective and Context:
As consumers spend more and more time on their mobile phones and less time on desktop computers, brands and advertisers now have to find ways to engage their audience within the confines of mobile apps. It has been reported that the 10 largest mobile messaging apps have more than three billion accounts worldwide, meaning that nearly 40 percent of the global population can be reached through this medium. As a result, advertising in messaging apps has emerged as a viable option for companies to drive brand awareness and audience engagement. However, direct response advertisers have found it difficult to tap into this medium because sales-oriented advertisements can come off as annoying and disruptive within the private messaging context.
1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. was initially skeptical about investing advertising dollars in mobile messaging because the focus had been on content downloads and shares while the company’s main KPIs have traditionally been ROI and sales. However, the brand saw the growing messaging industry as an opportunity to drive business with the right direct response approach.
1800flowers.com developed a mobile marketing campaign around Mother’s Day 2015 that allowed mobile users to send their loved ones digital stickers with positive sentiments and 1800flowers branding, in addition to participating in interactive contests, branded message chats, and discounted product offerings.
The goal of this campaign was to create an innovative, sales-oriented direct response promotion that enhanced the user’s messaging experience, increased brand awareness, and, most importantly, drove sales in the place where consumers spend most of their time today: within mobile messaging apps.
Campaign success was driven by three main objectives:
The campaign targeted a segment of U.S. mobile users above the age of 18, which was in line with the company’s larger audience-targeting strategy for Mother’s Day 2015.
The creative strategy was broken down into three initiatives and was supplemented with promotional offers driven by user engagement with branded content.
The success of the branded sticker component hinged on creative assets that not only evoked a specific emotion but also captured the essence of the 1800flowers.com brand in a way that did not detract from the desired look and feel of the sticker. This strategy decreased the promotional feel of the stickers, which in turn made them more desirable and sharable.
Overall Campaign Execution:
Although LINE Messenger, Viber, and Kik messaging apps support desktop users, the majority of their traffic comes from their mobile apps. The Mother’s Day campaign specifically targeted mobile users, with 100 percent of the budget allocation going towards designing a useful, interactive, natively optimized experience within the mobile messaging apps.
To promote the 1800flowers.com Mother’s Day digital sticker pack, mobile app users of LINE Messenger that who opted in to receive promotional messages and content received a push notification informing them that a free sticker pack was available for download within the app’s sticker marketplace. Clicking through the message brought users into the LINE Events chat thread where they were presented with a Mother’s Day-related survey question embedded into a sticker. Users were prompted to answer the multiple-choice question in order to unlock the free sticker pack. The LINE sticker pack was designed directly with the LINE UI/UX team to ensure that the creative would resonate with the app’s user base.
In addition to the survey, mobile app users who had opted in to receive promotional messages and content were presented with another push notification. Clicking through the notification banner presented the user with a chance at winning a signature 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. product free of charge. Those who did not win the signature product received a chat message from an authorized 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. account offering a 20 percent discount on select products, and directed them to a branded landing page on the 1800flowers.com mobile website.
Both the user survey and special discount offer interactions were hosted within the LINE Events chat thread, preventing any interruption of the user experience. Users interacted with the branded messages in the same way they would interact with messages from their friends and contacts.
Overall, the campaign created 504,000 interactions between LINE Messenger users and the 1-800-FLOWERS.COM Inc. brand as a result of the interactive survey and contest giveaway entries.
Along with the LINE content, the campaign also included an interactive experience on the Kik Messenger app and a branded digital sticker pack on the Viber messaging platform. Kik Messenger users were able to add a 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. official account to their contact list and receive promotional information through the native chat experience.
1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. was initially skeptical about whether branded sticker packs and chat messages could drive sales. The company had yet to fully monetize social media at scale, as social media campaigns were time/date-sensitive.
Most consumers who visit the 1800flowers.com online store to make a purchase do so in order to send a gift to a friend, colleague, or loved one. The gifting process is generally a direct peer-to-peer interaction where consumers only make a purchase if they have a specific recipient in mind for the gift. The uniqueness and complexity of this paradigm creates a challenge for 1800flowers.com when running traditional banner advertisements or single-serve promoted messages across social channels, as the probability that the user who is viewing the ad has a specific purpose to give a gift can be low.
Additionally, the crowdedness of user social media feeds and the fleeting nature of social media advertisements prevents users from being able to refer back to specific promotional offers and messages in a simple and easy way, as the ad may disappear upon refreshing the social feed, which adds more layers of complication to the campaign.
As a result, traditional broadcast social media messages have not generated immediate sales unless the occasion and content timing perfectly align.
The Mother’s Day campaign was designed to mitigate the challenges within social media campaigns. The campaign was launched ahead of Mother’s Day, which created a higher probability that customers would want to purchase a 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. product as a gift. The promotional code and link details were designed to be easily accessible within the native app environment. On Kik Messenger and LINE Messenger, the discount offer could be referenced in the chat thread even after the campaign expired. On Viber, the promotion information was persistently displayed in the sticker pack description.
Consistent access to the promotion details enhanced the user experience by allowing users to choose when to interact with the content. They did not have to disrupt their messaging to place an order since they could easily come back and redeem the code later. This strategy was successful, as over 25 percent of orders were placed after the campaign expired.
Effectively reaching mobile users with content that they want in order to drive sales was a top priority in the 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. overall Mother’s Day marketing strategy.
The messaging apps space had largely been untouched by direct response e-commerce retailers, providing an opportunity for the company to reach a significant mobile audience in an environment with few competitors. Furthermore, messaging apps provide a number of benefits over traditional display advertising.
User validation is highly verifiable, as all messaging app users are required to validate their accounts via their personal phone number — a far more secure means of validation when compared to email addresses, which are extremely easy to replicate at scale. Second, messaging app users are more susceptible to internalizing marketing content because they are already primed to read and think when inside the apps. Finally, the messaging apps allowed 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. to indirectly engage with users’ personal networks through the sharing of the branded stickers. This created a ripple effect of shared branded content that extended far beyond the run dates of the actual campaign.
The goal of the campaign was to yield a positive ROI comparable to the internal target ROI for prospecting via a direct response sales-oriented use case for marketing by establishing an emotional connection with consumers through content that consumers wanted to share with their contacts in the place that the consumer wanted to communicate: in mobile messaging apps.
Overall, the ROI of the Mother’s Day campaign exceeded the target KPI by nearly 70 percent. Furthermore, over 25 percent of the orders were placed after the official campaign ended, demonstrating a strong promotional recall and active intent to redeem the offers without a direct marketing push.
Additionally, the results also exceeded expectations for both the content and traffic objectives. The campaign drove 446,000 sticker pack downloads across all platforms, which was more than 10 times the total number of downloads of the 1800flowers.com app during the same period.
The campaign drove more than 1.7 million sticker shares and 3.75 million total impressions for 1800flowers.com. To place these numbers into perspective, during the same period, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. content received a combined total of roughly 50,000 shares and retweets on the Facebook and Twitter platforms, respectively.
LINE Messenger was one of the largest single traffic drivers to the 1800flowers.com mobile website, and at times accounted for nearly 10 percent of the mobile site traffic. During one specific day during the campaign, the LINE Messenger landing page was among the top five most trafficked pages across the 1800flowers.com mobile site.
As 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. is a business that is closely tied to direct-marketing campaigns, each and every marketing initiative must be linked to a positive ROI from product sales. The results of this strategic messaging app campaign have proven that 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. was able to overcome the obstacles that would have arisen within a “traditional” banner campaign or social media promotion, and that creating desirable, interactive, and native content within messaging apps can directly affect a sales outcome.
Additionally, the fact that the company was able to drive sales through a campaign that would normally be associated with metrics such as audience engagement and branding KPIs speaks to the strategic thinking and innovation of the company.