Giving voice to viral campaigns in e-mail

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According to a recent Forrester Research study, 76 percent of marketers had no way to determine ROI from their lead agencies, with 69 percent saying ROI was too difficult to measure. For this reason, there's a growing trend of agencies partnering with technology providers to help add that extra element to campaigns.

As more and more e-mails and banner ads flood our computer screens, response rates drop, and marketers are forced to think beyond the click. Companies are realizing that by integrating campaigns across channels, they can create truly unique branding experiences for consumers and still track results for performance-minded clients.

European-based General Motors company Opel saw the benefits of this approach when it launched its new Astra TwinTop convertible. The company focused on delivering a brand experience that would distinguish the automobile from its competitors.

Opel leveraged its existing monthly newsletter list of 80,000 consumers and created an e-mail to invite people to take part in a special event, noting that to participate a cell phone number was required. The company used language that was both in-line with the car's brand and that matched the overall experience of the campaign. 15,000 recipients accepted the initial offer.

A follow-up e-mail was sent with a link to watch a video that depicted a mad scientist named Professor Windaloopie conducting a "hair resistance" test by having unsuspecting victims stand in front of a jet engine.

Each time a person walks in front of the engine, they are blasted away and land on top of an Astra TwinTop billboard. After this test, the Professor dials a phone number (presumably that of the e-mail recipient), at which point the viewer's phone rings and, when they pick up, they receive a voice message from Professor Windaloopie that syncs up with the video. If they could handle the test, surely they would appreciate the wind running through their hair as they drive their new convertible.

Recipients were encouraged to send the video to ten friends - and they did. In the first few days of the campaign, there were 900 to 1,200 calls an hour, with more than 450,000 people receiving voice messages from Windaloopie overall.

Coupling voice and video with compelling, humorous content, Opel found that consumers couldn't spread the telephone calls fast enough - and the Opel brand along with it. All of this fed back into long-term exposure to the brand, with users being exposed to nearly four minutes of Opel messaging and 12,000 people opting in to Opel's monthly newsletter in a short amount of time. European bloggers also picked up on the story, extending the life of the campaign. The company deemed the results to be so effective that they will be rolling out similar campaigns across Europe.

Marketers need to think beyond conventional channels and begin looking at more customer-centric approaches to marketing their clients products. Tying online campaigns with offline technology like the phone is one way to create a customer-centric campaign and still measure performance. 

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