Swarovski's Word-of-Mouth Strategy Sparkles

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The crystal company uses digital advocacy to garner attendance—and sales—at in-store events.

The benefits of combining word of mouth and digital interactions are crystal clear to marketers at Swarovski—especially when it comes to driving in-store purchases.

“Word of mouth, we're finding, is actually more and more important every time we do an event,” says Robin McCall, marketing manager for Swarovski Crystal Society, a community that customers can join to attend the company's private events, as well as receive free gifts and exclusive rewards. “But if you're not having the people who are your fans and your advocates speak for you, it's that much harder to be successful.”

Today, however, word of mouth is often digital—and fueled by social media. Although these digital conversations can spark buzz and boost passion, marketers at Swarovski wanted to ensure that discussions about the crystal company also were driving in-store visits, event participation, and, of course, purchases.

“Digital conversations are important to us because they help us get to another level with our customers, and potentially with their friends and families,” McCall says. “It's important to have an online conversation that drives in-store [visits and purchases] because that's how we're going to grow. We only have so many people in our physical stores every day. Digital helps us cast a wider net and provides a lot more opportunity to hook more people, to grow Crystal Society, and to have our events be bigger and bigger each time.”

The effectiveness of the approach is evident. Marketers at Swarovski set out to increase the number of customers attending its semiannual Swarovski Crystal Society events, held in October and in January. Using tools from social advocate platform Crowdly, Swarovski's marketing team first segmented passive shoppers from brand advocates on social media. Then the team gave those more loyal fans a way to share their passion for Swarovski on social media by creating event registration pages to share, promote, and, of course, complete and submit. Registrants not only signed up for the events and endorsed the brand, but also encouraged family and friends to come along.

“A lot of driving conversation from online and social is really just about framing it the right way and giving people opportunity,” says Dan Sullivan, founder and CEO at Crowdly. “When someone comments on a brand's posts or likes a brand post, that's generally just seen by people who are fans of the brand already. So, marketers have to [create] opportunities for advocacy.”

In Swarovski's case, its marketers shaped the conversation around its 2014-5 Crystal Society events by transforming that customer passion on social media into stores across the United States. McCall says shoppers felt more committed to attend by completing a registration form and bringing people from their personal networks.

“From our event in October [2014] to January [2015]—just three months—we drastically changed our strategy. And those [online] activation pages led to an 80% increase in revenue from the event in the prior October to January,” McCall says, adding that, in just one night, Swarovski drove more than $1.4 million in sales during a three-hour Crystal Society event. The company also saw a 500% increase in registrations, and a 52% click-through rate on the event registration pages on social media. Final October 2015 to January 2016 results weren't available at the time of this writing.

“The results have been great,” McCall says. “We learned not to rely on solely traditional methods like direct mail and email. We used those, too; but we learned to think outside of the box, work smarter, and use all of the channels.”

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