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Engagement: The Secret Ingredient to a Tasty Marketing Campaign

When people decide to engage in a project or activity—whether it’s an innovative idea, an enthralling ballgame, or perhaps a risky business strategy—they’ve decided to be a part of a story. And when they decide to engage with a brand, they’re choosing to be a part of the brand’s story, evolution, and growth.

The small marketing team for organic yogurt company Stonyfield says they knew last spring that they wanted their current and potential customers to help craft the brand’s storyline and sought to infuse customer stories into the Stonyfield narrative. “This wasn’t a contest of some sort. This was really more of an engagement campaign,” says Gina Kilby, the company’s senior digital marketing manager, when describing the marketing team’s efforts to get the word out about new Stonyfield products last May. “Email was really the way we knew that we could engage people on a daily basis…and tell them that there are other ways to engage with the brand.”

The challenge, however, was that Stonyfield had little to no segmentation, customization, or personalization in their email campaigns, included limited social efforts in those email messages, and sent just a few, digital newsletters each month—with few prompts to engage with the brand. Kilby says she and the team wanted to build one-to-one relationships with their current and potential customers, increase customer loyalty, and perhaps most important, boost engagement so consumers would begin to spread the word about new products. “We were having difficulty personalizing so that people wanted to engage,” she says.

Marketers for Stonyfield determined that it was through email and other digital platforms that they would make the brand’s story the personal story of their customers. So with tools from Silverpop, Kilby and her team created #WakeUpWithStonyfield—a unique, engaging email campaign that also reverberated on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Every day for two months Stonyfield marketers sent an email with a different theme or call-to-action. For example, an email would ask readers to share how they’re living an organic lifestyle or encourage them to honor Mother Earth, act with love, or live a healthy lifestyle. And each email included the hashtag #WakeUpWithStonyfield, which encouraged social users to engage with the campaign and share personal photos and stories. Ultimately, all of the stories were connected to Stonyfield, and as a result, the company’s message springboarded from email to several social platforms. “The plan was to engage where [customers] are…and email is that platform that people are on every day” Kilby explains. “In fact, they want you to email them. It’s their preferred method [of communication].”

By infusing social call-to-actions, the team enabled customers to engage whenever they wanted, and market beyond short time windows on social media. “We wanted to be with them while they’re interacting at five in the morning,” says Liza Dube, director of communications and social media at Stonyfield. Dube says marketers never asked readers to post images of Stonyfield products on social—just encouraged them to add their individual voices to the brand’s story. “We were giving back to them the idea that we are part of their lives, not just a product,” she says.

The campaign, according to Kilby, resonated with the brand’s target sweet spot: young, health-conscious moms in their 20s and 30s who are willing to splurge.

“Over the course of the campaign we reached more than 23.9 million followers on Twitter. More than 3,000 photos were shared with us on Instagram; our goal was just 300. We had more than 30,000 email signups, and there was very little drop-off,” Kilby says. “Plus, we had a 51% return rate to the campaign’s website page. In fact, people were spending about 13 minutes on that page, up from an average of five minutes before the Wake Up campaign. Obviously, all of this showed huge engagement with us. Bottom line: It worked.”

Dube says marketers at Stonyfield will continue to craft campaigns rooted in engagement: “This project was pivotal in changing the way that we manage campaigns. Now we create them [with] a 360-degree approach; and of course at the center will always be great, engaging experiences for our customers.”

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