ESET deploys forward-to-a-friend emails to boost sales and customer acquisition

Client: ESET
Vendor: NetSuite/Eloqua
Objective: To call on an existing loyal community to acquire new customers through social networking.

Security software company ESET has very loyal customers. Not only does the company help consumers safeguard their computers from hackers, it also runs teaching seminars to counsel customers on how to be safe Internet users.

Looking to spread the word about its services, the company decided to create a program that would turn its loyal customers into product evangelists.

“We have a large base of people who use our product, and the idea was to tap into their networks to find new customers,” says John Tannone, VP of business systems manager at ESET.

STRATEGY: ESET created an email program that helped customers share the brand with their friends in exchange for a free service extension. To do this effectively, ESET had to integrate its data on the back end so that customers who referred their friends could be tracked and rewarded for spreading the word.

Last fall, ESET created and sent a series of triggered emails to its customers at different points after they’d transacted with the brand. Customers who buy a home version of ESET’s software receive a refer-a-friend email after three months and another after nine months. The emails encourage customers to tell their friends about the product in order to have an extra 30 days added to their license.

“The email link has a special ID, so we can link a transaction to the customer it came from,” Tannone says.

Unique URLs direct customers to a landing page, which tracks the click behavior. A successful referrer’s license is automatically extended for a month. To keep this data organized on the back end, ESET extracts data from its NetSuite profile and adds this into its Eloqua email application.

“By using customers’ relationships, ESET is able to reach new potential customers,” says Andy Lloyd, GM of e-commerce at NetSuite. “By rewarding customers for participating in a social offer, they are more likely to share because there is a mutual benefit.”

ESET looks at its transaction data daily to process orders that have the special refer-a-friend tag on them. Customers who have successfully evangelized on behalf of the brand receive a follow-up email alerting them that their software license has been extended.

ESET also launched a refer-a-friend landing page with a short URL in order for customers to share the link via social networks and automatically receive a license extension if their friends make a purchase. “We wanted to have an easy way to share this email program through multiple channels,” Tannone says.

The idea is to make it easy to share and easy for ESET to track so that the company can give credit to sales referrals. “Customers want to be able to connect in the channel that is convenient for them and not have to sign up for an email program and follow the various social media pages just to get an offer,” Lloyd says. “You want to know that the marketing messages on a website, in an email and on social media are all consistent.”

RESULTS: The refer-a-friend emails generate an additional $600 a week in sales with an average order size of $70. ESET sends nearly 3,000 emails a week, with an open rate of 20% and a click-through rate of .5%.

Pleased with the results of the email effort, Tannone says that ESET is thinking about extending its refer-a-friend program by creating a social shopping app so that consumers can transact directly on Facebook. “We are looking at how we can use social media even further,” Tannone says.

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