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Case Study: Leveraging Social Referrals for Hair-raising Results

By: Trevor Legwinski
Posted: February 1, 2012, from the January 2012 issue of GCI Magazine.

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Interestingly, the owned channels drove the highest amount of social referrals via the brand’s own website and e-mail database. Extole provided ongoing tracking and optimization on each of these social touch points and adjusted for maximum conversion. This sustained, cross-channel effort helped Folica understand and communicate with its current customers and incentivize them to help identify new ones.

“Our expectations for the referral program were exceeded in just the first 30 days,” said Jessica Bohm, marketing director at “Ninety-three percent of the referral e-mails customers sent to friends were opened, and 22% of those who opened a referral e-mail clicked through to visit, which resulted in 16% of customers making a purchase. By both our standards and industry standards, these numbers were astounding.”

According to Forrester Research and statistics, the industry average online conversion rate for e-commerce is 2.9%. Folica’s 16% online conversion rate, in just the early stages of the campaign, was a true testament to the power of social referrals.

In addition to tracking the number of conversions, Folica also tracked the number of shares for each channel: Facebook, Twitter, e-mail and the number of clicks that resulted from each share. Each promotional placement was also tracked and analyzed to fully optimize the referral program. This allowed for detailed analytics to be provided throughout the campaign. It also allowed Extole and Folica to modify promotional placements and make recommendations as needed. 

Folica took several steps that encouraged social sharing and paved the way for a successful referral program. As other retailers contemplate similar programs, there are a number of practices they should keep in mind. 

Best Practices