In April, we offered you Facebook Cover Photos and customizable posters that were designed with popular student trends in mind. This month, we’re expanding on that with even more options! We’ve created specific themes to target freshmen and faculty as well as help you advertise during rush! Take a look at our 11 new designs that will make advertising much easier!
As an SEO professional, I frequently am asked to look at small business websites and provide quick tips for search engine ranking improvement. In many cases I find that the owner or webmaster has made some effort to put some SEO in place. They may have a meta description tag and some meta keywords, or a title tag (generally with way too many words), but more often than not I find a few of the same omissions or areas where the sites lack a few very simple attributes that can make a huge difference in how high and what a site will rank for. The following are a few very basic pointers that can make a big difference for a small business website.
1. Understand your customers and know what they are looking for:
First and foremost, it is essential to know what you are trying to make your site rank for. If you do not know your customers and your target keywords then you will likely fail at this. Fortunately, this is something that most small business owners have a pretty solid grasp on. The problem is that they don’t often transfer this to their website content. This leads us to tip number two.
2. Include your target keywords in the body of your site:
A good strategy to make sure that you do this is to make a list of all the keywords that you think are most important for search, then when you create the content for you home page and the other important pages on your website check off each keyword once it is included. It is not bad in some cases to have two or more occurrences of important keywords, but you also want to avoid going overboard. Google will actually decrease your ranking in some cases if they see too many occurrences of a word.
3. Create custom, focused title tags for every page on your site:
The title tag is the single most important piece of SEO related code on your website. It is the first thing that search engine look at, and it has the most impact on your ranking of all on page components. Yet, you usually see one extreme or the other when it comes to title tags. Either there is little or no information, such as the company name only, or there is way too much information and it ends up diluting the keywords you are actually going after with that page. You also find more often than not that every page of the site has the same title tag. The following are a few general rules for writing effective title tags: a. Try to keep the title tag in the range of 6-8 words maximum. b. Make sure that every page has unique, focused title tags based on the content of that page. c. Mix up the words on the pages so that different pages focus on different important keywords.
4. Get a few quality links to your site:
Another big aspect missing from a lot of small business websites is the appearance of popularity. Big businesses generally have it naturally. In many cases small businesses have to work to create it. One was to do this is to buy a few inexpensive ads on other important websites that fall within your industry. If you are a bed and breakfast in a small town or community for example, then buy a few ads (or ask for a link) on either local community websites or on bed and breakfast or accommodation websites. You can also take advantage of social websites like Facebook and Twitter to help with t this, or local websites like Yelp, Merchant Circle or Insider Pages. The more of these you get the better. A few good links go a long way. Be careful not to try to take risky shortcuts however, as certain black hat or grey hat techniques can set your site backwards or get it into Google’s penalty box and once there it is often difficult to recover.
The Web moves fast, so you want to tweet and Facebook post that great content or announcement in quick succession the second it comes to you, right?
Not so fast.
It turns out that there are ideal times to tweet and post—and they are not the same, suggests analysis from Bit.ly. The URL shortening service has been studying how content goes viral through social networks.
Recently the company analyzed retweets and clickthroughs that tweets get when they’re posted at certain times of the week and times of day. (Trivia alert: It discovered that the half-life of a link on Twitter is 2.8 hours.) Bit.ly also analyzed Facebook links.
Time to Tweet
For Twitter, your best chance at getting the most clickthroughs is 1 to 3 p.m. EST Monday through Thursday. Posting after 8 p.m. should be avoided. Added Bit.ly in a blog post: “Specifically, don’t bother posting after 3 p.m. on a Friday, since as far as being a gateway to drive traffic to your content, it appears that Twitter doesn’t work on weekends.”
Peak traffic time for Twitter in general is 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. EST Monday through Thursday. One point Bit.ly says to consider, however, is that, “Posting on Twitter when there are many people clicking does help raise the average number of clicks, but it in no way guarantees an optimal amount of attention, since there is more competition for any individual’s attention. An optimal strategy must weigh the number of people paying attention against the number of other posts vying for that attention.”
Landing More Likes
For Facebook, the absolute highest number of clickthroughs comes at 3 p.m. EST on Wednesday, with links posted from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. picking up the highest average clickthroughs. Links posted after 8 p.m. and before 8 a.m. may struggle for attention. As with Twitter, weekends are not ideal. (For tips on writing the perfect Facebook post, click here.)
Facebook traffic starts to pick up about 9 a.m., but Bit.ly suggests waiting to post until 11 a.m. Facebook traffic begins to fade after 4 p.m. And despite similar traffic at 7 and 8 p.m., Bit.ly’s analysis shows that a link posted at 7 will pick up a lot more clicks than will something posted at 8.
Bit.ly adds that it is important to keep in mind that these times are meant only as a guide, and may not apply to breaking news. In addition, the ideal post times may vary by your particular business, customer or type of content.
A study that showed differing data was performed last month by Buddy Media, showing that Thursday and Friday were better for engagement on Facebook. One possible reason for the difference: Buddy analyzed 200 clients’ Facebook posts over a two-week period, in addition to the comments and Likes spurred by those posts, whereas Bit.ly focused just on the sharing of links.
When do you post to your social media pages? Share your strategy in the comments section below!
Today, in the age of online shopping, flash sales and Groupon, some retailers believe that digital strategy is their “silver bullet.” In reality, it’s a relentless drive to master their customer relationships in a way that integrates and maximizes the power of each channel that is the key: from specialty retail to mobile and beyond – as well as all touch points – from marketing to social media to ecommerce. Retailers must be firing on all cylinders. Yet with all this newness and buzz, what sets truly innovative marketers apart is a single, counterintuitive insight: The in-store shopping experience matters now, more than ever.
Broadly, three factors are driving the importance of the modern in-store brand experience. The first is the inherent limit of the e-commerce experience: People still want to see, touch and feel products, and do so with others—ideally in a community of the brand loyal. Only a store can deliver that full experience. Just ask Piperlime – who recently announced their first real-world retail store, a shift from their online-only strategy. Second, with our current economic stagnation, we are shopping less, but we want our experiences to provide more – not merely a trip to the mall, but rather an escape. Third, with the use of mobile continuing to grow, evolve and become increasingly important, brands that successfully merge online and real-world experiences—often using mobile as the bridge – are seeing the benefit in their bottom lines.
The challenge, then, for top companies is clear: How do you leverage the in-store experience to ensure brands grow and thrive? In my view, there are five key factors needed to deliver successful in-store experiences in today’s market:
1. Community, Both Online and Off
Whole Foods Market creates a hub for the community with educational activities, free samples, and an engaged social-media component – constantly finding new ways to reach and interact with their customers. Another great example is Lance Armstrong’s Austin bike shop Mellow Johnny’s, which pulls bike enthusiasts in with free classes and post-ride showers. These consumer-centric activities create lasting memories that contribute to brand loyalty and keep shoppers happy and coming back for more.
2. Marriage with Mobile
While some claim that mobile is the end of retail, it’s far more likely mobile shopping apps will make brick-and-mortar retail destinations even more valuable. Smart companies will find ways to use the mobile app as a “teaser” experience that drives the interested to the store, whether for a deeper experience or to buy. Stores like Target are creating apps to make in-store shopping experiences smoother – with list-making tools, product finders, daily deals and online purchasing. You don’t have to set foot in the store to make purchases from the app, but if you do, it makes the experience both more streamlined and enjoyable. Other campaigns like the Instagram photo booth contest at Ted Baker also meld the in-store, online, and mobile worlds.
3. Store as the Ultimate Ad
Easier said than done, I know, but it’s important for a store to have a “place to be” vibe. Puma stores add to their ambiance with live DJs. Our Juicy Couture store on Fifth Avenue uses provocative and innovative window displays, capitalizing on its great location to leave a powerful impression—even on consumers that just pass by. It’s a combination of the right setting, striking look and feel, and, if possible, innovative store design that turns your store into the ultimate, three-dimensional ad.
4. Knowledge Sharing
Of course, it’s very important for customers to feel at ease and welcome as they shop, but what truly sets the best apart is the ability to add insight and knowledge to the experience. Take Apple’s Genius Bar – a streamlined, headache-free, and, above all, enriching shopping experience for customers. Spending time to hire the right people, giving them ample training, and empowering them to share what they know is the new paradigm. Just ask J.C. Penney, which is bringing a version of the “Genius Bar” concept to the department-store model.
5. Design + Visual Power
Every detail in Niketown, for example, was chosen with painstaking care. The store is filled with bright colors, fashionable product, and energetic, upbeat music. You can even design your own shoes. The combination of unique, memorable features with simple design elements creates the type of experience that draws the customer back again and again.
So what’s next? As the line between the virtual and real world continues to blur, new possibilities to enhance both will present themselves. Social games and online content will create new interactive links, with real e-commerce and point-of-sale potential. And, whether or not consumer spending remains relatively restrained, folks have come to expect more memorable, enjoyable experiences than before.
Whether that’s from the integration of mobile to unlock the potential for unique in-store shopping, an unexpected and fresh store design, a highly knowledgeable, welcoming staff, or, better yet, all of the above, brands that deliver a powerful in-store experience will continue to prosper.
Because they have three off-campus locations, Beck’s Bookstore has faced certain challenges when it comes to reaching their prospective student customers.
“We can’t utilize the typical lines of communication that our contracted stores do,” explained Patrick Olson, who heads marketing & development for the stores. “So, we’re always looking for new ways to stand out and be noticed.”
As a part of that effort, the store has expanded their marketing initiatives far beyond the traditional approach. For several years, they have partnered with the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) to present their brand in new and innovative ways.
“Our target market is students all over the Chicagoland area, especially during buyback,” he explained. “So, this is an effective solution that allows us to spread our message throughout the city.”
Combining both print and digital formats, the ads appear in specifically selected locations that are high-traffic and heavily populated by students. For instance, they can be found on the ‘L,’ in parking garages, and even on buses. In addition, the stores also hire employees to wave arrow ads on busy street corners near the store, and offer several giveaways to encourage even more traffic.
“Students are on the go, so it’s important to be more active in your marketing approach,” he said. “We’re especially focused on that effort with the incoming class each year. If we can gain their business once, we know we can keep them coming back. It’s all about ensuring that we get our name out there directing them into the store.”
Once in the store, Olson and the staff go above and beyond to retain customers with unmatched service. His philosophy goes back to the same ideals that the company was founded on.
“My grandfather established Beck’s Bookstore on the value of customer service, and we believe there’s still a market for that today,” Olsen described. “It all comes down to convenience, competitive price, and customer service and we’re dedicated to offering all of those aspects here.”
To other stores looking to enhance their marketing efforts, Olson suggests trying to understand what appeals to your students.
“Every school and store is different,” he said. “But, the one fact that will always hold true is that your students are part of a community. Try to intertwine with the area and learn how you can use that connection to reach out to potential customers. The more you’re involved in the community, the better!”
Great customer service isn’t just about money–but dedicated staff and extra resources certainly help. So when it comes to customer service, small companies can have a hard time keeping up with deeper-pocketed retail giants.
In his new book, High-Tech, High-Touch Customer Service, Micah Solomon shares some of the best practices of consumer giants like Amazon, Lego and more. But small businesses can steal some great customer service ideas and apply them to their own firms, Solomon said in a recent interview with Inc.
Your competitors are already offering “tolerable reactive service,” Solomon says–meaning if a customer asks for something, they give it to them. “Just about every business in the country does that, so if that’s all you’re doing, it might be OK–but it’s not enough to distinguish your company,” he says.
Here are a few companies he says are doing better than OK–and some great takeaways you could put into practice.
1. Lego: Provide Emotional Support
Last year, Solomon recalls, his daughter, now 11, discovered two missing pieces in her Lego set. When they contacted the company, the company offered to send replacements–no questions asked. But what really impressed him was the accompanying letter, which read:
“We’d like to get even better at catching any faulty Lego sets, though, so I’m passing your comments on to the team in charge of testing. It’ll help make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
That made Solomon and his daughter feel as if they were a part of the Lego quality control team, he says: “Since then, we’ve felt a closer bond than if the incident hadn’t happened at all.”
Solomon equates this sort of situation to watching a horror movie with someone: “You get through this scary situation—it’s not really dangerous, but it feels scary and your heart’s pumping—and you get through to the other side, so you’re more bonded with the person you got through the situation.”
Small business takeaway: A business doesn’t need defects to develop this kind of bond–but when something does go wrong, says Solomon, start by addressing the customer’s emotional needs. “Imagine that you’re an Italian mama, and your little bambino’s taken a spill on the sidewalk. So you would comfort your child, give him ice cream, maybe let him watch some TV. … With customers, it’s similar,” he says. “You want to be extremely empathetic and let the customer explain to you when they’re ready to move on to the problem-solving stage.”
2. Zappos: Hire the Right People
Finding qualified and skilled employees is not the problem, Solomon says. The real challenge is to hire the ones who share your company’s values and vision.
One of Zappos’ most unusual company policies helps weed out would-be employees who don’t resonate with the company’s principles: Although Zappos trains new employees for a month, during week two, new workers can take $2,000 to quit. That way, the company can see who truly wants to work at the e-tailer.
“If someone values $2,000 rather than this job, then fine, that’s money well spent not having to deal with them later,” Solomon explains.
Solomon says it’s important to make sure those who work for the company have the same values and goals so when it comes to customer service, employees’ actions will reflect well on the company’s overall vision.
Small business takeaway: You probably don’t have the budget to pay employees to get lost, but there are other ways to focus on company values. Solomon suggests taking five minutes a day to explain a key service value, such as the importance of a warm greeting. “Five minutes a day is enough to go over one of your principles of how you want customers to be treated, but not long enough so it disrupts the day,” he says. “Over the course of hundreds of business days a year, it really adds up to quite a bit of training.”
3. Amazon: Know Your Customer Really Well
Part of what Solomon emphasizes is “anticipatory” customer service–understanding the needs of your customers even before they’re expressed.
He recalls an instance when he browsed through books for his Kindle, and almost purchased a title he already had in his digital library–until Amazon alerted him to the duplicate purchase. That saved him time and money. (Because, really, who needs two of the same e-book?)
“If you can assist [your customers] with something that’s really their responsibility, it binds them closer to you,” he says.
Small business takeaway: How do you anticipate your customer’s needs? Solomon recommends in High-Tech, High-Touch that you and your employees walk in your customers’ shoes–whether that means using the front entrance to your shop instead of the back, or navigating the website like a consumer. That way, you can catch the wobbly door knob or the inconvenient “contact us” page from a customer’s viewpoint.
4. Whirlpool’s Maytag: Get Smarter About Social Media
Twitter and Facebook have made it possible for customers to be more vocal and far-reaching with their opinions. That’s an opportunity for your company–but creates also a potential risk.
For example, Solomon writes about a blogger who had problems with her Maytag washing machine. Frustrated by the lengthy process of repairing, she threatened to tell her Twitter followers, to which a Maytag representative dismissed the blogger rudely: “Yes, we know what [Twitter] is, and no, that will not matter.”
The incident didn’t go unnoticed, however–and a senior Maytag exec reached out to personally attend to her situation. Later on, the company opened a discussion page for other complaints on the company’s Facebook page.
Small business takeaway: Solomon recommends that small businesses move the discussion to a private space–like when a store manager asks a customer to step into the back office to further discuss the problem. So if someone sends a dissatisfied tweet, message the customer directly and offer a variety of methods to personally reach you. Don’t air the problem for the whole world to see. (And if you’re not handling your account personally, make sure you’re keeping an eye on what’s being said.)
Solomon equates it to having a friend tell you about your unzipped fly or spinach stuck in your teeth. “Your good friends …[are] not going to go on Twitter; they’re going to tell you directly,” Solomon says. “This is what you want your customers to do. You want them to know that they can reach you directly to tell you when there’s a problem.”
Becoming a card-carrying member of your favorite business’s loyalty program is getting more rewarding — even as many stores ditch the actual cards themselves.
Retailers, supermarkets and other companies are increasingly adding new benefits to their loyalty programs, which offer shoppers discounts and other perks in exchange for regular business. Half of retailers said the programs would be a key part of their strategy for 2012, compared with 41% last year, according to the National Retail Federation. In recent weeks, companies as varied as Target, Express, Sports Authority, Groupon and Jersey’s Mikes have launched new reward initiatives. “Companies are really getting serious about building loyalty,” says Michael Gatti, executive director of the Retail Advertising and Marketing Association, a division of the NRF.
The aim: keep people from browsing in-store and buying elsewhere. Dangling rewards can be a way to get and keep people on site, say experts. Especially the latest iterations, which reward members with more exclusive coupons and sales, often sent directly to your phone when you walk in or check in via social media. Few require remembering physical cards these days, either, subbing in scannable codes from a phone, app connectivity or linking them to a credit or debit card. “Stores feel like they’re being shopped as showcases,” says Jeff Green, an independent retail analyst based in Phoenix, Ariz. “This keeps them interested in bricks-and-mortar.”
Retailers including Starbucks, Gap and Best Buy have long offered programs with multiple membership levels, awarding bigger spenders with more perks. More companies are starting to follow suit, says Gatti. This spring, Express launched a new Express Next program offering members $10 back for every 2,500 points earned through purchases, social media check ins and other deals. When someone earns 7,500 points in a year, they earn “A-List” status, which triggers $15 rewards instead, among other perks. Most status bumps last just a year, so experts suggest reviewing terms and offers before chasing them.
The points you earn in one program may be useful at other stores, says Hlavinka. For example, Best Buy and Citibank launched an app last summer that lets Citi cardholders use their reward points to pay at Best Buy stores. Then there’s Shopkick, a free app that awards points and discounts for visiting and making purchases at retailers including Old Navy, Crate & Barrel, Macy’s and Exxon. The newest: Target, which signed on in late May and is currently offering 200 points for visiting and a limited number of $5 off $50 coupons. When there are multiple redemption options, crunch the numbers to make sure you’re getting the best value per point.
Programs are increasingly trying to engage customers not just by offering discounts, but looking for fun perks like samples, early access to a coveted collection or special events, Gatti says. When Nordstrom revamped its reward program in January, all members got an annual credit of $100 or more for in-store tailoring, and members of Sports Authority’s new program can land access to sports tickets and signed memorabilia. Brad Spirrison, managing editor of app review site Appolicious, likes Belly, a loyalty platform for small businesses in cities including Chicago and Boston. “It’s not so much about buy 10 sandwiches, get one free,” he says. Merchants can get creative awards currently up for grabs include 10 minutes of all-you-can-eat pasta at an Italian restaurant, brunch in bed for two from a grocery store, and the option to shave a barber shop owner’s head.
Social media exclusives
Rewards club members who don’t “like” the brand on Facebook or follow it on Twitter may be missing out. More programs are rewarding social media engagement with extra coupons or deals, says Deborah Mitchell, a clinical associate professor of marketing at Ohio State University. For example, Hertz recently offered a social-media-exclusive coupon for $15 off a rental — or up to $40 if users publicized the deal to friends. Seeing so many deal posts in your feed could prompt unnecessary spending, she says, so just link up when you’re ready to make a purchase.
How does your loyalty program work? Tell us in the comments section. Don’t have a loyalty program? See how MBS Systems Loyalty Module can help!
Rental programs offer significant upfront savings to students; however, not all are aware of the benefits. To help students better understand the advantages of his store’s program, Jeff Wieck, textbook program coordinator. of University Bookstore at Eastern Washington University, decided to show rather than tell them about the cost-saving option.
“Our program is fairly new and, as we got started, we took note that several students were able to gain substantial savings with textbook rentals,” he explained. “We wanted to bring that fact to the attention of our customers and figured that there was no better way to do that than by showing them real examples of how much their peers were saving.”
After working with a student to sort out questions about the program, Wieck realized that this customer presented the perfect opportunity to spread the word.
“He was trying to get his degree in 3 years and, as a result, had lots of books he needed to purchase for the 19 credit hours that he was enrolled in,” he said. “It would have cost him $600 to purchase those books new but, through our rental program, he was able to save nearly $450! It was really a no brainer to show that number off.”
Wieck approached the student and filled him in on his prospective rental promotion.
“I told him his story would make a great testimonial and he was on board right away,” he added. “He was very gracious and came into the store to have his picture taken for the ad; it worked out great.”
The store’s staff then collaborated to put the student’s testimonial and image on posters, which now hang in the store, and flyers that are handed on at the start of each quarter. According to Wieck, the advertising effort has been well worth it.
“Students listen to their peers and respect what they have to say,” he described. “I think seeing their fellow classmate’s savings really reinforced the benefits of our program.”
As for the future, Wieck plans to create a new poster for the fall quarter.
“We found another student whose books would have cost them $910 to purchase new, but was able to save $600 by renting,” he said. “I think we’ll probably continue to update the posters each time we find an increase in the amount saved.
It’s not too late: Register for our Get Ready to Rent webinars this week!
Interested in offering rental or expanding your current program? Join us for one of three webinars this week as Lillian Howard, corporate marketing representative at MBS, shares the pricing strategies and marketing ideas that other stores have found effective, as well as the advantages of running an in-store program, like MBS Rental.
Select one of the following dates to register:
Instagram, the mobile app that allows users to take photos, add filters, and share them with their social networks, has grown to more than 40 million users in the iPhone and Android markets since launching in October 2010. With a growing user base, Facebook purchased the app in April for $1 billion to complement its already robust social network of more than 900 million users.
For college students, who are overloaded with social networks heavy on text, Instagram offers a visual alternative, notes Carly Heitlinger, a recent graduate of Georgetown University.
“I love Twitter and I’ve been using it for years, but words only say so much, and I tend to scroll past a lot of tweets if nothing pops out at me instantly,” she says. “I like that Instagram just shows a picture.”
As Instagram continues to grow in popularity, there is a benefit for colleges and universities to be active on the service, says Amy Peterson, new media specialist at Texas Christian University.
“We use it as another tool in our marketing [strategy],” Peterson says. “It’s a place where our students and alumni are, so that’s where we are.”
Here are three ways colleges and universities are using Instagram to connect with their audiences.
1. Ask questions:
When the University of Florida began using Instagram in March 2011, the initial plan was to post an image each week that represented the university, says Bruce Floyd, the school’s social media specialist.
This changed when Floyd posted an image on the platform asking, “What kinds of photos would you like to see from us on Twitter and Instagram?”
“What we heard from them is that they want behind-the-scenes images,” he notes. “They want to see parts of Florida that people don’t normally get to see.”
Since receiving responses, the university has posted more exclusive-access images, such as a photo during a class lecture, an image inside a university television station, and a point-of-view photograph from the podium at the university commencement ceremonies.
Alumni also sent feedback, requesting photos that would spark nostalgia, Floyd says. To fulfill this request, Instagram offers filters to alter and enhance an image, many of which can mimic the style or appearance of a photograph that may have been taken years earlier.
“Our alumni may not have seen [the] campus for 10 or 20 years, and by presenting something that’s presented like a Polaroid, it creates an even more interesting connection,” he says. “They’re nostalgic, and then they see something that is presented in a way that is nostalgic.”
2. Feed other social networks:
Smaller colleges may have difficulties growing a fan base on social networks to match those of larger universities, but having the ability to easily share images from Instagram to other social media sites allows them to reach a variety of audiences.
At the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay, with an enrollment of about 6,400 students, feeding Instagram to other networks gives the school a chance to promote the photo platform, says Todd Sanders, a social media specialist at the university.
“For those students who are hesitant about [downloading Instagram], by posting a picture that goes onto our Timeline on Facebook, a student may click on it and we see [a new follower] there,” Sanders notes.
3. Encourage participation during major events:
“I feel very strongly that photos are one of the best ways to sell anything,” notes TCU’s Peterson. “Having a photo is such an instant, visually gratifying experience [and] what makes Instagram kind of cool is that the images look really pretty.”
While many schools share images of popular destinations on campus, commencement season gives colleges and universities opportunities to promote one of the most positive annual events on campus, says Florida’s Floyd.
At the University of Florida’s recent commencement ceremonies, the university promoted the #ufgrad hashtag on Twitter and Instagram, and encouraged students to also post images on Instagram using the hashtag.
“We ended up getting hundreds of photos posted to the hashtag of people before, during, and after the commencement,” Floyd says. “We had all these students at commencement taking photos … Why not create a way to gather and capture the conversation?”
As a former college student, Georgetown grad Heitlinger says by covering events, as opposed to “just showing pictures of a tree or building,” universities may more effectively connect with graduates.
“I think it’s extremely important for alumni who are ultimately the ones who schools are hoping will donate money,” Heitlinger notes. “If you’re in the palm of their hands once or twice a day, they still have that connection with the university.”
How does your store or school use Instagram? Share your examples in the comments section below!
Loyal customers are the foundation of any strong retail operation. So, it’s important that stores show appreciation for their continued business. In an effort to do just that, University Book Store at University of Washington has hosted their Campus Thank You Celebration for the past 9 years.
“This is one of the most visible and exciting ways of recognizing our UW community for being such great customers,” Bryan Pearce, CEO, explained. “Everyone always looks forward to what we have in store each year, and it’s grown to be one of our most anticipated and well-attended events.”
Hosted in May, the celebration encourages UW students, faculty and staff to join together for some fun. Four of their nine retail locations participated in this year’s festivities, which concluded with an evening program at their flagship store at the UW Seattle campus.
Throughout the day, the stores offer several discounts to show gratitude to their guests. For instance, they can take advantage of 20% off all merchandise as well as receive a $50 UBS gift card with the purchase of any Apple computer.
There are lots of entertaining activities, too.
“This year, we had a Cash Cube, similar to what you’d see on a game show, where students attempt to grab as much cash as they can in the designated period of time,” Pearce described. “We also had a photo booth, photo op with our Husky mascot, a dice game and two different shopping sprees. It was a very interactive atmosphere and everyone had fun with it.”
The store partnered with several local businesses, who volunteered their services, to provide further incentives to attendees.
For instance, a local DJ was spinning inside the store, several food trucks and vendors stopped by with free samples, and other vendors offered their assistance through donations for giveaways and raffles.
“It’s always great to get the community involved and their generosity is truly invaluable to the success of our event and our store,” he said.
To get students excited about the celebration, the store advertised through a variety of channels, focusing heavily on social media.
“We posted lots of information on our Facebook and Twitter pages, which was very effective,” Pearce added. “We had over 34,000 event page views during the week of the party and were able to increase our Facebook fan base by 226 ‘likes’ in less than two weeks.”
With over 10,000 customers present throughout the day, the Campus Thank You Celebration was another resounding success for the store.
“Traffic and sales were 150% higher than an average Wednesday, which is a true testament to our customers’ dedication to the store and the great work of Book Store team members,” he described.
They also collected over 1,000 email addresses from participants during the day’s activities, which will help them further advertise future events and specials.
“It’s so important to stay connected to your customers in meaningful ways,” Pearce stressed. “We couldn’t have achieved all that we have without them. This is by far the most important event we hold each year, because it is our opportunity to thank and celebrate the supporters of our store. I look forward to seeing it continue to grow in the future!”
How does your store say thank you to loyal customers? Share your experiences in the comments section below!