Twitter Drives Traffic, Sales: A Case Study

Back in December, Dell reported that offers from its Dell Outlet Twitter account had led to more than $1 million in revenue. A small percentage for a company that books $16B in revenue annually–but a nice number nonetheless, particularly in a dreary economy.

Question is: are they the only ones?

I haven’t yet found anyone else claiming to have micromessaged their way to a number with six zeroes. But I did have an interesting conversation recently with a company that used Twitter to drive a 20 percent increase in sales in December, and additional growth in February. Here’s the story.

Namecheap, a 70-person company headquartered in LA, is a domain name registrar that’s been in business for nine years. They rely mostly on word-of-mouth advertising and have just two people who do marketing (one of whom is devoted to SEO); almost everyone else provides customer service.

Michelle Greer, their sole marketing specialist, has been on Twitter personally since 2007, and she thought the service might be a good fit for Namecheap. To convince the CEO, she showed him what Tony Hsieh, the Zappos CEO, was doing on Twitter, including promotions. He gave her the go-ahead to experiment.

Michelle set up a Namecheap Twitter account, and in December, to launch it, she ran a contest: once an hour, she posted a Christmas-related trivia question (she’s used TweetLater to preschedule the posts and a book to help her come up with the 600+ trivia questions). To win, you had to be one of the first three @replies with the correct answer. The prize was credit a for one-year domain registration; to receive it, you needed a Namecheap account.

The company considers the contest a success. People got addicted to it, battling to get in the first replies. And they Twittered and blogged about it, too, helping Namecheap’s follower count jump from 200 to over 4,000 in the one month and bumping the company’s PageRank, too.

So what about the actual business numbers? Namecheap’s site traffic increased more than 10 percent in December, driving a 20 percent increase in domain registrations. In addition, Michelle says, “The increase in Twitter followers allowed us to see a 30 percent increase in traffic when we ran a Super Bowl promo on Twitter [in February].”

The contest had costs: primarily Michelle’s time and intense attention for the whole month of December. Still, it’s no surprise that Namecheap is trying more contests. And they’re not the only ones. This week, our friends at Boing Boing launched a Tweet Week contest, giving away cool stuff to help build their Twitter followerships–which can, in turn, help drive blog traffic. Meanwhile, a consortium of four dog-focused businesses–Paw Luxury, Best Bully Sticks, Ask Spike Online and Four Legged Media–are starting the Barkhunt tonight, a scavenger hunt that will last for just one hour, with clues going up on Twitter every five minutes. (I swear, I didn’t pick that one because I’m a dog person; if you know of a cat-related Twitter contest, add a comment or @reply me, and I’ll update the post.)

Likely, it’ll be a while before a contest drives $1 million in revenue through Twitter. But they’re not the only way to make non-spam money through the service, and it’s interesting to see companies experimenting with the medium.

tags: ,