Some time ago, I wrote a post about the demise of the print newspaper, musing as to whether or not the world was going to end or not because of it. Like many, I’m quite content to receive my news online from my local paper’s morning news “eblast.” However, if I were a business that depended heavily on the weekly coupon inserts, I might be thinking that eventually, I’ll lose my forum for distributing those valuable coupons.

Image source: Shutterstock

You might say that I could move my money to social media to get my message out, but at least for now, social media doesn’t seem to deliver quite the same punch as my coupon drops. According to Yahoo News, “Sales referred directly from Facebook and Twitter posts resulted in .68% and 0% respectively of online Black Friday sales this year. The numbers were down slightly from last year’s numbers.” I’d say that these results are none too promising.

But wait, there may be hope for social media as a sales tool yet. Giselle Abramovich, Senior Editor, Brands / Deputy Managing Editor for DigiDay reported that Kimberly-Clark has found a new (or maybe old) way to use social media for their Huggies brand. Theirs was a brilliant idea to boost Huggies sales by “hiring” their 800,000 Facebook followers to distribute their coupons. How did they do that you might ask? They paid them. They let their Facebook followers know that they had placed a $1.50 off next purchase coupon from their site. A nice offer by itself, but the brilliance came in their offer to sweeten the value for their followers. Share the deal via Facebook or Twitter or give Huggies 3 of your friends email addresses and the offer doubled to $3.00. Great idea, but what actually happened?

“Every metric — referral open rates, click-through rates, coupon print rates, and redemption rates — were higher than anything we see in [our other] digital marketing programs,” said Dan Kersten, head of consumer promotion marketing at Kimberly-Clark.

The initiative, done with social marketing vendor SocialTwist, drove 630,000 visitors to Huggies’ microsite and an estimated increased awareness of 3.5 million relevant consumers. The ads received a 56 percent click-through rate and the email blasts saw a 55 percent open rate. Sixty-seven percent of all the people that engaged with the program ended up taking the offer. Kimberly-Clark said that the program generated more than $2.5 million in revenue for Huggies.

Referral marketing is certainly the oldest and arguably most effective one-to-one marketing method in history. Remember how Eve sold that apple to Adam? What better way could there be to distribute your coupons than to have your customers give them to their friends…effectively with their endorsement. Maybe better even than the Sunday coupon drop.