Case study: IKEA launches social offer to drive sales

By Neicole Crepeau, Contibuting {grow} Columnist

If you read my blog, you know that I promote a method of digital marketing that involves developing social offers. A social offer is a win-win proposition that you make to your audience. By win-win, I mean that the user gets something he or she wants by doing something that you, the business, wants. The actions the user takes help you, but the user is motivated to take the actions because you’ve offered something they want.

I recently read about IKEA’s success with its new digital strategy—a 7% boost in sales. Lo and behold, as I was reading I discovered that they used a social offer! IKEA’s marketers probably didn’t call it a social offer, but it is.  Here’s what they did:

IKEA created the Shared Space website where customers, primarily women with families, can post pictures of the rooms they’ve remodeled or redecorated. To upload pictures, you register and get a small profile on the space.  You can include a quote about the room, and all your spaces (pictures of rooms you’ve decorated) appear under your profile.

Visitors can browse the images by room for ideas and inspiration, rate them, save them, and share the images. Members can send messages to one another.

If you’ve ever taken on the project of remodel or designing a room, you know how proud you feel when it’s done. IKEA keyed right into their customers’ desire to show off their hard work and satisfied that desire with a very public, gorgeous site for customers to share. Women (and men, of course) can post their pictures, provide that House Beautiful quote, and then share it with their friends and relatives. The traffic they drive goes right to IKEA’s site, which also includes a blog, where potential customers can browse and get inspired to share. Oh, and guess what? You (or presumably IKEA) can tag IKEA items in the pictures, in which case product information and pricing appears with a link to the main IKEA ecommerce site.

IKEA’s site inspires users to shop, encourages sharing, gains IKEA target customers through sharing, lets them highlight products in user-generated content, and gives them all the attendant SEO benefits. They get all of that without having to create all the content for the site themselves, either. The audience does much of the work for them.

Audience Research Drives Social Offers

They didn’t end up with this social offer by accident though. As this article details, IKEA first set a clear business goal: increase the ticket size (amount per transaction) of sales. They then did considerable audience research before coming up with their digital strategy. They did ethnographic studies of their target customers, going into their homes and into the IKEA stores with them to understand their attitudes.

IKEA put together a complete marketing strategy that included traditional and online ads, as well as lots of content in lots of formats and channels. Their Shared Space site and social media work is only part of their digital strategy, but a seemingly successful part. The Shared Space had more than 36,000 unique users in the first month, and according to the article its Facebook fans tripled in a month.

The bottom line is whether they met their business goal. From all appearances, they did, with a nice 7% lift. You might not have the ability to implement an expensive and comprehensive digital strategy like IKEA. But there’s no reason you can’t  implement a winning social offer for your audience, and use it to meet your business goals.

Neicole Crepeau a blogger at Coherent Social Media and the creator of CurateXpress, a content curation tool. She works at Coherent Interactive on social media, website design, mobile apps, & marketing. Connect with Neicole on Twitter at @neicolec

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