5 Case Studies on Companies That Win at Social Media and eCommerce

Twitter Generation GapI decided to look at some direct evidence for social media and its positive effects with eCommerce online businesses both for “Business to Consumer” (B2C) companies as well as “Business to Business” (B2B) companies and I came across these rather diverse examples where social media was very evidential in producing results.

Firstly Mark Logan from  BarkleyUS  provides us with some insights from a presentation

Case Study One: Zappos (Online Shoe Store)

Why is Zappos so successful at Social Media? .. What is their strategic approach? ..It comes down to two things..Service and Culture and they believe they are one and the same thing and because their culture is unique and offers the company a competitive advantage, they use Social media to project that culture out into the world..

So what are some of the elements of this approach

  • Service
    • They have a Twitter account dedicated to Service Issues
    • To uncover service opportunities
    • Initiate response
    • Amplify praise
    • Reinforce Service reputation
  • Culture
    • The companies 400 employees all have Twitter accounts
    • Who they hire is consistent with this culture of service 
    • Most of their social media initiatives are about exposing the people at Zappos, who through their actions reinforce the companys competitive advantage.. It makes the company real.
    • The CEO leads by example he communicates about his passions.. he is personally invested in Social Media
    • They do measure social media but don’t calculate it’s ROI on Sales as they don’t consider it a traditional marketing channel 

The primary purpose of their blogs and twitter is so that outsiders can get a glimpse of their company’s culture

“Quote from Twitter while I am typing here from a Zappos Employee…… “Good morning Zappos Fans! My name is Danika, and I am here to answer any questions you have about Zappos/Canada! “

Case Study Two: Dell (not telling you what they do)

They are very strong on Social Media .. they have a “Conversations and Communities” team of 40 and they have several blogs, including a direct to consumer blog and several special interest blogs and engage in almost every major social media channel 

Some other Highlights

  • Over 65 corporate twitter accounts
  • More than 400,000 followers
  • They do promote on Twitter eg “15% off any Dell Outlet Inspiron 15 – 1545 laptop. Enter code at checkout: S2?70S6LK1VWVS – only at http://bit.ly/SM28A – exp 8/315:05 AM Aug 28th from CoTweet
  • Have sold Over $3 Million in Sales via Twitter

Case Study Three: WetSeal

They are an online E-Commerce store that sells Teen Clothing For Girls

They launched a community section of their site where fans can design their own ensembles and publish them to the community for reviews.What does this achieve?

  • It leverages wisdom and creativity of the crowds
  • It provides social validation of fashion choices to enhance selling
  • It is user generated merchandising

Result: Immediately After Using Social Media : 10% increase of sales as well as a 10% increase in the average dollar value of the sale (Net benefit.. 21% increase in revenue)   

Case Study 4: Build-A-Bear Workshop

Challenge this one …..as it is an “Experience Retailer” (How Do You Create an In Store Experience and create it Online?) and ..How do you take your brand  online, without losing your experience and commoditizing your product.

Well…They created a kids virtual world where

  • Kids could interact and chat
  • Play games
  • Earn virtual currency
  • Spend virtual currency on items in the virtual world, like clothes or furniture for your condo

What the game did was create fundamental changes to the buying experience and value proposition that

  • Extended the instore experience to online
  • Increased frequency from occasional to daily or weekly
  • Influenced 10% of sales

Result: Since being initiated last year sales of “60,000 units” in virtual goods and nearly “half a million dollars in real revenue”.

 Case Study Five: Hubspot 

(Business: Online services to businesses for generating inbound leads.. Permission Marketing)..

This is what Mike Volpe The VP of Marketing revealed about some of the elements and successes of  Hubspots Inbound marketing strategies

  1. “With our WebsiteGrader.com tool, we marketed it through social networks and it brought us 450,000 leads,” says Marketing VP Mike Volpe at HubSpot
  2. “Those leads are one of the most important channels for us as far as sales; 2 to 4 percent of the qualified leads convert to HubSpot customers.”
  3. Volpe’s firm hired an intern to post its software tutorial videos on YouTube, one of hundreds of content-sharing sites. After uploading a video, YouTube provides a code that anyone can use to add it to their blog or Webpage. “We didn’t promote them at all, and we started to get over 10,000 views a month of those videos up on YouTube,” Volpe says. “We’ve since discovered that in-bound marketing–a combination of social media, search-engine optimization and blogging–is by far the highest ROI of any marketing out there.” Those views turned into leads that generated sales
  4. In  summary he said “a combination of social media, search-engine optimization and blogging–is by far the highest ROI of any marketing out there.
  5. A Hubspot  Report  mentioned in their Blog post reveals a $84 cost per lead versus $220 for traditional marketing

So is your eCommerce site using the social media to connect and promote? Look forward to hearing your story


  • http://www.epyllionco.com/ Dagan Henders6n

    “‘With our WebsiteGrader.com tool, we marketed it through social networks and it brought us 450,000 leads,’ says Marketing VP Mike Volpe at HubSpot . . . A Hubspot Report mentioned in their Blog post reveals a $84 cost per lead versus $220 for traditional marketing”

    So this was a $37.8 million social-media marketing campaign?

    • http://www.epyllionco.com/ Dagan Henders6n

      A quick Web search found this report on HubSpot’s website: http://www.hubspot.com/Default.aspx?app=LeadgenDownload&shortpath=docs%2FState_of_Inbound_Marketing.pdf

      The report details the data collected during a survey of small business users, and the cost-per-lead numbers are in reference to those data.

      Looks like hubspot.com didn’t spend $37.8 million on a social-media campaign. My bad. :-)

      Page 5 of the report contains this statement: “Of respondents that self-reported their cost/lead, those that spend 50% or more of their lead generation budget on inbound marketing averaged $84, whereas businesses spending 50% or more on outbound marketing averaged $220 cost/lead.”

  • http://mikevolpe.com Mike Volpe – HubSpot

    @Dagan – Nice work on the clarification. We did not spend $37m :)

    Also, I am a big believer that social media marketing is a tool to use in addition and as part of an overall marketing campaign, not a tool to use by itself. So, we use social media a lot to build our brand, drive traffic and leads, but our presence in social media is built because of our blog and other content, and social media helps drive our SEO results, we get more webinar registrations by using social media as one channel to promote them, etc. Social Media is a tool to use along with other tools.it is not its own campaign. But, it can be very powerful!

  • http://www.BoozeMonkey.com Marc Jardine

    Nice article: hard to believe that there are still plenty of hardline social-media deniers who claim it will have no effect on business…

  • http://www.soravjain.com Sorav Jain

    Good work.. should also add PETA (NGO) they are doing exceptionally well.. Subway via FB is also making a better value via social medias…


  • http://fauzan.dhezign.com Brian Arfi

    This is a great case studies. Will need to mark it down and reference it for my next blogpost.

    Thanks :)

  • http://BulldogReporter Megan Cassidy

    Hi Jeff,

    I am a freelance writer, currently working on a special report about Twitter and PR for Bulldog Reporter. I would love to include some of your insights on Zappos in the report. Please email me and I will send you the rest of the details. Thank you!

  • http://confused-im.blogspot.com Rafal

    Valuable insights, let’s do it like Zappos do.

  • http://rogerewingblog.com Roger Ewing

    I like this one Jeff. I am particularly interested in that brief analysis of Hubspot. I found this company last year via social media and nearly hired them to develop my company blog site. Didn’t work out at the time, but they are a great company and I use their website grader on my site.

    There is a recurring theme among these companies. First, they invest in social medial strategies. Second, the strategies they employ are “top down” and appear to involve the senior management in all aspects of their work. And third, they have functioning inbound strategies.

    Thanks for sharing another great piece.
    Best wishes,

  • http://www.luckyotta.weebly.com tony bordonaro

    yes to all those companies ….yes to todays blog …yes