Before you embark on your quest to become a certified master of referral marketing tactics, I only have one question. Are you a Swiftie?
“Swifties” are die-hard Taylor Swift fans. And while you might not count yourself among the hordes of fans belting the lyrics to Shake It Off at every concert, you can bet there are millions of them.
In 2015, Swift pulled in $170 million, making her the highest-paid earning entertainer of the year. To put her massive earnings into perspective, #2 on Forbes annual list of top earning performers was the modern-day Backstreet Boys band One Direction. They grossed only $110 million — and there are 4 of them. Needless to say, we could all afford to learn a thing or two about marketing from Taylor Swift and her team.
In 2015, Taylor Swift released her album “1989” and completed her transformation from a pop-country diva into a bona-fide pop superstar, gaining plenty of devotees along the way. The music was certainly part of it. People were shaking it off everywhere, from grocery stores to hopping house parties.
But in the end, her carefully constructed referral and retention marketing campaign ensured her enormous success. In response, Team Taylor showed up in droves to purchase her new tunes and clamor for tickets to her shows. They recommended (or referred, if you will) the new album to all their friends and family.
The influential celebrity that she is, you might think that T. Swift’s strategy would be to simply tweet a few times, then $170 million dollars would land in her lap. But in reality, she used savvy referral marketing tactics, involving both an online and offline campaign, to zero in on her most influential Swifties. Here are the steps that left millions of listeners “Enchanted.”
Step 1: Compile A Target Audience
First, Taylor Swift and her team got their list in order. They did their homework, analyzing data to decide which fans to target with their referral marketing tactics and scouring the web for info that allowed them to pinpoint those Swifties with the widest influence. In business terms, they zeroed in on their most loyal customer base. In essence, they sought out the movers and shakers who loved the product and were primed to evangelize.
Step 2: Break Out From The Norm With Your Referral Marketing Tactics
After they’d compiled a list of their most choice “brand advocates,” Team Taylor engaged in an offline marketing campaign, sending these select fans personalized messages and gifts — yes, in the mail. Dubbed “Swiftmas,” the organizers of the event even went so far as to buy items from the fans’ Christmas wish lists, including handwritten, personal notes from Taylor herself.
As you can imagine, fans reacted with tears of joy and disbelief. They took to YouTube and WordPress to sing Swift’s praises.
It helps that Taylor Swift is a celebrity, but couldn’t she just have sent a Facebook message or email blast? What about a personal tweet or a mass-produced CD with a faux signature? Obviously, none of these would have had a quarter of the impact that these tangible expressions of Taylor’s attention did.
What her team understood is that you have to stand out from the crowd with your referral marketing tactics and make your clients feel valued. Even in — especially in — today’s digitized world, people love getting a physical package.
Step 3: Meet Face to Face
The final step of Team Taylor’s shrewd referral marketing campaign was to invite groups of 89 people at a time for a meet-and-greet with Taylor Swift herself. Why 89? “1989” is the name of the hit album and the year Taylor was born.
During the meeting, Taylor interacted directly with the fans. They even took throwback Polaroid photos of the experience, promoting the retro aesthetic of the upcoming record.
The moral? Your best customers deserve face time and personal attention.
Get Taylor Swift Results
“1989″ went platinum almost instantly, with 1.287 million copies sold in the first week alone. The album was the first to sell a million copies in 2014, despite its release in late October. The team’s marketing referral tactics were a huge success.
Big brands — and even pop stars — need to retain customers and gain referrals to succeed. They have a larger challenge than most of us because of their lack of data (who the customers are) and the sheer number of people they have to engage with. But that doesn’t decrease the importance of these campaigns.
As we can see from Taylor’s “Swiftmas” campaign, money invested into referral marketing tactics can easily become the highest ROI decision you’ll make all year.
To learn more about referral marketing, check out Shaun’s book with Dan Kennedy, No BS Guide to Maximum Referrals & Customer Retention.