Case Study: D&M Does Free Right

I’ve been meaning to post about this for a while since the campaign took place in mid-March the results came out in late April (is it seriously almost July? How did THAT happen?). Care to embrace the better late than never motto with me? Then let us continue…

In March 2009, the Greystone Books title Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent was the subject of an online publicity campaign led by the marketing staff at D&M. It’s a really inspiring example of how digital strategy can be used in three really important ways: first, getting the book out there in the hands (or RAMs) of readers, second, measuring how you did and thrid, creating a baseline to compare how any kinds of books do with the same treatment.

In my opinion, D&M is a shining beacon in the dark fog of ‘no one really knows the impact of publicity so let’s just throw dollars/labour/time at this thing’. And not coincidentally, they have an awesome website that doesn’t make you work hard to do what you want to do.

Why They Did It

Before the how and the what, there was the why. Four major targets, with varying levels of direct measurability, (to have as many people as possible download the book, to increase traffic on our site, to increase sales, to establish Greystone Books as a leading environmental publisher) were set.

I so love the fact that they also set a sub-target for that first goalto find out what percentage of people would be deterred from downloading the book if they were asked for their email address (a boon for the publishers but only if it’s not chasing prospective readers away). Turned out not a ton of people backed away when asked for an email address but without the 50/50 campaign, where half were asked for emails and half were not, D&M wouldn’t have known that and couldn’t have made an educated decision on whether or not it made sense to do it.

How They Did It

For one week (March 16-20), a PDF version of Tar Sands was available from the D&M site. The goals outlined above had already been set with the metrics by which they would be measured (nothing fancier than Google Analytics, Google Alerts, BNC SalesData and a few other tools).

What They Learned

Key findings were pretty great. Downloads, traffic stats, blog hits and click-throughs to online retailers were all measured and seem pretty decent to me.

Another great bonusamong all other the important information gathered is the creation of an in-house baseline against which other campaigns like this can be compared.

Who said marketing dollars can’t be measured? D&M and Greystone, my hat is off to you.

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