Adam T. Sutton

Social Email Marketing: KFC’s Double Down email launch

February 11th, 2011

Many consumers rely on social networks to help steer them toward wiser purchases. Some research shows that a majority of consumers do this. Scott Geiser, Senior Digital Analyst, KFC, is aware of the trends.

“It’s almost like consumers are shaping brands nowadays and brands are forced to be transparent… We know we are in that position and have to give our consumers ownership.”

Geiser handles KFC’s digital marketing, such as its website, email and social media efforts. Last year, his team needed to launch a new product, the Double Down. The breadless sandwich consisted of cheese, bacon and sauce sandwiched between two chicken filets.

Simple social and email tactic

“The first time we truly used social media to our benefit, we sent out an email with just a picture of the Double Down and links to share it in social media,” Geiser says.KFC Double Down Email

The team sent the email on April Fools’ Day, about two weeks before the Double Down would officially launch. The email included:

  • Subject line: “The KFC Double Down, it is real, no fooling”
  • Large headline: “It’s real”
  • Large product image
  • Message: “The Double Down coming April 12. Give your friends a heads up”
  • Facebook and Twitter buttons to share the message

After sending the email, the sandwich’s prelaunch marketing was mostly in the hands of KFC’s email subscribers and their contacts on social networks.

“We did not go to any other media outlet before launch other than delivering it via email,” Geiser says.

Social influencers in your email database

Geiser knew KFC’s subscribers had a passion for the brand, and he had a hunch that this simple email would spread some buzz. But his team was surprised by the level of response.

The message had almost a 40% open-rate and over 10,000 shares on Facebook and 2,000 re-tweets on Twitter.  The phrase “Double Down” quickly rose to #2 on Google’s Hot Search list and #3 on Yahoo’s Buzz Index, and several late-night talk shows mentioned the sandwich, he says.

“This was certainly one of our most successful product launches of the year and it all began with social media [and email]… It really taught us that our social influencers are very valuable,” Geiser says.

The results have helped energize the team to learn more about the social influencers in its email database and how to attract and satisfy more of them. KFC is now testing marketing efforts in these areas. Keep an eye on our Email Marketing newsletter in the coming weeks to see what they’ve uncovered.

Related resources

Social Marketing: Will you monetize social media and measure ROI in 2011?

Email Marketing: How your peers create an effective email message

Email Marketing Summit: 7 takeaways to improve results

MarketingSherpa Email Essentials Workshop Training

BlueHornet – team’s email service provider

Adam T. Sutton

About Adam T. Sutton

Adam T. Sutton, Senior Reporter, MarketingSherpa
Adam generates content for MarketingSherpa's Email and Inbound Marketing newsletters. His years of experience in interviewing marketers and conveying their insights has spanned topics such as search marketing, social media marketing, ecommerce, email and more. Adam previously powered the content behind MarketingSherpa's Search and Consumer-marketing newsletters and carries that experience into his new role. Today, in addition to writing articles, he contributes content to the MarketingExperiments and MarketingSherpa blogs, as well as MECLABS webinars, workshops and summits.

Prior to joining MarketingSherpa, Adam was the Managing Editor at the Mequoda group. There he created content and promotions for the company's daily email newsletter and managed its schedule.

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