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by Alex Palmer | January 19, 2012
Using targeted consumer incentives, American Dairy Queen Corp. (ADQ), which franchises the Dairy Queen quick-serve restaurant chain, was able to massively grow its customer fan club and encourage customer loyalty over the long term. The company had found success over the years in building its Blizzard Fan Club, in which program members receive emailed special offers, discounts, and news. 

But while the club had grown to 2.8 million members, the company’s marketing team saw an opportunity for greater growth, not only in membership but in the level of engagement from those who were already part of the program.

Working with the email service Silverpop Engage and the digital marketing agency space150, ADQ developed a campaign designed to increase the number of coupons printed via email by fan club members by 300,000, as well as grow the number of fans by 300,000 overall.

“We sat down with our art directors, designers, and copywriters to determine how we can make that technology work,” says Kristin Olson, media planner for space150.

Sent out were emails offering those who signed up for the Blizzard Fan Club the option to post a buy-one-get-one-free coupon on their Facebook pages using Silverpop’s Share-to-Social feature. The coupons were offered for the month of July—a first for the company, which usually saves such offers for the cooler months, when business is slower.

To ensure the coupons went viral, ADQ offered free ice cream for a year to the individual who got the most friends to sign up and made a promotion for five other participants chosen at random.

“We wanted our current customers to share the good news about the coupons,” says Olson. “Our consumers are really passionate about the product and were really instrumental in achieving our aggressive goals.” 

By all measures, the incentives, combined with the social offerings, worked far better than the team had hoped. In the nine months since ADQ's implementation of the new Silverpop tool, the Blizzard Fan Club had grown by nearly 1 million members. 

The team smashed the 300,000 goal for both new members and printing of coupons, by 22 percent and 37 percent, respectively. The month in which the buy-one-get-one-free offer ran was the highest trafficked month in the history of the restaurant chain's website, www.dq.com.

“Everyone seems to have a Dairy Queen story and likes sharing that with each other on Facebook,” says Olson. “So tying in our most loyal fan club members with social media, that’s the sweet spot.”