Monday, September 29, 2008

Blogger Campaign Case Study: HP's 31 Days of the Dragon

I'm really surprised that this has gotten more attention, but Hewlitt-Packard recently published some incredible results for its recent '31 Days of the Dragon' blogger promotion for its HDX Dragon laptop. Here's the claimed results:

  • Sales of the HDX Dragon increasing by 84%
  • Overall 10% increase in PC sales
  • 14% increase in traffic to HP's site

What HP did was give an HDX Dragon laptop to 31 bloggers, letting each one give away the laptop to its readers, in a week-long contest. Each day, a new blog started a new week-long contest. HP's PR firm contacted me about the program's results just as I was leaving for SBMU, so I didn't have time to get much info from them about the promotion, but they did answer a couple of questions for me:

Q - How did you determine which bloggers to reach out to? Did you go by perceived traffic or a certain niche, etc?

A - The 31 bloggers that were selected to participate in the program are widely known as influencers of the online community. By teaming with Buzz Corps, an Austin-based influencer marketing agency, we were able to interact with these selected bloggers on a level that surpassed a superficial business relationship. Buzz Corps’ established relationships were able to provide us with the opportunity to engage the bloggers on a more intimate level.

We worked with Buzz Corps to choose sites or blogs of all sizes– some with several million readers and others with a narrow, more focused approach. All of the bloggers we worked with had great content and were written by influential people. In fact, key considerations for Buzz Corps in identifying these influencers included that they kept up with several hundred products and services a year, had huge followings, and their readers trust their posts, reviews and recommendations.

Working with Buzz Corps allowed us to leverage their existing relationships to introduce bloggers and their communities to HP and the HDX Dragon system and, ultimately, initiate a conversation around the Dragon system. We were pleased with how successfully we were able to engage the online community and enter the social media space through conversation and getting the online community directly involved with all aspects of the product and campaign.

Q - Love the fact that you have numbers to back up the campaign's success, as this is what my readers are telling me they want, case studies where ROI can be quantified. But how did you measure an 84% increase in sales, and 10% overall? Specifically, how does this track back as being a direct result of your campaign to target influential bloggers? Also, how did you measure the 14% increase in site traffic?

A - Our number one means of tracking results came in sales and we reported the sales and site traffic numbers through month-over-month data from We set out to sell the HDX Dragon, a flagship product that wasn’t selling 9 months after it’s launch. This campaign drove people to to look at the HDX Dragon more closely. Another interesting result that came from the campaign was the lasting traction that we garnered-- not only did these results break sales records, but participating sites saw a steady increase in traffic as much as 5x following the 2 months after the "31 Days of the Dragon" contest ended.

Additionally, we tracked well over 380,000 links on Google using the exact phrase “31 Days of the Dragon” with no media spend and the estimated collective reach is well in excess of 49 million from the 31 participating sites, reciprocal links and other sites covering/mentioning the giveaway since its inception. By taking these numbers to the lowest common denominator, we’re able to provide good, hard, honest numbers.

Apparently, none of the bloggers were paid to participate in this promotion, but due to the high retail price of the laptop ($4,500-5,000), Buzz Corps did make a payment to the winners to help them offset the taxes they will have to pay for receiving the laptop.

Overall, the results are very impressive, but not shocking to those of us that are active in this space. What I would like to see HP do next is use the success of the '31 Days of the Dragon' promotion as incentive to develop stronger ties with bloggers, especially the company's blogging evangelists. It's great to boost awareness/sales by giving stuff away, but simply taking the time to create and cultivate relationships with bloggers and blogging customers can work wonders as well.

Congrats to HP on a very successful blogger promotion. Let's hope this success leads to blogger outreach initiatives from here.

I am a social media consultant that helps companies utilize blogs and social media as a way to connect with their customers, and grow their businesses. If you would like to learn more about how I can help you do the same, click here for an overview of the services I provide, click here for my bio, and if you have any questions, feel free to email me.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this. I love, love, love when companies share ROI information that actually makes sense!

The more I hear about social media and blogger-outreach programs that are successful, the more clear it becomes that measuring actual sales and simple site traffic makes the most sense. There's really no need to track contrived promotional downloadable stuff or attempt to make people pay for content to measure ROI.

I think the lesson in all of this is for companies to continue measuring ROI for social media the way they measure ROI for everything else - in terms of sales.

Thanks again for posting this, Mack. I'm building an arsenal of statistics and this one is definitely a keeper!

Anonymous said...

This is an interesting approach. While simply giving free systems away to bloggers might seem a bit like bribery ... giving it to them to give away to readers (on their terms) seems like perfectly fair play. And it's like three generations people touched virally ... the blogger, the blog readers, AND all the people that the winning reader tells about the HP system. That wasn't factored in the ROI, but you gotta believe those 31 winners will tell quite a few people about their awesome experience getting a free ~4k system. Pretty clever.

Amber Naslund said...

Mack, thanks for sharing this! And thanks to HP for sharing the information, too.

I do think that ROI is different for every company - it all depends on what you want out of it. HP had a critical piece in place: A goal. They knew they wanted to drive sales for a specific product, and focused their social media efforts on building relationships with customers to drive that. Kudos to them for not only having a clear objective, but for carefully measuring the results.

Keep these awesome case studies coming, Mack. We need more pros like you to be shining the spotlight on the hard and fast results, whether sales related or otherwise.

Anonymous said...

What the hell makes this computer so expensive?!

I Can't Keep Up said...

Thanks for posting this Mack. What a great example of a creative viral campaign. Hopefully it will help others come up with unique ideas too.

I am wondering, were there notable reviews, mentions in the participating bloggers' posts? How they reviewed the machine, did they provide both kinds of constructive criticism?

Mack Collier said...

Shannon I am there with you, we NEED more case studies with quantifiable ROIs that we can point to.

Travisv you are right, a well-executed blogger program like this will always work, for the reasons you explained. And you're also right in that the WOM from this is a huge additional benefit. But I just want to see companies dig deeper and actually create and cultivate relationships with bloggers, instead of simply giving stuff away.

Amber, thanks for the support ;) Deb I'm not sure, but if you go to the 31 Days of the Dragon site that I linked to, I believe they link to the 31 blogs that gave away one of the laptops. I got the impression that they didn't really review the laptop, just blogged about how the giveaway would run on their blog. But some of the blogs may have reviewed the laptop as well.

Anonymous said...

First, Mack thank you for posting about this. We at Buzz Corps are big fans of yours and it is an honor to be mentioned here.

Second, anyone who is interested can see the full slide deck with a lot more detail on this case study here:
31 Days of the Dragon

On the reviews/mentions/posts question, we gave them the option to review the product if they wished and many took us up on it.

Every one of the sites did post about it to alert their readers about their contests. But more than that, they developed all of their own creative and ran a full online campaign including developing banners, widgets, landing pages and other elements.

If you do a search for "31 days of the dragon" you will see the outstanding content they created in the first few pages of results.

Thanks again

shazmazz said...

very informative post mack, thank you. as for everyone else: shannon, amber, and mack of course, i am in desperate need in another quantifiable social media success story. can anyone give me pointers to any? it seems that the hp 31 days of the dragon is the only one out there...
theres this whole list of examples of brands using social media (, but i cant find any campaign results... plz help.
please post here or to :
thanks again mack