At least one company is betting retailers are ready to use Twitter as a foundation for back to school and even Christmas holiday campaigns. The firm, CheapTweet, is combining search with social media and attracting dozens of niche retailers in the process.
CheapTweet feeds deals to its 15,000 Twitter followers throughout the day; some of those deals get special preference if they come from CheapTweet advertisers such as Best Buy and VacationRentals.com. The company's Twitter updates direct followers to offer pages on the CheapTweet site, and then through to the actual offer on the retailer's own property.
In addition to pushing offers to its Twitter followers, CheapTweet also serves visitors arriving from other channels. For example, a mother of two teens shopping for jeans might arrive at the site through an indexed CheapTweet page. On the landing page she would see indexed tweets from select apparel retailers alongside upsell and cross-sell offers from related CheapTweet vendors.
Vendors decide how deep the relationships with CheapTweet goes. In some cases retailers will pay for sponsored links and prominent placement on the CheapTweet page. In other cases CheapTweet selects retailers that are offering what it considers the best deals in order to attract a bigger Twitter audience. Some relationships may have an affiliate revenue share model, but right now all retail placements and terms are negotiated by Jenn Deering-Davis, who is the chief community officer at CheapTweet parent company Appozite, and administrator of the Twitter account.
Last week CheapTweet posted what it considers two major developments: it opened a relationship with Best Buy and also created a new service allowing retailers to host "stores" on its site. According to Deering-Davis, "we'll be engaging in sponsored Twitter conversations as part of this partnership, talking with the CheapTweet community about laptops and mobile phones, telling you more about a few of Best Buy's programs. Most importantly, we want to share some of Best Buy's best back-to-school deals."
A CheapTweet store puts a retailer's brand at the forefront and reduces CheapTweet branding to a small navigation bar. Brands such as Perpetual Kid, Overstock, and Vacation Rentals control the look and feel of their stores and can place their ads on the pages.
The stores offering also allows participating retailers to purchase sponsored links. It sells two types of ads: sponsored tweets and sidebar sponsorships. Advertisers buy on a CPM basis at a set rate for the placement they want, and media buys can be as small as 1,000 impressions to enable small stores to participate.
Gift retailer Perpetual Kid recently ran a contest on Twitter, and worked with CheapTweet to help promote it as a sponsored contest and featured tweet. According to the companies, @CheapTweet's link reached 37,244 unique people and @Perpetual_Kid's link reached 12,093 people, with an overall click-thru rate of 18 percent.
Hayes Davis, founder of Appozite, is betting his firm can be competitive even in a discount-obsessed environment by leveraging what he calls real-time retailing. That concept is exemplified by tweets such as one from small surf retailer BeckerSurf: On August 3 it posted about a big sale for surf boards, four days after posting a free shipping offer and seven days after a 10 percent off sale. As a retailer sees the response (or lack thereof) on Twitter and in the sales ledger, Davis notes, the offer can be updated in real-time.
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