Case Study: Online Charity Auctions Drive Results for LimoLinerJune 24, 2009 By Hallie Mummert, Editor-in-chief, Target Marketing
When you have a niche service for a niche audience, not to mention a niche marketing budget, more traditional marketing vehicles don’t always fit the job. In the case of LimoLiner, a luxury coach service for business executives and consumers traveling between Boston, Hartford, Conn., and New York, participating in online charity auctions not only delivers the right demographics, but also introduces the brand via a positive connection—helping prospects and customers support a worthy cause.
The Stoughton, Mass.-based marketer has been working with online charity auction service cMarket since fall 2007, says LimoLiner CEO Peter Pescatore. cMarket provides nonprofits and schools with the technology and support to run online charity auctions to raise funds; it also offers marketers the opportunity to reach the bidding audiences by placing their products and services in auctions where the fundraisers want additional items to round out their portfolios. Handled on a cost-per-acquisition basis, LimoLiner only pays a commission when its auction items complete the bidding process.
When it comes to selecting the right items to offer for auction, Pescatore can keep it simple. “We only offer one thing, and that’s transportation,” he says. “We make available two round-trip tickets between Boston and New York, with a value of $356. I work with cMarket to specify auctions reaching the metro New York and metro Boston areas.”
From a demographics perspective, Pescatore doesn’t have to do much more whittling to reach his target market. The audience is 63 percent female with an annual household income of $120,000 or more, and the largest group of bidders is between the ages of 40 and 55—which makes them likely to be business professionals and wealthy consumers who can afford an upscale alternative to train or plane travel between Boston and New York.
But Pescatore does have one preference. “I like to participate in the bigger and more organized nonprofits’ auctions because you get more advertising punch,” he says, explaining that such outfits put additional promotion behind their auction events, which gives his offer wider exposure.
During the past year, LimoLiner has put up ticket pairs for bid in 340 auctions, drawing more than 12,000 people from the firm’s auction item pages to its Web site. Of those visitors, a little more than half have gone on to buy tickets. What’s more, Pescatore’s data collection shows that each new customer tells upward of eight people about the service. “Now I like the 600 who bought a ticket because of the multiple referral effect that I’ll get from that, but the 12,000 or so who viewed the site are people who I may or may not have been able to reach with my limited marketing budget,” he says.