Case Study: Mint.com Takes a Fresh Approach
"We know everything about your finances here at Mint," Wells says. "But we don't know who you are, and we don't capture any demographic or behavioral information on you, other than what we see in the way you use your money."
So the single-deployment e-mail campaign saw recipients evenly and randomly divided into three groups. One group received no incentive. The second and third groups, whose social networking resulted in three friends or family members signing up, got either the iPod or access to the beta program.
"We're a free service, and our business model is lead generation," Wells says. "So it's very important that we acquire new users cost effectively. And referrals from friends and word-of-mouth is not only the highest praise we get, but it's a very, very cost-effective channel."
The beta program incentive won handily. "It goes back to the nature of our users," Wells says. "They're a very passionate, very engaged group. And particularly the slice of our users that we were mailing to. So the privileged access and the advance sneak peek component of what we were offering … [was] something that was very motivating to them because it meant that not only were they going to see it first, but they knew that it would be a step up in their ability to better manage their finances."
Also, she says, Mint.com's marketing efforts probably will continue as they were, despite the fact that Mountain View-based Intuit, the makers of Quicken and TurboTax, bought Mint.com in September. "So expect us to apply this same successful approach, just across a much wider audience of many more millions of users together."