Click Frenzy Case Stucy

Copywriting for clients – Long form example: 1500+ words

Case Study: Moving forward after the click frenzy for other businesses

Click Frenzy – The Scenario

Click Frenzy was designed as a 24-hour online mega sale based on a sales aggregation model where dozens of major and minor retailers offered discounts on select products that could be purchased online via the Click Frenzy portal.

The retailers would benefit from an enormous advertising and PR campaign which saw Grant Arnott, the Click Frenzy face appear on virtually every major current affairs television program just prior to the event.

The idea essentially being to both help retailers move stock online as well as increase the online presence for many merchants.

Timeline

Lead up to 7pm AEDT 20 November 2012

  • Major advertising including traditional media and most social media platforms
  • PR campaign
  • Independent retailers, according to Smartcompany, paid anywhere from $1500 set up plus $750 per listing, up to at least $30k or more that major retailers paid for featured advertising
  • Potential customers were encouraged to register their interest prior to the event, up until just a few hours before the start only 250 000 customers had been registered, in the final couple of hours a further 550 000 registrations were received
  • It has been reported that 20 servers were available for the event
  • The content management system installed for the Click Frenzy website was a commercially available, off-the-shelf system
Online Shopping cart

Online Shopping

7pm AEDT 20 November 2012

  • Click Frenzy event commenced
  • Almost immediately the 20 servers were inundated with almost 2 million simultaneous hits and failed

7pm-9:30pm AEDT 20 November 2012

  • It took 2 ½ hours for an apparent additional 30 servers to be all online to ease traffic congestion
  • Social media, particularly Facebook and Twitter experienced an influx of negative messages, many of which were deleted by the owner at the time.

7:40pm AEDT approx 20 November

  • Facebook Post: (Forty minutes into the sale, Grant Arnott {Click Frenzy CEO} advised via Facebook he would make an announcement about their site issues shortly). Everybody, this is Grant Arnott of Click Frenzy. We will be issuing a statement shortly about what happened in the first 30 minutes of our event, which we understand is unprecedented – meanwhile, Click Frenzy is available for you to browse and purchase from (which for the most part was incorrect)
  • Facebook Post: We know you’re frustrated! Please bear with us!

8pm AEDT 20 November 2012

  • One hour after the sale start and crash, Click Frenzy started individually listing direct website links on Facebook to direct buyers to the retailers’ sites. This was not an exhaustive list as many retailers were not listed.

8:20 AEDT approx 20 November 2012

  • Facebook Post: CLICK FRENZY – STATEMENTFirstly, I would like to issue an apology to anyone who has been inconvenienced and frustrated by the technical issues relating to the inaugural Click Frenzy 24 hour online sale.

    The technical directors, developers and infrastructure specialists involved in this inaugural event are working to get to the root of what occurred with the wave of traffic at 7pm. I am not in a position to describe exactly what has occurred yet as the teams involved are working on the solution first to resolve any problems. We will provide answers as soon as they are available. We will continue to issue updates.

    Kind regards,

    Grant Arnott

21 November 2012

  • Media speculation and discussion rife regarding Click Frenzy dilemma

7:00am AEDT 22 November 2012

  • Facebook Post: Thanks for coming to our page, and sharing your feedback. We understand you have concerns about the Click Frenzy event, and we are determined to respond to you as quickly as we can. This is taking some time but we are getting there and will respond. If you would like to leave a comment regarding your experience with Click Frenzy, this is the place to do it. Thanks again.

6:20 AEDT 22 November 2012

  • Facebook Post: Thanks for your feedback. We are sorry for the frustration and disappointment some of you experienced during our Click Frenzy sales event. Our first priority is to address and understand these concerns. It’s important to know that your personal information has not and will not be rented or sold to third parties and that all customer data is kept in a separate and secure system and was never compromised nor at risk. If you’d like to unsubscribe, please send an email to privacy@clickfrenzy.com.au.

 

Click Frenzy Failures

Essentially the failures noted above and in complaints via social media can be summarised as:

  1. Excessive marketing and not enough bandwidth. The technological capabilities are very evident in sites such as the Melbourne Cup site and the Ticketek site who generally continue to deliver even under similar loadings, therefore, there are gaps to be closed in this area.
  2. The single point of failure involved a lack of technical redundancies in servers and response too slow, a further 30 servers were finally available and linked in 3-4 hours after the start of the event
  3. The content management system used by Click Frenzy was an off the shelf design which included some design flaws such as actual content not starting until after Line 500 of the code and large quantities of ’Cascading Style Sheet’ (CSS) restated on every page. These flaws would have slowed down the site and reinforce the immaturity of the venture. They would have also negatively impacted on the Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) of the site. If there is no intent to repeat the experiment, this is not such an issue, however any longevity and credibility looked for in the broader internet world would not be forthcoming.
  4. There were also some gaps in experience shown with coding issues such as clickfrenzy.com.au being the one path coded initially, typing clickfrenzy.com.au into a search bar without the www would not have accessed the site.
  5. The end retailers’ lack of experience resulted in not only Click Frenzy portal problems, but slow response and crashes of home pages of many merchants due to the high volume of traffic. Some of the merchants featured good responses such as Myer, by redirecting traffic via Facebook and Twitter to their online shop.
  6. Once consumers actually accessed the deals, there was some strong feedback stating that many buyers were disappointed that the stock on offer in many cases could be purchased cheaper elsewhere at places like discount department stores. Other complaints were that the stock was old eg winter boots on sale, or obviously hard to move unsaleable items for still considerable prices.

Repercussions

Need

Based on the enormous level of interest this event has created, there is obviously a huge demand for online shopping in Australia. The public want this and traditional retailers are missing out on some very motivated shoppers, however there still appears to be a lack of will or preparedness to meet the online need. Similarly, there seems to be a lack of technical expertise to deliver successful online outcomes, or could it be that some retailers are loathe to pay for successful online outcomes?

The worst scenario would be that the negative aspects of this venture stop others from trying and customers from buying.

Introductions

Events such as Click Frenzy can be a double edged sword. The high level of mainstream media has attracted many new users to the online world. After this event, it may have turned many of these ‘newbies’ off the idea and even turned off a few old hands.

Trust

There are several issues relating to trust which may be unresolved since the Click Frenzy event.

Trust in the systems and infrastructure raised the thought process of why would you choose to buy from an Australian retail online site that fails, when you can go to an international site which has longevity and trust inbuilt like Amazon etc. Events which Click Frenzy has based itself on have been very successful in the USA for a number of years and in the UK, which shows it can be a successful venture when handled well.

An analogy on trust could be likened to a Boxing Day sale. The price is right, there are hundreds of consumers lined up at the door –what if they won’t open…there’s no issue with the stock, the price or the buyers, it was a lack of foresight on the part of the retailer to check their door locks before the sales day…but it could also spell a removal of trust by the consumer, will they question their ability to get out of the building if they do eventually get in? Will that be enough to stop them wanting to try for one of these sales again? In fact a physical issue arose in the past with crushes and people being hurt trying to get the one $50 TV valued at $600 or the $100 refrigerator reduced from $1000. This was a real problem when retailers offered only 1 or 2 on the floor on the day of the sale and everything else was only mildly reduced. Legislation is now in place to ensure there are sufficient numbers in each store for advertised specials to reduce this kind of fevered response which engenders risk to consumers.

Based on some social media complaints that there were insufficient reductions on stock to warrant such PR spin, trust in the actual merchandise for sale is suffering

Once there is one issue with trust, many will question all aspects of the Click Frenzy model. Whether it be products offered, merchants, financial security or site stability, they will be scrutinised next time around before commitments are made.

From a personal data security aspect, it has been reported on ZDNET.com that for more than 12 hours the ‘…entire directory of the Click Frenzy website was left world readable, including…log-in username and password.’ This break in security is unconscionable in the business world in 2012 and could be expected to have far reaching repercussions both legally as well as in future sales endeavours.

Repeat

Click Frenzy was groundbreaking in Australia, however as many of the experiences were not pleasant will there be another? Not only end customers but merchants may not be happy to revisit next time. This would not be an issue if Click Frenzy is only in it for a one off money skim, but if they are in for the long haul they will need better technical solutions and great customer service recovery methods to win customers and merchants back.

Risk

Can a Click Frenzy event offer risk to a consumer? Other than frustration, there is also the risk of compromised personal security. However it is unclear if there will be any government intervention.  Should online retailers regulate themselves to ensure security and if they don’t would that make consumers remove themselves from the equation and just stop clicking…or would that be like assuming no one would play the pokies if they actually knew the odds of winning

Copy Cats

Click Frenzy may have been the first, but they will definitely not be the last. Now the ground has been broken, there are many other organisations with the capability ready to line up and run their own versions. Those with their existing infrastructure have nothing to lose in following the trend.

Positive Outcomes

Contrary to much of the feedback on social media, there were many customers who were able to purchase items and were very happy with them.

Similarly, many retailers did achieve what they set out to do. The ones who appeared the most positive were those who already operate in the online universe. Many merchants were happy with the increased traffic and some, including DealsDirect and OO.com.au both indicated they had their highest sales day all year

How it could have been done better- lessons learned

At the most basic level, the strongest takeaway from all of this is they key to success is preparation, preparation, preparation.

Similarly, don’t promise more than you can deliver, it is better to under promise.

From a technical viewpoint, you must have good hosting (overseas hosting just won’t cut it). Merchants need to plan with technical experts to get back up plans right, have contingencies and redundancies. Putting together potential numbers and tripling them to determine the potential maximum needs to stop burning future customers

Lessons LearnedIn the days after it was all over, any links that users had, which were to merchants’ websites via Click Frenzy (e.g. www.clickfrenzy.com.au/Myer), redirected the user to a 404 ‘not found’ page. This is a poor vehicle for future customer service, the best practice design for this would be to redirect to the merchants’ home pages at least. This was subsequently changed over 5 days after the sale to keep the user on the single Click Frenzy content page which at least has links to the merchants’ pages.

By far the greatest lesson to be learned is managing Social Media. It took 40 minutes before a bland announcement was issued on Facebook acknowledging there was a problem. It took almost another hour for a quick apology with little detail to appear on Facebook and then a whole day and half to issue a formal ‘thankyou for your feedback’ type post with little acknowledgement of their own role in the frustration of their customers. Very much a case of too little, too late. But the worst faux pas of all was of not acknowledging and even worse, deleting complaint posts. Many, many were deleted rather than being responded to. One of the most enduring customer service lessons is service recovery of a disgruntled customer. Sort out their issue, leave them feeling good and they will become your greatest advocate. This lesson could have made a huge difference to outcomes and a future for Click Frenzy.

If there is to be a future for Click Frenzy, there is a lesson in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) to be extracted from the rubble. Search engines love company, and the SEO value of what has happened is priceless. You just can’t buy that kind of exposure. Before the actual sale, they had 12000 Facebook fans, this went up to over 20000 fans, then there were 26500 talking about them. Similarly, there were innumerable quality SEO blogs, online newspapers and other media outlets all talking about them. These quality backlinks would ensure a top page 1 ranking in Google or any other search engine. By keeping the website up to date, maybe putting one blog entry a week or month to maintain it’s visibility, would ensure the Click Frenzy website is ranked highly for whenever they wish to revisit the event. However, a mere 4 days after the event, the site was reduced to a single content page and all the ‘SEO juice’ is being wasted.

Whatever way the merchants came to be involved in Click Frenzy, some are showing their naivety regarding the world of online marketing. Some were making broad statements that Australian online retail isn’t yet able to handle this type of event- in reality it is just Click Frenzy who was not yet able to handle it. If retailers wish to use this event as an excuse not to get involved in the online world, they will be left behind.