Facebook Test Shows Social Sharing of Birthdays (Zodiac Signs) Increase Conversions


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A new SeeWhy Research study has shown that using a website visitor’s birth date to target specific types of promotional email messages can increase conversions by up to 43%. The idea to test potential influence of signs of the zodiac on response and conversions came from an academic research paper published by the Manchester School of Management (UMIST), University of Manchester (UK).

Leveraging Facebook Login, the research team at SeeWhy conducted a series of tests where ecommerce shopping cart abandoners were targeted using real time remarketing emails segmented based on their date of birth. The split test, which ran during February 2011, was conducted on behalf of a leading US based ecommerce company, selling to consumers. The total population in the test was 93,000 consumers, which was segmented across the 12 signs of the Zodiac, and each sign had a treatment and control group. Each test was run until a 90% or greater confidence was achieved in the result.

For each segment, a three step email remarketing campaign was designed that focused on messaging and imagery, which would resonate with the characteristics of their corresponding sign of the Zodiac. Results were mixed, with some star signs showing only marginal lift, and others very significant lift. This suggests that the approach works, but that more research is required to devise appropriate treatment types for some of the lower performing segments.

The results also indicate that capturing a website visitor’s birth date is more significant than previously thought. Traditionally, birth date has been a difficult to gather, but adoption of Facebook’s Login social plugin has made this data more readily available. Ecommerce sites that implement Facebook Login enable their visitors to log in to the website using their Facebook credentials. When visitors log in, the ecommerce site can get access, with consent, to the visitor’s social graph, including their birth date.

Test results

For each segment, the SeeWhy Research team developed a hypothesis based on the research study published by the team at UMIST and well documented personal characteristics of each sign of the Zodiac. Each hypothesis attempted to match promotional treatments to distinctive segment characteristics, as follows:

Aries (Mar 21- Apr 19) – Arians are often considered to be pioneering types. These are your classic adopters of new products. Arians want to be the first to have the latest gadget or fashion. In the test, the email campaign focused on special editions, and invited visitors to join waiting lists for forthcoming products. Using ‘Be the first’ messaging was found to work well, resulting in increases in open rates of 35%, and increased conversions of 43% compared to the control group.

Taurus (Apr 20 – May 20) – The typical Taurus personality is strong and robust, with a sense of permanence. The remarketing emails to this segment were designed to focus specifically on the abandoned product’s reliability, and emphasize permanence and security with a discounted extended warranty offer. The test showed a lift of 7% over the control group.

Gemini (May 21 – Jun 20) – Geminis represent a very valuable segment, and are commonly thought of as the ‘The Twins.’ Geminis are good communicators, often repeating ideas gleaned from others. This indicates preponderance to sharing, so the research team hypothesis was that the campaign should leverage social sharing features in the remarketing email campaigns. In the test, Geminis were 18% more likely to share content when invited in the test email. In addition, the research showed that 7% of Geminis that purchased, bought twice, perhaps reflecting their twin nature.

Cancer (Jun 21 – July 22) – Cancer types are often considered to be the type of people that ‘Get things done,’ often through power of emotional commitment. They are also most likely to give gifts to friends. In the test email, social sharing and social offers were emphasized, aiming to encourage this segment to share using social sharing features in the email. Social sharing increased by 26%. In addition a ‘Buy as a gift’ promotional offer was also included, though this only resulted in an incremental 2% conversions.

Leo (Jul 23 – Aug 22) – Leos are considered to be proud, liking to be in the spot-light. In the test, the email focused on making the visitor the hero, and reinforcing their status as a leader and influencer. The email included a promotional offer which could be shared with friends via social sharing buttons. This segment saw a 21% increase in sharing compared with the control, and a 6% increase in conversions.

Virgo (Aug 23 -Sep 22) Virgos are often considered to be vulnerable, sometime teasing and reluctant to commit. The research hypothesis was that Virgos would respond best to endorsement through testimonial, and a series of strong customer testimonials were included in the remarketing emails to this segment. This campaign showed a lift in click through rates of 17%, but did not show any measurable lift in conversion over the control segment. While disappointing, the research team concluded that these visitors typify the ‘serial abandoner.’

Libra (Sep 23 – Oct 22) – Librans are considered to intellectually evaluate, and charm others into accepting their point of view. In the test, the email offer was focused on offering alternatives using a comparison table coupled with a limited time promotional offer. This fact-based approach generated incremental lift of 41%. It also suggests that following a purchase, Librans are great targets for soliciting reviews on purchases made, though this was not tested.

Scorpio (Oct 23 – Nov 21) – Scorpios are often thought to be passionate, rarely forgetting emotional rejection. The research team’s hypothesis was that Scorpios are afraid of missing the deal, so the test email campaign emphasized scarcity of the product. A 3% lift in conversion was shown over the control group. ‘Only 2 left at this price’ and ‘Don’t let it get away’ type of messaging is worth considering when targeting Scorpios.

Sagittarius (Nov 22 – Dec 21) Sagittarians are classic gatherers and hoarders of information, but can be indecisive. The treatment for this group focused on offering up detailed review content as part of the remarketing email, coupled with a time limited offer. Conversion lift for this group compared with the control was 14%.

Capricorn (Dec 22 – Jan 19) – Capricorns are very focused on money. The email campaign was designed to focus heavily on a promotional discount. The hypothesis was that Capricorns would avoid offers such as “Buy one and get one free,” preferring hard dollar savings. The test results demonstrated increases in conversions of up to 9% using this technique. This lift over the control group is lower than expected, but can be attributed to the broad effectiveness of discounts on conversions on many types of buyers.

Aquarius (Jan 20 – Feb 18) – Aquarians are followers of noble principles. The research indicated that charity linked promotions might work well with Aquarians, where a purchase is linked to a charitable donation. In the test, the email focused on a charity donation linked to the purchase of the product which had been abandoned in the shopping cart. The test results showed promise: an increase in open rates on promotional emails of up to 15% and an increase in conversions of 3%.

Pisces (Feb 19 – Mar 20) – Pisceans are often shy dreamers, and marketers can leverage this by tapping into more fantastical imagery that would normally be used. In the test campaign for this segment, emotive fantasy images were used and were demonstrated to be very effective in increasing click through rates, by up to 23%, though this did not result in any measurable increase in conversions. The research team concluded that it is important to carry the fantasy imagery through onto the landing page in order to see this incremental lift carried through to conversions.

Examples of the different emails used as part of the test are available on request. Please send an email to press@seewhy for a copy of the full report including creative examples of the emails used in the test.

If you have tested birth date segmentation or would like to share your thoughts, please use the comments section below. We’d love to get your thoughts on this research.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Charles Nicholls
Charles Nicholls is a social commerce expert and board advisor to several e-commerce startups. He founded SeeWhy, a real-time personalization and machine learning platform, which was sold to SAP. Serving as SVP of product, he built SAP Upscale Commerce, an e-commerce platform for direct-to-consumer brands and the mid-market. Today, Charles serves as chief strategy officer for SimplicityDX, a commerce experience company. He has worked on strategy and projects for leading ecommerce companies worldwide, including Amazon, eBay, Google and many others.


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