Like everything in Texas, storms are bigger here. When it rains, it storms.
And it has stormed a LOT this year in Houston. In fact, there has been so much rainfall this year that it could cover the entire state of Texas in 8 inches.
In April 2016, Houston and the surrounding areas suffered devastating floods. The floods killed 7 people, flooded 1,000 homes, and caused more than $5 billion in damage. This doesn't even count the thousands of people who were displaced as a result of the floods, having lost their belongings, their homes, and their cars.
As a Texas-based company with headquarters in Houston, HostGator witnessed the devastation of the floods first hand. While our Houston office was not damaged and the majority of our employees did not experience severe damage, others were affected by the disaster. The weekend of the floods, many of our Houston support staff couldn't make it in to work, let alone out of their homes.
One of our senior developers lost her home and car, and had to temporarily move in with family while she traveled on foot to and from her home to salvage her belongings and care for her animals.
Because of the heartache our team member experienced and the loss and tragedy experienced by the greater Houston area, we wanted to do something positive for our local community.
We've done cause marketing campaigns before, but this time it was much closer to home. Our staff had volunteered at the Houston Food Bank before, and we knew they were working hard to help families displaced by the floods, so it was a good fit. We decided to host a one-day promotional point-of-sale campaign where we donated $3 for every web hosting plan purchased to the Houston Food Bank. To help boost sales, we offered a 60% off promotion for all of our web hosting plans plus reduced prices for select domains.
The day of the sale, we hosted banners across all of our main site pages informing people of the sale in bright orange.
To promote the sale, we used all of our marketing channels available. We gave our affiliates a heads up with exclusive early access to share on their networks and sites. We promoted heavily via digital marketing and social media. We emailed our current customers and blog subscribers. We blogged about it. We posted in the local reddit forums, and shared on all of our brand social media.
We shared the typical ads and marketing language that we were having a sale, but what made our promotion unique is that we revealed how the floods affected us as a company. Whenever a company of our size has a support issue, you can see the ripple effects on social media as customers complain about the long wait times. We acknowledged the delay in our blog, and we also shared how our employees were affected, such as the ones who couldn't leave home, or the one who lost her home.
Our blog had a heavier message, but it ended on an uplifting note, as we were able to share how a fellow team member, Development Manager Austin Naremore, had quickly set up a gofundme campaign, and word quickly spread throughout our company of over 800 to go and donate. We included the donation widget on our blog, too, while the fundraiser was open. In under 14 hours, her colleagues, friends, and the broader HostGator community rallied to raise $7500, surpassing the initial goal of $5,000.
On social we took a more fun approach and used lifestyle content to promote the sale. We took our alligator mascot Snappy to the grocery store and took photos of him surrounded by canned food. We helped our customers feel good about their part in helping Houston flood victims, using messaging like "You buy, we give – this is a sale you can feel good about!"
We ended up raising $5,000 for the Houston Food Bank, which equates to 15,000 meals. The gofundme campaign raised $7500 in under 14 hours, surpassing the initial goal of $5,000 by 50%.
The day of the sale was our best social day of the month, with a 25% lift in site visits.
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