System76 is a Linux computer manufacturer that designed POP!_OS (Pop!, for short), an operating system for software developers, makers and computer science professionals. Pop! has a devoted user base who appreciate the operating system’s flexibility. System76 also sells custom-built Linux computers.
System76 was looking for innovative ways to get as many people as possible to download its free operating system and give the company feedback about the OS, which System76 could then use to fine-tune their product. System76 also planned to use these testimonials to encourage others to demo the OS, and to build a database of top-of-funnel leads. They decided to run a social contest and give away 100 “small” prizes, including company swag, and two grand prizes: a 3D printer and an all-expenses-paid trip to visit the company’s Denver headquarters.
Keep reading to learn everything System76 did to build and run the contest that exceeded their expectations.
System76 set an attainable goal
“We wanted to motivate developers, engineers, and linux-users to give the OS a try,” says Louisa Bisio, System76’s marketing director. But that was just the first step. “We also wanted users to be able to share their experience on social media to draw exposure, providing us with public feedback,” she says.
System76 used ShortStack’s Lead Collection and Email Automation Features
System76 made great use of ShortStack’s features. “We needed a way to remind people to provide a testimonial after they’d tried the OS for 7 days,” says Bisio.
System76 was able to send a series of emails to users reminding them to share their experience and, at the same time, explaining the incentives.
ShortStack explained how a contest could help: People are always motivated to share their email address if there’s a chance they’ll win a prize. While the incentives were already in place, System76 needed a platform that could host several key contest components to drive the strong social media campaign. System 76 wanted:
1. Easy shareability
System 76 utilized ShortStack’s “refer-a-friend” feature to award additional points to people who shared the contest.
2. Targeted email reminders for people who were close to submitting
System76 used ShortStack’s autoresponders and scheduled email to send messages like, “You’ve tried the OS now tell us what you think and be entered to win a prize.”
3. Contest landing-page hosting
System76 published their contest as a landing page on ShortStack’s secure platform.
4. Social-media-driven testimonial entries
Since it’s easy to share links to campaigns built with ShortStack, System76 was able to promote their contest, making it possible to collect testimonials which the company plans to share on its website and social channels.
5. Lead collection
Because System76 opted to require contest participants to submit an email address in order to gain access to the OS, they were able to build a segmented list of new users.
6. Random winner selection
Choosing a winner had previously been a manual process for System76 contests but for this contest, they employed ShortStack’s “pick random entries” feature.
“Since anyone can download the OS at any time for free, in order to remind people to provide a testimonial, ShortStack worked with us to build a landing page that collected new user’s email addresses before linking them to download the OS,” she says. “The next step was to send everyone who entered an autoresponder with a link to download the operating system,” says Bisio. From there, Bisio set up a series of scheduled emails so only new people who downloaded the OS would get an email reminder seven days after demoing the OS to provide their feedback. “Then we sent a final reminder to the full list, thanking everyone for entering and to remind the final group to provide feedback,” says Bisio. System76 was one of the first companies to use ShortStack’s autoresponder and scheduled email features. System76 sent a total of four emails.
System76 learned about its users
System76 collected more than 550 leads and, more useful for the company, 181 strong Pop! testimonials. “We ended up with testimonials that were very detailed, many of them were paragraphs long,” says Louisa. “People who entered told us how they used our product, what features they would keep, and other things they’d like to see” she adds. “It is very valuable information for us and for other interested Pop! users.”
System76 collected more than 550 leads and, more useful for the company, 181 strong Pop! testimonials
To improve Pop!, System76 wanted to know how specific user types (e.g., developers, roboticists) use the operating system and what software they most frequently accessed. “On the entry form, we asked people to share their job title with us and this was displayed along with their testimonial,” Bisio says. “Now we have this extremely valuable material we can use to show people in similar fields how Pop! can help improve their respective workflow.”
ShortStack provided an exportable database with all the information collected, making it easy for the System76 team members to access.
Why System76! loves Shortstack
The team reviewed our design from start to finish, and gave us advice about how to optimize the user experience using features we might not have thought to use.
“We used to do all of this manually,” says Bisio. Per social media compliance, she explains, every entry from each social media channel was collected and graded manually. “Shortstack automated a lot of this for us, but also provided social entries in one single location.” Bisio reached out to several companies whose software she thought would allow her to build the contest she envisioned. But only one was willing to guide her during the campaign-building process and offer a customized solution: ShortStack.
“Every other company I was in touch with just forwarded me a ‘get started’ video,” she says. “I had a very specific list of items this contest needed and Shortstack was able to provide a live demo that showed us how versatile the platform is, answering all of our questions.” While System76’s in-house team built the campaign, Bisio says she appreciated how responsive ShortStack’s support team was during the process.
“The team reviewed our design from start to finish, and gave us advice about how to optimize the user experience using features we might not have thought to use,” says Bisio. “We had help during the whole process, and I look forward to using Shortstack for the next contest.”
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