Ghirardelli Gets Sweet Results from Social Insights

The chocolate maker nearly doubles its on-page conversions by tracking "dark social."

Marketers know that consumers share online content, but they don't always know what is being shared. Content that is copied and pasted, or snippets of text from a brand's website, can fall through the cracks. Chocolate maker Ghirardelli, however, wanted more in-depth insight into the content that customers were sharing with each other.

With help from RadiumOne, an advertising platform provider, Ghirardelli added social sharing buttons embedded with a line of JavaScript to the recipes and tips section of its website to track the content that a user copies and pastes into an email or on a social site, for example. RadiumOne refers to such content that typically goes untracked as "dark social."

"We're trying to spend our marketing and advertising dollars as effectively as possible and so it's important that we know what our customers are interested in so that we can better reach them," says Chris Pemberton, digital brand manager at Ghirardelli. "After we standardized our social sharing buttons across the site as well as on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest [in Q3 2013], we were surprised to find that in a recent campaign, 84 percent of the sharing activity was dark social. What that means is 84 percent of total sharing activity had been hidden from us."

Specifically, the company learned that the number of users who copied and pasted recipe ingredients and instructions and sent them to friends was three times larger than the number of users who shared the whole recipe page on Pinterest and 12 times larger than those who shared the page on Facebook.

Based on those insights, Ghirardelli tweaked its campaign to incorporate more content that its analysis showed is popular with users. "When we factored in the dark social engagement and sharing activity," Pemberton notes, "our on-page conversions almost doubled."

The tracking technology "lets us create more relevant content for visitors and customers," he continues. "We're working to understand what we should focus on. People may want more information on milk chocolate or dark chocolate, for example."

Better insight into the phrases or keywords that visitors are sharing also helps guide the company's marketing and editorial team's decisions on what content to include or highlight on Ghirardelli's sites and strengthens its search engine marketing efforts, Pemberton adds.

The company's next step is to incorporate the tracking technology across the rest of its website, "As we implement [the technology] across more article and recipe pages, we can see more behaviors on our site and social networks," Pemberton says. "We want to capture as much dark social as possible, which will help us be as relevant as possible."