Use 1 April to your ecommerce advantage
April is about making people laugh, but also about your brand exposure, sharing your content and generating backlinks. Additionally, you can get some media coverage, depending on the nature of your business and your hoax. Be funny, but also helpful and innovative.
Let your online business stand out! Here’s how.
Have you heard…
… of Domino’s canned pizza or the YouTube shuts down prank? Did you know that Sony launched headphones for cats and ASOS Australia clip-on man buns? Or you may have been interested in purchasing Goggles released by the Guardian to see reality from a conservative or liberal standpoint? These are examples of pranks carried out by companies to celebrate 1 April.
But there are even more innovative, pranky ideas. Twitter announced it would remove vowels from its brand name. Allegedly it planned on releasing two services: the free one (Twttr) could be used to send tweets in consonants only, and the premium one (Twitter) for $5 per month would offer the possibility to send regular posts with all the letters of the alphabet.
And there’s Amazon Dash
Amazon Dash is a big button that syncs with certain products around your house, e.g. laundry powder, rubbish bags, razor blades and other items that need regular replenishment. The button is a physical counterpart of Amazon’s one-click-to-buy feature. If you place your buttons next to the relevant product, you can press them to wirelessly repurchase a new batch whenever you run out. Convenient, right?
As the Wall Street Journal explains, the button has an adhesive strip on the back or fits into a plastic clip. You can set it up with the Amazon mobile shopping app, connect it to your home Wi-Fi network and assign specific products and quantities to be ordered with each click.
What’s the takeaway from Amazon’s hoax?
It’s a good example of how to get media mentions, social shares, inbound links, brand awareness and free publicity. There was another strategy that Amazon tried out for April Fools’ Day, by changing its home page to a retro 1999 look.
This is how you serve your visitors an outstanding experience that cannot be overlooked.
Curious about the Cross-Border Matchmaker and what Google prepared for April Fools’ Day?
Google is a gold mine of well thought-out, funny and memorable April Fools’ jokes.
For example, in 2017 the company announced that Google Cloud Platform was to expand to Mars. Allegedly the platform was adding a new region … located outside of Planet Earth. The announcement said:
We’re looking to the future cloud infrastructure needed for the exploration and ultimate colonization of the Red Planet.
The company’s first interplanetary data center was affectionately labelled “Ziggy Stardust”. It was supposed to power “a dedicated extraterrestrial cloud region” that would serve as “an important node in an extensive network throughout the solar system”.
The “Google Planets team” were involved in the project and a suitable location in Gale Crater was found near the landing site of NASA’s Curiosity rover.
The best thing of all, though, was Google Cloud Storage’s launching of a new Earth-Mars Multi-Regional location. It allowed users to store planet-redundant data across Earth and Mars.
1 April in ecommerce
Ever heard of Famous Smoke Shop’s electronic cigar sampler? You just have to plug it into your computer via USB and click on the cigar of your choice. You will be able to enjoy a great tobacco flavour. Since the device uses advanced algorithms to stimulate the tobacco manufacturer’s blends, you will be able to sample any blend and try any cigar before you purchase it.
Sounds great for cigar lovers, doesn’t it? So this is what Famous Smoke Shop announced on 1 April: the USB powered cigar sampler. Much as many were overcome by initial enthusiasm, we soon realised that there was no technology yet for this interesting invention.
The shop added a call-to-action for all those interested in pre-ordering USB-cigars, but as soon as they clicked, they learnt the truth: it was an April Fools’ Day prank.
If you like such innovative ideas, check further examples below:
- ModCloth’s, an online clothing retailer, offered a how-to guide for using toupees in fashionable, creative ways, e.g. toupee shoulder pads. This DIY product was delivered via Instagram so the pictures definitely helped to make the hoax outstanding.
- Lululemon’s spray-on yoga pants: a spray can, resembling furniture polish, should contain enough material for over 1,000 pairs.
- Gap sent an email with the subject line Haha and made a 35% off offer to shoppers who entered the promo code HAHA at checkout.
- IHL Group tried to get customers’ attention with a fake announcement that Amazon was buying over 1,000 U.S. Postal Service locations.
- A hit joke by American Eagle ended up turning into a real project. American Eagle announced a new clothing line for dogs which met with such excitement that the company decided to do pet fashion for real.
Make people laugh: use humour in your marketing strategies
Worried that you need to be a big player such as Google or Amazon with unlimited budget and resources to pull off April Fools’ Day? Far from it! If you create humorous and relevant content, showing the unique personality of your brand, you’ll increase the chances of your subscribers loving you.
Keep looking for inspiration for April Fools’ Day. You can come up with a press release, banner or an email campaign. You can break a record on 1 April. Yet think like a marketer, not a comedian. Don’t believe that if a joke is funny, no matter how inappropriate, it will be a big success. At least not for marketers.
1 April jokes are great but not all of them will go down well
31 March 1940. Philadelphia’s Franklin Institute issues a press release that the world will end the next day. The release is followed by an announcement on the radio station KYW: Your worst fears that the world will end have been confirmed by astronomers of the Franklin Institute…. Scientists predict that the world will end at 3 P.M. Eastern Standard Time tomorrow. This is no April Fool joke.
The public go crazy. Local authorities need to deal with frantic phone calls. Then the Franklin Institute assures everyone that there is no such prediction. The world finds out about the prankster, William Castellini, the Institute’s press agent. Soon afterwards, he is fired.
Another example is West Elm that used the subject line Thanks for your order! and a receipt from the future, offering up to 70% off a purchase. Some recipients took it seriously, worrying about identity theft, and expressed their displeasure with the brand on Facebook. As you can tell, there is quite a big risk that you may not hit the nail on the head.
The stories above are self-explanatory. You may want to win loads of publicity and attention thanks to your hoax, but think twice about whether this will do your business good. You may end up with some bad PR and a brand association that you do not really want.
So pull off an awesome prank, but make sure it is in line with your brand, products and what you want to achieve. Your prank must be funny and unique, but shouldn’t cause any anxiety to your subscribers. Otherwise, it may be very harmful and damage trust in your brand.
In a nutshell
1 April is a great opportunity to generate unusual and fun content with a big sharing potential. April Fools’ Day is great, you can make pranks, play the fool … and get away with it! So boost your brand recognition and check out some stunts that turned out legendary. Or simply go for a simple, humorous slant: it can be more than enough for a viral effect and some social media buzz.
- Some companies know how to produce great April Fools’ pranks that work to their brands’ advantage: study and learn from the best!
- Create a funny story with a viral potential.
- Make sure your joke is unique, but avoid situations that would be confusing or threatening to your audience.
If you have a good idea, test it. Loads of online content is produced and loads of products advertised on a daily basis, making it a challenge for businesses to stand out. However, why not use seasonal opportunities to grab your audience’s attention.
April Fools’ Day is a great way to use your creativity, show the uniqueness of your brand and make customers love you.
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