Ingersoll Rand Website Outage Case Study

Every business faces threats from numerous sources.  As part of most businesses strategic planning process a SWOT analysis is conducted to identify Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.  The use of a SWOT analysis can be quite useful, but often the tool only provides a macro look at the business.  Turning threats into opportunities can be done but it requires the right mindset, willingness to take risks and a team passionate about delivering results.  Below is a case study that outlines how Ingersoll Rand's Digital Marketing Team turned a threat into an opportunity.

What happens when your IT guys come in and say, “Sorry, we’re switching servers and your website will have to be down for 24-48 hours.”? After the normal amount of “That’s unacceptable” countered with “It is what it is”, most companies would start to find their best stick-figure-with-a-hard-hat graphic and get cranking on that familiar “Under Construction” page. Not the digital marketing team at Ingersoll Rand. We were determined to turn this negative into a positive.

We began to brainstorm. What could we offer our customers looking for more information without a site? When your website is down, all of your traffic is concentrated to a single experience - either a big ugly server error or the aforementioned landing page. Over time, we began to notice other sites and how they handled the issue. While we saw some creative ideas, most were very similar - a single page with a caution sign or customer service rep instructing the user to check back later.

We began to realize that the fact that all of our direct traffic, including referring websites, offline ads, and search engines, being sent to a single page was not a negative, but an opportunity - a rare opportunity to present a single message to all our customers, partners and employees who use the site every day.

But what should that message be? The obvious choice was social media. We could expose our audience to the social media outposts that make up our extended web presence. While it’s always a good idea to create connectivity through Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube, we wanted more. Knowing the outage would be short; the team felt it would be a great chance to run an experiment exploring one of our most controversial topics – direct sales via e-commerce.

We quickly began talking to our teams about logistics and setting up a store. As we talked to more people we learned that we had a good supply of slow moving and obsolete product and shortage of space in our warehouse. Since our channel partners weren’t interested in these products, this would minimize any channel conflict.

So, now we had a plan. We would take the opportunity to showcase our social media properties and introduce a new direct e-commerce store. Big steps for a 140 year old B2B industrial manufacturer!

The solution implemented by the Ingersoll Rand Digital Marketing Team turned the threat of a website outage into an opportunity to launch an e-commerce play and to engage customers via social media.  By shifting their perspective and thinking the team looked at the impact of the outage through a different lens.  They asked what are the positives impacts that could be derived from the site outage?  As mentioned above, the opportunity to present a single message to all customers, partners and employees was a unique opportunity that the outage presented.  Experimenting with e-commerce was something the team had wanted to do for some time, but building a large enough audience would take months.  Through the outage project, Shopir.com was born and launched to over 10,000 visitors in one day.

It was a total team effort.  The developers, creatives, interactives, strategists, e-commerce and other marketers all worked together to make the project a success and on a very short timeline.  The true lesson from what the Ingersoll Rand team did, is that when faced with a threat to your business, start by looking for the positives and the opportunities.  As was the case for this team, creative thinking and embracing risk led to an award winning result. The team was recognized at the 2012 Digital PR Awards for this project.  You can learn more about the project and the results by visitingIngersollrandproducts.com/Sitedown