Tweets like that make it pretty clear that Girl Scout cookies don’t have an awareness problem. Tweets like that also make it clear that cookie lovers often have trouble finding the Thin Mints, Samoas and Tagalongs they crave.
Girl Scout cookies are generally available between January and March every year, although the exact timing depends on which state you’re in – 112 regional Girl Scout councils govern thousands of troops who sell cookies at slightly different times in different communities.
But unless someone has a Girl Scout in their life or happens to know when a local grocery store is planning to host a Girl Scout booth, the cookies can be frustratingly elusive.
Which is why Girl Scouts of the USA launched its Cookie Finder app in 2013. Users can enter their ZIP codes to check for sales in their area or use their device’s GPS location to find nearby sales. The app also provides map and driving directions right to the spot.
But as with all apps, installs and reengagement are a constant concern, and the seasonal nature of the Girl Scouts’ product provides a particularly nuanced challenge. Although Girl Scouts of the USA, the national oversight body that produced the app on behalf of its local councils, isn’t concerned with year-round engagement, the organization wanted to boost downloads and engagement during the core cookie months.
“We saw a lot of chatter happening on Twitter, consumers constantly talking about how much they loved Girl Scout cookies. People are on their phones actively looking for cookies,” said Kayla Santalla, senior digital media strategist at Girl Scouts of the USA. “We saw a real need to connect our entrepreneurs, our Girl Scouts running the largest girl-led business in the world, with their consumers.”
Of course, there was already an app for that. People just needed to use it. The Girl Scouts were among the first participants when Twitter ran its mobile app install ads product in beta last year, and Santalla decided to give Twitter another spin. After running an app install campaign on Facebook, she turned to Twitter to diversify her social spend and get a lower CPI.
Santalla’s mission was three-fold: boost downloads of the Cookie Finder app, re-engage existing users and increase in-app searches for local cookie sales.
The Girl Scouts used Twitter’s keyword targeting tool to hone in on user intent and to reach people who are searching for specific cookie names or potential users in specific categories like “parenting” and “pregnancy.” Santalla also created targeting parameters to hit people making specific intent-based statements related to the cookies, such as, “Looking for my favorite Girl Scout cookie” or “I need my Thin Mint fix!” Users who showed an interest in Girl Scout-related products – like Thin Mint-scented candles – were also on the radar.
Those targets fed into the Girl Scouts’ mobile app promo campaign.
Users could download the Cookie Finder app and open it directly from within the targeted tweets themselves. The Girl Scouts also ran messaging to encourage reengagement among people who had previously downloaded the app and then lapsed in their usage.
Cookie and Girl Scout searches were up between 30% and 65% on Twitter during the campaign, which ran from late February through early March, the heart of cookie season. App installs clocked in at more than 19,500 during that time. Because cookie purchase data is kept in-troop at the local level and it’s not possible to actually buy cookies through the app, Girl Scouts of the USA was unable to say what impact the install campaign had on 2015 sales.
When the campaign ended, app search declined by 70%. But that decrease was according to plan, Santalla said, who noted that there’s no point in promoting a product when it’s not available for purchase.
“Cookie sales are seasonal, so we’re also fine with engagement on the app being seasonal,” she said. “The app has a very narrow focus and there’s a specific time period when activity is going to happen. We’re okay with that. That’s the purpose of the app.”