When e-tractions first created the e-card, an edgy holiday snow globe, it was sent to a few thousand people in the company's database, and, well, not much happened.
"The people we sent it to forwarded it to a few more people but it kind of stopped there," says Kim Shah, co-founder and vice president of sales and marketing at e-tractions.
Fast-forward to Dec. 6, 2002. Someone found the greeting in the company's archives and passed it to a few friends. One month later, those few friends grew to more than 200,000 people.
Based on that grassroots interactivity, the company decided to test out the greeting and see if lightning could be struck again.
Since the company doesn't do any direct marketing on behalf of themselves, e-tractions instead formed a sponsor relationship with Targeted Media Solutions (TMS), a New York-based direct marketing company. TMS hosts the Flash greeting, and once users close out of the greeting card, an ad pops up.
The ad is a promotion for Columbia House; users that join can get 5 DVDs for 49 cents each plus free shipping.
e-tractions also added some links at the bottom of this year's card, one of which links viewers back to e-traction's website and another which collects email addresses of people that want to view next year's greeting upon completion.
This year's results are beyond e-tractions' expectations. More than 10 million people have seen the greeting this year, and more than 100,000 people have registered to receive updates about next year's greeting and to receive the finished product.
Kim says the company also fields between 200 and 300 inquiries a day from companies interested in its services.
Not convinced by the power of search, or at the rate a viral campaign can spread? If you do a Google search for "snow globe" the greeting card is the top and third search result.
And the hype is for a simple snow globe. Or so you initially think. The Snow globe begins with peppy holiday music and a picturesque setting of a house, Christmas tree and an ice skater, snowboarder, and a girl building a snowman. The card instructs users to pick up the snow globe and shake it. And that's when all hell breaks loose for the snow globe occupants. The snowman is demolished and all the people go flying through the air (complete with added screams of fright).
Most people with a sense of humor should get a kick of the card. Columbia House is certainly reaping the benefits of the greeting. TMS has been tracking the estimated 750,000 people that are visiting the website daily.
Kim says e-tractions has an economic solution with TMS. It is a performance-based relationship and impressions are on a CPM basis, which is how e-tractions gets a share of the revenue.
With this year's success, e-tractions is already working on next year's greeting card, along with a yearlong campaign. Hint: it's political.
Kim said the company is also hoping to land a sponsor for next year's greeting.