The Groupy promotion impact

A Neil over at Webdrive sent through this chart showing the impact of Wednesday’s Groupy $1 Hell pizza promotion with advertising over on Stuff. This is showing the amount of traffic coming in and going out, which approached 60 Mbits/sec inbound as the news spread.

Our page impressions stats show a similar result.

Sorry I cannot report the actual numbers on this, but the percentage increase was certainly dramatic.

While the site threw up a few errors it didn’t actually go down, which is critical during events like this. The traffic was a lot larger than expected, and Webdrive put a couple more servers to the task to cope.  The external email provider rate limited the sending of emails, despite telling us that they would not. This took a while to resolve but eventually they got sent later in the day or evening. The subscriber base went up by several times, and 15000 people and their friends get to eat Hell Pizzas for $1.

All in all an excellent promotion for Groupy, Hell and customers.

Published by Lance Wiggs


19 replies on “The Groupy promotion impact”

  1. Good show, and one good reason for using virtual servers instead of physical machines (unless you do have a minimum floor and can justify the physical anyway).

    One question though: why use a third party email provider? Running a SMTP server is simple enough and should be a minute task to make it accept incoming connection from a specific set of IP addresses, require authentication, and do not act on relay requests.

    If you configure reverse DNS correctly, create appropriate TXT records in DNS chances are it would not be flagged as spam and probably faster than third party services.


    1. It’s actually *much* harder than you’d think to stay out of spam blacklists and the like when you’re doing bursty campaigns like this. Unless you’re going to spend an awful lot on deliverability consultants you’ll probably find a bunch of your mail being silently rejected.

      That’s why,, and amazon’s new SES have a business model.


      1. Hey Koz,

        You know what was cool about the HELL promo? We didn’t even send a single email to our existing customer base to announce it.

        It wen’t live at midnight and had sold nearly 1,000 by 8am. Just 100% word of mouth.

        I had people texting me telling me about it, who didn’t know I was sitting at the center of it, LOL!

        But your right, it’s hard staying clean and that’s why we use SMX.

        However, what’s worse than email being silently dropped by ISP’s, is 50,000 of your 70,000 emails being silently rejected by your mail relay due to an unannounced rate-limit. That stung us really badly and we’re still recovering from the blow back.


    2. It’s simple.

      SMX have an entire team dedicated to the complexities of dealing with mass mailing and sating off spam lists.

      Even if I only did that and nothing else, I’d never be as good as them.

      For small office / small business mail, I agree you can create your own SMTP server.

      Our requirements are larger than that. On Tuesday alone we generated over 70,000 transactional emails.


      Scott Kitney


      1. Wow.. amazing.

        One thing I’ve wondered though – is why the decision to copy the visual style of Groupon/Grabone? It’s fine to copy the concept, but to also rip the style seems a bit weak to me.

        IMO of course!


        1. Not sure where this opinion comes from.
          IMO (being the designer) Groupy is the one site that does not copy the Groupon layout. Grab One is virtually an exact replica of Groupon.

          We’ve attempted to make our efforts less derivative and a little original, within the UX/IA constrains of showing a feature eCommerce offering and a bunch of other ones on the side.

          And a note – we were the first group buying site in NZ. GrabOne were building theirs while we were in the market. So the question of us copying them is redundant.


          Scott Kitney


  2. @freitas: The reason why you outsource email is for all the reasons you said above ;-). Ir is just too easy to get blacklisted and have something go wrong. Using a third party who eats and breaths email sending is cheap and hassle free.


    1. Yup, WebDrive are 100% awesome. They helped us gear up for this and on the day fight a lot of fires. In particular, my thanks goes to Neto for his late night efforts!


  3. 16,000, that’s impressive! Clearly not many ISPs in this country you would trust that number to.

    @freitas: your server is a new kid on the block, has no reputation, and you start spewing emails you won’t get far.

    The things you mention are very basic, and certainly won’t allow you to send a lot of emails in an hour.


  4. It was a great promotion, well thought out and of nicely balanced benefit to both customers and the businesses involved, nicely done.

    That said as some feedback from being one of the ones who received the errors and couldn’t complete the purchase, it would have been appreciated to have at least an acknowledgment that Groupy is going to work harder on fulfillment to customers who are there in time.


    1. Hi Gary,

      We were stung by two issue on the day.

      One was that our check for uniqueness on credit cards drew false positives and lots of people were told they couldn’t buy because they already had, when they had not.

      For all these people, we will be making another HELL pizza deal available next week, just to give them a chance to get one.

      We are very sorry that that happened. What do you suggest the best forum is to let people know about this,as we want to make it known and apologize for the issue.

      Thanks for the praise and feedback, much appreciated.


  5. I love the 9am spike, as everyone arrives at work and starts surfing the net.

    Same logic drives the update strategy of most Facebook games. Monday and mid week are the busiest times, with a big drop at the weekend. At which point, iPhone app sales spike and then drop back down.

    The natural rhythm of casual distractions is alive and well in our wired world!


    1. LOL Jos.

      We have a higher rate of IE 6 users than a lot of the bigger sites that are blocked at work, cause a LOT of our purchases are made by people in their office when the ‘should be’ working. Love it!


  6. Loved many parts of the deal, but two main issues bother me.

    1. A bit spammy.Issues exist around the bad unsubscribe links and fine print for the mailing list. My wife was surprised she ended up on the list and couldn’t figure out how to unsubscribe by herself.

    2. Bad list quality. Nothing says poor quality mailing list like a big one generated by free competitions and super great deals. How different is this deal from just offering people $5 to sign up to your mailing list? Not refining/targeting acquisition can result in long term difficulties with value, retention, and response. It breaks a lot of ‘best practice’ for list generation.

    and I’m impressed by the reach targeting me on Failbook for cheap beer. But even $2 is too much for bad beer. Again, it’s easy to buy a big list. It’s harder to buy a good one.




  7. @Scott – (since I can’t seem to respond to your comments)

    I didn’t realise Groupy was already in the market. Apologies for my mistake there.

    Anywho.. I was really meaning the visual style, not so much the layout or IA. I did notice that the structure seemed to be unique and wasn’t a direct copy of Groupon. My comment revolves around the similar design language – Rounded corners, big beveled buttons, san serif fonts, yadda yadda..

    I will leave it there though as I appreciate how bloody awful it must be having to defend yourself and your business on blogs/twitter etc like this for hours.




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