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Nov 02, 2007
Case Study

How to Get Double-Digit Growth With Ad Shift From Hard to Soft Offers

SUMMARY: What do you do when those hard sell, direct response ads you’ve relied on for so long don't get the response they used to and customers are looking in other places for information on your products?

See how a marketer achieved double-digit growth by
becoming less transaction-based and more consumer oriented. Includes strategies on how they de-emphasized strong calls to action and added messages that complemented the type of information customers gather from other sources.
Like many marketers, David Baeza, Area VP Customer Acquisition, Citrix Online, has looked to television and radio ads as a way to broaden the marketing reach for their subscription-based tools, GoToMyPC and GoToMeeting. The basic direct response ads that relied heavily on a call to action and a unique response code used to be an effective tool for Baeza and his team. But they noticed the technique losing influence as the online market matured.

In recent years, customers have been more likely to use direct response advertising as only a starting point in their product-evaluation process. Those who see a TV ad or hear a radio spot are now more likely to bypass the call to action and, instead, perform a search, read a third-party blog or turn to other sources for more information.

“A significant portion of the influence in a decision-making process is no longer in our hands, so our marketing had to be less transaction-based and more consumer-based,” says Baeza. “That meant being able to design overall media mix campaigns around the customer, where we have the opportunity to influence buying decision but they can still look outside our circle of influence to make their decision.”

In this environment, Baeza’s team needed to revamp their TV and radio advertising strategy to work with additional marketing efforts across multiple channels. They had to present customers with a consistent message that answered customers’ key questions about the products’ value.

For the new approach, the team turned to a strategy that blended branded and direct response for radio and TV ads. The effort downplayed the traditional “sign up now for a free trial” messages for ones that complemented the kind of information customers were using to make buying decisions.

Here’s how they adapted their direct response ads:

-> Strategy #1. Research what influences buying decisions

To move away from a hard-sell, direct response approach, Baeza and his team went directly to existing customers and non-customers to learn what they thought of the company’s brand and what would be important in choosing remote access and remote meeting products.

Through focus groups, the team determined the key values of the GoToMyPC and GoToMeeting products. Those values:
o Having remote access to an office
o Improving efficiency and reducing travel time and costs

-> Strategy #2. New ads focusing on brand and value proposition

Armed with this data, Baeza’s team developed new radio and TV ads intended to introduce consumers to the brands and inspire them to begin investigating the products.

The new ads featured text and taglines that came directly from the key value propositions identified in focus groups, such as:
o Take your office with you wherever you go
o Do more, travel less

They reiterated these themes in print and online advertising so customers saw a consistent brand message across channels as they researched the products.

At the same time, the radio and TV ads were less aggressive about calls to action. Previously, their direct response ads repeated a call to action at least three times in an attempt to drive users to a Web site to enter a promotional code. The new ads included only one.

“If consumers were just being exposed to the brand for the first time, we wanted their impression to be positive. We didn’t want it to be, ‘Oh my god, you guys just won’t stop selling to me.’ ”

-> Strategy #3. Test new ads

By taking the emphasis off direct response, Baeza and his team needed another way to determine whether TV and radio ads were achieving the goal of inspiring consumers to explore the products through multiple channels.

This meant rolling out ads in a few targeted markets, where it would be easier to see whether a TV or radio ad had inspired more online searches and visits to the homepage or other resources not directly mentioned in the ads, and whether that traffic was translating into new customers.

The team chose test areas that were:
o Major markets for TV or radio audiences (i.e., large metropolitan areas)
o Areas of large market share for the company’s products

-> Strategy #4. Monitor customer activity

The team measured the impact of the new TV and radio ads by first establishing benchmarks and baselines for customer activity and traffic generated through all existing marketing channels in a given market.

Through historical performance data, they determined what to expect from the existing mix of online text and display ads, search activity, print ads and other marketing efforts, then monitored the performance of each channel after introducing the new variable of branded/DR radio and TV ads.

“When you have TV running along with six to seven other channels, you want to see all boats rising at the same time.”

After measuring the initial impact of new TV and radio ads in a given market, the team continued to measure performance figures for all channels to determine the optimum media mix. In addition to the raw traffic being generated back to product homepages, they also measured important key performance indicators for customer acquisition, including:
o Cost per acquisition
o Lifetime value of customers
o Overall ROI for market efforts


Although moving away from pure direct response ads resulted in fewer visitors coming directly to dedicated URLs or using promotional codes from the ads, Baeza and his team have seen consistent growth in new customers from the blended, multichannel approach.

“We’re very pleased, although we still have lots of areas of improvement,” he says. “I think it’s just really trying to understand the right way to join the conversation from the customer’s point of view without trying to heavily influence the conversation. Instead of trying to push them in the door and buy now, we’re holding their hand and walking them in.”

Although he couldn’t disclose performance data for specific marketing channels, Baeza says adding branded/DR ads to the marketing mix has helped GoToMyPC and GoToMeeting achieve double-digit growth in customer activity across all active channels in a given market. This activity helped the company boost revenue figures 43% year over year.

In addition, customer churn is down and they’re confident their research has identified the key value proposition that customers are looking for. What’s more, thanks to their continued media mix modeling, the team now has a good idea of which channels have the most influence on each other and can combine historical performance data with statistical forecasting to determine the best marketing approach for different markets at different times.

“All channels are not on every day of the week all year long. We’re in and out of different channels all the time. Just because TV is working great now, it doesn’t mean it’s going to be great next quarter.”

Useful links related to this article

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