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Dec 14, 2005
Case Study

Sun Microsystems Tests 3D Microsite & 3D PDF to Promote New Server Launch: Results

SUMMARY: You're convinced if only your customers and prospects could really examine your new product for themselves, they'd love it. Only problem -- it weighs 39 pounds. Not much chance your field reps will want to haul that around to every meeting. Tech specs and brochures can only do so much. How can you bring a product like a server alive so prospects leap to buy? This fall Sun Microsystems tested a 3D microsite and 3D PDF offer (yes, you can put 3D in PDF format.) Here's how it worked:
This July, Rhodes Klement, Sun Microsystems' Senior Director Branded Advertising, was all pepped up about the new Sun Fire X4100 server he was in charge of developing marketing materials for. "It's really exciting. It's great industrial design! "

But, he was less than thrilled with typical marketing material options to promote it. "Brochures and data sheets can be boring. Looking at Web pages is a 2D experience, it can be pretty boring too," he explains.

"We're looking at technical people who normally take the lid off and add RAM. They need to see our well-designed use of space. People who handle these physical machines need a more intuitive, engaging way to review the server than a laundry list or a data sheet. They want to look under the hood, kick the tires."

Unfortunately at 39.3 pounds, the new server wasn't convenient for sales reps to bring to all their meetings. "These are rack mounted. They are not light. You would not want to be carrying them around with you."

How could Klement help thousands of prospects kick the tires if he couldn't get each a personal sample?

Starting in early August, Klement's team put together the most compelling new product microsite they could (link to sample below), including:

- Factual data such as features, benefits and price on one page of brief, bulleted prose.

- Hotlinks to standard tech specs and contact options visitors would expect (however, almost no extraneous navigation to Sun's main site because the team did not want to distract visitors.)

- A big photo of the actual product (rather than non-related stock footage of happy execs and other clip art that many B-to-B marketers waste screen real estate on) that could be enlarged with a single click.

- Link to a video about an expert speaking about Sun's servers.

- Link to a "how useful is this content?" survey (sample below.)

Plus, a cool new feature: a prominently-placed hotlink to "Launch the Sun Fire X4100 3D Tool" (sample of tool below.)

Clicking on this link caused another, smaller window to pop up (so users weren't taken away from the main product page) containing a second microsite. Again there were plenty of directly-related navigation options, including:

o Animated highlights, for those users who wanted to sit back and passively take a tour.

o 3D movement controls, including "Remove Lid" for users who wanted to take the tour into their own hands, virtually examining every aspect of the server.

o Yellow-dots on key elements of the server which would pop up additional brief feature notes if scrolled over.

o A hotlink to download a 3D PDF about the server. Worth noting: Klement was so excited by the viral possibility of this PDF being passed around that he did not place any registration barrier in front of it. Anyone could download it without being asked for any contact info.

The 3D microsite, which took about five weeks to create, was Java-based "It doesn't require a special plug-in." The two-page PDF was formatted for Adobe 7.0, and contained all the interactivity of the 3D microsite plus a brief tech specs list.

The basic microsite launched September 12th, and the 3D offer hotlink was added on three days later on September 15th.

5.2% of the 95,499 unique visitors who visited the microsite during the first 60 days clicked on the 3D link. Of these an astonishing 36% took the next step to download the 3D PDF.

Klement always asks to see site traffic figures divided into time-spent groups, so he can determine how much interest visitors really had in the site.

For the 3D microsite:

33% spent 1-3 minutes 21% spent 3-5 minutes 17% spent 5-10 minutes 6% spent 10-15 minutes

He also carefully tracks user satisfaction survey results for new pages on the site. The link to this survey was posted on the main product microsite (not the 3D one). When the team added the 3D link to the page three days after the main microsite launch, the surveyed visitor approval rating soared from 63% to 90%.

In addition 60% of surveyed visiting non-Sun customers said they might buy Sun products in the future based on their Web site experience. You can't beat that.

Useful links related to this article:

Creative samples -- Sun's 3D Microsite, PDF and visitor satisfaction survey

Kaon Interactive - the vendor Sun used to create and host the 3D site and PDF

Omniture - the Web analytics software Sun uses

Sun's x4100 landing page

Sun Microsystems

See Also:

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