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Mar 09, 2010
How To

Find a Partner to Accelerate Website Registrations: 6 Tactics from Last.fm and Xbox

SUMMARY: When you’re trying to expand an audience, working with strong, relevant partners can deliver a boost well beyond what you can achieve through your own campaigns.

Read how the online music service Last.fm partnered with Microsoft's gaming console brand Xbox to gain millions more registered users. Includes tactics on how the teams created a winning promotional strategy.
Orlena Yeung, VP, Brand and Product, Last.fm, joined the global streaming music service two years ago with an ambitious objective: to make Last.fm famous in the US.

But she knew she would need some help. "One of my growth strategies is to extend the Last.fm experience and build a product experience that could tap into existing communities," says Yeung.

Yeung and her team were confident that once consumers tried Last.fm, the service would do the rest of the selling. So they looked for partners that could market their music service to a large, relevant community.

They found a big one: In 2009, Last.fm partnered with gaming console manufacturer Xbox to integrate their music service with Xbox LIVE, the online multiplayer gaming platform. The two teams launched an integrated marketing effort to raise awareness and adoption. The results so far:
o More than 2 million Last.fm registrations through Xbox LIVE
o 66-minute average Last.fm user session time on Xbox

"We passed 500,000 [registrations] on day one, almost 1 million in week one. It was pretty incredible," Yeung says.

Here are the tactics used by Yueng’s team and Craig Davison, Senior Director, Product Marketing, Xbox LIVE, to make this launch a success.

Tactic #1. Find a good partner

Yeung’s team needed to identify a partner through which to expand their user base. They were attracted to companies with customers in the gaming community because gamers were a "perfect demographic fit" for consumers interested in music, Yeung says.

Both groups tended to be:
o 18 to 24 year old males
o Technologically savvy
o Heavy social media consumers

Also, the team wanted to reach a large audience. Gaming console manufacturers have access to millions of living rooms around the world, which appealed to the team.

"Once you put an experience into the living room, you’re able to have a personal experience as well as the dynamic of multiple people experiencing Last.fm."

- Reach out with a plan

The team reached out to Xbox, which has about 23 million members using the Xbox LIVE platform, Davison says. The two teams hammered out an agreement that Last.fm would provide its service through Xbox LIVE, and both companies would run an integrated marketing effort to promote a November launch.

"We both came to the table with, at a minimum, this is what we’re going to do," Yeung says.

Tactic #2. Leverage your strengths

One of Last.fm’s greatest strength was its service. Yeung’s team was able to offer their music service to Xbox in exchange for promotional guarantees.

Last.fm’s parent company, CBS, also gave the team access to major media outlets without the cost of purchasing media. This relationship gave their promotion a huge advantage without huge costs.

The two primary channels the team used for promotion:

- Online display advertising

CBS had a range of relevant websites on which the team could advertise, such as the online tech magazine CNET, and video gaming website GameSpot. The team ran banner advertisements, as well as video pre-roll ads on these sites.

- Digital and traditional radio

The team reached music enthusiasts through on-air ads on CBS’s digital and traditional radio stations.

Tactic #3. Leverage your partner's strengths

Yeung’s team hoped to reach new users directly though Xbox LIVE, and they also hoped to raise awareness through Xbox’s marketing. Xbox’s parent company, Microsoft, had a larger budget and access to different types of media than Yeung’s team did.

Here are the channels Xbox used to promote the launch:

- Existing customer database

Davison’s team reached their 23 million registered users through channels such as email and their website. Email was especially important because although Yeung’s team was advertising online, they did not have an established promotional email program.

- PR and social media

The Xbox team reached out to media outlets and their social media fans to help build buzz for the launch.

- Broader media

Xbox planned to launch other new Xbox LIVE features in conjunction with Last.fm, and Davison’s team was promoting Xbox in general. During the campaign, they promoted Xbox more broadly:
o Television ads
o Print ads
o Online display ads

- In-store and events

Davison’s team has access to in-store displays where consumers could test drive new Xbox features -- Last.fm among them. Also, the team attended gaming industry conferences such as the E3 Electronic Gaming Expo, where they highlighted new features.

"It was really the spectrum of traditional as well as digital marketing that came together to support this effort," Yeung says.

Tactic #4. Focus on transparency and communication

The teams were able to craft a strategy that played to both their strengths. However, with so many moving parts, they had to stay organized to avoid confusion and missteps.

Having frequent conversations and meetings is a requirement for a marketing partnership such as this. Team leaders should talk at least once a week.

- Be open from the beginning

"Being open about both of our communication and business objectives and needs in the early stages of the relationship [allowed us to] drive consistency and integration in our approach," Davison says.

Tactic #5. Use a media library

The teams anticipated that messaging and copy consistency would be a challenge. To avoid having one team try to guess how to describe the other’s brand, the teams set up a small catalog of marketing materials that could be repurposed throughout the campaign.

The catalog included information on:
o Press releases
o Print ads
o Copy for radio spots
o Other copy

With so many cooks in the kitchen, this catalog was the recipe marketers could follow to keep promotions consistent between the brands.

Tactic #6. Leave room to maneuver

The teams had a set marketing plan, but it was more of a guaranteed minimum level of promotion than a complete plan. Yeung’s team left wiggle room that allowed them to take advantage of two opportunities that arose during the effort:

- Band contest

The team expanded an existing relationship with the rock band Pearl Jam, which was releasing a new album, to help promote the launch. The team was able to get the band interested in Last.fm’s service on Xbox, and had Pearl Jam concert ticket giveaways on select CBS radio stations.

"Basically it was 'Pearl Jam celebrates the launch of Last.fm on Xbox LIVE,'" Yeung says.

- Xbox giveaways

The team also arranged to give away free Xbox 360 consoles over the radio to promote the launch.

Useful links related to this article

Creative Samples from the Last.fm/Xbox co-marketing campaign
http://www.marketingsherpa.com/cs/lastfm/index.htm


How to Market With Your Enemy: 6 Strategies to Form a Profitable Partnership With a Longtime Competitor
http://www.marketingsherpa.com/article.php?ident=30304


E3 Electronic Gaming Expo
http://www.e3expo.com/


Pearl Jam
http://pearljam.com/


CBS
http://www.cbs.com/


Microsoft
http://www.microsoft.com/en/us/default.aspx


Xbox
http://www.xbox.com/en-US/


Last.fm
http://www.last.fm/


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