February 03, 2016
Case Study

Email Marketing: Digital wallet Dashlane uses customer reviews to increase clickthrough rate on already optimized newsletter

SUMMARY: As more and more personal data is stored online, the most important question password manager Dashlane needs to answer for customers is, "Can you be trusted?"

To do this, the marketing team began collecting customer reviews, and utilizing them in paid ad campaigns, landing pages and email marketing. They were able to collect over 300 reviews, 97% of which were four stars or higher.
by Courtney Eckerle, Manager of Editorial Content


As a password manager and digital wallet, Dashlane operates in the space of "making identities and online checkouts easier and more secure," David Rostan, Head of Organic Marketing, Dashlane, said.

"Our customers range in what they come to us to accomplish, [because] we have customers in over 200 countries," he said, adding that customers who come organically are usually careful and are looking to protect themselves online.

When Rostan and his marketing team reach out to customers, they are trying to "flip the switch in their head that, 'Hey, yeah. Passwords and online checkouts are a big hassle, but I wasn't really thinking about it until you just mentioned it,'" he said.

Those customers tend to heavily value convenience, and want their passwords easily accessible at all times.

"Once you point it out to them, they do, in fact, hate that they're … forgetting their passwords or don't have it on their mobile phones or their current device where they actually need to take action [for] work or to have fun," he said.


"The biggest challenge that we face is the biggest opportunity," Rostan said.

He added that, "if you give me three minutes with everyone, all the Web users on the planet, then they're going to use Dashlane … It is a great product."

The thing that might be stopping people from purchasing, he said, is that this is a fairly new technology for people who haven't yet considered introducing password management technology into their lives.

"So their first question is, 'Is this a leap I'm willing to make? Can I trust it?' They don't really understand maybe how it works and how it makes them safer and more secure," he said.

The technology will in fact make people more secure online, he said, "But how do you say that if you don't give me my three minutes with each and every Internet user on the planet?"

The Dashlane marketing team was looking to communicate that value proposition much more quickly, and with some third-party verification, he said, so "you don't even have to take our word for it."


The team decided to utilize customer reviews across several efforts, and particularly into email campaigns.

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"It allows other people to speak for us about their experience, and that takes us out of the equation from our bias so people can trust what they're hearing before they really know us well," Rostan said.

Another aspect of reviews is the inclusion of an instantly recognizable rating symbol — five stars — to immediately and simply communicate value.

"More than just brand trust, we were looking for trust at that initial point of contact," he said.

The main goals of this effort are conversion-related and, alongside hard numbers, the team is looking for "more people to click on our ads in Google. We were looking for more people to take us up on any kind of offer we put into email. We were looking for more people to convert on the website and we were looking for more people to convert on paid ad landing pages," he said.

Step #1. Assess brand value proposition

Even before this campaign, the team was consistently building up brand trust.

"We iterate like crazy on how we talked about trust because it's the thing. We sell trust. We sell security," Rostan said.

They did this by listing reputable news sites that had covered the company, awards the company had gotten, downloads and user numbers.

"We tried to give all manner of discussion around trust a lot of weight. We were trying to get faster, better, more concise, more complete, and find ways that could bear out the numbers that we were communicating this at all points in the funnel, better. That's where it all started," he said.

Step #2. Begin utilizing customer reviews

At that point, the team began reviewing methods available to them which would further convey and build trust. Customer reviews stood out to them as a rich method, and they initially focused on SEO strategies.

"The first thing we wanted is 'password manager.' That's a tough search term because … It's an emerging [term]. But when you do search for it, we need to stand out and we need to convey that we're the one you can trust," Rostan said, adding that this needs to be done in as few words as possible.

Dashlane needed 40 customer reviews before it was indexed by Google AdWords, and sent out an email to active customers requesting these reviews.

"We saw a 93% increase in clickthrough rates on our paid Google ads. That was insane. That paid for our investment many times over right away. Then we started thinking [that] this is a very effective way to communicate trust for the people who just want to check the box," he said.

For the people who want to get to know more, he added, they can click and actually read the full review, or browse through others.

The team began to ask, he said, "'Where else should we put it?' Then we just started going through the funnel."

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Then, because most people had seen them on the paid ad, Dashlane integrated them onto the paid landing page.

"It gives us continuity and it gives us trust on those pages. So we did that at first. Then we took it to our homepage," he said.

Step #3. Repurpose into email

The marketing team doesn't do a monthly newsletter, per say, although they do communicate in different ways with customers at least monthly to convey what has been done with product and feature innovations.

"There's a constant stream of how to get more out of Dashlane from that perspective. Other than that, we communicate probably around several other things, just general education of feature set. Then we communicate around security issues," Rostan said.

There is a "waterfall of communication we do around [security and features] that, depending on severity ... also works its way [into] email sometimes. So people hear from us about security issues." Because of that, he said, when Dashlane does send an email, "people pay attention to it."

Because email is not their most frequent channel of communication, when the team was considering what channels to utilize reviews in, email was the last initiative.

They put reviews into an email that was already working really well, and that they had optimized a great deal, he said.

"While we didn't see astronomical increases, it was pretty telling that it did increase … in something that was already our long-time winner," he said.

Step #4. Follow up product interaction

In order to get these reviews, "we send out an email about every month or so to a random sample of our active or activated user base," Rostan said.

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An important aspect of collecting these reviews is that "we're willing to take the lumps. We do, sometimes, take the lumps when people write in and say, 'Hey, I'm glad you reached out to me because I've got a problem,'" he said.

If a customer responds with a one- to three-star review, the team follows up and attempts to solve whatever issue the customer is having.

"We send them to our product team, our support team because we want to know. We want to learn what's going on. We don't want it to happen anymore. We also want a public way to say what we've done about it because our service is outstanding," he said.

Anyone whose experience with Dashlane can be improved is responded to as quickly as possible, Rostan added. Once the issue is taken care of, the company responds publicly so other customers can see how it was handled.

This is the best way that Dashlane can continually increase the level of brand awareness and trust, he said.

"It's a challenging thing to describe what a password manager is, what a digital wallet is. It's a very challenging thing to communicate why you can trust us … So we go read our reviews. Then we put that back into our brand message," he said.

The best example he's seen so far, he added, is when the team began seeing reviews that cited IT managers from people's work who had recommended Dashlane. They began to see that utilizing voices of authority, such as IT professionals, would give greater credence to the reviews.

These insights helped, Rostan said, when Dashlane was launching its B2B product this year, and building the value proposition.

"One of the things that we built the site around was from learning that people were already using this at work. Primarily, in some cases, people were using it at work … passwords go from home to work. They go from phone to computers. Your work goes from work to home," he said.

Step #5. Integrate reviews into a product email

The team also created an email campaign driving customers to upgrade from Dashlane's free service to the paid service.

"We started with some version after version after version after version of that email and optimized it over a period of months. We made that a really big priority. We had a winner. It had gotten so good that it was maybe not unbeatable but it was hard to get any kind of statistically significant risk on it," Rostan said.

The team didn't want to change the email too much, but they did want to see if some higher level of trust could be inserted, or if they could address some customer concerns. They began by segmenting the send across two types of users — active and inactive.

They integrated the reviews into the emails for inactives, with the thinking that there was a trust issue that caused them to stop using the service.

The team saw a small, but essentially insignificant, lift in conversions, and Rostan theorized that trust was the issue for inactives.

"I don't think … they stopped because of any trust issue. I think it's just that the trust issue was a good converter. The reason I think that is because then we tried it with our actives. Then we saw a very, very similar lift in clickthroughs and taking us up on the offer by … 1%," he said.

This doesn't seem like a significant amount, Rostan added, but "we had . . . we really optimized these emails to death. We were happy to find something that worked across the board [for] any customer type."


"We need to communicate quickly. We need to communicate without breaking their flow or interest in what they're currently doing in their world," Rostan said, adding, "Nothing is more concise than stars, right?"

"We know this stuff. We believe it. We test it. But how do we communicate that? What we learned is [to] let other people talk for us," he said.

The results that the team were able to achieve by incorporating these reviews are:
  • Over 300 customer reviews

  • 97% of reviews were four and five stars

  • A 93% lift in clickthrough rates for PPC ads

  • Paid ad landing pages saw a 14.5% increase in conversion rate

"Don't just use it as a conversion tool," Rostan said. "It's important to circle back and use it to learn about products, process, service, brand, communication."

The team has also taken what they've learned and applied it to the B2B products, as well as having a growing list of five-star reviews where "we're looking for ways, internally, to give those people even more of a voice."

Creative Samples

  1. Reviews

  2. Landing page widget

  3. Review request email




Related Resources

MarketingSherpa Summit 2016 — At the Bellagio in Las Vegas, February 22-24

Email Marketing: Ideas and inspiration from 11 years of award-winning campaigns

Email Marketing 2015: The top 8 MarketingSherpa case studies for your email program next year

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