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Jul 24, 2001
Case Study

Why PeopleSoft is Shifting Up to 50% More of Its Marketing Budget to Online Efforts

SUMMARY: Scott Danish leads both offline and online marketing and advertising for the PeopleSoft's Supply Chain division. Over the past twelve months, his marketing results led him to make a major change in strategy.He's cut print ads and trade shows in favor of Internet marketing. And, it's worked so well that now he plans to move up to 50% more of his marketing budget from traditional ads to online. Learn what specific online tactics are working for PeopleSoft at.

Although PeopleSoft is a fairly well known brand name in the human resources field; it's not so famous in the supply chain management software field.

So, Scott Danish, Director Supply Chain Marketing, couldn't relax and rely on the power of an established brand name. He had to build a reputation in a new area so strong that the PeopleSoft would be "on the shortlist of vendors companies turn to for proposals."

Plus, he had to generate qualified sales leads for both the mid-market (organizations in the $100-500 million range) and the up-market (everybody bigger.) And naturally, do it all as cost effectively as possible.


Danish manages both offline and online marketing and advertising for his division. Over the past twelve months, his marketing results led him to make a major change in strategy.

First he cut his print magazine media-buying budget. Instead of spending lots of cash on space ads in high circulation e-business magazines, Danish devoted a slice of his former budget to cheaper space ads in highly targeted trade magazines for niche verticals. So, he was able to run more powerful creative specifically aimed for each niche while saving money. Danish also cut his trade show budget. He says, "Before the beginning of the year we thought trade shows were still effective, but we ended up canceling out of shows. Nobody's traveling on business now." These two changes freed up the funds to move more aggressively into Internet marketing.

Danish worked with Sheron Johnston, Senior Manager Direct Response Unit, to figure out how to maximize money online. Johnston based all her suggestions on her 50/40/10 rule of thumb for marketing success. She explains, "50% of the success of a campaign will be due to your list; 40% is the offer; and, 10% is the creative. Sometimes we get lost in the pretty package -- let's wow them with a big box! But if you're using the wrong lists, it doesn't matter how good your creative is."

To satisfy his branding and lead gen goals, Danish decided his online offers would be focused toward educating, building credibility and interacting with his marketplace. So, his campaign offers were most often Webinars (aka cyber seminars) and white papers. He says, "We never send email messages that strictly promote us just to gain leads. Our message is always geared toward, 'Here's a pain you have. Here's an educational tool to help." Johnston adds, "We provide information of value that decision makers or influencers can have at their fingertips."

1. Webinars -- Most of Danish's Webinars run for about an hour and feature four speakers including a non-biased moderator such as the editor-in-chief of a related trade magazine. Generally an industry pundit gives a trend overview and explains why the topic is important. Then a few of PeopleSoft's own customers, such as VPs of Supply Chain, speak about their own experiences on the topic. These customer-speakers are often the most popular. In fact more than 50% of attendee questions are for them, instead of the pundits and gurus, because executives really like interacting with their professional peers.

2. White Papers -- Danish has experimented with offering white papers developed in house as well as commissioning white papers from respected third parties such as Gartner Group. The third party papers generate an especially strong response rate.

Johnston tested a wide variety of media to drive qualified traffic to his educational offers, including direct mail (all direct mail offers prominently feature a URL to respond to), broadcast email, newsletter sponsorships and banners. She abandoned most banner advertising fairly early on because it wasn't working for the branding/education offers. Direct mail continued to the best lists. Every other effort was focused on email:

a. Broadcast email -- Danish is pleased with the increasing numbers of "very targeted lists" on the market. He says, "They're allowing me to target and select names from lists more efficiently."

b. Email Newsletter Sponsorships -- Johnston says, "I'm a very strong proponent of using newsletter ads instead of banner ads. I've found them to be a very good response mechanism." Johnston prefers to place targeted 70-100 word text ads in niche trade newsletters. She says, "It's a bit like taking a direct mail campaign and distilling it into a business problem and a solution which is your offer of information, a book, a webinar. Really touching on what the business pain or need is and then a call to action."

Although Johnston often buys newsletter placements by the quarter because "It's a good opportunity to build your constituency", she alters her creative every two-three weeks for weeklies. For dailies she runs creative at least three days a week for two weeks. She says, "Not everybody reads every day of a daily."

The next step for all campaigns is the landing page -- the Web page that responses click to. Danish laughs, "We're driving our Web people crazy with the amount of requests we have! We have a landing page for every different campaign, whether it's email, a banner, or even if it's direct mail. It's standard procedure to set up a landing page before any campaign is deployed."

"We keep it real simple," Johnston describes her landing page design. "Depending on the campaign, it's possible to push them straight to a registration page. But, we mainly use a first page featuring the key value points and the offer, especially with an email newsletter sponsorship. You want to have a couple of paragraphs or key points to draw them a little deeper than that, and then the choice to register or not."


Over the past twelve months, PeopleSoft's sales results from the heavier focus on online marketing have been so successful, that Danish says his plans for the next year will "probably call for a 25-50% increase in Web and direct email spending over this year." He hastens to add, "That's not to say a total marketing budget increase, but a shift of funds from other activities."

He specifically plans to increase the number of Webinars -- currently at about one a month -- broadcast email and email newsletter sponsorships.

These decisions are based on detailed results analysis. Danish tracks how much each clickthrough, registration and solid sales enquiry costs him to generate from each media. So, for PeopleSoft Internet marketing is making an appreciable difference in the bottom line.

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