July 06, 2011
Case Study

Launching New Products: Campaign creates 29.8% increase in new sales pipeline opportunities

SUMMARY: When marketing the launch of a new product, you need to do more than just publicize information. Ideally, you would have a well-defined target audience for the new product, and a coordinated campaign to appeal to that target.

Find out how one B2B software company launched a new product for marketers with an effort combining strong visual appeal, a catchy hook and elements directed specifically toward a highly qualified and targeted audience of C- and VP-level marketers and advertisers.
by David Kirkpatrick, Reporter


Launching a new product is best accomplished with a coordinated marketing effort and a catchy campaign. The new product should have a target audience, as appealing to these targeted prospects will help determine the look and feel of the marketing campaign.

A unified theme that reaches across each element to build interest in the new product can help draw the attention of the desired target audience.

Central Desktop is a B2B software company with a cloud-based social collaboration platform for managing people, projects and files. Its core product is used across a wide range of industries and business sectors, including manufacturing, consumer packaged goods, management consulting and professional services.

The company's client base includes marketers. Recently, it launched a new product with capabilities specifically geared toward the needs of marketing agencies and internal marketers, which provided a challenge for Central Desktop's own marketing team.

"We knew that we had to come out with something that was a little more creative than your standard campaign, because [the new product's target] are marketers," explained Linda Souza, Associate Vice President of Marketing, Central Desktop. "We are marketing to marketers."

This case study takes a look at how Central Desktop developed a theme with visual appeal, tied the theme to multiple marketing channels, and even came away with knowledge to apply to future campaigns.


Not only was Central Desktop specifically targeting marketers for its newly launched product, it was targeting top people at top agencies.
Souza said, "We were targeting some of the top-tier agencies, and we were targeting higher-level people who were VPs and C-level people within these agencies."

The goal of the campaign was to generate leads and give Sales an entry point for further conversation with decision makers at the targeted marketing agencies.

For the targeted portion of the campaign, Central Desktop looked at the top 100 digital and traditional advertising agencies in terms of revenue and employee size and picked out executives to target at these agencies.

The list included C- and VP-level employees at the head office, but Central Desktop also identified people in similar, decision-making positions at satellite or branch offices and subsidiary companies.

"We were definitely looking to strike up conversations with people who had authority to either make a decision for an entire branch, or potentially an entire agency or network of agencies," stated Souza.

Step #1. Match the campaign theme to the target audience

In this case, since the target audience was marketers that were potentially a tougher crowd to get through to, Souza said the campaign's theme couldn't be "bad or gimmicky" and it needed to be compelling and intriguing enough to get targeted marketers to the conversation stage with Central Desktop's sales team.

The marketing team came up with "The Breakup." The idea was to appeal to a range of potential customers:

o Agencies using other similar solutions

o Central Desktop customers who weren't taking advantage of the new product

o Agencies not using any single software solution for project and file management

And the message for all these potential customers was to either "break up" with their vendor or current way of doing things and consider Central Desktop's new product as a replacement.

- Emphasize visual appeal

The look of the campaign was the first creative element considered. Given the target audience, Souza felt the campaign could have an edgier visual impact since the marketing space wasn't considered particularly conservative.

The result was a distinctive pop art-influenced, cartoon look that carried through every element of the campaign.

Matching this look, the marketing team also created two characters -- Jane and John. Jane suffered from various business issues facing marketers, while John provided Jane with solutions to those issues.
Souza explained why using cartoon characters served more purpose than just visual appeal.

"One of the things we were concerned about was (the campaign) is about a breakup and you are getting a breakup letter. Even though it says John and Jane, we didn't want to freak people out."

Step #2. Create a campaign microsite

The linchpin of the entire campaign was a Flash-based interactive microsite that introduced the two characters and made full use of the visual theme.

Everyone in the targeted campaign received a personal URL (PURL), so when they responded to either the direct mail or email send, Central Desktop knew who was visiting the microsite, and personalized the visitor's experience. The site could also be reached through a non-personalized URL by clicking an online ad or finding a link to the campaign.

The site contained several parts to draw visitors into the campaign.
The opening page was a black and white single frame cartoon of Jane crying, while saying (in a speech bubble), "Breaking up is never easy. It had to be done, but what's next?" with a "click to continue" call-to-action.

A popover asks the visitor to check off attributes they look for in a partner, and then forwards the visitor into a story developed around the checked-off parameters. The message was presented in a cartoon format, now in color, with Jane and John interacting via speech bubbles.

Ending the sequence is a conversion screen with a six-field form.

Step #3. Reach out to the target audience

The highly targeted group potentially received two touches: A direct mail piece and a follow-up email for those who did not respond to the first touch. The company also promoted the new product through advertising and less-targeted sends.

All of these efforts encouraged a visit to the microsite, either through a personalized URL for the targeted audience, or a general URL for the broader promotion, with a conversion goal at the site's sign-up form.

- Make your direct mail distinctive

The direct mail piece was designed to stand out in the pile of incoming mail.

The envelope was hand-lettered with an informal oversized stamp, and the letter itself used a handwriting font. An actual key was included in the mailing, keeping with the breakup theme, representing a returned key after a breakup.

The copy of the direct mail piece was designed to introduce the breakup theme and included each recipient's personal URL for the campaign microsite. Souza said the idea behind the direct mail piece was to create some intrigue.

One piece of evidence highlighting this effort's success came about when a Central Desktop board member -- who knew about the campaign -- was unknowingly placed on the direct mailing list.

Souza explained, "I guess he and his assistant were going through the mail one day and he was throwing things in the trash. His assistant said, 'Wait! Wait! That one is hand-addressed. You have to look at it.' He reached into the garbage can, pulled it out and opened it."

The direct mail send involved about 1,000 pieces and was staggered over two weeks to spread out potential responses.

- Follow-up with email

Every direct mail recipient who did not use their PURL to visit the microsite received an email follow-up after the direct mail portion of the campaign ran its two week course.

Whereas the direct mail was unique and eye-catching with an introduction to the breakup campaign, the email send was very simple, text-only from "Jane Blue." The subject line was "Something is missing" and the body, "Did you get my letter, (recipient's name)? I've moved on. You can do the same at (the recipient's PURL)"

Souza said, "We got a few humorous responses back which I think is just sort of a testament to the crowd we are going out to."

- Reach beyond the highly targeted audience

After the targeted group received PURLs through direct mail and possibly again in an email, Central Desktop created a non-personalized version of the microsite and used a variety of channels to drive traffic to this version of the site.

The channels included:

o Email
o The company's internal newsletter
o Company blog posts
o Facebook and Twitter
o Advertising on external industry newsletters

Step #4. Process the new leads

The newly generated prospects were divided into "hot" and "warm" leads.

A hot lead was defined as someone who visited the microsite and converted by filling out the online form and requested to be contacted. Hot leads also came from Web visitors who watched a product demo and filled out a form at the end of the presentation.

Warm leads were defined as anyone who visited the site via the personalized URL, clicked through and made it through the branding and messaging.

As both hot and warm leads were generated, the marketing team sent them to Sales. The leads immediately went into a calling campaign that focused on the hot leads, but also included the warm leads.

The sales team was making discovery calls, setting up demos and looking to create proposals, and it found that the distinctive aspects of the marketing campaign helped their efforts.

"Once they made the call and got to the gatekeeper, sometimes the response was a little bit chilly," Souza said. "As soon as the salesperson mentioned, 'Oh, by the way, I'm the one who sent you that letter with the key. Did you get that?' the tone of the conversation changed."

She added, "The gatekeeper would say, 'Oh, I know exactly who you are! That was pretty cool."

Step #5. Market the campaign internally to get Sales on board

This is technically the first step of the entire campaign because the marketing team determined close alignment with Sales, and buy-in at the executive management level, would help make the campaign more successful.

Even though the sales team was engaged with the campaign from its inception, Central Desktop's marketing team wanted to simulate the experience of the effort.

Before any prospects received the direct mail piece, Marketing scheduled sales training and the night before the training placed handwritten notes with a house key and a mysterious message -- "find out more at 3 p.m. tomorrow" -- on each salesperson's desk.
The idea was to immerse Sales in the campaign's look and feel so they would understand what the prospect was experiencing.

Souza explained the most important result of this campaign, "We have added another 29.8% in new opportunities."

She said some of those deals are already in proof of concept, and others are still in discovery calls, demos and proposals. She added the sales team believes there is a potential for double what has already been identified as an opportunity from this effort.

Other metrics include:

o 32.9% of direct mail recipients went to the microsite using their personalized URL

o 5.6% of microsite visitors from the direct mailing continued to the product website, and 2.6% of those went on to take a clickable product demo

o Microsite visitors from the direct mail send represented 87.4% of targeted companies

o 82.8% were considered warm leads and 3.5% converted to hot leads, a four times improvement over other campaigns according to Souza

o The follow-up email for non-responders to the direct mail send created a 4.39% response rate

o The email send promoting the non-personalized version of the campaign microsite had a 15.5% open rate with 1.45% clickthrough

o Internal newsletter advertising led to 2.2% open-to-click rate representing 17.7% of total clicks

o External newsletter advertising led to 1.3% open-to-click rate, three times the average for advertisers according to newsletter publishers

One final result of the campaign is how its success led Central Desktop to expand its use of the characters. "Jane Blue" and "John Smart" are becoming social media personas, used to Tweet industry information and best practices. Souza says the characters will be used in future campaigns marketing other Central Desktop products as well as other industries.

Useful links related to this article

1. Pop art and cartoon-influenced visual appeal
2. Microsite conversion screen
3. Direct mail piece
4. Humorous response to follow-up email
5. Newsletter advertisement

Central Desktop

"The Breakup" campaign microsite

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