Email Marketing - Digital River / Nuance Software Case Study
A short case study on Nuance software, showing industry email marketing practices to help your business reach your goals and communicate more efficiently and effectively.
We analyzed a successful utility software company, Nuance Communications (NUAN), makers of DragonSpeak and OmniPage, as created and implemented by Digital River (DRIV), the leader in software ecommerce, to see what they were doing, to see what we could learn from their campaigns. What we learned from the Nuance campaign was varied. As they are not as much of a channel driven company like NovaStor, they focused primarily on a large discount for end users as the primary benefit for purchasing. It was definitely an end user campaign, and not a partner campaign.
Nuance used a lot of variation, appealing to all sorts of personality types and preferences. Copy was long, short, and even in between. It looks like it was a quarterly promotion, ending on the last day of the quarter. This allowed for a good series of emails (11 total on promotions), some of which were copies of an email sent previously with a different subject line. In fact, only 7 distinct email creative’s were created though 11 distinct emails were sent for the promotion.
Some key focuses were ‘time-limited offer’, ‘savings’, and ‘money-back guarantee’. Most emails also had quotes and testimonials used throughout the campaign, at different levels of emphasis. They did have a few emails which featured at different levels bonus bundles, including bundles of their own software and ones with 3rd party software (the kind of software you find in the $9.99 bin at the software store). There was also the attempt to bring a topical presence to these messages, such as holidays and sports events.
One thing I do not quite get - every single subject line was about saving money - either a % discount or a fixed $ after the start of the quarterly promotion. While I can understand that is the major value proposition as seen from the vendor side, it seems that most marketing thought these days points to selling benefits and feelings more than features and pure $ savings. Maybe we are wrong, but a few subject lines like "Make your life easier and feel more organized" or "Be more productive and Save $" if you must include a 'save' in every subject line might see recognizable improvement in open rates, or potentially new openers.
Formats included the long letter format, medium/short letter format, graphical with 4 feature bullets and some text (optional) and 3 other benefits highlighted. There were normal text-format emails with wider (675 pixel) templates and smaller (550 pixel) widths.
One nice feature was the ability to click a link and see a summary of how and when Nuance/DR acquired the email address for the campaign. It builds trust and traceability to the campaigns (see the bottom of the Nuance case study, below).
We believe Nuance did multiple formats and messaging for two reasons. The first is as a test of different messaging designs and appeal, the second is to appeal to the broadest cross section of customers. Just as there are many personality types, there are many different designs that appeal to different types of personalities. Some want the quick, direct bullet approach; others want more information and a more folksy type presentation. By hitting all the bases, there is the widest coverage for personality types.
Messaging – try to hit main messages almost every time:
- Time Limited Offer
- Big Savings
- Money-back Guarantee (No-Risk)
- Main Major Benefits
- Use Quotes/Testimonials/Awards
- Use Bundles to Increase Offer/Value Perception
- When Applicable, Tie In Topical References
Design – Use multiple design styles for widest appeal:
- Graphical design with 4 bullets in 1 section, 3 larger in another
- Long Letter Format from an Authority Figure
- Medium/shorter Letter Format from an Authority Figure
- Textual Data-sheet Type Emails
- Small Fonts (even titles are not as large as could be)
- Main Message Above the Fold
Frequency – stagger timing, topical, finish strong:
- Varied time between emails (between 2 weeks and 2 days, never the same interval twice)
- Quarterly Special Offer (giving ample time to convert)
- Start Slow for Existing Customers (no more than 1 every couple weeks at first if a Customer, more if on a time limited immediate offer to potential customers)
- Push at the end (9 emails in the last 35 days)
If you are interested in learning more about Creative Technology Marketing and how you can realize greater sales and improved communications using their list server, autoresponder and email marketing expertise, please contact us. White-hat, permission based inquiries only please.
Sample Nuance Emails and Schedules
Below are the samples of emails sent on behalf of Nuance software By Digital River. All mostly graphical emails were 550 pixels wide, more text based emails were 675 pixels. Limited time offer (9/30) on all emails, but some brought that part out more than others. Small text (8pt) for most of the emails contents, even heading text kept below 35pt-40pt. Box shot on every email.
Important Upgrade Information for PaperPort Customers (HTML / PDF)
Mostly text, bullet points, Main focus: Savings (60% + $)
Order now plus a link for Pre-sales hotline phone/chat
6/5/08 (14 days after)
Important Upgrade Information for PaperPort Customers
(this is the same email as 5/22)
Start to quarterly promotions:
7/29/08 (59 days after) - Dragon NaturallySpeaking + Outside Product Bundle
Subj: New Dragon NaturallySpeaking 10 - Pre-order today and save 50% (HTML / PDF)
Pre-order and Save on new Upgrade. Benefit is main focus at top.
Limited time offer, Letter format from General Manager (Direct sales piece, longer text)
Bundle offer, customer quotes & reviews; 30 day money back guarantee
8/19/08 (21 days after) - Dragon NaturallySpeaking + Outside Product Bundle
Subj: Save $100 on NEW Dragon NaturallySpeaking 10 (HTML / PDF)
Thank you for being a valued customer; main focus is savings/discount ($100)
Limited time offer, Letter format from General Manager (short text)
Features in bullet list is a main focus, also has bundle offer, customer quotes; 30 day money back guarantee
8/26/08 (7 days after)
Subj: Save $100 on Dragon NaturallySpeaking 10!
(this is the same email as 8/19)
8/28/08 (2 days after) Dragon NaturallySpeaking, Other Nuance Products
Subj: Save hundreds on Back-to-School savings from Nuance! (HTML / PDF)
Mostly graphical, short paragraph – Topical (Back to school)
Multiple products (3) shown on bottom with discounts/buy now
9/2/08 (5 days after)
Subj: Save BIG on Back-to-School products from Nuance!
(this is the same email as 8/28)
9/5/08 (3 days after) - Dragon NaturallySpeaking
Subj: Don’t miss the action - Save $100 on Dragon NaturallySpeaking 10! (HTML / PDF)
Topical (Football – beginning of Football season)
Mostly graphical, 4 bullet points below main tagline, 3 small paragraphs on features below that
Main focus 50% savings
9/9/08 (4 days after) - Dragon NaturallySpeaking
Subj: Award Winning Dragon NaturallySpeaking 10 - only $99! (HTML / PDF)
Topical (Football – beginning of Football season)
Mostly graphical, 3 customer/press testimonials instead of features, 3 small paragraphs on features below that
Main focus 50% savings
9/19/08 (10 days after) – Omnipage + Nuance other software bundle
Subj: Last chance to save 80% on OmniPage Professional! (HTML / PDF)
Limited time offer, Letter format from VP (Direct sales piece, medium to longer text)
9/25/08 (6 days after)
Subj: Offer Expiration Notice - Save 80% on OmniPage Pro for 5 Days Only!
(this is the same email as 9/19)
9/29/08 (4 days after) - Dragon NaturallySpeaking + Outside Product Bundle
Subj: Important: 24 hours left to save $100 on Dragon NaturallySpeaking 10! (HTML / PDF)
Main focus: Time left for special
4 short bullets, bundle, press review clip
9/30/08 (1 day after)
Subj: FINAL NOTICE: Last day to save 80% on OmniPage Pro!
(this is the same email as 9/19 & 9/25)
Another feature we really liked was that every email included a link to more information about the recipient and their email status. Each email had a link in the footer that said: "For more information on why you're receiving this email, click here." What you see when you "click here":
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