Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Why SPAM when you can PAM?

OK, this started back when I headed up Marketing for RoboForm (RF). Here we had a large database of emails (when user's downloaded RF's software, we asked that they register (provide their email) from loyal users. Working for a one (at the time) product company, one of my tasks was how to bring in additional revenue sources.

One of the simplest ideas, and IMO a no brainer is to "second sell" our users (see my earlier post "Time to make the Donuts" ) . Even though we did not have a second product yet, affiliates and partner's products made it easy to at least sell the user something else besides RF. We had, after all their email address's brainer, right? Wrong! When I first pitched the CEO on letting me send out an email, he was adamantly against it... Being a Password manager, we were after all in the trust business. What if users thought we were spamming them? What if our ISP blacklists our IP address?

I tried hard to make the business case - after all there are protocols that protect one against being a spammer, and a lot of third party tools exist to manage mailings. The good ones start by scrubbing the list (making certain that only people who truly Opted in will be sent future mailings), and also email using their own servers. So what I devised was a method to reach out, and to second sell our users in a manner that satisfied my conservative boss. In hindsight, this new method Personalized Associated Marketing -(PAM) not only solved all issues related to emailing (spam,open rates,interest,conversions) but allowed for a much much more targeted message as well.

Figure one:
RF notifies the user that there is a new version of RF available for download, and prompts the user to download

We send the user to a trusted third party site ( to retrieve the update (This is important for other reasons that I will address in a separate post):

After the user's download is installed, we took them to a post download webpage where we congratulated them on completing the download process and offered them a link where they could view newly added features. Most importantly, note the rest (majority) of the post download page:

Here we have the users complete attention, with an offer to try another piece of software they might worries about an email getting caught in someones spam filter...the user knows exactly why they are viewing this is unobtrusive... it works!! During my tenure with RF, these PAM's converted as high as $1000 eCPM!! more importantly we did not receive ANY complaints from ANY users .

So where is the Personalized Associated Marketing, after all this is just an offer right? Wrong!, though a user would not see the sophistication designed into this behind the seen, we made it very powerful from the get go. If I was a user of RF FREE version, my PAM message would prompt me to upgrade to RF PRO. Had I seen that message on a previous upgrade, perhaps it would prompt me to purchase RF PRO but with a discount associated with it. If I already own RF PRO, it would show me a different offer. I designed the PAM so that I could filter offers (and messages) based on a number of factors. Some of these additional factors included affiliate ID (who originally referred them to RF), Language or geography, and much more... But proper product design (requirements/needs analysis) will have to be a post for another day.

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