Adam T. Sutton

Email Marketing: How Microsoft increased product engagement using email

September 15th, 2011

New products with lots of features can be intimidating. A learning curve has to be overcome before customers can fall in love and recommend the product to a friend. And I can think of few products that are as feature-laden as Microsoft Office 2010.

After teaching about email marketing at ExactTarget’s Connections 2011 on the latest stop of MarketingSherpa’s Email Marketing LEAPS Advanced Practices Workshop, I’ve been soaking in all of the email marketing content presented here. Diana Lawson’s case study really stood out to me because it was a great example of how to use email to enamor customers with a feature-rich product.

The senior product manager at Microsoft presented a case study yesterday describing how her team launched a lifecycle email program to build loyalty among Microsoft Office 2010’s newest customers.

“We need people to get the value of Microsoft Office right away… So there’s no buyer’s remorse, and more a feeling of ‘I am so glad I bought this,'” Lawson says.

The emails deliver targeted how-to content and videos for five months. One of their main goals is to improve relationships with customers by offering helpful content from team leaders behind Office 2010.

Here’s how the lifecycle emails work (results below):

Welcome series

New customers are removed from all other email marketing by Microsoft Office for the first 30 days, ensuring that the only emails they receive will be focused on engaging them in the new product. They will receive three emails over one month featuring basic how-to content:

1. How to get started with Office 2010

2. How to print and save

3. Top features in Office 2010’s programs

Here are images of the three emails:

Click to enlarge

Each of these emails is presented from a team leader behind Microsoft Office 2010, which helps add a personal touch to the communication, helping to foster the relationship the team hopes for.

Targeting and retargeting

After the first month, the team begins to focus the emails on specific topics. Microsoft uses behavioral data from the email engagement to detect which piece of Office software (Excel, Word, etc.) most interests a new subscriber and focuses the following emails on that topic.

Here is an example of an email and a landing page focused on Excel:

Click to enlarge

Subscribers will receive these emails for about one month. The following month will focus on a different piece of Office 2010 software/topic, and so on, until five months have passed. Here’s an illustrative graphic:

Click to enlarge



These emails have achieved the following on average:

  • Open rate: 50% higher than industry average
  • Video completion rate: 63% (among customers who start a video)

The emails that are targeted by a specific type of software achieved:

  • 9x higher open rates than emails on general Office 2010 topics
  • 22x higher clickthrough rates than the general emails

Furthermore, the program’s welcome series is helping to engage new customers. The results of a survey of customers receiving these emails:

  • About 66% of customers learned something new in the program
  • More than 50% tried a new feature

“What we’re seeing here is a great trend of people actually using the content to learn the software and get the value out of it,” Lawson says.

Those metrics push even higher when the emails deliver content targeted to the subscriber’s product of interest. Results of the survey among customers receiving the more-targeted emails:

  • 80% learned something new
  • 66% tried a new feature


Related Resources:

Final Week for Entries: MarketingSherpa’s 2012 Email Marketing Awards

Email Test: Shorter copy brings 100% more total clickthroughs

Build Brand and Customer Loyalty Through One-to-One Communication: 7 Tactics

6 Steps: Grow Customer Loyalty, Get 93% Recommendation Rate


Adam T. Sutton

About Adam T. Sutton

Adam T. Sutton, Senior Reporter, MarketingSherpa
Adam generates content for MarketingSherpa's Email and Inbound Marketing newsletters. His years of experience in interviewing marketers and conveying their insights has spanned topics such as search marketing, social media marketing, ecommerce, email and more. Adam previously powered the content behind MarketingSherpa's Search and Consumer-marketing newsletters and carries that experience into his new role. Today, in addition to writing articles, he contributes content to the MarketingExperiments and MarketingSherpa blogs, as well as MECLABS webinars, workshops and summits.

Prior to joining MarketingSherpa, Adam was the Managing Editor at the Mequoda group. There he created content and promotions for the company's daily email newsletter and managed its schedule.

Categories: Email Marketing Tags: , , , , , ,

  1. September 16th, 2011 at 01:25 | #1

    Thanks for sharing about this email marketing.

    designing the email template with a person is interesting and Interactive.

    and i have some question about this.

    for example (why sending 3 emails in the 1st month, Not 4 or more? is there any data support?)

  2. Adam Sutton
    September 16th, 2011 at 13:00 | #2

    Hi — thank you for your comment.

    I am honestly not sure why they went with three emails over 30 days for the welcome series. One possibility is that they did not want to seem overly pushy with this audience, as their goal was to build a good relationship, not to drive sales. The best frequency really depends on the audience and the marketers’ goals, so it is different for every company.

  3. September 18th, 2011 at 17:14 | #3

    Hello – I’m Diana Lawson, from Microsoft. Adam is exactly right with his answer. We wanted to strike a good balance of being helpful but not intrusive. The engagement rates with the emails remain fairly consistent across all 3, indicating we have hit the right balance with this program.

  4. Alexa
    September 19th, 2011 at 14:41 | #4

    Hi Diane,

    Could you tell me more about how you quantify an engagement. Are you measuring the rate based on opens and clicks or is there more you take into consideration when determining how many emails is the right number to send in a campaign such as this?

  5. September 23rd, 2011 at 19:20 | #5

    Hi Alexa — In this case, I am using opens and clicks as measurements for engagement. When looking at frequency and cadence of sends for emails, I think those are the best two measurements.

  6. September 25th, 2011 at 06:28 | #6

    HI Adam & Diana:

    Thanks a lot both.

    @Adam Sutton

    @Diana Lawson

  7. September 28th, 2011 at 08:44 | #7

    Microsoft is all about making profit and they are doing it more than good. Interesting post.

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