Microsoft Mailing Sees Response Rates Soar

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Microsoft's Higher Education Group is receiving response rates topping 20 percent for the first drop of a direct mail campaign to increase interest in its Campus Agreement 2.0 software package.

"This campaign is more of a classic direct marketing offer-driven piece," said Bob Hacker, president of Hacker Group, Bellevue, WA, which designed the mailing. "Before, they were doing a more typical 'all-about-us' and 'how-our-product-works' kind of mailing. This focuses more on what the product can do for you instead of how it works."

Microsoft, Redmond, WA, began testing two different pieces in late May that it is sending to nearly 9,000 colleges, universities, junior colleges and training institutions to tout its Campus Agreement 2.0 licensing program. The second drop will go out later this month targeting IT managers, chief information officers, technology professionals and those responsible for compliance.

"The list was made up of people that Microsoft had dealt with but were all nonbuyers of this particular product," said Spyro Kourtis, vice president of account services at Hacker. "These were people they had reached out to in the past but [who] had shown no interest in it up to that point."

The campaign describes a licensing agreement that allows university and college institutions and departments to use Microsoft products. The two pieces are being sent via Airborne Express, which Hacker said, provides a better chance for the piece to be opened.

The two mail pieces are essentially identical, containing a three-page personalized letter stating that a free compliance and cost-reduction kit has been reserved; a response memo; and a glossy foldout detailing the Campus Agreement and the Microsoft products that are covered by it. One package, however, contains an offer for a free copy of Microsoft Office 2000, and this offer has produced a significantly higher response rate. Microsoft would not disclose the individual percentages but said the combined rate is 22 percent.

"Those numbers represent responses, but there have also been a number of deals closed as a result of the piece already," Kourtis said, though he would not be specific. "This is, by far, the most successful campaign they have run for this product."

There will be no follow-up calls placed to those who do not respond. Since the offers for educational institutions are seasonal, Hacker said, they would more than likely be contacted next year if they didn't respond this time.

"The plan was to develop a program that we could continually go back to the market with," Hacker said. "Now, we know for next year what works and what we can do."

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