Roving Software Reaches Small Businesses With Partners' Help

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Roving Software this week will conduct the third drop of its first direct e-mail campaign, which it began last month with the help of its newest marketing partner, Many-Thanks.com, Mechanicsburg, PA, a corporate gifting service with more than 20,000 small-business customers.


The campaign is being conducted with Roving's new business-to-business, application service provider service called Roving Express, which allows its marketing partners to offer its e-mail marketing software, Constant Contact Opt-In Builder, to their small-business customers with minimal investment.


Since the start of last month, Roving Software, Needham, MA, has worked with Many-Thanks.com to contact "small chunks" of those 20,000 customers through two e-mail drops. They have sent more than 4,000 e-mails and look to make this week's mailing the largest yet, with more than 2,500 e-mails. Each drop goes to a different group of customers. A fourth drop is scheduled for later this month.


The e-mail is primarily text with the Many-Thanks.com logo at the top. It discusses the capabilities of Roving's software and offers a free 60-day trial with the software if recipients sign up within seven days of receiving the e-mail.


Also included are a list of what the software can create and a short description of how it lets a user improve the relationship with a customer.


A "Sign Me Up" button in the middle of the message links to a "landing page," a co-branded landing site where people can learn more about the software, get details on the free offer and sign up. The page includes a display showing a newsletter that the Opt-In Builder can create. The landing page also allows recipients to e-mail the page to a friend.


Janet Muto, vice president of marketing at Roving Software, said the company eventually will conduct a direct mail campaign to promote the software but that she prefers e-mail because it lets her see what works in a "very short period of time."


"We have changed the e-mail message each time now," she said. "We have changed some of the wording, and based on early response to the first campaign felt that our landing page wasn't capturing the interest of the people clicking to it and decided to make it more graphical."


As a result of the changes, Muto said, response rates from the second mailing rose compared with those of the first. She would not break down the percentages by mailing but said that of the more than 4,000 e-mails already sent, more than 22 percent of recipients have opened and read the letter. About 23 percent of those people clicked through to the landing site, and of those people 20 percent have signed up for the software. Future changes to the landing page based on customer feedback will include an interactive demo of the software.


Regarding the number of people the company hopes to acquire as new users, she said it was "looking to significantly increase the number of our users between now and the end of the year."


Aside from Many-Thanks.com, Roving will run e-mail campaigns with SmartAge.com, another small-business service provider with more than 1.3 million customers, in the next few weeks. Roving is to announce six new partners within a few weeks and hopes to have 15 to 20 other partners by the end of the year. Muto said she wants to send about 1 million e-mails by year-end and hopes eventually to run two e-mail campaigns a week.


Cost for the campaigns will be minimal, Muto said, because the design is done inhouse and Roving's software is used to create the e-mail messages and landing pages.


Roving's revenue sharing with its partners is based on the services those partners provide and the amount of traffic generated.


The 3-year-old company traditionally has marketed its software through what Muto calls hosting partners. Those partners are service providers to small- and medium-sized businesses and market Roving's software to their customers via banner ads on their sites or in newsletters. Marketing its software through partnerships creates a shortcut to their target audience "while expanding the audience and making it easier for them to do business with us," Muto said.


"These companies that we partner with already have a large database of small businesses that they have a relationship with and are offering services to," she said. "I couldn't get to all the small businesses in this country with just an offering of an e-mail software solution."


Muto said she looks to do marketing campaigns on her own in the future but that Roving Express provides a cost-effective way to market the software as well as a tool showing what works.


Until the introduction of Roving Express, hosting partners had to not only market the software to their customers, but also manage billing, customer support, hardware installation and integrate Constant Contact into their system where their customers could access it. With Roving Express, Roving's marketing partners now have to only worry about marketing the product.


"All they have to do now is just send the e-mail message to their customers without having any major investment in the product other than the marketing," Muto said. "We handle all of the other stuff now, like billing and customer support. It also allows us to be more involved, which is what we have wanted to do, and it gives us the ability to run the campaigns when we want and how many we want."


Roving Express also lets Roving and its partners work together to develop the e-mail message as well as the landing page.


Muto said the company would continue to have hosting partners as well as the new marketing partners working with Roving Express.


Constant Contact Opt-In Builder allows a small business to capture the e-mail address of a visitor to its site and identify the visitor's interests by monitoring his activity.


"Then they take that information and, using the software, they can create highly targeted marketing campaigns and offers," Muto explained. "They can design newsletters, send product updates and announcements and even send customer service updates."
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