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Acopia tailors e-mail for int'l audience

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Data management is a $20 billion business--one that Tim Pitcher, VP-international sales at Acopia Networks, expects to keep growing. Even though storage costs are coming down, the amount of data that businesses create-and need to store-increases by 70% on an annualized basis, he said.

While U.S. companies have already starting using data management services such as the ones that Acopia offers, there's less awareness abroad. Pitcher said he is trying to change that with a new e-mail marketing campaign introduced five months ago, targeting key European and Asian markets. Early on, he said, he realized that he wouldn't be able to use the same messaging or strategy the company has in place for its U.S. e-mail efforts. All Acopia's e-mail marketing is handled in-house.

"There are different regulatory issues. There are language issues. Europeans also look at marketing differently that we do," he said. "Take press releases. E-mailed press announcements are almost never picked up by the press in Europe, but here in the states, it's an accepted way of doing business."

Pitcher's first order of business was coming up with a strategy that would interest an international market that is "more cautious," he said. He has found that his target audiences are more receptive to messages coming from Acopia's local partners and representatives. He creates a template and message, and lets the local representatives alter it based on what they know about prospects.

"In Germany, and also to some extent in France, you will typically find you need to have local partner presence if you want to do business. The large German organizations want to see that their suppliers are committed to the local market, even through partnerships," he said. "It's fine if you're an American company, but you need to market yourself as a local business-you're there, and you're doing business."

This also means speaking to prospects in their native languages. Pitcher uses local translators in the cities he's trying to reach, even in English-speaking locations where spelling and word meanings may be different than American English.

Localizing content is key, he said. "In Singapore, there's a company that's helping us with the majority of Asia-helping us create content and telling us how to localize it," he said. "It's so important when you go into a market to be mindful of customs and language nuances, and respect them."

As for content, Pitcher focuses on case studies and customer references. When he does send product information, it takes on a different form than the copy that goes out to U.S.-based prospects.

"Internationally, people are interested in product announcements, but they are more interested in the impact of that product-how you would use it. They want to be told what the benefits are," Pitcher said. "They want to know there's a return on investment."

He also takes into account local calendars and clocks. Messages are scheduled to arrive first thing in the morning, and never before, on or after a local or national holiday.

The strategy is working well. Although it has been marketing abroad for less than six months, Acopia has had very positive results, Pitcher said. "A 10% conversion rate tells us we're in the hottest part of the data management market and we're doing something right when it comes to our marketing plan," he said. M

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