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How Opera Software used video e-mail to get the word out about a new product

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Despite the fact that more than 100 million mobile phones run its Web browser, when Opera Software's executives went to the Consumer Electronics Show in 2009, they got a sinking feeling, said Sean D'Arcy, the company's director of marketing. The company was missing out on the next big Internet trend: getting its browsers on televisions.

“We went and saw all these TVs running [what's now] Yahoo Connected TV, and we said, "Oh, no! We've missed out on the opportunity.' On the basis of that, we developed technology where we can run full widgets on TVs,” he said. Still, with many of the major television and set-top box OEM companies already working on connected televisions, the company was facing a big challenge getting the word out about Opera for Connected TVs—its flexible, open toolkit to help cable, satellite and other television service providers add Web connectivity to televisions—and claiming some market share.

This is why during the fourth quarter of 2009 the company, which “doesn't do a lot of push marketing” to begin with, according to D'Arcy, internally put together a PR campaign and a related e-mail campaign. The PR campaign was directed at industry magazines and trade publications targeted to cable companies, set-top box manufacturers, TV OEMs and TV middleware vendors. Meanwhile, the e-mail campaign was designed to go out to a targeted, in-house list of 30,000 names, which was comprised of middle-managers and C-level executives in North America and Europe who worked at set-top box and set-top TV companies and television carriers and operators. Opera also created a special landing page—opera.com/tv—to support the e-mail that would show the potential for Web browsing on TVs.

The e-mail, D'Arcy said, was very concise. “The body of the e-mail had essentially what looked like embedded video and an image of a white paper—the whole e-mail was quite image-based, actually,” he said. “It was very short on copy. It basically had a call-to-action that said click through to go to the landing page and our cool tagline: The revolution will be televised.”

Once people came to the landing page they were asked to qualify themselves by filling out a contact form with their title, full name, e-mail, company, website and country. Then, they could download a white paper that included detailed information about the Opera TV product. The landing page also had a video that showed what benefits potential customers might see by offering to them the option to browse the Web while watching television. The page also included product sheets and information.

Since the e-mail copy was so sparse, D'Arcy implemented A/B testing for the subject lines, sending out e-mails to one group with a subject line that said, “Web and widgets for connected TV: Get the white paper and video,” and another that said, “White paper and video: Experience Web and widgets for connected TVs.” The second option garnered a 24% open rate, while the first option came close with a 23% open rate. Click-through was 3.92% for the second version and 3.23% for the first—surprising since the body of the e-mail did not change from sample to sample.

The most important metric, however, was conversion. Opera got about 100 qualified leads from the e-mail campaign, D'Arcy said. “It wasn't rocket science,” he said. “We knew that if you put video in the subject line it would have a strong effect either way. We were right.”

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