Case study: Citrix Systems learns less is more

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Most b-to-b marketers make a big mistake with e-mail marketing, said Michelle Goebel, senior manager, programs & field marketing for technology provider Citrix Systems, North America, which targets IT professionals. “People are trying so hard to give people everything—design elements, lots of copy, lots of graphics—that they never get to the real point,” she said. “If the people you’re targeting can’t see what you’re trying to say right up front, they are going to miss the message. We do things simplistically so our messages are clear and concise so people can act on them.”

Goebel followed this strategy earlier this year when, working with e-mail service provider Silverpop, she launched an e-mail campaign promoting a new SSL VPN solution the company was introducing. The call-to-action was simple: Download a white paper written by a third party that outlined Citrix and its new solution and provided case studies to demonstrate why the solution worked. The target was existing customers already using related products, as well as prospects who expressed an interest in VPN technology.

Goebel kept the message’s design very clean, restricting charts and excessive graphics to the white paper, which could be downloaded from a landing page. She did this, she said, because her target audience responds to things that can help them do their jobs better, faster and quicker.

The e-mail’s HTML-based design had very limited graphics overall, she said, and the ones she did use contained no text. “We don’t bundle text in an image because so many people have images turned off,” she said.

From a deliverability standpoint, Goebel took no chances, testing the message extensively. “We tested three different subject lines with a small sample of our readers,” she said. Even subject lines followed the same no-frills strategy. “It’s got to be simple and something people can pay attention to,” she said. “We didn’t get into marketing terms or use a lot of buzzwords or hype. Subject lines are very factual.”

The end result: a return on investment that was 90 times the cost of the messaging.

“The lesson is really that more design and more copy is not necessarily better,” Goebel said.

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