Microsoft Targets Enterprise Execs in Mobile Product and Services Push

Web Ads Aim to Drive Traffic to New Informational Microsite

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Microsoft wants enterprise executives to know the benefits of its mobile products and services -- namely Surface, Office 365 and its Azure cloud -- and is now in a digital push to drive traffic to a new microsite complete with white papers, videos and infographics to aid the sales process.

Digital agency Vertic created the branded Microsoft Enterprise site, which -- thanks to Microsoft's partnership with LinkedIn -- allows visitors to use their LinkedIn accounts so that content can be customized for them based on their specific roles.

For example, a company CEO would see facts and white papers about Microsoft's mobile products and services that are relevant to him, with the end goal of garnering sales leads for the Microsoft Mobility team.

"Our specific goal was building awareness among the business-level customer relevant to Microsoft's Mobility programs. ... We know that when an executive understands what they can do they can understand what their people can do," said Kelly Wagman, director of content and essaging at Microsoft. "When people see what is possible with our mobile devices and software and services they are surprised by the capabilities and compelled to learn more. Seeing all of this is compelling because talking about it wasn't working [with executives.]"

Ms. Wagman noted that the video portion of the new microsite was "the lead" in connecting with executives and getting them to "go deeper" and perhaps view infographics or sign up for white papers on how to best use Microsoft Mobility products and services in their company. Once a white paper is downloaded, that lead is passed on to Microsoft's sales organization.

"The big part of the story we're trying to tell is the ability to really do something [with mobile devices]. So many other devices on the market are so consumption centric, but when you see the ability to do something with your device like share a presentation and take it social, that's a big story," said Ms. Wagman.

As part of the effort, agency Gluten Free Studios placed web ads across 530 websites including Wall Street Journal, Reuters, CNN, Forbes, PC World and ABC News to help drive traffic to the site and even have users watch some of the videos.

"This is a pilot program with the Microsoft team that is focuses on targeting the C-suite executive who has very little time on their hands," said Rob Poznanski, president, Gluten Free Studios. "The strategy was simple enough for a quick glance, straight-forward ad that entices the executive to click to view the video but not too complex that would make them schedule an appointment to review."

Analysts also agree that Microsoft is still challenged in getting enterprise decision makers to take a closer look at their mobile offerings, mostly because the majority are still using PCs and older versions of Microsoft operating systems or simply are not convinced of the benefits of a large mobile investment.

"Microsoft, for the most part, is perceived to be still in the desktop and server environment. And as for competition, they are a minor player in tablets and smartphones, but that could change," said Bob O'Donnell, founder and chief analyst with TECHnalysis Research. He noted that in a recent survey his firm conducted of midmarket and enterprise IT decision makers regarding bring-your-own-device plans, future interest in using Microsoft Mobility products and services was "extremely high."

"Overall, market conditioning and messaging around Microsoft Mobility has been weak, but in fairness, they've only just turned on enterprise capabilities in the past several months," said Mark Bowker, senior analyst with technology research firm Enterprise Strategy Group. "Enterprise mobility is a key conversation with any IT manager these days, it's on the short list of what they're dealing with. There is a consumer experience that is expected in the enterprise and they need to adopt new ways to deliver that, so Microsoft is in a good position to tell their story."

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