The company wanted to make better use of their online presence to educate customers and prospects about their technology, which is aimed at the life sciences market, says Rich Levin, senior vice president and editor-in-chief at PR firm Gregory FCA Communications.
Around the same time Proton brought its challenge to Levin, The New York Times ran a PowerPoint slide that the Defense Department had been using to explain its strategy in Afghanistan. “It was a mess,” Levin recalls. “We thought, ‘This is your brain on PowerPoint.’” And that’s where the germ of an idea originated.
“Proton’s CEO Ron Burns wrote a blog posting, pointing out the futility of the defense department’s efforts to explain something as complex as war strategy in a two-dimensional PowerPoint,” Levin says. “He said, in essence, ‘This is an example of the problem that some organizations face with certain information.’ In life sciences, they always deal with this problem. So he went on to talk about that information versus doing it in different, better ways, like Proton does in 3-D.”
Using social media such as blogs is indeed an effective method that will help boost your response rates, says Craig Fitzgerald, editorial director of Waltham, MA-based enewsletter firm. “For example, utilizing your Facebook and Twitter followers is an excellent way to build out your list,” he says. “These are people who have opted in to hear your message, so they’re receptive to what you send them already,” he notes.
Well aware that Proton already had a list of qualified subscribers, Levin sent them an email directing them to read the blog about Proton’s advanced methods. But the kicker was in the headline selected: “WARNING: PowerPoint Found to Cause Dementia.”
Controversial, yes, but effective. Proton got a 20.7% open rate, and a 26.4% clickthrough rate, which was a record for the company for a one-off email effort.
Of course, one-off campaigns aren’t the norm for many firm, and deciding the right frequency of email contacts is a challenge for many companies.
“It’s a fine line about how much time you have to do it right,” he says. Fitzgerald thinks a weekly frequency works for most efforts, and sometimes just once a month is effective as well. He also recommends making a stronger effort to get to know your audience, and even going so far as to name a Designated Content Officer. “Most businesses don’t have one, but they need to start thinking about getting one,” Fitzgerald says. The payoff can be hugely successful if executed properly, he adds.
For Levin, his success was measured in the client’s reaction. “All Proton’s numbers were off the charts,” he says. “Their opens, downloads, conversion rates, Web traffic numbers and click-through rates all rose dramatically,” he adds. “Sometimes, you just hit one out of the park.”