The Challenge

Microsoft has had great success capturing enterprise market share via value-add reseller (VAR), partner, advisor, and other sales channels. Yet, those channel are not as effective for the “micro” business segment (small businesses with 1 - 10 employees) as the smaller deal size is less profitable for the partner. They needed to efficiently grow and scale Office 365 subscriptions in this large and fast-growing segment without the support of the enterprise sales network.

The goal: drive more small-business leads via improved engagement and conversion rates.

The Results

of FY16 goal of new subscriptions


below target CPA


Using a comprehensive, holistic approach that included 5 programmatic partners, 44 new unique creative assets, 43 tests over a 10-month period, and a strategy balancing tried and true tactics with ongoing testing and real-time optimization, the team exceeded their goals. In addition, the SKU-mix and DR-message testing was instrumental in reducing churn and increasing customer lifetime value (LTV).

The Strategy

We used three scalable and repeatable growth levers for this campaign: diversification, segmentation, and personalization. By expanding the channels and tactics, the campaign grew in market size, product quantity, creative assets and programmatic display partners. We were able to refine the targeting after gaining insight from a variety of data sources, including actual buyer behavior, message priority and efficacy, and granular customer information. Additional segmentation via ongoing testing and data feeds from Google Conversion Pixels, Blue Kai, etc. was also completed, along with tailoring the message to increase relevance and conversion for Microsoft’s target audience.

Specific Display/SEM Tactics employed included: Programmatic Display, Lookalike Modeling, Retargeting (based on other Microsoft owned B2B content), RLSA and Display Retargeting, Ongoing SEM, Display Creative (ad copy/banner ad creative/landing page) Testing and SKU Mix Testing, Budget Forecasting, SEM Governance (implemented with partners and Microsoft Store to reduce CPCs).

This campaign exceeded our every expectation. The scale and rigor of the testing, highly sophisticated and integrated use of data for segmentation, and scope of our creative personalization against those newly segmented audiences was incredible - unlike anything we’d attempted before. We created a direct digital sales channel that enabled us to reach and convert the micro business audience more efficiently than we’d thought possible.

Lyamen Savy

Sr. Product Marketing Manager, Microsoft


Going direct to small businesses with a high-performing programmatic approach