Microsoft's First Opt-In Business Market Research Program Yields 40%+ Response - Worldwide!

There are 40 million plus small businesses worldwide. There are ever-increasing IT choices available to these businesses.

Microsoft realized that to keep these customers and market share, they needed to create a relationship program to deepen customer engagement.

Microsoft's first step was to listen to their customers. They conducted two waves of VoC Relationship Research. In the first wave they focused on whether customers want a relationship with Microsoft, and how they would define that relationship.

Results showed that 60% of all small businesses contacted wanted a relationship with Microsoft. Additional learnings surfaced through the research:

Customer Relationship Management Solutions Customers see two Microsofts:  Products and the Company
Customer Relationship Management Solutions Most customers feel they have a positive relationship with the Products, but feel there is no relationship with the Company.

The second wave focused on what customers wanted in this Opt-In relationship. Quantitative research was then conducted to validate the VoC findings.

Based on these learnings the Small Business+ program was born. The goals of this new relationship program were to:

Customer Relationship Management Solutions Deepen customer engagement
Customer Relationship Management Solutions Improve customer satisfaction
Customer Relationship Management Solutions Deliver targeted and relevant marketing messages
Customer Relationship Management Solutions Drive revenue

“The Small Business+ program was done to determine if we can really have a higher level of engagement with a very broad audience and provide them with meaningful tools and information that improves their perceptions of Microsoft and in the process increase their likelihood of buying future products and solutions from Microsoft.”

— Eddie Yandle, Senior Director of Small Business in the Worldwide Small & Mid-Market Solutions & Partners group

These goals were achieved by offering Small Business+ customers:

Customer Relationship Management Solutions Software training
Customer Relationship Management Solutions Business training
Customer Relationship Management Solutions Self-help technical support
Customer Relationship Management Solutions Free and discounted chat and phone support
Customer Relationship Management Solutions Local offerings (which varied by country)
Customer Relationship Management Solutions Personalized web and direct communications based on their opt-in profile

To receive these benefits, customers were willing to self-profile a significant amount of information regarding their business and their individual preferences.

“We found that when customers saw that they would be given more relevant and personalized content and tools, they were quite willing to tell us about themselves and their companies.  In fact, they said they were willing to tell us even more than we asked – so long as they saw a benefit derived from providing that information.”

— Eddie Yandle, Senior Director of Small Business in the Worldwide Small & Mid-Market Solutions & Partners group

Pilot results were so positive that the program was rolled out to 8 countries with a 9th country launch slated for early 2007. Analysis of results to date indicate opt-in rates well in excess of 40%+ and very high response rates to the communications sent to members that drive to Small Business+ online resources.

“Customers have responded very positively to the commitment made by Microsoft through the program, to provide valuable information and resources which are personalized.  This has been evidenced by the high response rates to the newsletter communications which are targeted based on customer’s profile information”

— Mina Mistry, Senior Marketing Manager of the Global Relationship Marketing Strategy team

Since January, membership levels have already hit six-figures, with very positive feedback and usage rates of SB+ benefits.

‘Early success and customer feedback have verified that this program can deliver against the goals and that by delivering value for customers, Microsoft will be able to support both relationship and revenue goals by creating the web assets that deliver broad reach across the Small Business market”

— Mina Mistry, Senior Marketing Manager of the Global    Relationship Marketing Strategy team

Learnings to date from this program include:

Customer Relationship Management Solutions VoC research and behavioral analysis were critical for defining program strategies, at the very beginning, per the individual requirements of customers
Customer Relationship Management Solutions Delivering exactly what customers asked for clearly drives membership in SB+
Customer Relationship Management Solutions Educating customers regarding how to obtain more value from their software builds a positive relationship with Microsoft
Customer Relationship Management Solutions Personalized communications based on opt-in profiles drive high open and click-through rates and fuels engagement.


  • Exceptionally high opt-in rates: 40% to 70%+ worldwide
  • Click-through rates up to 75%
  • Very positive customer feedback
  • Spending by Relationship Program members significantly exceeds non-members.