Microsoft joins with LinkedIn to market OneNote to educators

Microsoft boosts OneNote awareness among educators with the help of LinkedIn Sponsored Updates

Rebecca Gibson
Rebecca Gibson
By Rebecca Gibson on 08 April 2016
Microsoft joins with LinkedIn to market OneNote to educators

Microsoft OneNote is a software solution that offers many beneficial features for both educators and students, including the ability to organise class materials into a single digital notebook, customise interactive lesson plans, and create a collaboration space for creative activities.

“Seeing what teachers do with OneNote in the classroom to further the learning goals of students is incredible,” says Ari Schorr, product marketing manager at Microsoft OneNote. “At a recent conference I met a girl who hadn’t been able to learn the way she needed to because she is a visual learner. She showed me how she has different pen types and highlighters for different learning tasks on the platform. I could see the look in her eyes and how she’s actually learning better because of OneNote.”

However, Microsoft found that relatively few educators and administrators were aware of these productivity benefits and were therefore not using the solution. It also found that while some educators were aware of OneNote, they did not know how best to use it for lesson planning and classroom collaboration.

Attributing this to the fact that educators and administrators are not easily targeted via mainstream online channels, the Microsoft OneNote team opted to join forces with LinkedIn. Focused on professional enablement and helping individuals become more productive, the global business-oriented social networking service has more than five million US-based educators who actively use its platform to consume education-related content.

Microsoft decided to run a pilot to determine whether marketing OneNote on the LinkedIn platform would help it to ‘meet teachers where they are’ and reach educators from K–12 to higher education across the US. As part of this pilot, LinkedIn recommended a targeted campaign using Sponsored Updates to reach specific educators with relevant content. Microsoft launched the campaign in the last quarter of 2014.

A dedicated microsite – OneNoteForTeachers.com – was also developed to provide educators with interactive training and step-by-step guides about how OneNote could be used to foster collaboration and boost efficiency and productivity. Teachers were also able to see first-hand how using OneNote could help improve classroom engagement, enhance their interactions with students and empower pupils to learn.

“In working with LinkedIn, I had a dedicated team that provided a consistent presence,” says Susan Dodds, digital marketing consultant at Microsoft. “They worked behind the scenes, helping to manage the campaign on a daily basis, looking at the numbers, optimising ad units for the best result and really providing an unparalleled level of analysis and insight.”

By creating a site devoted specifically to educators, Microsoft was able to demonstrate its commitment to supporting classroom engagement, which was underscored by feedback from teachers. By extension, Microsoft created a tool, OneNote Class Notebook, to foster a richer learning environment for students spanning a variety of needs and learning situations.

Not only did LinkedIn Sponsored Updates help Microsoft accurately target the educator audience with content that drove awareness, engagement and microsite traffic, it also helped the company to increase its marketing reach.

Microsoft found that marketing content shared via LinkedIn Sponsored Updates significantly outperformed site and educator audience benchmarks – which included impressions, traffic, click-through rates (CTR) and engagement – and also markedly outperformed other Microsoft campaigns. In fact, the overall performance was two times greater than the benchmark, due largely to personalised copy and images that spoke directly to the audience. Microsoft recorded a 46% CTR and a 54% engagement rate, which led to 22% additional earned media.

“As we looked at the telemetry for OneNoteForTeachers.com, of all our different methods for promoting the site, LinkedIn was number one and our highest results producer,” says Schorr. “It blew our other benchmarks away. It was amazing to see that even our high-traffic press releases and product updates around the site were not driving as much traffic as LinkedIn Sponsored Updates to reach teachers.”

Following the campaign’s success, Microsoft plans to continue leveraging LinkedIn Sponsored Updates as part of an ‘always-on’ approach to ensure OneNote remains top of mind with educators.

Microsoft also aims to improve its marketing strategy by tracking and measuring all aspects of the marketing funnel, from awareness down to conversion. In the coming months, the company is considering adopting full-funnel products on LinkedIn to drive deeper awareness, engagement and conversion with this key audience.

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