How many times have you come across a website, and been completely confused about a company’s product offering or service?

Just this morning, we received a product announcement from Atlassian–a multibillion dollar company. One would think they have the budget to properly launch a product, right?

Here is the email we received:

atlassian

Seriously, what exactly is this product?  What is a portfolio plan?  What is Portfolio for Jira 2.0?  What are they trying to do?  Why should I care?

Creating Interest Through Obscurity

Sometimes companies create obscurity about their product.  Headlines such as “lose 20 pounds in 3 weeks” or “save thousands on your electric bill” come to mind.

For all we know, losing 20 pounds in 3 weeks might be a pitch to apply for the Discovery Channel’s Naked and Afraid, while saving thousands on our electric bill might be a pitch for moving into a tiny home.

Naturally Segmenting Your Audience with Interest-Only Jargon

Another thing we’ll often see is a natural segmentation of an audience based on the use of tech jargon.

For example, let’s say you’re running a pay-per-click ad on a site that reaches a certain demographic.  If your offer only pertains to a small segment of that demographic, you might choose to run an ad that only makes sense to the niche demographic you’re targeting.

In other words, to some percentage of the ad viewers, the ad may look like a bunch of technical jargon which they don’t understand.  They’ll simply skim past it and keep on their way.  To those interested however, the jargon will make sense and they’re more likely to click your ad.  And even better, you’re not paying for extra clicks from people who would never use your product or service.

So About this Atlassian Ad…

I thought I would use this Atlassian email as a case study because, for the life of me, I can’t see how it’s an effective email.

First, there’s no use of the obscurity principle.  Sure, the offer (Portfolio Plans!) is obscure ,but it isn’t complemented with a pitch that tells me what the effect of this obscure feature will mean to me.  “Scale Agile and successfully plan in real time like Rosetta Stone” makes no sense to me.  As Atlassian customers, we’re already agile, and yes, we work in real time.  What is different about this product feature?

There’s also no need to segment the audience.  This is a newsletter, where typically you’re concerned about click through rates and maintaining dialog with your customers.  Every email is an opportunity–an opportunity to violate the trust relationship you established with your client when they agreed to accept your solicitations.  By sending emails with vague product features that don’t translate into a real, tangible need, that trust relationship has been violated.

Conclusion

Atlassian would probably have been better off sending an email that explains what a portfolio plan is.

Perhaps instead of saying “scale agile” or “plan in real time”, they could have expressed the solution as a problem, i.e.:

If you have team members spanning multiple projects and struggle with project scheduling and optimizing tasks, then you’ll be excited to know that Portfolio Plans is the product for you!  Scale your agile teams and perform real time planning with a product that allows you to easily see all of your projects and your team members’ priorities.

In addition, segmenting the email list to only include memberships that could utilize this feature (i.e. subscribers with more than one project) could further increase the effectiveness of this feature announcement.

With the right message delivered to the right audience at the right time with the right need, you can increase click throughs and product interest without violating the trust relationship with your subscribers.

Dustin DeVries

Dustin DeVries

Living and breathing software strategy and architecture, Dustin has been building software for over 20 years. He really enjoys working with clients to determine the right technology, whether it’s a web application framework like Django or NodeJS, or a simple CMS solution like WordPress. He received his BS in Computer Engineering from Texas A&M University. During his spare time, Dustin enjoys reading, gardening, cooking, playing guitar, running, and hanging out with his family.