As Wall St. continues its unpredictable roller coaster ride, many companies are rethinking their business plans, but for McAfee.com, the key to success lies in sticking to a familiar mantra: acquisition, retention and extension.
The man responsible for promoting the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based security software provider is Atri Chatterjee, vice president of marketing. The Indian-born Chatterjee, who joined the company five months ago, is a veteran of Netscape, Clarify, Inc. and Sun Microsystems.
What sets McAfee.com’s products apart from other boxed security software is the constant connection between a user’s PC and the company’s technology.
McAfee.com’s subscription service provides users with automatically updated applications that protect against hackers and the 150 to 300 new viruses that are unleashed each month. ‘Whenever we have a new release, with 48 hours more than 95 percent of our customers have updated,’ Chatterjee said.
It’s no surprise that this dotcom company uses the Internet as its primary sales tool.
‘That was very attractive from a direct-marketing standpoint because you don’t have a one-to-one sales force,’ Chatterjee said. ‘We have a one-to-many situation with the website as the primary sales tool. So it becomes very important how you attract customers to try things out and how you retain them.’
Branding, both direct and indirect, has helped the company attract 1.4 million subscribers.
‘McAfee as a brand has been in business for more than a decade and has always stood for security,’ Chatterjee said. ‘Now what we’ve done is expanded it to the web.’
Chatterjee benefits from sticking to advertising plans that have been proven to attract new customers.
‘I have to know how an activity is going to bring in customers. We have to be able to measure that,’ he said. ‘The branding and marketing aspects have to coexist with revenue aspects. If they don’t, we don’t do it.’
The company utilizes email campaigns using psychodemographics to determine who’s likely to be a McAfee.com customer. Word of mouth, especially via the Internet, also is effective.
Even virus outbreaks are marketing possibilities. As a leader in computer security, McAfee.com often is featured in news stories about virus protection.
‘Since every user of ours is tied into our back-end service, we have a pretty good sample size [to determine] how a virus is spreading and we make that available,’ Chatterjee said. ‘We don’t make any direct money but it gives us indirect branding.’
The company avoids what Chatterjee calls ‘purely impression-based branding, where we take out a large ad in a national newspaper to put the McAfee name up there with nothing else. We want to get our names in front of audiences we think are relevant.’
A unique challenge for Chatterjee is helping users differentiate between McAfee and McAfee.com. The latter is the online subsidiary of Network Associates, which maintains the McAfee name on its boxed products and controls 75 percent of the online company.
‘McAfee.com products are managed services. You buy them on the Web and in addition to buying the bits you have a subscription service that insures that you’ve always got the most recent version of the software,’ Chatterjee said. ‘You don’t have that with the boxed-product service where you have to go and buy upgrades.’
An important distinction is that when someone buys a service from McAfee.com, they’re protecting every computer they use while they are a subscriber.
‘You can use it on a work computer and home computer. We protect users, they could be on multiple machines but they still get our protection,’ Chatterjee said.