Panzura free offer shakes up cloud storage market

Panzura made an industry-disrupting decision to launch a new cloud gateway virtual appliance for free.

Client: Panzura (Campbell, California)
Agency: Pan Communications (Boston)
Campaign: Cloud Gateway Freemium Product Launch
Duration: July 9 - August 2014
Budget: $15,000 - $25,000 

Barry Phillips, CMO of cloud services vendor Panzura, says that most people liken cloud storage to a digital attic for data. He says cloud gateway appliances will represent a $3.5 billion market by 2018 with a staggering annual growth rate of 80%, and cloud storage price debates have been ongoing in the industry. 

Panzura sells a collaborative file system that makes cloud data much more accessible across multiple offices, which the company believes is the true value of cloud storage. So, it made an industry-disrupting decision to launch a new cloud gateway virtual appliance for free on July 9 and drive awareness that the cloud is not just a low cost data repository, but also a key component of cross-office file collaboration.

"We felt cloud gateways will become a feature of either cloud storage or of enterprise storage, but in their own right were not a separate market," Phillips says. "Panzura kept getting labeled as just a cloud gateway, when actually what customers use us for is collaboration for very large files and files that need to be shared across offices. Panzura enables cloud storage to be a collaborative fabric across office sites."

Google Cloud Platform, one of Panzura’s partners, offered two terabytes of free data storage for a year to users of Panzura’s free cloud gateway appliance.

Pan Communications, Panzura’s AOR for PR, helped devise and execute the campaign.

Strategy
The team met with key analysts and venture capitalists in May and June to test messaging and ensure support. Messaging was then driven to industry and customer audiences through media relations, social media channels, and Panzura.com.

"We capitalized on the cloud pricing debate by shifting the conversation to the value of cloud storage and elevating what Panzura can do on the file collaboration side," says Nicole Messier-Marino, VP at Pan Communications. "We leveraged Panzura's partnership with Google to demonstrate the true value of what cloud storage can do at the enterprise level and reach a broader audience."

Tactics
Key influential cloud and enterprise reporters and top-tier trade outlets were pitched ahead of the launch.

Panzura and Google executives and Panzura customers gave interviews. 

Ongoing media outreach was conducted around breaking industry news and cloud storage pricing coverage. 

A microsite for the free cloud gateway appliance was created. Phillips wrote blog posts on the main website (Panzura.com) that established the value of the cloud as a tool for collaboration across offices.  

Regular posts to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn included media coverage, customer comments, and more.

Phillips notes Twitter was primarily used to deliver news to professionals in key vertical industries, such as architecture and construction.

Results
Between July 9 and 16, Panzura.com traffic was fives times higher than average weekly traffic prior to the campaign. More than 71% were new visitors, and seven out of the top 10 referral links were from earned coverage.

One hundred free cloud gateway products were downloaded within days of July 9. About 200 have been downloaded to date. Phillips says there was no download expectation.

Forty earned stories ran in outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, VentureBeat, and Entrepreneur.

Media placements were shared by readers 271 times on Facebook, 425 times on Twitter, and 592 times on LinkedIn.

"Riverbed, a publicly traded, high market cap company reacted to our free product release by giving away a virtual appliance version of their cloud gateway as well as bundling in free cloud storage – even though they charge for the hardware version of their gateway," Phillips notes. "A reaction like that from a larger company indicates that what we caused industry changes." 

Future
Upcoming plans include promoting customer case studies and continuing to increase visibility of Panzura’s CEO Randy Chou and his vision.

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