Byravee Iyer
Aug 23, 2013

Evernote sets sights on Southeast Asia

SINGAPORE - Five years after launching its eponymous note-taking application, Evernote has ramped up expansion in Southeast Asia by announcing a partnership with Starhub in Singapore.

Ken Gullicksen, Evernote COO
Ken Gullicksen, Evernote COO

As part of the tie-up, the telco will offer a free one-year Evernote premium subscription to all re-contracting and new post-paid customers, giving the software company access to roughly 1.2 million eligible Starhub users.

The rationale was simple. According to Ken Gullicksen, Evernote’s COO, a majority of the company’s users come from mobile application stores at no marketing cost. In the past, the brand has tied up with Docomo in Japan, Taiwan Mobile, Orange in France and Korea Telecom, and it will continue to scout different partnership opportunities. Expect similar announcements in its other high-growth markets including Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam, Gullicksen hinted.

The company, which launched in June 2008, has 65 million users worldwide. It is building its business on the ‘Freemium’ model, with all of its revenue coming from premium subscriptions. According to Gullicksen, 25 per cent of people who signed up in 2008 are now premium members. There are about 400,000 Evernote users in Singapore. Not a huge number, but Evernote considers the market an outlier because it has the largest per capita usage of any market. Singapore is also an important market because of its proximity to other Southeast Asian countries, where the company has more than 2 million users.

At present, Evernote has offices in nine countries including Singapore, Taiwan, Korea, China and Japan. In fact, 70 per cent of Evernote’s subscribers are from outside the US. Apart from the main application, Evernote Food and Penultimate have proven to be popular in Asia.

As for marketing, the company vocally eschews advertising. “We want the free product to be great and we believe the more you put into it the more valuable it becomes,” explained Linda Kozlowski, vice-president of international marketing. This is in line with CEO Phil Libin’s ambitious goal of being a durable company that sticks around for 100 years.

While device and Telco partnerships continue to drive marketing spend, Evernote’s other marketing strategy is around word-of-mouth, email campaigns and consumer testimonials. It publishes tips and testimonials on the ways to use Evernote and hosts user events every two to three weeks in the countries where it sees growth.

According to Kozlowski, PR offers significant reach, with physical events seeing a lot more success in Asia, while webinars aren’t as popular. Short video tips on YouTube are also working well for Evernote. Of late, the company has begun to experiment with some paid social media, particularly on Facebook and Twitter. In China it uses Weibo and WeChat to promote its cause. It has also begun dabbling in in-flight advertising.

The company is also broadening its product range. Last December, it launched Evernote Business, an enterprise-oriented version of its application, which has already snapped up 6500 users and is its fastest growing segment. It launched the application in Southeast Asia in May.

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