Hewlett-Packard tries paperless approach

Printers might be a large part of Hewlett-Packard's business, but in a recent marketing campaign, the company didn't use a lot of paper. Instead, the Mississauga, Ont.-based vendor - consistently a top-ranked inkjet and laser printer manufacturer, according to industry analysts...

Printers might be a large part of Hewlett-Packard’s business, but in a recent marketing campaign, the company didn’t use a lot of paper.

Instead, the Mississauga, Ont.-based vendor – consistently a top-ranked inkjet and laser printer manufacturer, according to industry analysts – teamed up with Toronto-based FloNetwork (formerly Media Synergy) to implement a permission-based e-mail marketing campaign. It was HP (Canada)’s first foray into the permission-based e-mail marketing medium.

The results? Not bad. Not bad, at all.

‘If we could do anything differently, it would have been to increase the customer target,’ says Cathy Malgi, programs manager for HP (Canada). ‘It shows one-to-one marketing can be a competitive advantage if it’s done right using a soft-sell approach.’

Peter Evans, marketing vice-president for FloNetwork, says HP’s approach is the most cost-efficient way to establish a direct connection between the customer and the database.

‘And once marketers start increasing their use of segmentation models with behavioural feedback they can get through e-mail marketing, they can start to cross-sell and upsell because they can target better,’ he adds.

In HP’s case, Malgi says the company ‘had an exciting message to tell,’ and it wanted to tell it in a hurry.

The campaign revolved around a number of value-added initiatives offered to its customers that go beyond the sale to round out what Malgi calls the ‘HP total experience.’

The permission-based e-mail marketing campaign was designed to drive traffic to HP’s Creative Print Contest, an online promotion developed to motivate people to use their HP printers and HP supplies. The contest also encouraged people to visit ‘Printsville’ (www.printsville.com), an HP Web site filled with ready-made templates and creative print project ideas – especially suitable for the small office and home office user of HP colour inkjet printers.

According to Malgi, HP gathered customer information, including e-mail addresses, through its HP Idea Kit promotion, aimed at personal printer users. Customers who bought a personal printer or ink cartridge could, using a reply card, send away for the HP Idea Kit. The kit contained two desktop publishing software CDs, sample papers and special media, and a project booklet with step-by-step instructions.

‘We were able to collect a database of customers interested in creative printing ideas from the Idea Kit,’ says Malgi. ‘We sent out the Idea Kits twice a year over the past three years, so the information we collected fit in well with our Creative Print Contest campaign. We knew they would likely be interested in the ideas Printsville could give them.’

HP ended up with 19,000 opted-in names with e-mail addresses for its campaign, which began last spring. The e-mail messages gave recipients a choice – they could either download the message in plain-text format, or as an animated attachment. In either case, HP customers who received the e-mail were directed to Printsville, where they could download and print various projects, such as T-shirt iron-ons, gift-wraps, greeting cards and picture frames.

Three-quarters of the e-mail was successfully sent, with Malgi attributing the returned messages to respondents changing their Internet Service Provider (and thus having a new e-mail address) or data entry errors. But what of the remaining 75%?

‘Sixty-eight per cent of the original 19,000 actually responded to our call to action,’ says Malgi. ‘We had an unsubscribe rate of only half a per cent. We were obviously respectful of not sending out the message if it wasn’t wanted.’ Several hundred recipients also forwarded the e-mail to friends and associates, she adds, noting that HP was projecting a response rate of about 30%.

An impressive result, and one that seems to support a study by Stamford, Conn.-based IMT Strategies which says that permission-based e-mail marketing, when done properly, may well be the ‘killer app’ of the direct response industry.

‘Unlike Web banners, e-mail is an elegant and universal ‘push technology’ that puts the marketer back in control of what messages the customer sees when,’ states the report, which surveyed more than 160 e-mail marketers and 400 customers. ‘At a cost of pennies per message sent, permission e-mail offers marketers the chance to improve their marketing economics by five times or more compared to direct mail, and as much as 20 times Web banners.’

But permission-based e-mail marketing is still relatively new and that means marketers haven’t yet worked out their expectations. HP improved its chances of success by targeting people who already owned printers and crafting a message that was relevant to them.

‘I don’t think HP believes that this is the right marketing tool for [every] initiative,’ says Malgi. ‘Reputable businesses will do their research when it comes to this type of tool – a lot of the success depends on it.’

Google launches a campaign about news connections

The search engine is using archival footage to convey what Canadians are interested in.

Google Canada and agency Church + State have produced a new spot informed by research from the search giant that suggests it is a primary connector for Canadians to the news that matters to them – a direct shot across the bow of the legislators presently considering Bill C-18.

In a spot titled “Connecting you to all that’s news,” the search giant harnesses archival footage reflective of many of the issues Canadians care about deeply, including the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, truth and reconciliation and the war in Ukraine, to demonstrate the point that many Canadians turn to Google as a gateway to the information and news they’re seeking.

“From St. John’s to Victoria and everywhere in between, when Canadians want to understand or get updated on the most pressing topics, Google connects them to the news sources that provide it,” says Laura Pearce, head of marketing for Google Canada. “All of us at Google are proud to be that consistent and reliable connection for Canadians to the news they’re searching for.”

In some ways, the goal of the campaign was to tap into the varied emotional responses that single news stories can have with different audiences across the country.

“News may be factual, but how people respond to it can be very emotional,” explains Ron Tite, founder and CCO at Church + State. “Importantly, those emotions aren’t universal. One news story can create completely different reactions from different people in different places. Because of that, we simply wanted to let connecting to news be the focus of this campaign. We worked diligently to license a wide variety of actual news footage that we felt would resonate with Canadians.”

The campaign can be seen as a statement by the search provider on Bill C-18 – the Online News Act – that is currently being deliberated by a parliamentary committee. That legislation seeks to force online platforms such as Meta’s Facebook and Alphabet’s Google to pay news publishers for their content, echoing a similar law passed in Australia in 2021. The Act has drawn sharp rebukes from both companies, with Facebook threatening to ban news sharing on its platform.

Google Canada is not commenting on whether this new campaign is a response to C-18, but it has been public in its criticism of the legislation. In testimony delivered to parliament and shared on its blog, Colin McKay, the company’s head of public policy and government relations, said, “This is a history-making opportunity for Canada to craft world-class legislation that is clear and principled on who it benefits.” However, he noted that C-18 is “not that legislation.”

The campaign launched on Oct. 24 and is running through December across cinema, OLV, OOH, podcast, digital and social. Airfoil handled the broadcast production.