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.’

From Karen Howe’s dining table: Creativity, COVID and Cannes

ICYMI, The Township's founder gathers the best of the best campaigns and trends so far.

Cannes Base Camp

By Karen Howe

I’m attending Cannes from the glory of my dining room table. There’s not a palm tree in sight, yet inspiration and intel are present in abundance.

Cannes Lions is a global cultural pulse check. The social course correction in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and BLM has delivered far greater diversity in the judging panels as well as the work. And we are all better for it.

I’m proud to say that creativity defeated COVID, which speaks to its power. Great work and big ideas flourished, despite unimaginable odds.

The work from the past two years spans a vast emotional range. From the profundity of Dove’s “Courage is Beautiful” to the hyper exuberance of Burberry’s “Festive,” they are opposite ends of the spectrum, but each answered a need in us.

Take note, the ascendency of gaming cannot be understated. Smart brands have embraced the channel. It makes sense, because gamers participate to meet others around the world, not just to play. And they represent a huge and powerful community. That’s why QSR Wendy’s gamified their iconic gal in RPG’s Feast of Legends.

Burger King sponsored the unknown Stevenage Football Club, transforming the team into online heroes and vaulting BK into the fray at the same time. Once again, the brand embedded itself in culture.

The birth of gaming tourism arrived when Xbox snuggled up to travel guides and created a brilliant baby: a travel guide for gaming worlds. It, too, embedded itself in culture.

From the standpoint of social good, Reporter Without Borders showed how it worked with Mindcraft for its “Uncensored Library” to bypass press censorship, with Minecraft providing a loophole to a space where young people could be educated. It provided youth with a powerful tool to fight oppression: truth.

COVID changed us in unexpected ways. We learned how to pay attention again and there was a notable lack of 30-second commercials. Instead, longer format content thrived. Apple’s WFH was seven minutes long. Entertainment reigned king, so we find ourselves returning to our advertising roots.

Seeing competitive brands form partnerships was one of this year’s other great surprises. The brilliantly simple “Beer Cap Project” by Aguila to reduce binge-drinking saw the brand reach out to competitive beers to join in. Aguila put incentivizing (keyword: free) reminders to drink water, eat food and get home safely on its bottle caps from all sorts of fast food chains, ride-share co’s and H2O brands.

On a personal level, I’m so proud of Canada again this year. Given that it was two years of work from all over the world being judged, even making the Cannes shortlist was an accomplishment. Canada is herding in the Lions in tremendous numbers – and it’s not even over. Fingers are crossed.

KAREN-HOWE-PIC-higher-rez-300x263Karen Howe is a Canadian Cannes Advisory Board Member and founder of The Township Group