eBrochures Get Toyota E-Mail Marketing Campaign Into High Gear

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Toyota Motor Sales USA has dived head first into new media marketing by launching a series of e-mail marketing campaigns featuring MindArrow Systems' eBrochure technology. Early response rates have its creator bragging.

An eBrochure is a Windows-executable file that combines graphics, text, audio and video without requiring the recipient of the e-mail to download any special software to view the message.

Toyota last week e-mailed a 15-second video clip showcasing the newly redesigned Celica Coupe. The message went to 36,000 consumers who opted in to receive the message at either the Toyota.com Web site or in person at the car manufacturer's dealerships.

Expectations are high for this latest mailing. An earlier mailing for the Prius, a new hybrid model that combines gasoline and electric energy, saw 18 percent of its recipients open the message. Fifty-eight percent of the people who viewed the spot asked for more information by either clicking through to isthistoyota.com or requesting a physical brochure. The Prius spot was sent to 45,000 users.

These response rates are consistent with an earlier eBrochure mailing sent out in April for the MR2 Spyder. Eighteen percent of the recipients opened that message, which went out to 36,000 people. Seventy-one percent of the people who viewed the message clicked through to the Web site for additional information.

eBrochures are blowing away the other direct marketing mediums, boasted Mike Penell, vice president of marketing at MindArrow Systems, Aliso Viejo, CA. "1 [percent] to 1.5 percent for direct mail. It's a hell of a lot better than that. Clearly the readership is much higher when there's an engaging and entertaining message. That's why we're able to get 18 percent. Typical e-mail only gets a 5 [percent] to 7 percent response rate."

While MindArrow has arguably assumed a leadership role in the rich media space, it certainly isn't alone. In June, TMX Interactive launched a streaming e-mail product. Also that month, Twelve Horses launched its MessageMaker product and was expecting to offer a rich media product this month.

Penell said it's natural that people would gravitate to this arena.

"There are a variety of competitors," he said. "This is the communication [tool] for 2000 and beyond. It can be used for corporate collateral fulfillment, customer support. There's a variety of ways to use this technology. Why would I even do paper brochures? Why do direct mail? The connected population wants to receive that content electronically."

The different products bear different advantages and disadvantages. TMX Interactive, for example, will stream a commercial into a consumer's mailbox once the message is opened. Currently, users must click on a MindArrow message to activate it.

With the recent spate of computer viruses proliferating on the Web, many consumers have become less than keen about opening attachments. For this reason, MindArrow will soon launch an HTML-based message in which all a consumer needs to do is click on a link to download the advertisement.

"Because of the Love Bug virus, people are much more reluctant to click on a file, even those that are secure. We recognize that's an issue," Penell said.

The advantage to MindArrow's technology over streaming technology, Penell said, is "we guarantee the quality of the video. Our technology allows us to send a compressed file or have a consumer download it without having to stream it. The quality of a streaming message depends on how your PC is connected. Streaming video at a 28.8 connection speed is pathetic. We have the same quality of video regardless of your connection speed," Penell said.

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