GM Buick E-Mail Drives Response

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General Motors Corporation's recent video e-mail campaign promoting its 2002 Buick Rendezvous SUV received a positive response, garnering a 12.8 percent customer response rate.


Introduced in January, the ExpandMail was sent to nearly 100,000 opt-in Buick customers (addresses were obtained from a GM/MSN sweepstakes for a 2002 Rendezvous). The e-mail included a 49-second streaming or downloadable video presentation and links to the Buick Rendezvous Web site, combined with a fully functional Web page.


Viewers could also click to find a local dealership, or click another button to contact Buick. Viewers of the e-mail clicked on an average of 1.5 links per visit, most commonly the link to the official Buick Rendezvous Web site.


"Because it was a fully functional Web page, most chose to go directly to the site. But the second most popular was to find a dealer," said Peter Martin, president and founder of ExpandMail, Dallas.


"We've sent our regular text e-mails before, but this was a bit more exciting," said Casey Garwood, interactive advertising manager for Buick. In addition, because "budgets are tight everywhere," Garwood said the automaker needed a campaign that could effectively track return on investment.


However, Garwood would not say whether Buick is reducing its online advertising budget. "We still see online as a very efficient way to get the message out to people. A million banner ads probably cost less than a million newspaper ads," he said.


Instead of launching automatically, the video in the ExpandMail could be clicked on to either view or download, primarily because most people view the e-mail at work, according to Martin. "They might have people in the office, or not have the volume adjusted correctly, so we didn't want to launch it automatically," he said.


Although ExpandMail has had success with adding viral components to its video e-mail campaigns, General Motors chose not to do that because executives were concerned about spam, Martin said.


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