HP Mailer Uses Personalized Web Pages for Response

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A business-to-business campaign using personalized Web pages as a response mechanism that Hewlett-Packard tested to promote its IT training business last year has become standard marketing practice this year.


Postcards and e-mails sent by Hewlett-Packard Educational Services to encourage its clients to register for training classes bore the URL of a Web page designed for the individual recipient. By logging onto the page, clients can access a course catalog and register online.


In a six-month test from spring to fall 2002, HP issued three drops of 5,000 e-mails and postcards each to people who previously took an HP Educational Services IT training course. A total of 15,000 individuals, including members of a control group, were targeted.


HP said the campaign resulted in 9.4 percent of the individuals responding to the postcard either by logging on to their personal Web page or calling a toll-free number, and 62 percent clicked through the e-mail to their personal URL. The overall conversion rate was 25 percent, yielding an estimated $600,000 in new revenue.


HP Educational Services plans to run the efforts quarterly to its customer base, the size of which HP declined to reveal, and plans to use the strategy for customer acquisition in the future. The test was run with help from San Francisco-based Nimblefish, which provided campaign management technology.


HP is touting the campaign as an example of the power of its digital printing and variable data technology. The technology lets mailers increase personalization beyond specific name and address, enabling variations in images and text for what HP considers true one-to-one marketing.


Images in the mailers varied by the recipient's geographical location. For example, a target in the San Francisco market would get a mailer with an image of the Golden Gate Bridge.


Copy on the mailers varied by the target's history with the training service. Someone who had taken a previous course would receive a mailer recommending the next-level course in that training program.


Digital printing also let HP print the unique URL of each recipient on the mailers.


Previously, HP Educational Services used generic print catalogs and e-mail blasts in its marketing. The generic material typically generated response rates of 1 percent to 2 percent, said Bob Johnson, business development manager in HP's digital publishing solutions group.


Using a personalized Web page as a response mechanism has benefits over print in that it never gets old, he said. HP can change the Web pages as new courses become available, which would be impossible with a print catalog without printing and mailing new material.


The Web page also let HP track customer response in real time, he said. HP can receive day-by-day numbers on which clients visited the Web pages, which parts of the pages they accessed most and other behavioral information.


"You get immediate feedback," he said. "You don't have to wait for a response card to come in."


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