Simpson Strong-Tie Gets Slick Image With Rich Media

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Housing parts manufacturer Simpson Strong-Tie Co. recently used rich media to add sizzle to its metal connectors. What's more, the campaign cost only $1,500.

With the help of San Jose, CA-based Beema's rich media content on its site and video e-mails to its customers, Simpson's consumer education site,, is the company's No. 2 site out of six in terms of visitor sessions.

Starting in mid-May, the rich media included streaming video explaining to consumers building their own homes how Simpson Strong-Tie connectors and shear walls can help them build a strong house. For example, a moving diagram demonstrates how, when a strong wind hits a house, Simpson's hurricane ties hold the roof down.

Consumers are spending an average of three-and-a-half minutes at the site.

"It was our very first entry into taking a very complicated, unglamorous topic like metal connectors and explaining in a simple way to consumers why they should be concerned with what's inside their house," said Barbara Benotto, Web manager at Simpson Strong-Tie, Dublin, CA.

Simpson Strong-Tie also received positive response from a recent BeemaMail, a rich media e-mail thanking the 350 customers who had opted in to receive updates on the site.

Using a template from Beema, Simpson and Beema customized the logo, words and artwork of the e-mail. The result was a thank-you that appeared to fly across the screen, along with a moving logo and music. "We will contact you when we update the site. Thank-you for e-mailing us," the brief note said.

Although Simpson Strong-Tie cannot measure a direct impact on its business from the e-mail, the thank-you note generated many e-mails and in-person praise from customers, Benotto said.

"Everyone went wild when they got the thank-you note. It's made us look like a slick company," Benotto said.

The BeemaMail cost Simpson $1,500. "It's peanuts. There's no way I could do that kind of rich media on my own. It would cost a fortune to do it," Benotto said.

Steve Toy, president and founder of Beema, said, "Three requests that people are constantly making for rich media is for it to be less expensive, turned around quicker and they want to see it before they buy it."

Via its e-store at, Beema provides character animations, animated e-mail, streaming video and logo treatments that can be used on Web sites, CD-ROMs, kiosks, trade show booths and PowerPoint presentations.

Beema's logo artwork can take as little as two days to develop, Toy said, compared with four to six months for other rich media. In addition, TV-quality logo treatments cost from $5,000 to six figures to develop, he said, whereas Beema's rich media services, including logo treatments, range from $1,000 to $3,500.

Toy noted that the BeemaMail's 1K file size is also a benefit: People who can receive HTML files also can receive the BeemaMails.

He believes character animations will be popular as part of conference presentations and on corporate Web sites.

"Many companies have characters associated with their company that come out and talk to people," he said. "It is another way to get the branding and messaging across."

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