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Casio Calculates Campaign for New Marketing Site

Casio Inc. breaks its largest U.S. e-mail campaign this week as the Japanese electronics marketer vies to drive traffic to a new marketing Web site for its American audience.

The campaign began yesterday with a drop of 20 million to 25 million e-mails staggered through the week. The e-mails combine awareness building for the site at www.casiousa.com with an invitation to opt in for news and offers from Casio's U.S. operations.

“We want to reach out to our existing database that Casio is here with a new Web site, and the other call is reaching out to brand-new customers who are interested in Casio electronics,” said Michael McCormick, Internet marketing manager at Casio, Dover, NJ.

Less than 25 percent of the e-mails will go to Casio's in-house database, a consequence of adhering to CAN-SPAM regulations. The other names are sourced from rented lists of people whose profile fits the typical Casio audience. Expedite Media Group, Lisle, IL, provided the outside list.

“Because Casio wants to make sure we follow the CAN-SPAM policies, we did take a drop in our membership due to inactive e-mail addresses and non-customer response,” McCormick said. “We reached out to our existing database, and if they didn't follow up in a period of time they were listed as not to be contacted or opted out. We didn't curb the membership to the site. We just reworked the opt-in function.”

The e-mails inform recipients about Casio's Exilim digital cameras, Privia digital pianos, label and disk title printers, calculators and Pathfinder watches, among other items.

A second round of e-mails will follow at the end of April. The drop size depends on the response to this month's effort.

This e-mail campaign marks Casio's first major foray into online marketing. The company currently runs a few banner ads, mostly from its various product divisions. But the online marketing silence will vanish this year as McCormick, an eight-year Internet veteran at Casio's U.S. arm, implements a new interactive strategy.

“That is the goal for this year,” he said. “We plan on doing a lot more pay-per-click advertising, banner advertising and tying in promotional activities that are offline … to online with a call to action to go to casiousa.com.”

Casiousa.com is the centerpiece of the new interactive strategy. Created by Casio agency Pipeline Interactive, Lebanon, PA, the site is the new online marketing face for Casio's U.S. operations. At official launch in January, it was split from the site at www.casio.com, which combined marketing and e-commerce for seven years.

Visitors to casiousa.com will see more search-engine-friendly Flash, demonstrations — the piano keyboard is playable online, for instance — and user-friendly navigation. The new site replaces the old 800-by-600 pixels resolution size with 1024-by-768 pixels, yielding room for more content.

The enhanced browsing experience includes detailed product descriptions of Casio's range of electronics. A universal product finder helps users locate a product category and drill down to the subcategory sought.

The site is part of a worldwide development platform for Casio, built around PHP and Microsoft SQL running on a Linux environment.

“On this site I'm able to customize all the meta tags and keywords, and I can do that without going to a programmer,” McCormick said. “I have a custom administration tool that we built in-house that basically allows me to control the Web site on my own, adding products, imagery and content.”

Casiousa.com also helps Casio's distributors and the retail channel better serve customers as they walk into stores more informed about product features and prices found on the site.

While casiousa.com is the online marketing persona, the site at www.mycasio.com is the company's e-commerce destination. The site's prices match the retail channel's to avoid conflict of interest with that vital distribution outlet.

The company is working on a few other microsites. Of those nearing completion, one will focus on Exilim digital cameras, another on Privia pianos, a third called www.gshock.com for watches and then a site for repairs that assigns barcodes to customers sending in products.

Mycasio.com's very creation along with casiousa.com signals a new mindset at a more aggressive Casio. The two sites are also recognition that it is key to first market and then sell to consumers, as true online as it is offline.

“We wanted to create more of a marketing aspect for our customers for their first look at Casio,” McCormick said. “Once they made an informed decision about the product they choose, then we give the customers the ability to go to the mycasio.com site to make the purchase.”

Mickey Alam Khan covers Internet marketing campaigns and e-commerce, agency news as well as circulation for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters

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