Computer Maker Keeps Sharp Watch on E-Mail

Sharp Systems of America is running an online ad campaign to collect e-mail addresses to add to its online database for conveying periodic information and offers on PC notebooks and monitors.

The effort comes as many marketers show anxiety about e-mail communications for fear of violating the CAN-SPAM Act. Red Door Interactive, San Diego, handles the account.

“Sharp is becoming more aggressive in using this medium to communicate with prospects,” said Reid Carr, president and strategy director of Red Door. “E-mail is still a great way to reach prospects. Right now, CAN-SPAM and filters are a blessing in disguise because people who are receiving and viewing the e-mails these days are really interested in what we have to say.”

The e-mails push the Huntington Beach, CA-based Sharp's slim, lightweight line of notebooks including the TN10W tablet, the $1,499 Actius MM20 desktop companion weighing 2 pounds and the industry's first 3D notebook called RD3D. The full line of LCD monitors is promoted, too.

Red Door is paying close attention to the new spam law. It also is in step with how filters are changing the manner in which e-mail is received. The agency is running on-site ads on to promote specific products. A mini-site centered on Sharp-created 3D technology supports.

Another tactic is targeting users who are registering for newsletters and special offers on selected affinity sites. They can opt in to receive Sharp news and offers when they register for other newsletters. After a confirmation of their registration, they receive periodic e-mails from Sharp.

But the majority of the marketing outreach involves leveraging the Sharp site. This covers search engine optimization and pay-per-click ads on Google, Overture and LookSmart.

“We're targeting people who are in the market for notebook PCs and LCD monitors or have an affinity for PCs enough to want to register for updates about them,” Carr said. “We're keeping this initial campaign relatively broad as we build this preliminary list.”

This is the first time Sharp — a division of Japan's Sharp Electronics Corp. — has used this tactic of gathering e-mail addresses, he said. The company previously collected e-mails on its site for communication with existing customers. Sharp does not disclose the size of its online database but Carr said the list is growing by 2,000 e-mail addresses a week.

Red Door, a specialist in online marketing, has clients like Toshiba's network products division, Intuit TurboTax, SkinMedica, San Diego Convention Center and the city of El Cajon, CA.

Sharp's foray into online marketing a few years ago was phased rather than an outright move. But its Internet outreach has increased drastically in the past quarter. The rationale is simple. Online media is easy to track. It also is cost-effective to test creative and concepts. For example, Red Door is tracking both the quantity and quality of Sharp's list. It is monitoring conversions from the campaign for return on investment purposes as well as forwards and opt outs.

“The Web has become their hub of communications and has been extremely effective as such,” Carr said. “Traffic has consistently grown to the site, partly because of an existing brand affinity of many consumers, but also attributable to the search engine work we've put forth.”

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