HP: Language Conversion Worth Cost for Asian Effort

Since it began tailoring its monthly e-mail newsletter to Asia-Pacific customers with messages in their native languages in May, Hewlett-Packard's IT Resource Center has seen click-through rates double.

The idea to switch the language of the newsletter, dubbed ITRC, came from overseas regional managers for the Palo Alto, CA-based company, said Lisa Pernis, worldwide outbound marketing supervisor for the IT Resource Center.

“Our regional managers overseas felt the newsletters could be more effective and enticing if the recipients were getting them in their own language,” she said. “We have mailed the new versions of the e-newsletters out twice now to that area, and our click-through rates have since doubled.”

Click-through rates on ITRC in April ranged from 4 percent to 8 percent in the Asia-Pacific region. For the messages sent in late May and mid-July, click-through rates rose to 11 percent to 16 percent.

The sales cycle for most of the products is too long to have any conversion numbers yet, Pernis said.

Each month Hewlett-Packard targets 11,100 people with this business-to-business program in China, South Korea, Taiwan and Japan. The cost of each campaign starts at a base of $7,000, plus $2,000 to $3,000 for converting them into different languages, Pernis said.

Besides the Japanese and Korean versions, Hewlett-Packard uses traditional Chinese for Taiwan and simplified Chinese for China.

“The increase cost is not that much to begin with,” Pernis said. “But based on the response from the first two campaigns, we feel it is definitely worth it.”

Given the rough economy, Pernis said, advertising dollars need to be spent on the most effective methods. She sees direct and highly targeted e-mail marketing as one of the best ways to get the most out of ad money at this time.

“We haven't necessarily cut back on other forms of advertising but we have brought the production and execution of our banner ads in-house,” she said. “We believe our money is better spent on e-mail marketing even if that means spending more to customize our messages as much as possible.”

The newsletter recipients are directors of IT, IT administrators and people in charge of buying the technology at Global 2000 companies.

The newsletter “mimics” the HP IT Resource Center Web site. It has four sections: Maintenance and Support, Planning Design and Implementation, Training and Education and Forum highlights. It is customized to highlight products that are popular and trade shows in the recipient's area. Special gift offers and a forwarding capability are included. Roughly 2 percent of the e-newsletters are forwarded, Pernis said.

The newsletters were designed by Digital Impact, San Mateo, CA. Dave Kleinberg, senior vice president of marketing at Digital Impact, said that though people overseas are a few years behind the United States in their use of e-mail, they are eager to make it a larger part of their business operations.

“Internationally, e-mail is still new to a lot of people, and some countries are as far behind as two years,” he said. “But the results of this campaign provide another example that the overseas audience is very open to it.”

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