Cover Story: HP's Email at Work
Beyond the customer service benefits, Support Alerts also creates revenue through small ads Nielson's team calls "Chiclets." These are targeted to the recipients' particular HP products and run unobtrusively in the lower left column of the Support Alerts emails.
"We will get different promotions submitted by the different business units on the backend—printers, software, PC, etc.," explains Hansen. They'll run up to six in each recipient's email. But the specific number and promotions are determined by an algorithm based on the customer's preferences and engagement with recent emails or HP's website. "We handle all that targeting in the logic of the email engine, and as such they are highly targeted to the recipients' specific needs and wants."
A less obvious benefit of Support Alerts is that it allows HP to fill in a known blind spot in its customer data: connecting with customers who bought through partner channels and thus never came into HP's database.
"It's amazing how it works," says Nielson. "We sell a large percentage of our hardware products through the channel [retail, partner channels, non-direct sales, etc.] and we don't really know those customers. So, with this service, they come and tell us who they are, what products they own, and then we have to deliver what it is."
It all adds up to a program that increases customer satisfaction and support, which leads to better opt-in customer data for HP and more sales.
Technology at Work Fills in the Blanks
Where HP Support Alerts are strictly business, the HP Technology at Work e-newsletter is Nielson's primary relationship-nurturing tool.
The monthly e-newsletter is aimed at HP customers and has two main versions, one for small and medium businesses, and the other for enterprise customers. Between the two, Technology at Work goes out to several million subscribers. Nielson says those subscribers get a mix of about 60 percent articles (short teasers that click through to the full article on HP's site), 20 percent HP promotions, 10 percent webinars and another 10 percent "super shorts" (tips and knowledge pieces, buzz words, surveys, etc.).