Cover Story: HP's Email at Work
"We want to have the content, more the relational awareness, be the main factor" of the HP Technology at Work e-newsletter, says Nielson. "We don't want to be too promotionally heavy there. ... The articles are featured at the top, and the promotion and the webinars are down toward the bottom."
As Dornick mentioned earlier, HP uses what it knows about its subscribers to personalize and "target the information to their interests," says Nielson. "If they're interested in PCs or printers or servers, [we're] trying to get content that's relevant" in the e-newsletter to them.
Where possible, HP personalizes the emails based on product and interest information subscribers provided through the preference center. However, HP only collects so much information in the registration forms: usually just name, email address and opt-in, says Nielson. This keeps conversion rates on the registration forms high—about 37 percent according to Shankar, compared with 10 percent for older forms that asked many questions. But it also means HP passes up on a lot of self-profiled information from those subscribers.
"Our perspective is that we ask as few questions as possible, and then try and use other means to learn more," says Nielson, "because every time you ask an additional question, your conversion rate's going to go down."
HP tries to fill in those blanks using other tools after the sign-up. According to Nielson, "if we can identify they're coming from a company, using Web analytics to identify their company—no personal information or anything—and just what they're relative company size would be, that helps us be more relevant."
It's a judgment of value between initial depth of profile and conversion rate. "What we feel is, you try and get [customers] to opt in, and then you use their experiences—those that are engaged and use your website or read your emails—to target your information based on that behavior," explains Nielson. "If customers are browsing certain Web pages and so forth, then we'll make [that content and] those promotions more prominent for those customers that have been active on those Web pages and have been clicking on those product categories."