Honda Division is calling its e-mail campaign for the 2003 Pilot sport-utility a success.
The campaign is averaging a 40 percent response, said Honda's Ann Palmer, who is responsible for the company's online marketing. That compares with less than a 2 percent response to traditional direct mail.
And each e-mail costs less than a penny vs. up to $5 for each piece of traditional direct mail, said Al DiGuido, CEO of Bigfoot Interactive in New York, American Honda Motor Co. Inc.'s e-mail partner.
The Pilot went on sale June 3. In April, Bigfoot sent an e-mail about the vehicle to more than 30,000 people. It has sent two subsequent e-mails to those who have registered at the vehicle's Web site, Pilot.Honda.com.
The initial e-mail targeted "the Southern California surfer type - an SUV individual who's buying a lower-priced vehicle," DiGuido said.
Honda expects about 50,000 Web site registrants to request Pilot information.
"Far and away, this is the most efficient form of marketing for a new vehicle," Palmer said.
The Pilot campaign is Honda's second big e-mail campaign. Its first was for the relaunch of the 2002 CR-V, which went on sale in November.
To start that campaign, Honda in September sent an e-mail about the sport wagon to 7,000 people. Several 15-second TV commercials were aired for two weeks in the second half of October.
One goal was to have 40,000 people register at the CR-V Web site, NewCRV.Honda.com. It logged 114,562 registrants.
Honda's larger goal was for 5,000 of those registrants to buy a 2002 CR-V by the end of April; 5,197 sales were made.
In the United States, Honda sold 63,121 units of the CR-V in the first five months of this year compared with 44,694 in the year-ago period, an increase of 41.2 percent.
After the Pilot introduction, Bigfoot will collect e-mail addresses from more Honda customers. The automaker has e-mail addresses for 10 percent of its customer database, which is typical in the auto industry, DiGuido said. He expects to increase Honda's percentage to nearly 45 percent within the next 18 months.
Honda Division spent $369.2 million on measured media last year, excluding online, according to Competitive Media Reporting. Automakers typically spend up to 5 percent of their marketing budgets online.