Sony logo

The Challenge

Sony Electronics remains one of the most iconic, recognized and revered global brands. Though few competitors can match Sony’s innovation, reliability and unrivaled quality, the consumer electronics category is crowded, fickle and price sensitive. What’s more, the life cycle of high-end electronic products is similar to that of appliances and automobiles — there can be a long hiatus between replacement purchases.

Harte Hanks has partnered with Sony Electronics as the CRM AOR for more than ten years. That translates into the creation and deployment of thousands of campaigns, millions of emails, and a library full of digital content and assets.

Most Sony Electronics CRM efforts consisted of “big picture” broadcast batch email blasts. The list, built over many years, primarily consisted of opt-in customers who had purchased and registered a Sony product. The objective was to keep customers engaged with the Sony brand, and to encourage both additional ancillary and replacement purchases.

We determined that attrition was beginning to accelerate and engagement rates were trailing off. Clearly, batch emails were not enough to inspire interest and stimulate cross-purchases. We needed a more relevant content strategy, and better data analytics to know how best to reach the right customer, in the right context, at exactly the right moment. Our broadcast email blasts, as designed, were attracting customers into the top of the funnel. But we needed a more efficient way to identify and engage passionate, tech-savvy customers with a greater propensity to purchase.

Our Insights

Harte Hanks observed what we refer to as “The 90-Day Cliff.” If a customer does not open a Sony email in three months, the click-through rate drops from 20% to 2%. It is essential to create content that arouses interest and curiosity within that window.

The Harte Hanks Behavioral Index™ gave us insights into evolving customer needs, a demand for richer at-home experiences, and a redirect toward a more lifestyle-oriented marketing approach. We were able to identify specific behavioral triggers that illustrated, with a great deal of certainty, when customers might be most susceptible to certain offers, and which additional products were most synergistic with their original purchase. This led us to a strategy we refer to as “Flares and Follow-Ups.” Flares are attention-grabbing push communications designed to reveal interests and drive initial engagement with affinity products. Follow-ups are “pull” communications created to nurture and deepen the customer interest with an affinity product or category.

We uncovered a host of differentiated customer journeys. But within that universe, we saw patterns emerge that allowed us to develop distinct customer models and create streams of more compelling content, delivered via precise algorithmic maps that guide autonomous email implementation.

Our Approach

Harte Hanks successfully migrated Sony from a proprietary email platform with limited capabilities to a Sales Force Marketing Cloud solution, customized by our solutions architects. In effect, this was like going from a manual transmission to a Tesla Model X. It provided dynamic capabilities to drive exceptional levels of personalization by offering the ability to pull in customer data from myriad sources outside of our email database.

Harte Hanks strategists engineered a data-driven CRM lifecycle to optimize customer engagement tailored to individual taste and interests. This led to development of sophisticated streams of communications to cultivate affinity product enthusiasm and pull customers along the path from curiosity through transaction.

Knowledge is power, and armed with deep data and cutting-edge analytics, we built a more comprehensive content strategy. Armed with 25 specific customer “trigger variants,” we could precisely match content streams to customer needs.

Recognizing that we live in a “fear of missing out” world, in which consumers voraciously seek bits and bytes of in-the-know content, we developed a Technology Spotlight messaging strategy. It focuses on Sony’s amazing technology features by taking customers “inside the black box” and revealing unique must-have innovations These curiosity building vignettes join a series of visually robust technology newsletters, integrated with hot deal offerings, all carefully curated to drive engagement and action. Embedded video links help bring to life the Sony Electronics ecosystem and enhance the customer brand experience along the way.

Sony Electronics, in essence, are not simply marvels of technology. They help amplify our deepest sensory experiences. How we see, hear, create. This emotional high ground is the thread that runs through all our CRM executions.

The Results

Propelled by a deeper understanding of customer behaviors and lifecycles, in tandem with superior intelligent programmatic marketing technology, we have seen a lift in open rates of our initial demand generation broadcast emails by nearly 100%.

But that’s just the start.

We have achieved:



In click-throughs



In click-to-open rate

In our personalized engagement communications, the open rate has climbed to over 80%!

That equates to 4X the open rate and 10X the click-through rates of the more general broadcast batch emails.

This success has encouraged Sony Electronics to expand its eCommerce direct sales channel. It is anticipated to increase sales volume dramatically as customers can now be directly linked from engagement to purchase in real time. All at the very moment when they are at the peak of excitement about a Sony product.

Together, Harte Hanks and Sony Electronics have proven that it pays to get personal with your customers.