Cox Leverages Web to Boost Digital and HBO

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Each year, Cox Communications Inc.'s Las Vegas system partners with Home Box Office on a Cox-branded free preview weekend. Broadcast spots usually feature on-air talent talking about the benefits of HBO and Cox.

But Cox faced few new challenges as it planned its May 4-6, 2001 weekend preview: meeting higher premium sell-in goals for HBO and growing the penetration of Cox's digital platform.

The system decided to shift the focus of the preview to promote Cox Digital Cable as the best way to enjoy premium entertainment, and to introduce an Internet marketing element.

But that strategy contained some risks, according to Patti Marciano, director of Web strategy at Cox. First, consumers would be asked to purchase both the digital tier and HBO, which were not only a higher selling price point, but also a more complex message to get across. Enter the Internet. "We felt that adding a strong Web component to this event would be a logical and effective way to achieve our goals," said Marciano.

Cox developed a Web site exclusively for the promotion, accessible through the www.cox.com home page.

The digital cable preview home page explained all the different areas of the site, and a special offers section gave customers a chance to see promotions tailored to their local system. Many of the offers were only available to consumers online. The broadcast spots made frequent mentions of Internet-only deals.

Customers could compete for prizes by submitting an email explaining why they liked Cox Digital Cable or HBO. Those whose entries were selected to be read on the video spots received a prize. The Web site also included the weekend free preview schedule and a preview cam, where viewers could take a peek backstage on the free preview TV production set.

Marciano said the system's primary objective was to increase online orders and leads to the digital package by 25 percent. Other goals included generating 30,000 visitor sessions, versus the 15,000 the company typically generates for its digital cable Web site, and utilizing the Web for cable marketing.

All that work paid off. Visitor sessions reached 37,930, far surpassing Cox's goal. "We were able to identify the most visited pages to assess the most meaningful content areas to our customers," Marciano said.

Cox also surpassed its 25 percent online order goal, reaching 34 percent. The system saw a 40 percent lift in online leads as well. "Further, 40 percent of customers who visited the Special Offers section of the site actually generated a transaction — an extremely high visitor-to-purchase conversion ratio," Marciano said.

Cox also saw a 70 percent increase over business-as-usual orders for its high-speed Internet service. The company let Web users know the Preview Cam was best viewed with a cable-modem connection.

"In terms of qualitative results, leveraging the Internet to promote this event provided a unique public relations angle — giving us the ability to differentiate this preview from those in the past by creating a buzz about the event that positioned us as a high-tech, high-touch communications provider," Marciano concluded.

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