MPM's major rehab

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By net marketing standards it's a sad, old story: Company puts up Web site. Site just sits there. The sales and marketing punch that the company hopes for never materializes. Site withers and dies.

Happens all the time.

But not to Franklin, Mass.-based MPM Corp., the world's largest supplier of electric deposition systems for the electronics assembly industry, which, with the help of Sprintout Internet Services, a Providence, R.I., Web marketing and development consultancy, implemented a top-to-bottom redesign of its underperforming site.

"Research had already shown that [potential customers] wanted to look for new products on Web sites, but our initial site was generating horrible hit sites, but our initial site was generating horrible hit rates of only 60 visits a month. It was an informational but dense package, low on graphics and not really well-designed," says Steve DeCollibus, marketing communications director for MPM, a subsidiary of London-based Cookson Group plc, a manufacturer of specialty industrial materials and equipment with $2.5 billion in sales last year.


Through a series of referrals, MPM and Sprintout found each other late last year. It didn't take long for the companies to agree that a major rehab was in order.

"The information was very static, in text-form only without any interactivity," says Sprintout President Jay Higgins. "The navigation was not intuitive."

Mr. Higgins advised that more visual elements were necessary on the site, and MPM went along.

Mr. DeCollibus, who was appointed to his position as the redesign was being implemented, envisioned the new site as a more community-oriented resource for customers to both receive information about products and express their opinion to the company in a more creative way than the elementary e-mail link many Web sites offer.

The redesign took several weeks to implement. Neither Mr. DeCollibus nor Mr. Higgins would discuss how much the project cost.

Mr. DeCollibus says that by late this summer, he will be able to accurately judge how much new business the site has generated.

He is also considering whether to cut back on costly product brochure print runs, a step that if taken, would add several thousand dollars in savings to the return on investment equation.

The new site, now up for four months, has been generating more than 7,000 individual site visits a month -- more than 100 times the count of the old site.


The 200-plus-page site opens with a home page in which a rapidly alternating menu of product photos emulates a full-motion video effect. The top tool bar has six buttons. A corporate profile section (equipped with an audio or still-photo facilities tour and service-locator map) and an archive of recent MPM announcements combined with a list of forthcoming trade show commitments are the destination of two of the buttons. The four other buttons take the visitor to specific MPM product-information areas.

That's where you'll find the b-to-b marketing meat of the new site.

One section, devoted to selling the Ultraprint 3000 Series printer, a high-end stencil printer, is a good example of the site's rich and instructive content.

The Ultraprint 3000 section is divided into six categories, which include a still-shot product tour, a photo-imbued product features section, a user group product forum for customer questions and input, a technology notes update about new products and enhancements to existing lines, a detailed product literature section and a spare parts order form.

From the product literature page, brochures can either be printed out and faxed back or downloaded from the site and read with Adobe Acrobat. The three brochures available for download take between 1.3 and 1.8 megabytes of disk space.

The order form page, which uses Sprintout's Quanta/D online inventory ordering system, can be printed out and faxed back or submitted electronically. But because of the high-ticket nature of most MPM products, Mr. DeCollibus doesn't view electronic commerce-enabled purchasing as practical.


Mr. DeCollibus says he thinks the new site has greatly accelerated the sales process.

"If, in fact, a person comes to our Web site and is curious enough to fill out a form to request more information, they are much more of a qualified lead than someone who circles a reader response card. This can take them 75% through the sales cycle," he says.

Sprintout meets with MPM monthly to supply and interpret monthly traffic reports.

"We explain to them what is actually going on," Mr. Higgins says. "We talk over the activity on the site, the sequence of pages and the length of time spent by users on each page. Then we communicate to them what is already useful and what they might want to consider adding or changing."

Sprintout's other clients include the Wiring Devices Division of General Electric Co., Uvex Safety and Bell Fasteners.

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