July 10, 2006, 12:00 AM

Sony’s online customers click, take a lesson and buy

About 18-20% of consumers who sign up for free instructor-led online courses on topics like digital cameras go on to purchase Sony products either in stores or on the web, Sony says.

About 18-20% of consumers who sign up for free instructor-led online courses on topics like digital cameras go on to purchase products from Sony Electronics Inc. either in stores on or on the web, Barbara Miller, director of corporate marketing, tells InternetRetailer.com.

Sony, using educational content provided by Powered Inc., offers three to five of the free courses a month through its three online “campuses” at Sony101.com and learning center sections on Sony.com and SonyStyle.com. The course content is offered in multiple levels ranging from beginner to advanced and special topics, including instructions on how to build a web page. Sony is No. 9 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide to Retail Web Sites.

The courses serve about 6,000 to 8,000 users each month, Miller says. “About 75% of them already owns a Sony product, so 20-30% could be new customers,” she says. “About 85% come back to take another course, and 90% say they would recommend the course to others.”

Sony has been offering the courses for about two years, but earlier this year also began offering them on the women-oriented iVillage.com, where ten courses attracted nearly 100,000 users in a 3-month period. “Women make up 50% of the purchasing power in electronics, so we’re focusing on women from a demographics standpoint,” Miller says.

About 70% of the Sony course participants on iVillage.com signed up for Sony’s e-mail program, and more than 25% clicked from a course to one of several Sony Electronics micro-sites, and more than 15% went on to purchase a Sony product, Sony said.

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