Home  › Email › Email Marketing

Flying Carpets

  |  October 18, 1999   |  Comments

Once upon a time there were two web sites, each selling genuine Turkish carpets. The first site, PatsCarpets.com does everything right, 'forcing the network effect' of the Internet by pushing its message out. Meanwhile, across the virtual street, NicksCarpets.com opens for business, 'riding the network effect' simply by being worth talking about. In this tale of two carpet merchants, which will make more money?

Once upon a time there were two web sites, each selling genuine Turkish carpets.

The first site, PatsCarpets.com, does everything right. Patrick is a smart fellow and is going to build an email list of purchasers and prospects.

He'll do a lot of testing and determine that the optimum frequency of his 'Pat on the Rug' newsletter is 1.67 times a month.

He'll have a 'Carpet Preferences' page on his site where people can input a personal profile. Then Pat can target the right kind of offer to the right person at the right time.

He'll provide online, live help. He'll even offer first-time buyers a $200 discount on their first purchase.

In short, Pat is no dummy and he'll be building his site, his lists and his business in a way that will likely work just fine.

Meanwhile, across the virtual street, NicksCarpets.com opens for business.

Nick doesn't have Pat's attention span or his online business smarts. He's never heard of 'predictive modeling' and has no idea what 'opt-in' means.

But he does love carpets. In fact, he spends several weeks a year traveling through Turkey, looking for some great buys for NicksCarpets.com customers. Sure, he has his regular, wholesale suppliers -- but he also likes to dig up something special from time to time.

While he's away traveling, the frequency and regularity of his newsletters suffer a little. But that's okay, because his customers like him.

They also appreciate the fact that he knows carpets better than anyone.

Want to know the difference between a Bergama carpet and a Bergama-Yuruk? Nick's your man.

Want to know what color of die you get when you mix madder root, acorns and wood ash? He'll have your answer. (Deep, red/brown).

Yes, his newsletters are a little less frequent and regular. Yes, his site is a pain to navigate, his shopping cart is unreliable, and he makes you scroll from left to right to see each page.

But when you look at the carpets he offers on his site, you know they're what he says they are. You know they'll be packaged and delivered properly. And chances are he'll include something in your package that he has picked up on his travels. Like a postcard from Istanbul -- or a pressed flower from the side of the road just outside Izmir -- or the menu from a restaurant in Urgup. Or just a hand-written note saying, 'Hi.'

When you receive his newsletters, you know they won't be professionally written sales pitches with multiple links that take you deep within the site. His newsletters will be jam-packed with stories, advice, observations and typographical errors. He'll probably even forget to include a direct link to his site.

Here's the question.

After 18 months, which site will be making more money? Pat's or Nick's?

It's an impossible question. But I wouldn't write off NicksCarpets.com.

Pat may build a bigger database. But Nick will likely build a stronger and more loyal following.

Pat will grow his list through sophisticated outbound email campaigns. But Nick's constituency will grow by real-life word of mouth.

Pat will be 'forcing the network effect' of the Internet by pushing his message out. Nick will be 'riding the network effect' simply by being worth talking about.

I'd like to think that Nick would do pretty well.

ClickZ Live Toronto On the heels of a fantastic event in New York City, ClickZ Live is taking the fun and learning to Toronto, June 23-25. With over 15 years' experience delivering industry-leading events, ClickZ Live offers an action-packed, educationally-focused agenda covering all aspects of digital marketing. Early Bird Rates expire May 29. Register today and save!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nick Usborne

Nick Usborne speaks, writes, and consults on strategic copy issues for business online. For Web sites, e-mails and newsletters, he crafts messages that drive results. He is the author of the critically acclaimed bookNet Words - Creating High-Impact Online Copy.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

Get ClickZ Email newsletters delivered right to your inbox. Subscribe today!

COMMENTS

UPCOMING EVENTS

Featured White Papers

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce
This Magic Quadrant examines leading digital commerce platforms that enable organizations to build digital commerce sites. These commerce platforms facilitate purchasing transactions over the Web, and support the creation and continuing development of an online relationship with a consumer.

Paid Search in the Mobile Era

Paid Search in the Mobile Era
Google reports that paid search ads are currently driving 40+ million calls per month. Cost per click is increasing, paid search budgets are growing, and mobile continues to dominate. It's time to revamp old search strategies, reimagine stale best practices, and add new layers data to your analytics.

WEBINARS

Resources

Jobs

    • SEO Specialist
      SEO Specialist (HeBS Digital) - NEW YORK                             ...
    • GREAT Campaign Project Coordinator
      GREAT Campaign Project Coordinator (British Consulate-General, New York) - New YorkThe GREAT Britain Campaign is seeking an energetic and creative...
    • Paid Search Senior Account Manager
      Paid Search Senior Account Manager (Hanapin Marketing) - BloomingtonHanapin Marketing is hiring a strategic Paid Search Senior Account Manager...