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Growing a List With Greetings and Sweeps

  |  June 12, 2001   |  Comments

Develop and grow a house email list, and the world will be your oyster. But how can you stand out in the crowd of free reports and e-newsletters and update services? Start by reviewing statistics on the most popular things to do online.

By now you all know the drill: Develop and grow a house email list, and the world will be your oyster. And we all know that to do this in a speedy and efficient manner, you need an offer that the target audience will be interested in and/or will value. Meaning: "Sign up here to get this," or, "Register here and download that." Once folks sign up and hit "submit" (and opt in to receive future promotional messages, of course), they’re yours to be marketed to. ’Nuff said.

But how can you stand out in the crowd of free reports and e-newsletters and update services? Start by reviewing statistics on the most popular things to do online.

According to a recent Nielsen//NetRatings report, online greeting cards were the third most popular online activity, with 60 percent participation rates. And sweepstakes were the fourth most popular.

Well, there are ways to leverage all of that action. And you can start by adding offerings such as those to your marketing mix. How?

Picture this: You’re the chief marketer for a very popular major cable television network that has recently launched a great new site. One of your main goals is to build a hot new email list so that you can send out updates on new programming, soon-to-be released movies, special events, concerts, and so on. You want to keep your fans updated and know that email is a great tool for the job.

So you cut a deal with a popular online greeting card company -- one of those "you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours" kind of deals. The greeting card company has some fun cards and has agreed to host a "send a card" page on its site. It has also agreed to co-brand that page to look like any other page on your site and even to create a few customized cards for you, based on the stars and themes of some of your hit shows.

When your visitors go to your home page, they see, "Click here to send a hot new e-card from your favorite Mafia family." They are then taken to the sign-up page for the e-card site, where they choose their card and recipient, then fill in their information, hopefully opting in to receive future non-card promotional communications in the process.

When the card is sent, the recipient can opt in for the update service at that time or can send a card. You can see how such an offering can quickly grow a list. Of course, some companies may not be successful with this type of offering. But the right type of product or service (mainly content sites, I’d assume) can really reap the rewards.

So what companies are offering this type of co-branded, private-labeled cards program? SharedGreetings’ CARDS (Customer Acquisition and Relationship Development Service), for one. REGARDS.COM, for another. And for a sweepstakes program that runs in a similar fashion, look to companies such as ePrize.

The benefits are obvious. Aside from enabling companies to capture personal data -- including behavioral information -- developing a house list in this manner can also strengthen branding and can even create more traffic to your site.

And a program such as that offered by SharedGreetings will host your co-branded e-card site and even design a limited amount of completely customized cards for you to offer. It also has an added viral component in that all cards sent earn a chance to win a prize for both the sender and the recipient.

In the hypothetical cable network example above, cards can include animated characters and superstars from a variety of the network’s original programming. A cooking site can offer cards with mini-recipes embedded within. A content site for computer aficionados can offer cards to appeal to software junkies. And so it goes, on and on.

Whatever you can do to make the cards or sweepstakes offering more compelling and to encourage a healthy pass-along, just think of all the creative ways to make use of the most popular aspects of your unique content. Then go for it.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kim MacPherson

Kim MacPherson is President and Founder of Inbox Interactive, a full-service email marketing agency specializing in promotional copywriting, HTML design, planning, and deployment/tracking solutions. Kim is also the author of "Permission-Based E-mail Marketing That Works!"

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