The Latest in Internet Marketing Technology? The Telephone

Remember how the Internet was going to automate the purchasing process and eliminate costs like call centers?

As with so many “middlemen” the Internet was supposed to eliminate, we’re discovering now that they’re more important than ever. Hence the announcements on Monday of two new technologies that link email marketing to real people via telephone (or Internet telephone).

First there’s the agreement between inChorus, which provides rich media email marketing, with USA Global Link, the telephone part of the equation. The deal calls for inChorus to embed the “Instant Call for E-mail” technology into its email product. That way, people who receive an email advertisement, and want to get more information, can simply click on a link to have someone phone them with the data.

“Our goal at inChorus.com is to provide the most compelling, effective and successful rich-media email marketing and advertising campaigns for our customers,” said Carol Prior, vice president of sales for inChorus.com.

“The power of the two components, rich-media to capture the email recipient’s attention, then Instant Call for the immediate connection to a human being, makes this a ‘killer app’ for email marketing.”

And inChorus.com isn’t the only one who thinks so. Beyond Interactive on Monday unveiled a campaign, which it’s putting together in partnership with RadicalMail, for Starz Encore Group LLC. The email campaign, to promote the premiere of the sci-fi animated feature film “Heavy Metal 2000,” will allow recipients to call a 1-800 number through their computer, and sign up for the Starz! cable television channel.

Beyond Interative tapped another of its clients, TheStream.com, to make this all work. The campaign uses TheStream.com’s PC-to-phone and phone-to-phone telephony services. Recipients of the email can click and call and order Starz! without having to log off their computer. They can also select a time for a Starz! customer service to call them so they can place the order.

“We wanted to give recipients the fastest, most efficient way to order Starz! and see the movie,” said Jay Chavez, vice president of worldwide Internet services, Ursus Telecom & TheStream.com.

“Through incorporating our phone-to-phone and PC-to-phone dial-up functionality and connectivity into the email, we’ve been able to provide a cross-platform marketing solution for Starz!”

The Starz! email includes a streaming movie trailer, exclusive movie clips, and soundtrack clips. Recipients who forward the email to a friend get entered into a $10,000 sweepstakes. The campaign budget was $40,000, and it was sent to more than 20,000 targeted recipients, which mostly includes people in the 18- to 24-year-old male demographic.

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