What's The Buzz?

On the ClickZ Forum, they’re delving ever deeper into the nuances of email marketing.

Kevin Lee mused about the differences between e-zine sponsorships and regular old list rental. When you sponsor an e-zine, you associate yourself with its content. The better the content, the better the chance your message will be read. With opt-in email messages, you (as the advertiser) control the subject line and the “From:” field. Better make ’em good.

Kevin reckons that e-zine sponsorship rates are running below 50 percent of the cost of list rentals. Presuming that e-zine response rates are tied to the quality of e-zine content and opt-in response rates tied to the quality of the list, he suggests testing the same offer and creative in both.

But there’s another consideration, suggested moderator Richard Hoy. In a text e-zine, there’s no good way to differentiate your text ad from text content. With opt-in, it’s all you. Doesn’t that justify a higher cost for opt-in? Except for the burnout factor, which swings the greater value to e-zines.

Richard, who must be exposed to lots of opt-in, suspects that the first advertiser of the day is going to get read way more than the hundredth. The “read percentage” of an e-zine, on the other hand, should be pretty consistent.

How Long Is Too Long?

Last week, Ariel Poler suggested that the most effective email messages are no more than a few paragraphs and require little or no scrolling. Chris Gooley replied that short or long depends. You just gotta test.

Having some time to think about this, Richard Hoy suggested that if recipients are used to getting long copy (a newsletter, for example), a long pitch is appropriate. If list members are used to getting advertising, go short.

ClickZ Errs

Our very own ClickZ recently sent a publisher’s letter to pitch a conference. It took a good deal of flak, but got several times as many positive responses. Richard concluded that ClickZ’s mistake was not properly setting readers’ expectations. So there’ll be more such mailings in the future, but readers will be given ample opportunity to opt out of receiving them.

“We are also, of course, going to be selective about what companies we let advertise in this manner,” Hoy promised. “You have to be because the list members trust (the list owner) to only offer things of genuine value. The relationship is with us and the list audience, and that is what the advertiser is leveraging.”

Where We Are; Where We’re Going

Responding to an I-Advertising member from Eastern Europe who was looking for lessons learned, Alan J. Zell wrote that a look back three to five years “would only show you that (Internet advertising) hasn’t advanced very much.”

While technical and graphics aspects have increased tremendously, they haven’t made Internet advertising better. “There are very few sites making a profit from their sites. They are making sales, but sales and profits are two different things.”

Reportedly, 100 consumer e-commerce sites are doing 75 percent of the business. “For the other umpteen million sites there doesn’t seem to be much left over.”

Most of the profitable business is being done in business-to-business e-commerce, where vendor-customer relationships have already been established. “(It’s) not so much creating new customers as it is shortening up the reorder process.”

Hitting The Skids

John Servais responded to an earlier I-Advertising doomsayer who’d predicted that Internet “high-fliers” will be hitting the skids come this fall.

“This is very similar to Bill Gates’ statement in the ’80s that no one needed more than 640K of RAM in his or her computer. Some just don’t see the future unfolding and can’t see how business folks would support a different model for doing work and commerce.

“Gates didn’t even see the Internet until it overwhelmed him in Jan ’95, and he took till September to react. Same with many folks in advertising and commerce – until they are overwhelmed by the viability of Internet commerce, they will cling to the belief that it is some sort of a fad. It is not. It is real and is now part of our lives.”

Domain Name Speculation

The domain name debate continues on Online Ads. Responding to Nari Kannan, who used Ford as an example, Scott Brew wrote, “Ford would have no right to go after anyone doing brick and mortar business as Ford Books. There needs to be a realistic chance of consumer confusion or clear “piggy-backing” of a popular brand.

“(But) in the Internet world, the domain name ford.com is unique. Unfortunately, the domain ford.com can not be shared by the ‘mom and pop’ bookstore down the street and the behemoth auto manufacturer. Even more unfortunate is when the ‘mom and pop’ bookstore had the foresight to register the domain and get online before the behemoth, but mom and pop wind up losing in the end to the flock of lawyers and injunctions showered upon them, claiming trademark infringement.

While domain piracy and cyber-squatting is a very real problem, it’s important to understand that there are just as many victims of corporate domain hijacking as there are of cyber-squatting.”

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