Anne Holland

Delayed Email Responses May Convert Better

July 10th, 2003

I just learned something cool from our new B-to-B reporter Srikumar Rao (you may know the name — he used to write on marketing
for Forbes.)

Srikumar said he’s seen B-to-B email campaign data that shows the recipients who click last, convert at a significantly higher rate than the quicker clickers.

His theory is that if someone has taken the trouble to save your email message in their in-box for later reading, they are probably a more qualified sales lead. Even if it takes them a week or two (or even longer) to finally click through.

Makes sense.

In these days of email overload, I think many recipients are performing a sort of triage-system for incoming mail. You delete the crud quickly, you answer the easy stuff right away, and then you save the requires-thought stuff for later.

What it means for marketers: make sure you leave your landing page (aka splash page) and also anything powering your email’s HTML images up for as long as possible. Not just a few days.

Also, don’t measure campaign success based on 24-hour response. The really good replies may not have begun to come in yet.

BTW: Got any data from your own campaigns on this? Lemme know and maybe we’ll write about you!

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Anne Holland

New AdSense Tool Reveals Which Google Ads Your Site

July 10th, 2003

Even if you’re not remotely considering adding Google AdSense ads to your site, here’s a very fun tool — you just pop in your URL and it displays the sorts of ads that would appear on your site.

In my case, I’m not adding AdSense to our sites, because in my niche (corporate execs) brand is a critical thing. A few lame ads targeting a slightly off demographic could make visitors think we’re for people “not like them.”

Or, maybe I’m just a control freak.

BTW: You could use this tool to scout out potential advertisers to sell directly to…..

http://about-adsense.com/adsense-web-tool.html

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Anne Holland

B2B Roadblocker Ads (Very) Unexpectedly Successful

July 9th, 2003

Just got off the phone with Jason Brown who is the most bubbly, hyper, positive Brit I’ve ever met. He’s also the associate publisher over at Windows & .Net Magazine. They launched interruptive “Rockblocker” site ads about two and a half months ago, and I wanted to know how things are going.

The ads are the kind where a user has to click to get anywhere else — you either click to say yes I want to see more about the advertiser, or you click to say, Heck no, I want to see the content I was trying to get to.

It’s a particularly risky maneuver in the IT marketplace because IT guys hate advertising and loathe commercialism. Which is why none of the typical big IT advertisers such as Microsoft said they would touch it with a ten foot pole when Jason’s team first pitched them.

Jason himself was nervous – he prepped the site customer service team to be ready for a deluge of angry emails. His goal was to keep it under 2,000 emails – if the anger went over he would pull the campaign. They anxiously stood by … and only four users emailed in out of the million uniques who saw the first campaigns.

The tests averaged a click rate in favor of the advertiser of more than 20%. The ad sales team called clients triumphantly — and landed 16 new roadblock accounts in 60 days. That’s got to be some kind of sales record for a new campaign format on B2B sites. (Note – yeah, I know it’s not a new format on B2C sites… but B2B is a different universe.)

http://www.winnetmag.com/

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Anne Holland

Publishers: Don't Reveal Your AdSense CPM Please

July 8th, 2003

Michael Banks Valentine just emailed me that the Google AdSense Terms of Service forbid publishers carrying AdSense ads to reveal click throughs or revenue figures. So for you folks who’ve already sent me your data – never fear I won’t reveal it. (But I will check if I can run a survey to reveal some data in aggregate.)

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Anne Holland

Irony of the Week: Date.com's Email Revenues

July 2nd, 2003

According to an article in Direct Magazine, subscription site Date.com has redirected 60% of its email marketing budget into other online tactics to acquire new subscribers because they feel filters are eating too many of their promotions to 3rd party lists.

They don’t say why filters are targeting them so much — but I’ll bet it’s a combination of the fact that their copy probably contains innocent words that may be common to spammers (such as dating), and that some rental lists on the B2C market are mis- represented as permission based, when they are actually junk names and thus would be filtered more.

Anyway, here’s the funny part of the story — while Date.com’s marketer tests various online ad tactics to raise sub sales that email formerly brought in, the company is covering part of the revenue shortfall by putting their own email list on the rental market. And, it’s so successful (after all these are direct response buyer names with lots of fabulous demographic selects) that they are considering also putting their snail mail list out there too.

Online sub site revenue tactics look more and more like offline sub product tactics every day. I know plenty of B2C print sub newsletters (Boardroom Reports, etc.) who’ve depended on list rental income for profits over the years.

http://directmag.com/ar/marketing_datecom_moves_away/index.htm

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Anne Holland

Google Claims Publishers Profiting from AdSense

July 2nd, 2003

Michael Mazel over at Google just sent me a link to this happy publisher carrying AdSense ads case history he wrote up. In it the folks at InfoPlease reveal they are making more with Google AdSense ads than they were as members of general online ad networks. https://www.google.com/adsense/infoplease

Which is fine… but you should realize general online ad networks have been paying diddlysquat for ages now, so anything is better than that.

I’ve been asking around about the profitability of AdSense ads and heard very different stories — ranging from under $1 CPM to $20CPM for publishers. I’ve also heard some folks say the ads are amazingly well targeted to their niche, and others say the opposite (such as an ad for healthcare pros that appeared on a kid’s site.)

So the jury is still out. I think we’re all hoping the kinks work out and this is a great program in the long run. In the meantime, email me your experiences! AHolland@MarketingSherpa.com

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Anne Holland

@attbi Transition to @comcast Goes Badly

June 30th, 2003

The Comcast ATTBI email address switch took place today, and although they told me in interviews that they were going to carefully transition one section of the US at a time, slowly making sure that each worked properly before moving on to the next, it appears that they switched the whole darn Nation (about 1.3 million users if I recall correctly) all at once.

They did email everyone lots of notes prior to with links to a “Transition Wizard” which if you clicked on the link would supposedly set up your PC to start accepting email in the new system in a lovely flawless easy fashion.

You know technology, the Wizard only worked for Outlook Express (although it wasn’t altogether clear in the copy that was the
case) so anyone using regular Outlook didn’t get email today. Plus, I’m now hearing from some Mac users that although there as a Mac-specific Wizard, it doesn’t appear to have worked either.

I’ve heard from users on both sides of the Country that the transition is very bumpy.

If you are an email list owner, expect lots of bounces, lower opens and lower clicks from ATTBI addresses for the next few days until stuff gets sorted out.

P.S. Noooo, do not simply switch the @attbi names on your list to @comcast. There is overlap in between the addresses on two lists and you will end up sending mail to the wrong people.

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Anne Holland

OPA Meeting Notes – Online Sub Sales Rising

June 30th, 2003

I’m typing this from the Internet Cafe in Times Square after speaking at the Online Publisher’s Association breakfast this morning on selling subscriptions online. Gotta hang out in NYC until the OPA webcast from 1-2 P.M. of same speech (only more
awake) for west coast people and then blow this steamy town for the beach.

Which, seeing how many empty cubes there were at Primedia/About Inc offices today (where breakfast was held), is what everybody’s doing.

Some stuff I picked up in between pontificating:

- About has just lured Debby Richman (sp?) away from heading up marketing at Overstock to now head up some of their subscription sales online. I know from interviewing her that Debby is the Queen of Stats-based direct response marketing online. If anyone can kick sub sales a** it’s her, so look for About sub stuff to rocket soon.

BTW: Utah is now such a hotbed of sub site selling. Between Debby and Ancestry and Sandlot, guess they’ll have to start their own little lunch group of sub bigwigs.

- Epicurious.com’s Taste Test paid newsletter which launched early this year is apparently doing fairly well and testing lots of neat marketing tactics. I look forward to interviewing them later in the year.

- Condenet among others is having solid success selling subs to print mags on its sites. Michael Zimbalist cited 70-90k subs per year as an “average” sales figure for average print mags online. Someone else said it can be a lot higher. Everyone agreed it was often a vastly different group of buyers than the traditional ones.

My take on this is: For years mag sub sales have depended for a large part on two things: 1. People who respond to direct mail (vast majority of subs) 2. People who use mag blow-in cards (the ones that fall in your lap when you read a new issue) to subscribe (tiny percent of subs, but highly profitable marketing
tactic).

Many many people out there don’t respond to these two tactics. While the online and offline demographics may be incredibly similar, for the first time you are putting a new type mag offers in front of people who were proven non-DM responders in the past. Enough like it to make 80-90% of online subs sold be people who never bought through traditional sub channels.

It doesn’t mean people are different, it means you widened your channel to appeal to more types of buyers.

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Anne Holland

Why Your List's Hotmail Names Are Bouncing More & More

June 30th, 2003

OK, one last thing and I’m out of here in search of restroom (oh the fun of business travel). Hotmail is counting all messages in one’s “junk box” toward your total messages. If you get too much junk then you start bouncing the email you do want to get.

In the past this wasn’t a problem, because the box auto-deletes everything after 7 days. Now with the higher incidence of junk, I routinely lose incoming hotmail mail due to full-box bouncing, even when I ruthlessly delete stuff every day. If it’s happening to me, then it’s happening to all hotmail users because it’s a system so open to dictionary spam attacks (where spammers create lists tacking on words and letters to @hotmail.com endings and send until they get a live account).

This means anyone in the email publishing or list building game should be pushing hard to get Hotmail names to switch to other accounts, and you might even add a note next to your sign-up form saying something like “Hotmail accounts not recommended, if you want to make sure mail gets through please use a different email address. Thanks”

In our case, you’ll notice all MarketingSherpa sites ask for “Your work email” on purpose. That one little word “work” inserted into the sub form does wonders for us.

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Anne Holland

Google Toolbar Stops Pops: Major Publishers Fret

June 30th, 2003

Several biiig media companies have already started fretting about the latest version of the Google toolbar. This incredibly popular download (no nobody at Google will give me an exact number of downloads, but hey don’t you see it on everyone’s desktops?) will now block all pop-ups for sites you visit.

The problem for publishers is two-fold:

1. You still serve the pop-up. It’s just blocked on the recipient’s end. Your site stats will show you served a whole lot but suddenly your conversion stats will plummet. Oh goodie (sarcasm).

2. Many sub sites depend on pop-ups for the majority of their sign ups to new ezine, new magazine and new site trial takers. I’ve known some folks who tested an eyeblaster creative instead to use interruptive creative that’s not a pop-up. It didn’t work. At least for them.

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