Anne Holland

Best Lists for Online Pub Marketing – Your Competitor's

July 18th, 2003

I’m sitting here waiting for my best friend Anthony to call me from his cell phone and tell me he’s lost somewhere on the way to my house.

We first met more than 10 years ago when he called me up from a direct competitor to ask if we could swap publication buyer mailing lists. I said, “Heck yes.”

That’s because people in the offline paid publishing world all know that aside from their in-house list, direct competitor’s buyer lists are the most profitable lists you can mail. It’s well proven that information buyers tend to buy more information on the same topic — as long as the title appears to just different enough from the stuff they already bought to also be useful.

The differences don’t have to be that big. For example, if a competitor told me he was doing a report on “Advanced subscription sales tactics” or “Selling subscriptions to
consumers” and he wanted to swap lists with the buyers of my general “How to sell subscriptions” report, I’d say ok. We’re both going to grow our businesses easily that way. It’s a happy thing.

Which explains why many print paid publishers are not only close friends with direct competitors, but also they are careful to develop complimentary products rather than identical head-to-head twins.

With complimentary products everyone makes more money because they can cross-promote. With head-to-head, it’s a waste unless the market is a giant boomtown that can sustain almost anything *and* you intend to never ask competitors to swap lists for other products in the future. (Because no one will swap with someone who might cross-sell a head-to-head.)

I suspect in the online world, competitor-who-will-swap-lists relations are even more invaluable than they are offline, simply because there are so few online-content-buyer lists on the rental market. Swapping may be your only chance at getting your hands on good lists.

If you view the competition as “the enemy we must beat”, you’re going to lose. If you view them as “our best marketing partner who we treat as well as possible”, you’re going to win.

Share and Enjoy:
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Anne Holland

Left-hand vs. right-hand links, reader feedback

July 16th, 2003

Thanks to all of you who wrote me in response to last week’s
SherpaBlog. Here’s a quick summary of what I’ve learned from
you:

- Pages must print:

If you decide to switch right-hand links to the left-side of
pages based on the usability-lab research I mentioned last week,
make sure users can print pages without losing any information
off the right edge.

I had our Web guy Ryan add a “print this story” button to the top
and bottom of every article on our site to help with this
problem.

- SEO is unaffected:

For those of you who were concerned that your search engine
optimization might be affected by moving links from the right to
the left, I asked expert Jill Whalen of HighRanks.com for advice.

Jill said, “Either way of having the links makes absolutely no
difference to the search engines. Unless your HTML page is over
110K (not including graphics), the spiders will index *all* the
content and follow *all* the links.”

- For ecommerce keep your buy button right-side:

Click analysis researcher, David Niu of NetConversions told me
based on his data, “A retail best-practice that we’ve observed is
that call-to-action should be placed on the right-hand side and
most cross sell and up sell opportunities are also best placed
there or under the product.”

- In email, right-side links not always visible:

Loads of you wrote in to note that when it comes to email
newsletters, you don’t always open your window all the way to
read. Smaller windows = right-hand columns being cut off.

So if a newsletter (or other mailer) wants clicks, don’t put
critical stuff over on the far right.

Share and Enjoy:
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Anne Holland

Early Results Data – Zacks.com Tests Postal DM

July 16th, 2003

Steve Reitmeister who heads up Zacks.com (who do online subscription sales for a lot of print newsletters on personal investing – see link to my case study on their tactics below), just gave me permission to share this note with you:

Too often all of us “Online Savvy” marketers rely so heavily on email because it is so cheap, so fast and has such great ROI. All this is true. But given the tremendous rise in email, many people are becoming “detached” from the medium.

What’s my point? We are starting to re-introduce a little bit of direct mail back into the mix as we are finding that it stands out more in this world of email overload. Here is my best example:

We recently tested sending direct mail pieces to current subscribers [originally sold via online] to entice them to upgrade to the annual subscription. The notion being that a commitment to annual subscription of $200 right now instead of $20 per month deserves more umph! on our part. And direct mail being more “REAL” gave us that extra umph.

Unfortunately we did not do a split test, but know from previous efforts that the response was superior. Here are the basic #s:

In the past we have emailed customers to upgrade to annual from monthly. We generally get a 1% conversion rate. But when we did the direct mail we got a 3% conversion rate. So lets say we were talking 1000 messages each.

1000 emails = cost of $0
1% conversion
10 new annual subscribers.
@ $200 per
$2000 in revenue
$2000 in profit

1000 direct mail pieces = cost of $500 (simple 2 page letter, stuffed in envelope @ 50 cents per)
3% conversion
30 new annual subscribers
@ $200 per
$6000 in revenue
$5500 in profit

For those who do ROI on % basis I guess the $2000 looks great against cost of zero. But I will take the latter any day of the week. Given the success of this I am also having my B2B group do more initial solicitation of prospects via direct mail with handwritten envelopes. I believe it will stand out more than the 100 solicitation mails they get on a daily basis.

Too early to say success rate, but my gut tells me it will be hard to go wrong.”

My note: Based on the Case Study I did on B2B subscription seller HCPro recently where they revealed DM gets subs that renew better than email sales, I would say Steve is onto a good idea.

Zach’s Case Study:

http://www.contentbiz.com/barrier.cfm?ContentID=2313

HCPro Case Study:

http://www.contentbiz.com/barrier.cfm?currentID=2376

Share and Enjoy:
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Anne Holland

Ha! Primedia's New EZine Sponsored by Postal DM Vendor

July 15th, 2003

Irony of the day — this one made me laugh hard: The launch issue of Primedia’s new email newsletter “Chief Marketer” just showed up in my email box featuring a Big Honking Banner Ad from a vendor that read:

“The Do Not Call List is growing by the minute…
Over 30 states have passed email regulations…
Isn’t it time to start leveraging direct mail again?”

Yup, sell old media with an ad in new media explaining that new media is dying.

Share and Enjoy:
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Anne Holland

Some Merchant Accounts Disallow Online Sub & eBook Sales

July 14th, 2003

Allen Wyatt at Vital News just went through more than 8 days of hell with his merchant account processing online payments for ebooks he’s selling — and he gave me permission to share some details with you.

- If you have a merchant account through Retriever (who are one of the biggest processors out there), be aware that they have told Allen “accounts through them can only be issued for physical products.” Which means online subscriptions, PDFs, ebooks, ASPs, etc is verboten.

Allen’s initial application to them more than four years ago said he’d be selling downloads online, but somehow no one at Retriever noticed. Now that they have, they’ve cut his account off extremely abruptly.

Until a couple of months ago, we had a Retriever account too – so this makes my blood run cold. It could have happened to us….

- Someone using a series of IP addresses starting with the numbers “202″ (such as 202.81.61.18) has been submitting large quantities (500 per day or so) of fraudulent orders on Allen’s site — and other etailers I know say it’s happened to them too from the same IP address block.

Luckily for Allen, Authorize.Net, who he uses for online processing (in conjunction with Retriever), caught all the fraudulent charges and declined them. Their fraud department was very understanding and did not think less of Allen for being the target of a scam artist.

- Unluckily for Allen, Retriever didn’t catch all the fraudulent charges and processed some of them – which tied up funds on the poor (innocent) card owner’s account. Retriever’s fraud dept also definitely took the view that Allen was guilty-until-proven- innocent of causing the fraud, despite his long-term account with them. So he had to go through 8 days of hassling to get the cash from his legitimate charges, which they apparently held onto as a punishment.

- Allen’s advice (aside from avoid Retriever), “First, if you are being hit by these Indonesian fraud folks, don’t be passive–be proactive. Call not just your gateway (Authorize.Net), but call your CC processor, reseller, or bank and start screaming. All the time your decline-to-approval ratio is going up, flags are going up at the processor and you increase your likelihood of being shut down.

Second, don’t assume that you can sell downloadable product just because your reseller tells you that you can. Get it in writing.

Third, consider not putting all your eggs in one basket. You might consider multiple credit card merchant accounts. That way, if one of the accounts is shut down through no fault of yours, your business doesn’t get shut down at the same time.

Share and Enjoy:
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Anne Holland

Definition of

July 14th, 2003

Note from a reader – “What’s a barrier page?”

It’s the page or pop-up that appears when a site visitor attempts to go further than they are allowed to go without either registering and/or paying. It’s your barrier to the subscribers/registrants-only stuff. It’s also your most power sales tool. They are trying to get to your content at this instant – so, tell them why they should pay for it.

Share and Enjoy:
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Anne Holland

Early Results Data on Salon's Price Increase Promo

July 13th, 2003

Patrick Hurley over at Salon just wrote in, “I know you’re always in the market for new intelligence. We’re raising our prices and have announced it via a daily ticker in our edit well counting down the days until prices increase (you’ll see it if you log on http://www.salon.com/ and scroll down the edit well).

“So far, it’s really getting prospects off the dime and moving new subs, especially for July which is generally quite sluggish. As the days wind down, I think we’ll continue to drive strong demand. Come August 1st we may then “extend the deadline a week by popular demand” to eke out some more subscribers who want to be grandfathered under the charter pricing. Then we’ll roll out the new rates see how (in)elastic our pricing is.”

Very smart — I remember from my days of sub marketing that those price increase specials always worked well. Another great tactic to tack on it to announce a hot new premium the day after the special ends… something to distract them from and add value to the new price. You can offer it to the folks who bought cheaply prior to as a 30 cent upgrade too.

Share and Enjoy:
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Anne Holland

MyFamily.com Raises Sub Sales 64% w/ Barrier Page Tests

July 11th, 2003

Barrier Pages Really Matter. I’ve been screaming about this for years (see past 3 years of Blog archives) and sometimes felt like nobody in the subscription sales world was listening (the last time WSJ tested the creative on their barrier page was …never.)

The people who do test – such as CarFax, MIT Tech Review, AmericanGreetings.com, eDiets – show significant leaps in conversion rates. It’s a no brainer – you find out what works and do more of it.

Now MyFamily.com has seen the light. They tested tweaking creative on their barrier page (which they call their “deny page”) and raised subscription sale conversion rates 64%. MediaPost is all excited about this.

Well, I’m happy for them, but DUH! Come on you sub sites – this is 101.

http://www.mediapost.com/dtls_dsp_news.cfm?newsId=211972

Share and Enjoy:
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

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!

Share and Enjoy:
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

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

Share and Enjoy:
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: