Adam T. Sutton

Test, Test, Test as You Target Web 2.0 Jackpot

May 13th, 2008

MarketingSherpa’s recent Selling Online Subscriptions Summit 2008 in New York City gave scores of takeaways to participants. Here are a few of most consistent messages I picked up from the conference:

-> There is no one, almighty button color

Flint McGlaughlin, Director, MarketingExperiments, joked that the “ugly grey button” on the MarketingSherpa subscription barrier page was the “highest performing button in all the world.” Several other session leaders noted that their highest performing buttons are orange, red, or green. Leslie Semegran, Director of Online Marketing,, joked that “our red button will take on that grey button any day of the week.”

What does this mean? Don’t base your button’s color on advice from a consultant or a case study on another company. Test your own button color because results can vary wildly — and the test is really easy to do.

-> Testing will never die

You’ve heard it a million times. I heard it repeated often at at least three sessions where “test, test, test” was among a speaker’s key findings. The fact is that testing sharpens your efforts and captures more revenue. And that’s not likely to change.

-> Almost everyone is using auto-renewals

If you run a subscription service that does not automatically renew at expiration, you are an exception to the trend. Auto-renewals are probably being used by all of your competitors. Marketers that use them can expect customer backlash and demands for refunds, but many, many marketers at the conference expressed that the tradeoff is worth the risk.

-> Subs versus ads ratio shifting

The debate over how to balance advertising and paid subscriptions may never end for subscription marketers. It came through as a major concern at the conference and many said that the increasing shift to Web-only content is causing them to rethink their balance.

-> No one hitting Web 2.0 jackpot, but they’re trying

Several session were led by marketers incorporating social media into their strategies, but none seemed to be closer to monetizing Web 2.0 than Paul Allen, CEO,

Allen received MarketingSherpa’s Entreprenuer of the Year 2008 award and led a session titled “Reaching New Market Segments.” He described his company’s wildly successful Facebook application called We’re Related. The app finds your relatives on Facebook and builds out a family tree. It is used by more than 100,000 people a day and has downloaded more than 3.5 million times.

Allen and his team have started to push some of the app’s users over to the genealogy and historical database paid subscription website by doing the following:

o Encouraging users to sign up for the WorldVitalRecords weekly newsletter

o Allowing users to search for ancestors on WorldVitalRecords via a research tab

o Allowing users to search for surnames via a search box on every screen

o Deliver a special 99 cents for one month subscription offer

“It’s hard to get a credit card out of a Facebook user…We decided, let’s try a 99-cent offer…Typically we charge $15 a month for access,” Allen says.

His campaign had only just begun in mid-May, with 4% of the users who were asked for their email address responding, and only .26% of people who saw the 30-day offer signing up. But Allen said his effort was far from optimized. Stay tuned for an update.

Adam T. Sutton

About Adam T. Sutton

Adam T. Sutton, Senior Reporter, MarketingSherpa
Adam generates content for MarketingSherpa's Email and Inbound Marketing newsletters. His years of experience in interviewing marketers and conveying their insights has spanned topics such as search marketing, social media marketing, ecommerce, email and more. Adam previously powered the content behind MarketingSherpa's Search and Consumer-marketing newsletters and carries that experience into his new role. Today, in addition to writing articles, he contributes content to the MarketingExperiments and MarketingSherpa blogs, as well as MECLABS webinars, workshops and summits.

Prior to joining MarketingSherpa, Adam was the Managing Editor at the Mequoda group. There he created content and promotions for the company's daily email newsletter and managed its schedule.

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