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Mar 17, 2008
Blog Post

SherpaBlog: Recession-Beating Marketing - Glories of Opt-in Checkbox Barters

SUMMARY: No summary available.
By Anne Holland, Content Director

I’ve been surfing through Sherpa Case Studies and interviews from the 2001-02 era. It was, we thought at the time, the Big Downturn. It was dark, stormy, scary. Several marketers lost their jobs.

Now, of course, we’re in a new recession sooner than expected (aren’t these things supposed to occur only every 15-20 years?)

So, what worked last time that we can use to beat the odds this time around?

My favorite tactic is opt-in checkbox barters (also known as co-registration barters). I’m pretty sure Peter Cobb, head of marketing over at eBags, invented this idea. If he didn’t, he was near to the first. Then, loads of other marketers, including USA Today and even us at MarketingSherpa, jumped on the bandwagon.

It was very simple but effective:

You run a free email opt-in promo at your site. Peter ran a sweeps promo to win a trip plus eBags luggage; other marketers have offered anything from newsletters to discount coupons to ebooks.

The promo entry form included a checkbox to opt in for email promos from eBags. Then, Peter partnered with other noncompetitive marketers who targeted his same marketplace of heavy travelers. It was a true partnership -- nobody paid anybody anything. They just agreed to barter opt-in checkboxes.

Peter would add another checkbox under his own on his promo; the second checkbox would offer emails from his partner. Then, his partner would stick a “get emailed sales offers from eBags” checkbox on their own site’s email registration forms.

Sometimes, they would even borrow the sweeps promo from Peter and just run that on their site, collecting names for both brands. (It made things easy when the Web department was too backed up to create a new promo.)

The most important factor to make this type of barter work is to be ready on your end with a well-crafted “Welcome” email message to send to all the new names pronto – hopefully within seconds or minutes of their signup, even if it took place on a different site than your own. The quicker you can acknowledge and begin to interact with them, the more valuable that name will be for you.

Even if you don’t know any of the marketers at a possible partner personally, you’d be surprised how friendly and open many can be to these sorts of partnerships. I’ve called plenty of complete strangers in my time, saying “I’m the marketer from X Brand, and I was wondering if you’d ever possibly consider a marketing barter that could get us both more email names.”

Partnership cold calling is absolutely terrifying the first few times you do it, but quite easy after a while. Some people will turn you down, some will become your new best friends. LinkedIn and the MarketingSherpa Facebook Group are great places to begin looking for the right people to connect with.

The key is, no money changes hands. You are both trying to help each other with a co-promotion -- it’s a win, win.

If you’ve done a marketing barter of any type that worked out well for you, let me know. I’m definitely going to be covering this topic more in future columns and would love to hotlink to you!

See Also:

Comments about this Blog Entry

Mar 18, 2008 - Ian Gilyeat of I.R. Gilyeat & Company says:
These are good suggestions on using the barter to stretch your dollar. However, I've had much more success in delivering extra value to my current relationships and winning healthy amounts of market share during recessions by doing so, instead of trying to stretch into markets that weren't an ideal match for my product or service. The companies that I most want to barter with are those that typically compete with me - they have the other part of the market that I don't have - hence there the most attractive. Going back to the 2001 era - a simple example was to add a live link to a checkout page to every quote that was delivered electronically to a prospect or customer. Old fashioned and simple - but it really worked.

Apr 07, 2008 - Ben Ice of ExamForce says:
I've been bartering for well over a decade. I target controlled circulation pubs that reach my target audience and have long term relationships with some of the biggest brands in our industry, Information Technology. You don't have to worry about diluting the quality of your email if your barter partners are on target. I'd love to learn more about co-reg barter, having scanned the recent column Anne mentioned in this latest gem.

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