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Apr 06, 2001
Case Study

eCard Site Grows Traffic from Women 300% While Reducing its Marketing Budget by 20%

SUMMARY: This Case Study is particularly useful for marketers considering banner ad campaigns. Turns out the text links those sites toss into your media buy as an add-on may be more valuable than the banners.

And, oh yeah, women love ecards and pass them to friends like crazy. But you already knew that.

Rick Duvall, President of ecard site describes his marketing challenge as "We're a David against a lot of Goliaths." His small, bootstrapping start-up is competing against established big sites such as BlueMountain, American Greetings and Emazing to grab the attention of women online aged 20-55. Unlike the big guys with deep pockets, Duvall's entire marketing budget is in the low five figures.


Duvall admits, "I've got 20+ years of marketing experience as a corporate marketer, but it's all in the traditional areas." So, he hired a WebAdvantage, a boutique Internet marketing shop, to help him craft two limited test campaigns built around card-giving holidays.

Although was seeking a fairly mainstream Web audience, they couldn't afford media buys on the big mainstream sites women like such as iVillage or also didn't want to focus their buys 100% on banners, which were seeing Web-wide sagging results. So instead they bought package deals, including on-site banners plus "advertorial" site articles and email newsletter ads, on "alternative" sites such as's campaigns promoted the unique idea of in general (they are the only ecards featuring "classy" photos of nature combined with music) plus a give-away contest to win a Ceiva Internet-connected photoframe ($250 value.)

Whenever possible used their third party ad server's post-click behavior tracking ability to determine not only click through but actual conversion from visitor to card sender. After carefully analyzing Christmas campaign results, WebAdvantage created a Valentine's Day campaign built around the lessons they'd learn the first time. Hollis Thomases, President WebAdvantage, explains, "We avoided banners altogether (unless we got them thrown in with the rest of our buy), and we tested out some CPC deals with We also went back to the sites that had performed well for us, while extending our reach to romance oriented sites (like Loving You) given the time of year."

RESULTS's visitors nearly tripled during the Christmas campaign, and then tripled again on top of that during the Valentine's campaign. But here's the neat fact: by capitalizing on the lessons they'd learned from the first campaign (such as which media buys worked and which didn't), the team was able increase responses threefold over the second campaign with a budget that was 20% lower!

One of the biggest lessons they learned from Christmas was that banners never performed as well as items that were text oriented, such as advertorial stories. They also learned banners promoting the holiday always beat banners just promoting the contest. Thomases says, "So, we decided to combine the promotional messages within the creative for the Valentine's Day campaigns and came up with banners and text that matched the holiday."

PhotoTunes also saw a healthy viral traffic lift as card recipients visited the site to pick up their cards up, and in turn often sent cards of their own. Just as sites ranging from to have found, women love ecards and they will happily flock to sites providing interesting ones.

Useful links related to this article:

Case Study on Oil of Olay including ecard information:

Case Study on Christianity Today including ecard results:
See Also:

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