Sep 20, 2000
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Paper2U is an e-commerce site that sells papers for desktop publishers and photographers. In order to promote the site, Paper2U offers two, free opt-in newsletters: HBN Online which features low cost and no-cost business building and productivity tools for the SOHO market; and, Oasis aimed at the mainly female desktop publishing audience which features advice and tips on working online at home.
Gary Winner, Paper2U’s owner, revealed the strategies the site used to boost opt-in subscriptions...
First, Paper2U started asking site visitors for opt-in subscriptions even before the newsletters launched. Once the newsletters were live, Paper2U listed them in every ezine directory as well as more than 300 Web sites listing free stuff offers. The #1 Free Stuff site had “good success.”
Instead of just offering a newsletter, Paper2U created a series of ebooks on topics ranging from choosing the right paper to the “Lazy Person’s Guide To Internet Success” - and promotes them as a free package with each newsletter subscription.
In just 18 months, HBN Online has grown to more than 111,000 opt-in subscribers while Oasis boasts more than 37,000. Results for the #1 Free Stuff site promotions were up to 600 click throughs per week yielding 150 sign-ups. For Winner, text links are much more effective in generating traffic than buttons or banners. Paper2U also tried classifieds and free for all deals, but “they aren’t that good.” One caveat about giving away something for free: Winner emphasizes, “The free stuff has to be perceived as having value.” Paper2U’s market obviously does perceive value. The latest ebook offering, “Paperless Marketing,” generated more than 800 sign-ups the first weekend it was announced on Oasis.
NOTES: The greater the number of links you have to your site, the better, in Winner’s opinion. That’s particularly important in terms of having search engines list your site high up in the listings. Winner says that more links you have, the more popular you are perceived to be by the search engines. Final words of wisdom from Winner: “The more you understand how you can leverage your product, the better.”