Byte Level Research, a newly formed consulting and research firm, just finished their very first report entitled, "Weighing the Web: An analysis of 150 major Web sites - the fastest, the slowest, and where your site fits in." They set the price at $675 with a special $375 price for non-profits and companies with 100 employees or fewer. Now they just had to sell it. Only problem, as Partner John Yunker told us, "Our marketing budget was next to nothing."
Luckily Yunker and his partner did an extremely smart thing as they gathered information from the 150 Web sites detailed in the report -- they asked everyone they talked to for their email address and for permission to send them a note when the report was done.
Yunker, who has a background in direct marketing, was careful not to send this list anything resembling spam. "It was very low key. Our rationale for email is it has to be something that if we received it, it would not be offputting. That really limits you right there!" So Yunker sent just one "very short" note to the list, stating that the report was ready, what it was about and giving a link to a site where people could download a free chapter.
Many research reports are sold through mentions in influential press. But Yunker didn't believe in the efficacy of traditional press releases, "There's so many of them out there and so many are fluff. They rarely achieve much. 90% of what works is a newsworthy story. The rest of it is just getting somebody's attention." So instead of doing a formal release, Yunker carefully gathered the email addresses of about 50 key technology reporters who had already written on topics similar to the report.
Then he sent them a short, personal email. "We took a low key approach. No one's got time for hype. We kept them short, focused purely on the data, no fluff about our being the leading blah blah blah. We just said, this is what we found, this is why we think your readers will find it valuable and here's a link for a free sample chapter."
Total emails sent between press and other contacts: about 300.
So far more than 400 people have visited the site to download a free sample chapter of the report, including staff from Yahoo and IBM. The recipients of the first email forwarded the email to 2-3 colleagues on average. The press email campaign resulted in substantial coverage in the online trade press -- including a glowing story in ZD Net. Yunker wasn't able to reveal his total sales figure to date, except to say with a smile, "It's selling better than we'd hoped given we're a brand new company. And some very high profile companies have been buying it!"
Editor's Note: We encourage you to check out Byte Level's Web site even if you aren't interested in the report's topic. It's clean and simple, yet one of the most highly effective sites we've ever seen selling content online. http://www.bytelevel.com
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