Business news headline distributor, Moreover, launched in May 1999 with a big goal -- to get thousands of Web sites to carry its headlines -- but a very small marketing budget. (In fact the company received its first substantial round of funding more than a year later in June 2000.) Thomas Korte, Moreover's Director of Marketing told us how he and his hardy band of marketers got the word out.
After finding that banners were "too expensive as an acquisition tool if you're not selling a high-priced product," Korte created a four-point strategy making the most of the viral aspect of the Web.
1) Partnerships with sites Webmasters frequent: Korte offered a variety of incentives to popular Webmaster destination sites such as SitePoint.com, in order to get them to recommend Moreover to their visitors. Incentives included free email list hosting, a co-branded version of the Moreover Web-feed wizard, and sometimes a straightforward cash payment of $1.30 - $2.00 per sign up.
2) Key site outreach: Korte's team proactively recruited sites they determined to be highly influential ones in particular industry verticals Moreover was trying to penetrate.
3) Viral call to action: As you may have noticed, the last line of every Moreover news feed as seen on host sites contains a hotlinked call to action such as "Put these headlines on your site."
4) Aggressive personal email outreach: Korte hired two staffers to spend 100% of their time identifying and emailing hundreds of sites that should join the system. He stresses, "We tried not to make it spam. We don't use a form letter. They write a new letter every time they send one out. And we try to find a name to email rather than just firstname.lastname@example.org"
Korte also implemented an integration support plan mid-way though 2000 to increase the percent of webmasters who actually implemented the headlines on their sites after they signed up to do so. The plan included two follow-up emails to further explain how to use the system; a biweekly "Web Tool Watch" email newsletter; and a monthly palm pilot "Best Integration of the Month" giveaway award.
In addition he did something so simple, yet essential that many sites forget to do it. He looked over the shoulders of typical implementers as they went through the process on Moreover's site. He says, "I wanted to see for myself where do people drop out and why do they drop out." Then Korte had the design team change the interface to make things even easier.
As of January 2001, about a year after the webmaster outreach project started, 400,000 sites have signed up to carry headlines and 100,000 of them have actually implemented it.
The partner program bought in about 30%. Key sites and general viral messages bought in about 30%. The remaining 40% were from the email outreach program.
Korte's integration promotions have been equally successful. He's seen a definite increase in the percent of sites that implement after signing up. In fact, after simplifying the interface, the number of webmasters who completed literally doubled!
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