When husband and wife team, David and Ina Steiner launched AuctionBytes in late 1999, they didn't expect to get rich quick. Ina, who still works part-time for print newsletter publisher Bibliodata says, "We went into it with our eyes open realizing that publishing isn't necessarily a goldmine." However she knew if AuctionBytes had unusually compelling content for its niche that advertisers would get high enough clicks to keep them buying ads.
The site and accompanying email newsletter focus on the business aspects for dealers and enthusiastic amateurs selling on online auctions such as eBay. Auctionbyte's unique niche is that they treat readers as true businesspeople, and present useful tips on inventory, shipping, packaging, taxes, etc., in addition to the expected how-to marketing tips. So far more than 3,000 dealers have subscribed. Along with viral pass-alongs, Ina's guest appearances on a topical radio show Sundays at 11am at 1060AM Boston have helped spread the word.
The highly targeted content pays off for advertisers in the field. Related ads in the newsletter often get as high as an 8% click through rate and a 1% click through on site banners. These numbers are more than four times the general Internet average. Ina explains, "We engage our readers. They look to us for advice. If they respect a newsletter, you're going to get unbelievable response." She advises her advertisers to always do text-creative rather than a typical banner. "People are more inclined to read a text ad. People's eyes jump over graphics."
This success means, at a time when general interest sites and newsletters are desperate to offload ad inventory at rock bottom prices, AuctionBytes prices are holding steady, and advertisers continue to re-up. Things are going so well, in fact, that Ina expects to be able to quit her part-time job in a few months.
Yes we believe this success can be replicated on a greater scale by either aggregating or creating a series of niche content products with high quality editorial. You may not have as many eyeballs -- but would you rather sell a few high priced ads to very happy sponsors, or a millions of impressions at el cheapo prices to media buyers who can't differentiate you from the next guy?
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