Brownfields.com is a business portal for government, non-profit and investment executives involved in Brownfields programs that redevelop "blighted" urban areas into things like parks and greenways. Founder Bill Cocose had a very low marketing budget to get highly targeted traffic for the site when it launched in September 2000.
Cocose knew building an opt-in email list is the most critical step any targeted B-to-B site can take. So the month before the site launched he attended a related conference and ask everyone he met for their business cards along with permission to email them site news. About 1,000 executives at the conference personally agreed to be emailed. (That's some serious schmoozing!)
Next Cocose worked a deal with the Princess Cruise lines to offer a free trip on their new ship which features an oceanographic research center in addition to the usual cruise vacation luxuries.
Cocose then hired the email contest ASP EmailFactory to create a viral contest for the free trip to run from September 2000-March 2001. Executives can enter the contest from Brownfields.com home page or from an emailed link. After they enter online, a bouncepage appears thanking them and offering them the chance to enter again ... but first they must use the handy online form refer their colleagues to the site. Entrants also receive a Thank You email with the subject line "More Chances to Win: Forward to Your Friends".
Cocose drew attention to the contest (and the site) by sending regular twice-monthly email messages to the 1,000 names he'd gathered at the conference. He was careful not to turn off his audience by appearing too salesy. Each message started with a business news item of interest to these targeted executives. After about two paragraphs of news, he added a polite invitation for people to visit the site and take part in the contest. Then the message finished with opt-out (how to get off this list) instructions.
More than 25% of Cocose's original opt-in list have entered the contest so far. 64% of the executives who entered the contest have referred an average of two colleagues to visit the site and enter the contest as well.
The contest has also helped drive highly targeted site traffic. In addition so many visitors have opted-in to join Cocose' email newsletter list that he is now working with EmailFactory to create a more professional-looking version.
The best thing about this campaign is that it cost VERY little. EmailFactory only charges a minimal $100 set-up fee, and then $25-$100 per month (depending on volume) to run the contest and send all related thank-you and referral emails. Although the contest is powered by EmailFactory it appears to visitors to be part of Brownfields.com's site. Brownfields.com also has a live results Web page at EmailFactory where they can count their results (including numbers of referrals) on a daily basis. Brownfield's total cost for the contest when it's over in March will be $275.
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