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Apr 23, 2001
Case Study

More than 10% of GotMarketing's Free Newsletter Readers Convert to Buy Email Marketing Services

SUMMARY: A definite read for business-to-business marketers. This Case Study explains how one company uses two very different email newsletters - one very short and one long - to get new accounts in the same industry. Plus, good advice on text vs. HTML.

It always helps when you've got a PR guru on the team. Last year, new emarketing services provider GotMarketing got real famous, real fast when Co-Founder & VP Marketing Teri Dahlbeck paid $200,000 for a walk-on part on the TV show Allie McBeal for use in a customer contest. Practically every business news outlet, from CNN to the Wall Street Journal covered the story, giving GotMarketing a nice fat mention.

Since then Dahlbeck has kept up a steady stream of PR campaigns, including planting emarketing how-to articles in related press. The results: more than 40% of GotMarketing's visitors say they learned about the Company through its PR efforts. As CEO Lynda Partner says, "That's a staggering number. It's because not a week goes by that we don't get 8-10 mentions or articles planted."

But, how do you turn PR-driven site traffic into actual buyers?


Although GotMarketing hadn't launched a live product at the time of the Allie McBeal-related publicity; the Company's site featured a prominent free subscription offer for an email newsletter on marketing. Partner says, "The opt-in subscribers for our newsletter went from ground zero to thousands because of that." Lesson learned -- if you're going to get any type of publicity whatsoever, make sure your site is ready to collect prospect's names even if your product isn't ready yet.

Throughout the year GotMarketing surveyed these opt-in readers to find out what length, frequency and type of newsletter content they wanted. Partner says, "We've done a lot of experimenting. We ask people what do you like and don't like, and if the content is pitched at a level too basic or advanced."

At first GotMarketing sent out newsletters using a sniffer to determine whether the recipient would get the HTML or text version. Then as Partner explains, "We decided if we truly are permission-based, it's only right for us to ask them whether they want HTML or text. It's purely user choice now." She also notes that when asking, the Company was careful to spell out what HTML meant so newbies would be sure exactly what they were opting into.

The Company includes useful emarketing how-to information and links to its own products in each newsletter. GotMarketing always tracked click throughs to see how many newsletter readers converted to buyers. Plus, last month GotMarketing used its own new Viralocity (TM) technology to track how potent its house ads were as opt-in readers passed their issues to friends, and these friends passed them on to their friends, etc.


On average more than 7% of visitors to GotMarketing's site have opted-in to become newsletter readers; and more than 10% of these readers have purchased GotMarketing's products. The percent of opt-in readers purchasing products continues to climb steadily every month.

Why do email newsletters work so well as a sales conversion tool? Partner thinks it's partly due to the fact that many marketers use their email in-box as a reference tool. When they are ready to buy your product they may not remember your exact company name, so they simply search their in-box for old emails from you.

In one case a new customer called her to say, "I was about to tell my people to go look at your company, but I couldn't remember the name. Right then a newsletter from you showed up in my mailbox!"

Here are some of the fascinating facts GotMarketing has learned about their prospects and buyers -- mainly small and medium-sized business marketers:

- Viral marketing is more potent a business sales tool than you think. GotMarketing's found that marketers who receive pass- along issues from friends and colleagues are MORE likely to click on GotMarketing's product ads, than the regular readers are. Plus, each consecutive generation of pass-alongs is more likely to click through than the one before.

- Most marketers still want emarketing information on a fairly basic level. Partner says, "People are still really interested in just the basic 'tell me how I can make this work.' The world is scary right now. Just give them comfort. The level of knowledge out there is still at the beginner level."

In fact Partner says other companies marketing to marketers should have a newbie look over their newsletters to make sure content is understandable. She says, "I was talking with a marketing trainer last week and he said, 'I didn't understand five words in your last sentence.' My speech is peppered with acronyms. I'm in big danger of talking over people's heads."

- Based on reader response, GotMarketing ended up publishing two completely different newsletters to serve their market's needs. One is a short weekly containing tidbits of information. Partner says, "It's got five little pieces of advice you can read in 30 seconds. People love it. The response rate is phenomenal and the unsubscribe rate is virtually non-existent."

GotMarketing's second newsletter is much longer, featuring a how- to article and a survey. This newsletter only goes out once every 3-4 weeks. Although it's not quite as popular as the shorter newsletter, this longer one ages better. In fact GotMarketing regularly gets click throughs on issues that are three or four months old. Plus, the How-To articles consistently get the highest click throughs. Recent long articles on email marketing topics have garnered click through rates over 50%.

- When given the choice, 90% of GotMarketing's newsletter readers went for HTML instead of text.

NOTE: Partner's had the fun of receiving marketing campaigns from two different companies that used GotMarketing's GotCampaigner software to send them. She says, "I promptly bought their products of course!"
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