You know those famous Bottom Line "Secrets" direct mail packages from Boardroom Reports? The ones with big bold headlines like "Collect $20,000 tax-free ... IRS says 'OK!' ... page 70"
Visit Boardroom's site for a quick trip down memory lane. This publisher's site stands out by reinforcing their branding online by using the same copy, colors, layouts ... even typefaces as their strong offline visuals.
Naturally the site generates much of its traffic through mentions in Boardroom's print newsletters that reach several million subscribers. Michael Feldstein, Boardroom's Director of Alternate Media says," We promote the site in every issue, so when they are delivered every month there's an immediate two-three day bump in site traffic."
However, the site's largest traffic driver is its free weekly emailed newsletter launched in January 1999, now with 60,000 opt-in subscribers. This newsletter, which only takes a few hours of an editor's time each week, features an exclusive tip or question answered by an expert plus a series of links back to the site's newest articles. "We experimented with a few things" Feldstein says, "We learned people prefer short snippets with a link to the site for the longer version of an article.
"Also they don't like to be bombarded with ads right away, so each issue begins with a personal letter from editor, Jessica Kent. A relationship builds; people begin looking forward to hearing from Jessica each week. It's not just the company 'Bottom Line' and that helps."
In terms of promoting for-fee product sales through the free newsletter Feldstein says, "Timely seasonal stuff works best, around Christmas we went out with gift offers that did well, at Valentine's Day we did a special offer and now that tax time is coming up we're planning to sell a special report on that. With email you can time offers nicely."
Next, Feldstein is considering launching an affiliate program (much like IBDs mentioned above.) He's also exploring syndication opportunities once the rights have been cleared for his content; and is "bullish" on the idea of testing an email renewal series to all customers who initially bought online.
Does Boardroom, like some publishers, foresee a future where Web marketing dominates? Feldstein says, "Let me put it this way, we're still not going to give up on direct mail which is our main source of revenue; but in terms of alternate media choices, inserts, newspaper ads, etc., clearly the Internet is where the future lies."
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