Thomas Register publishes three controlled circulation CD-ROMs for engineering and architectural professionals -- PartsSpec, PlantSpec and CADblocks. Marketing Director Alissa Fogel realized that direct mail was slowly becoming a more costly and less responsive vehicle to acquire circulation; and that these professionals are heavy Web users. So she decided to test cost-effective methods of gathering qualified orders online.
Fogel tested a variety of banner creative, in varying colors and with varying messages including banners with and without her brand name. Fogel also tested a variety of media buys. She had her banners appear when surfers searched by various technical keywords on Yahoo; as well as buying banner space on targeted engineering professional magazine sites. Fogel also placed text ads in a variety of plain text email newsletters aimed at the same audience. All campaigns linked back to a special Web page which described the related CD-ROM clearly, yet briefly, and then linked through to an online order form.
In both banners and text email newsletter ads, the creative that consistently got the highest response rates included the word "Free" as well as the Thomas Register brand name. Banners on targeted professional magazine sites outperformed Yahoo keyword banners so much that Fogel has now devoted her banner budget almost entirely to them. Email newsletters that performed the best were often ones from the Web sites where her banners were also running.
Fogel notes that prior to testing Web marketing, 90% of controlled circulation orders came through direct mail. Now 50% of her total 200,000 CD-ROM orders per year arrive online.
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