AmericanGreetings.com Hires Beyond Interactive

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Electronic greetings Web site AmericanGreetings.com this week named Beyond Interactive its new interactive agency of record.


The marketing and communications shop will manage all online media, creative, permission marketing and customer loyalty programs for the Cleveland-based subsidiary of American Greetings Corp.


A key marketing component that Beyond Interactive, Ann Arbor, MI, must address is how to make the best of the brand's close relationships with portal partners America Online, Yahoo and Lycos.


But helping its new client keep pace with its current growth rate -- an increase of 2,500 percent in unique visitors since April 1999 -- may prove formidable. The site already has nearly 8 million unique visitors each month and is ranked among the top 20 Web sites in the United States, according to Nielsen//NetRatings, New York.


However, Beyond Interactive CEO Jonn Behrman, who founded the company in 1995, said, "A big part of our job is going to be about maximizing the buys on AOL, Yahoo and others. This is about managing those buys and changing the creative based on the season. We have an entire group called marketing data optimizations that is dedicated to this."


Behrman said the company is already helping AmericanGreetings.com drop the cost of its acquisitions and put together better permission marketing programs to encourage return visits to the site. He said the agency had at least eight creative, technical and strategic staff members working to make this happen.


"We do want to help increase the numbers of cards being sent by each user, but this is also about getting existing users in the system to become more loyal," he said.


Jordan Berke, director of dialog management at Beyond Interactive, agreed, pointing out that AmericanGreetings.com's size and innovation are two of its strengths. He said the brand is positioned to help users enjoy the Web because it provides two of the most important aspects they look for online: communications and entertainment.


He said that keeping the "focus on increasing the share of greetings sent among AmericanGreetings.com's current users, while leveraging AmericanGreetings.com's strong distribution deals with America Online, Yahoo and Lycos, [would ultimately] help grow its overall market share of unique users."


American Greetings is the world's largest publicly held greeting card business, with $2 billion in annual sales. The company markets greeting cards under the brand names American Greetings, Forget Me Not, Carlton Cards and Gibson Greetings.


Beyond Interactive's service offerings include campaign management and strategy, online media planning and buying and ad-based creative development. Clients include Oracle, ClassMates.com, kforce.com, iBelieve.com, GetConnected.com and TheStream.com.
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