Cardsmith.com Deals A New Hand For Web Marketers

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CardSmith.com is rolling out a service this week that allows consumers visiting Web sites to send paper postcards.


On Feb.1 Microsoft Holland became the first site to use the service. On its entrance page, consumers can click on a hyperlink that takes them to a co-branded Web site. There they can pick a card -- selecting generally from two to four images -- fill in a message and the card is sent free via traditional mail (postage included).


Recipients will view the cards as endorsements from people they trust, driving new traffic to the sites who use them, according Marc Wesseling, CEO of CardSmith.com, Cupertino, CA. "Your most valuable customers will be your brand ambassadors."


Also, getting marketing messages at home will offer separation from the excess of e-greetings, e-mails and other online communications, he said. "It's not just an advertisement. It brings a message from a friend or relative that makes the advertising message more valuable. If you're home after work and you find this in between the bank statements and the junk mail you'll be [pleased]."


This mixture of online and offline marketing can open the door to a number of new possibilities for marketers in addition to driving traffic. For example, the company is negotiating with an ice cream chain to offer a coupon on the card. CardSmith.com is also approaching B-to-B companies as a service that can be placed on corporate Intranets to send thank you notes to clients.


In many ways, the CardSmith product is a relative of the postcard advertisements prevalent in bars in many cities from companies such as M@x Racks, New York. However, those advertisements fall short because they are not trackable, according to Leo Pot, marketing director for CardSmith.com.


Companies can make consumers register to send the card, capturing their information as well as the address of the recipient.


"It is an endorsed, one-on-one direct marketing product that carries the emotional ties of receiving it from friends and family that marries the on-- and offline worlds. Plus, it is targeted and data-driven," said Pot.


The data collection capabilities create additional opportunities for clients. For example, the product can also be used to test the effectiveness of different images. If a company offers consumers a choice of three images and one is selected by the majority of consumers-they know that one is the most effective, said Pot.


24/7 Media Inc., New York, is powering the service's data collection and reporting tools.


The number of free postcards a consumer can send is decided upon by the client companies. New customization functionalities like the ability to change the color of the piece will be added in the future.


The cost for the licensed model is a $5,000 for a one-time set-up fee for the co-branded site, a tool to upload images and the data-collection and reporting mechanisms-plus a $500 CPM for a minimum of 25,000 cards.
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