Thomas Register Drops Direct Marketing Welcome Kit

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Thomas Register of American Manufacturers, the industrial products and services source guide publisher, this week dropped 50,000 welcome kits in the mail to registered users of its Web site ThomasRegister.com.


The drop is an effort to get people to remember their passwords -- something Internet users are notorious for failing to do.


One reason Web sites have a tough time getting people to remember passwords is a lack of follow-up, said Susan Orr, director of Internet marketing at Thomas Register, New York.


"It's kind of like you sign up and big deal -- no one ever thinks of you beyond that," she said. The company plans to send 350,000 more welcome kits before the end of the year.


ThomasRegister.com has 2 million registered users, 750,000 of whom have opted in to receive a general e-mail newsletter. "To be honest, though, as many new users as we have, I can't swear that they're all brand new," Orr said. "Some of them could have re-registered because they forgot their name and password."


Each kit includes a welcome letter with a postscript inviting feedback at ThomasRegister.com/userid; a wallet-sized membership card with user ID and password; a buck slip pitching MY TR, ThomasRegister.com's personalization service; and a quarter-folded site map explaining some of the site's other features and functions.


The company also may offer advertisers in its print edition the opportunity to ride along in the kit. "If there is something that makes sense, I might consider giving them an opportunity to include something in the package," Orr said. "We'll see how this thing works first."


ThomasRegister.com includes listings for more than 2 million products and services, 158,000 U.S. and Canadian companies, 7,800 online catalogs and Web links and 64,000 product headings. Site membership is free. The company produces one print edition each year sold on a subscription basis, with this year's edition comprising 33 volumes. The company also makes its information available on CD-ROM.


Besides all of the print product's information, ThomasRegister.com offers other features such as vendors' e-mail addresses and links to their sites, online quoting and purchasing and access for engineers to CAD drawings.


"Right now, our revenues are generally generated through our print and CD products, online being generally an add-on to it," said Orr. "We're not looking to share in transactions at this point. We're not charging users at this point, and I don't know we even have plans to do that," she said, adding that plans could change.


Meanwhile, unscientific research by Thomas Register strongly indicates that purchasing managers nationwide are migrating to the Net.


Thomas Register trade show booth personnel in May took an informal poll of attendees at the National Association of Purchasing Managers conference in New Orleans. They monitored response by handing out T-shirts -- one shirt advertising the Web site to those who said they preferred ThomasRegister.com and a different shirt to those who said they preferred the print product.


"About two-thirds of the folks took the online shirt, and about a third took the book T-shirts," said Orr. However, this doesn't mean it's time to count the print books out. "The people who took the book shirts are very passionate," she said.
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