ePrize's Move to Full Service E-Mail Marketer No Game of Chance

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ePrize's resolution for the new year is to move from its lotto-style sweepstakes to become a full-service e-mail marketing company by offering in-house permission-marketing services and partnering with, or possibly acquiring, a loyalty points company.

ePrize, which was acquired by Rare Medium Group, Inc., New York, last month, has made a name for itself by offering pooled drawings. The pooled drawing consists of a number of Web sites, each of which pay a $40,000 yearly fee to offer four $50,000 prizes (one per quarter).

In the third quarter of last year, VarsityPlanet.com, Schubot Jewelers and Individual.com all offered different grand prizes that they selected for their respective sites. Entrants were pooled from all of the sites and the winner was selected randomly. The winning entry came from Schubot Jewelers, where the grand prize was a diamond necklace.

Once the contest concluded, Schubot, as well as the other clients, received a free list of all of the e-mail names that entered through its site. In the past, they were left to their own devices as to what to do with that list. Now ePrize is hoping to derive more business from clients by offering to manage their e-mail databases as well as create the copy and offer for the mailing.

"We're going to use sweepstakes as platform to deliver an end-to-end permission marketing solution which will include all necessary functions from attraction through retention of online relationships," said Joshua Linker, founder/CEO, ePrize, Inc., Detroit.

Sweepstakes are a proven method for collecting a large a database of e-mail addresses and demographic information. Winfreestuff.com, Inc., Omaha, has been using sweepstakes to drum up names since July. This company is also an end-to-end e-mail marketer that has scored such name clients as Reel.com, Spiegel.com and PCFlowers.com.

"The reason for our existence has been basically to facilitate the merchants on our site by developing their opt-in e-mail databases," said Mark Healy, president of winfreestuff.com.

Unlike, ePrize, winfreestuff.com holds the sweepstakes on its site, which has been booming with traffic. Unique visitors grew from 233,000 in October to 694,000 in November. This is an increase of 198 percent. Winfreestuff.com also charges its clients fifty cents per unique name.

In an effort to further expand its services, ePrize this month began functioning as a consulting practice to assist clients in planning everything from banner ad placements to starting a loyalty program.

It plans to further expand these services by making media buys and implementing affinity programs for clients. "Sweepstakes are only a part of that continuum. Now we'll have the whole continuum," said Linker.

It is currently in discussions with a number of loyalty points companies that it will either partner with or acquire.

Earlier this month, ePrize began offering discounted sweepstakes to draw small businesses. This quarter, for example, ePrize is charging companies $2,500 to offer a seven-day cruise for two to Hawaii, $5,000 to offer a Sea Doo GTi Personal Watercraft, $7,500 to offer to pay your mortgage for a year, and $10,000 to offer a 3-year lease on a 2000 Porsche Boxster. Each quarter the prizes for each price point will change. The fee also includes the handling of all of the legal aspects of the contest and prize fulfillment.

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