Excite Sweeps Small Businesses Online

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Excite's Freetailer.com will give away a DVD player each week beginning Nov. 22 to small businesses or collectors that register at the site. The company hopes the prize will lure new businesses online during and after the holiday season.

By registering at Freetailer.com, small businesses receive free unlimited use of the Wizard site-authoring tool, free hosting on Excite's servers, a shopping cart, a secure cash register and traffic statistics.

The DVD Player Give Away, which will run through year's end, is part of a larger campaign. Since the end of last month, Freetailer.com has been running ads in general publications such as USA Today, Entertainment Weekly and Yahoo Internet Life. Ads also will appear in more targeted publications, including Inc. and Entrepreneur.

The tag line for the ads is, "Build a store. Sell stuff. Simple." They will run until early December.

"The theme is, 'Let's get your store up and running for Christmas,' " said Dan Odette, vice president of marketing at Excite Business Applications, Orem, UT. "We're targeting two different groups: small-business owners that are brick-and-mortar companies that have the corner hardware store and want to open up a Web site to complement what they do, and hobbyists looking to sell their collectibles."

To reach both of these audiences, 50 banner impressions promoting the site will run through early December. The banners are being distributed across the DoubleClick and 24/7 Media networks as well as on targeted sites such as Office.com, About.com and Egghead.com.

Offline, a 60,000-piece direct mail drop targeting small-business owners is expected to go out this week. The messaging will introduce the site's capabilities. MarchFirst, the site's marketing firm, acquired the lists.

Odette is counting on the DVD give away to give the campaign a little zip. "It gives them an incentive to register," he said. "This is something interesting and different. It's not another Palm Pilot give away. Everyone on the Web seems to be giving those away."

While every site may not be giving away Palm Pilots, 81 percent use promotional content on a regular basis to build awareness, maximize site traffic and drive action, according to a recent study by Jupiter Communications, New York.

These activities seem to be attractive to consumers, as 36 percent said they visit a site to receive promotional items, according to the study. This was a higher percentage than for any other activity.

To date, businesses have been coming to Freetailer.com in droves. In three months, the site reached the 20,000 merchant mark. Odette hopes the site's marketing and promotional efforts will bring its tally to 50,000 by year's end.

Freetailer.com also offers paid services such as credit card processing, Web certification and site promotion via search engine placement.

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