Online Greeting Cards Get Competitive

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As online greeting-card suppliers gear up for the upcoming gift-giving season, one new player, SharedGreetings.com, has unveiled a new twist on online cards by including sweepstakes entries as part of the process.


Under the promotion, the sender can go to the site to select a card and a prize to be sent. Once the card is sent, both the sender and the recipient are automatically entered into the sweepstakes. If either is selected during the prize drawing, both the sender and the recipient win the selected prize.


Prizes include a three-day, two-night all-expenses-paid trip to anywhere in the United States; a $5,000 brokerage account; a Palm Pilot; a scooter; and a variety of gift certificates redeemable at e-commerce vendors such as Amazon.com.


SharedGreetings' CEO James Fahey acknowledges that he is entering a crowded field, but he thinks the company's model is superior.


"Like [our competitors], we have free greeting cards, but we have more to offer than they do because we have the integrated sweepstakes element," he said.


One player in the field, Bluemountain.com, also has a trick up its sleeve for this holiday season. Consumers soon will not only be able to select an interactive eCard, but they also will be able to attach a gift from a selection of products from leading retailers, including Martha Stewart, Harry & David and Disney. Recipients will be able to click to see a photo of their forthcoming gift.


Bluemountain, which is owned by Excite@Home, will promote this new service using an e-mail marketing campaign to opt in users; advertising in national publications such as USA Weekend, People and Parade; and an aggressive public relations push.


Other competitors in the field include Egreetings, AmericanGreetings.com and Hallmark.com.


SharedGreetings, New York, is based on a Web site that debuted in 1996 in Japan. The site, created by Japanese ad agency Hakuhodo, claims almost 3 million visitors each year.


The site's prizes can be sponsored by companies -- such as the National Basketball Association, which plans to partner with the site this month and in March -- aiming to drive new traffic to their sites.


SharedGreetings officially launched Oct. 15. By Nov. 15, they plan to add 500 more card choices and many new prize opportunities.
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