Shell Motorist Club Begins Online Drive for Members

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Shell Oil Co., part of the Royal Dutch/Shell group, for the first time is using the Internet to market and build membership for the Shell Motorist Club.

Going head-to-head with AAA and other co-branded affinity clubs from Amoco and ExxonMobil, Shell Motorist Club will spend $1 million on online marketing to target drivers older than 18 years.

"The decision to market the club via online advertising is to expand its reach by targeting new, younger Internet-savvy customers not easily reached through offline advertising," said Paul Soltoff, CEO of DirectNet Advertising, St. Petersburg, FL, which handles online marketing for the Shell Motorist Club.

So far, the 25-year-old auto club has limited marketing outreach to direct mail and print advertising. Offline marketing will continue under the auspices of Chicago club development firm United Marketing Group, which manages the Shell Motorist Club for Shell Oil.

The Shell Motorist Club has launched a campaign comprising 5 million e-mails to house files and rented lists, banners, pop-ups, direct links and a micro-site at that houses an offer. Advertisements will appear across thousands of Web sites.

"These will be consumer sites and by the nature of the Web, attract younger people," Soltoff said. "Everybody drives, so it's a big consumer niche. Once we determine which kinds of sites will work, we'll optimize."

To encourage participation, Shell Motorist Club will offer a 30-day free trial and three bonus gifts for early registrants.

Benefits of the temporary membership are highlighted on a landing page created by DirectNet. This includes coverage of spouse and at-home children 16 to 21 years old at no extra cost.

Further, the membership entitles registrants to one toll-free call for help or $125 in reimbursement for using a 24-hour emergency road service. Discounts on participating hotels and restaurants range from 30 percent to 50 percent.

Plus, there are features like auto rental discounts, free maps, $1,000 arrest bond certificate, $5,000 bail bond service and reimbursement for legal defense, among other benefits.

As another major incentive, consumers can avail themselves of a $100 airline ticket voucher for use on major airlines.

Consumers are asked to apply online for instant coverage. The enrollment form requires details like name of applicant, spouse and children, the pertinent dates of birth, address, telephone and credit card.

Once approved, consumers immediately can print a temporary membership card. This card is good for emergency road service up to a maximum of $125, which is reimbursed by the club.

"The challenge is to make the program successful on the Internet, given that this is an insurance product and it is not available in certain states," Soltoff said. "Furthermore, using an online strategy is not a widely accepted means to acquire new auto club members."


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