ELetter Strikes Deal With E-Stamp

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ELetter Inc. expanded its end-to-end online direct mail services for small businesses when it signed a partnership last month with E-Stamp Corp., an online company whose software allows e-businesses to offer online postage.

The agreement marks the latest attempt by both companies to gain early leadership in the growing desktop mailing industry. Each of the companies' Web sites will have a direct link to the partner's site under the pact, which also entails co-marketing initiatives. ELetter's Web site, www.eletter.com, didn't have a postage-based link prior to the agreement, according to a company spokesman who didn't disclose remaining financial terms of the deal.

To boost their online presence, both firms have signed marketing agreements with Internet-based companies Microsoft, ClickAction and Intuit -- while ELetter has penned several other deals that have enabled it to outsource direct mail services for small companies. Manish Mehta, CEO of ELetter, San Jose, CA, plans to strike more partnerships with mail-based businesses like E-Stamp in the coming weeks.

"We've been doing a very targeted direct mail campaign for ourselves, so this is the perfect time for us to be looking for synergetic partnerships," Mehta said. "E-Stamps is a good channel for us because people who are at [www.e-stamp.com] are already thinking postage. They are already in a mail mode and thinking about mailing services."

He said his company has been able to cut direct mail prices because its online capabilities improved shopping efficiency for its customers. An order for medium quality printing specifications on a 10,000-piece order will cost 49 cents per designed, printed and delivered postcard, while letters will bring closer to 71 cents a mailing. The Web portal handles direct mail orders of up to 20,000 pieces, and although the firm will fulfill larger requests, it looks to attract primarily small direct mail jobs.

Pacific Golf Adventures, Kent, WA, an Internet company that offers golf-related vacation packages, has used ELetter for its last five direct mail campaigns. President Mark Richardson said his firm has recommended ELetter to other companies and planned to use the firm's services again.

Richardson said the online direct mail service allowed Pacific Golf to do four-color printing on small orders at a lower fee than other service providers. He added that his company mainly used www.eletter.com because it saves him time which he would otherwise have spent on the phone or at other Web sites.

"If they had the type of color capabilities that would also make the larger orders feasible price-wise -- we would do bigger orders there too because [ELetter] is convenient," he said. "It does provide us with a quick way of getting our smaller mailings out there, and we're real happy with every aspect of the service."

Phase 2 Services, Chicago, has used ELetter for direct mail campaigns targeted at dentists and chiropractors whose offices need carpets cleaned or restored. The firm said it had been using offline services that were more costly and time-consuming before it discovered the direct mail portal.

"I can sit down and redo a whole campaign in 15 minutes," said president David Gest. "I had been waiting years for something like this to come along. I can have pieces in customers' hands in four days. Before, it'd take two or three weeks and I'd have to go to different places and talk to a bunch of people. It was ridiculous."

Mehta of ELetter said the E-Stamp agreement "makes our Web site a more complete service tool for direct mail business" and will increase customer satisfaction and loyalty at his Web site.

Robert Ewald, CEO/president of E-Stamp, San Mateo, CA, said the partnership allows his company to better reach the small business market. The company serves business customers by allowing them to download and print postage from their computers.

"By teaming with ELetter we are providing a larger menu of services we can offer our customers," Ewald said. "Offering these services to our customers helps them get on a level playing field."

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