List Firms Use Mini-Sites To Boost Awareness For Multi-Title Clients

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Most list companies have Web sites that give visitors access to data cards and other information about their managed files, but several are taking an extra step by creating mini-sites filled with articles, newsletters, list information, special offers and even MP3 downloads about a specific list owner or category of files.


Millard Group began building dedicated sites for list owners last year as a way to provide more information to mailers and list brokers.


"We're always challenged as list marketers to come up with new ways to promote files," said Donna Hamilton, vice president of sales in the list management division at Millard Group Inc., Peterborough, NH. She works out of the company's San Diego office. "It has to be seen as a place where the brokers feel they can get good information without having to wait to hear back from someone."


Millard has mini-sites for 1-800-Flowers.com, Coldwater Creek, J. Jill, New York Magazine and Norm Thompson. The sites are accessed at www.millard.com by adding a backslash and the list owner's name, such as www.millard.com/1800flowersinc.


"It makes more sense for multi-title list owners," Hamilton said. "Then you can really show the full picture of the list owners and their properties. It is a value-added service, but it is also part of our multichannel marketing strategy."


One multi-title list owner with varied catalogs is 1-800-Flowers.com, which also owns Cheryl & Co., The Popcorn Factory, HearthSong, Magic Cabin, Wind & Weather and the Plow & Hearth titles Plow & Hearth, Plow & Hearth HOME and Plow & Hearth Problem Solvers. Each Millard mini-site gives visitors access to real-time data cards and counts, segment counts and usage, among other features.


"If you have special deals or things that you want to promote across titles, you can do it more easily," Hamilton said. "For example, on Coldwater Creek and Norm Thompson I have list tips or hot list segments, and I change them every month based upon order curves. To make the sites effective it's important to have them change. They need to be dynamic like any other Web site."


Millard plans more mini-sites, she said, including one for Martha Stewart Omnimedia.


Another tactic used by list companies has been to create a site for a specific category of lists. One example is www.healthmailinglists.com for the consumer and professional health markets, which Rubin Response launched in January.


"The clients are thrilled that we're marketing their lists in such a new and cutting-edge fashion," said Darlene Ellman, executive director of list management at Rubin Response Management Services Inc., Schaumburg, IL. "They've even offered up MP3 downloads and other materials to feature on the site."


Some of the direct response generated files on the site are HomeCure, Indiana Botanic Gardens, NaturMed, Nightingale Conant and Penn Herb Co. Ltd. Its lists of healthcare professionals include Chain Drug Review, CMP Healthcare Media, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins and Western Schools. The site includes data cards, downloadable list order forms, downloadable list rental agreements, articles, newsletters, special offers and links to related Web sites.


"We have several [more] sites in the works," Ellman said. "We're working on creating custom Web sites for individual list owners as well as categories of lists."


List brokerage and management company Names and Addresses has set up two mini-sites for multi-title clients August Home Publishing and North American Affinity Clubs and is open to creating more. The sites can be accessed at www.nai.biz/augusthome and www.nai.biz/naac.


"We initiated it on our own as a value-added service to bring more awareness to the multiple lists available by the list owner and to help in cross-selling between their multiple lists," said Jeff Dunn, senior account manager at Names and Addresses Inc., Buffalo Grove, IL.


August Home titles include Cuisine at Home, Workbench, Garden Gate, Woodsmith and PlansNOW. North American Affinity Club has file offerings in categories including automobile enthusiast, bird lovers, cooking, decorating/crafts, fishing, gardening, handyman/do-it-yourself, health/wellness and woodworking.


"Brokers have been positive on it for a better understanding of all the available list offerings by a specific list owner," Dunn said. "The list owners have also circulated their Web site internally within their organization for some of their other employees to be better educated on the lists they make available."


All of the sites are created and maintained in-house by the list firms. As to whether the mini-sites drive additional orders, list professionals said that's harder to determine.


"It's difficult to gauge if the increase in orders is a direct result of the Web site," Ellman said. "We have, however, been able to track a tremendous increase in the Web site's activity, and we have discovered an interesting trend. The Web site is being reviewed late at night and also on weekends. We believe that this may be due to mailers doing their list research at that time. We're also able to track which data cards, order forms and other reference materials are being downloaded the most."


The more people who are aware of their existence, the better chance of getting those orders, Hamilton said.


"We want to spread the awareness even more," she said. "If we can get people trained to go to these sites when they are in the list recommendation stage, hopefully we will all benefit in the long run."


Kristen Bremner covers list news, insert media, privacy and fundraising for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters


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