BTE's Online Flag Sales Stay Strong

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BTE Direct Inc. has sold an average of 20,000 3-foot-by-5-foot U.S. flags daily on its site, Emailshoppingnetwork.com, since their introduction Sept. 20, the company said.


"Our decision to sell flags was not an [economic] one," said Bill Flitter, vice president, marketing, for BTE Direct, San Francisco. "We decided as a group to raise money for the American Red Cross ... and we wanted as many people as possible to buy flags [to show patriotism]."


The flag sells for $9.95, with 10 percent of the profit going to the American Red Cross. BTE executives expected to sell 1,000 flags a day, but sales reached 100,000 during the weekend of Sept. 22, when a text placement and banner ad campaign began through ad network ValueClick, Westlake Village, CA.


"ValueClick's affiliates picked up the campaign, and sales went crazy," Flitter said. "Our [click-through rate] was averaging 6 percent, and conversion -- the number of sales from visits -- was peaking at over 10 percent."


Ten million to 15 million HTML and text e-mails to prospects dropped the week of Sept. 24, also resulting in an average conversion rate of 10 percent. Entertainment network eUniverse, Los Angeles, conducted the e-mail campaign. BTE Direct did not use an in-house list because it just recently began collecting e-mails from customers and prospects.


BTE Direct recently cut its impressions through ValueClick and some partner sites by about 75 percent.


"We had to turn some advertising off," Flitter said. "It was going so strong, we did not want to have customers wait."


Sales of all other products on Emailshoppingnetwork also have increased.


"We definitely did get incremental sales," Flitter said. "They came in for flags and bought other things."


Flitter expects demand for U.S. flags to stay at its current level for two to three weeks.


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