Chats It Up via E-Mail

Share this article:, the creator of a chat room that can be sent within a typical e-mail message, is in the midst of a major e-mail campaign to attract new users.

Multicity has created Chat in-the-box, a chat room that can be sent to a user's e-mail inbox. The recipient can instantly forward these tools to their friends and colleagues to facilitate communication in real time. Attachments or downloads are not necessary. The chat room opens when the message is opened.

To stimulate trial and usage, the company sent an e-mail to its database of 171,000 consumers and offered an incentive for forwarding the message.

Individuals who send the Chat in-the-box to the most people can win prizes such as MP3 and DVD players. One winner will be selected each week for four weeks. The campaign kicked off Aug. 4.

Upon conclusion of the promotion, some users will be contacted to serve as "evangelists" for the service.

"The second wave -- we will be paying them for participation," said Todd Tweedy, vice president of marketing at Multicity, Tysons Corner, VA. "We'll be targeting heavy users of multiple message boards and chat rooms. We'll be paying them to talk about Multicity while they're there."

The selected users will receive a stipend for each referral.

The site ran a series of test campaigns last month without any incentive offer. It sent three sets of 5,000 e-mails to various cross sections of its database. The most interesting finding, Tweedy said, was that people who received the forwarded message outperformed the initial recipients.

Of the recipients, 36 percent opened the message and 23 percent joined in a chat. One-third of recipients forwarded it. Of those who received the forwarded message, 79 percent opened it and 62 percent joined in a chat.

The site also found that a simpler subject line clearly outperformed the cutesy one. "Live chat at" drew better than "You've got Chat in-the-box."

The company derives its revenue from banner ads along the top of the chat message box within the e-mail. The ad is refreshed every time a user opens the message. Advertisers include, and

The technology has global marketing implications, since the chat room instantly translates six languages.
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